Himachal is known as the land of gods and goddesses. The rich culture and heritage of the pahari people has kept their beliefs intact and firm to their roots. The people believe in their deities and offer their prayers to them without fail.
Even today, on marriage ceremony, the first invitation card of bride and groom is always sent to their respective deities, so that blessings are bestowed on them before entering into the sacred wedlock. The deities are called upon on several other occasions and their presence is celebrated with much fanfare in Himachal.
One such memorable event, to which we were spectators, left us in awe of the belief of the People. So true and so magnificent was our first response on seeing the chariot of lord Chaturmukhji, who had travelled all the way from a small village Mellan, in Kotgarh to Kalot, in Kotkhai, both being the apple belts of Shimla.Lord chaturmukhji maharaj is a form of lord shiva
THE GRAND WELCOME
The people stood with garlands of fresh flowers and decorated plates with all kind of things used to please their gods as kumkum, mauli, rice, dry nuts etc. The chariot appeared on the shoulders of six strong men and it danced all the way. Lord Chaturmukhji’s chariot is estimated to be close to one crore.
The chariot was all decked up with bright clothes of the lord and it adorned long black hair which danced along the sides.It is believed that by the power of the lord the hair of Lord Chaturmukh ji grow and should be trimmed before it touches the ground. Its strange but believed true.
The face of Goddess Durga is seen at the top and a demon face below her.Then the three gold faces of lord Chaturmukhji maharaj (shiva) placed in the center along with Brahma and vishnu on either side were placed. The silver faces of the gan or disciples, two each at the ends could be seen. The two had the chattar (umbrella) of silver hanging on their heads. The whole chariot was so lavishly decorated that you could not help but gaze at them.
The wooden chariot was decorated with flowers and bright coloured clothes cut in stripes which hung down when the chariot danced with the power of the deity, giving the appearance as if a whole body was dancing with colourful attire hanging down. It was just amazing and a breathtaking view.
When the rituals were over, the Lord who had come along with his ghanitas (chosen men who could answer your queries on the behalf of lord) spread their hair which were tied in a lock and answered all the questions put to him and suggested remedies to the faults if any.
Flowers and rice were distributed as blessings from the lord.
After the worship ceremony a grand feast was held and all the invitees sat on the ground and enjoyed the lavish feast served to them. The food included ghee siddu, a popular dish of upper shimla and mash baldi ki daal along with seasonal vegetables and not to miss the mouth watering kheer.
A very well organized function was over with the see-off ceremony of the lord, where the Rana Sahib (Inherent of the royal kinship of the kotkhai palace, or darbar) must be present.
The chariot left the place after showering his blessings on the people. All the women folk of the village gathered to pay their offerings to the chariot. It left the place after a little dance which meant that he was happy and satisfied with the people’s’ hospitality and the love shown to him.
The scenes are still fresh in our memory, we really considered ourselves lucky enough to be a part of this grand feast.
“Jai Lord Chaturmukhji Maharaj.”