Friday, 1 April 2016

Dronagiri mountain in Himalaya

Dronagiri Update

In our last post on Dronagiri mountain and the mythical wonder herb SanjiviniButi, we had described how Lord Hanuman had ripped out one of the hilltops above the Dronagiri village and carried it away to Lanka so that the Lankan royal physician Susena could himself identify the SanjivinuButi and administer it to the mortally wounded Laxman.

That was about the SanjivaniButi, but the interesting traditions and myths surrounding Dronagiri village do not end there. We had the opportunity to meet one of the inhabitants of Dronagiri village and he was able to enlighten us about the myths and traditions of his village. Here we recount what he told us for the benefit of our readers.

It seems that when Hanuman reached Dronagiri, he sought directions from the local people about the hill-top where the SanjiviniButi could be found, but none of the men-folk were ready to disclose this secret. Hanuman then approached an old woman and recounted the plight of Laxman and Ram to her, again requesting that the hill-top be pointed out to him. The old woman was a kind soul and without saying anything she pointed a finger in the direction of the hill. We all know that thereafter Hanuman lifted the whole hilltop to Lanka when he couldn’t identify the particular herb himself.

Local tradition takes an interesting turn at this point. Since the concerned hilltop happened to be the right shoulder of Dronagiri ParvatDev, the local deity, the residents of Dronagiri no longer worship Lord Hanuman. Also, because ParvatDev was betrayed by a woman, till this day no woman may enter the temple of ParvatDev as per local tradition and they have to perform puja from a distance. The prasad of ParvatDev is also not distributed among the womenfolk of the village.

It is a fact that without exception, all villages in Uttarakhand have their own local deities. Thus it is not without reason that Uttarakhand is also known as Devbhoomi, the Land of Gods. For the most part these local deities are considered to be manifestations or avatars of Goddess Durga, Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu. But in many places the local deity’s identity is linked to some prominent local natural spectacle or formation. Dronagiri ParvatDev is a great example of one of these.

There are two categories of local deities, there are those who are aloof and can only be worshipped. And then there are the more social ones who actually interact with their devotees through a human intermediary called a paswa. Dronagiri ParvatDev is in the latter category and during certain festivals and times he interacts with his devotee through the paswa. What is most interesting is that the paswa, who otherwise is a healthy able-bodied person, loses the use of his right arm as long as the spirit of ParvatDev is in him. The right arm just goes limp from shoulder downwards and he carries out all his activities such as distribution of Prasad etc with his left arm exclusively. It may be recalled that Lord Hanuman had ripped off a mountaintop from Dronagiri which happened to be the right shoulder of ParvatDev.

The residents of Dronagiri village will return around early May once the snow starts melting. We at Dream Mountain will be organizing a trek to this fascinating village and its surroundings sometime in the latter half of May 2016. Those who are interested in joining us can register their interest with us at Dream Mountain.