Celebrated once in twelve years
THIS GRAND RELIGIOUS festival is celebrated once every 12 years in Uttarakhand, which is steeped in the legend of goddess Nanda Devi, particularly in Almora district, home to the famous Nanda Devi temple, and in the Chamoli district of the Garhwal region. A charming legend of a woman returning to her husband’s home underlies this festival. On this occasion goddess Nanda is taken to Gaungati peak, which is believed to be the icy abode of her husband, lord shiva. Thousands of devotees carry the deity on this 280-km trek. The starting point is Nauti village, of Chamoli district where descendants of the royal priests live.
The idol of the goddess made of gold is placed on the Ringal ki Chhantoli a special umbrella, along with a four horned ram that acts as a guide. After religious ceremonies devotion is set off for trek. The hallmark of the austerities they undertake. While some of them they go barefoot, others give up food. Special rituals are performed at every stopover.
All this ends on the 22nd day at Homkund. Here the goddess is decorated as a bride and people bid farewell and give her a ceremonial send off as she has reached her destination. It is both a joyous and sorrowful occasion as the festivities come to an end.