Genesis of the tradition

The event marks the coming of Nanda Devi to her mother's place(mait).During this time Uttarakhand reverberates with festivities. The event finishes when the people of her maiti (mother's home),escort her in a orocession to her Sauras (husbands home in Kailash).This procession is called the Nanda Jat. The entire scene is beautifully protrayed in the folk songs and Jagars by the women of Uttarakhand. Such Nanda Jats are held in almost all the places in the hills,where there is a Nanda Devi Temple. Every Garhadhipatis in the hills took out Nanda Jats to please the Isht-Devi.Every twelve years the Nanda Raj Jat replaces the annual Raj Jat on the route of Homkund from the temple of Nanda Devi. The dolis of other devtas also known as the 'Birs of Nanda Devi',also join the Raj Jat. The Goril Dev of Kumaon and the Lattu Dev of Bandhan are the prominent devtas.

The Nanda Raj Jat was started by the ancestors of the Rajas of Garhwal. The ancient tradition of taking out Nanda Jats among all the Garhadhipatis,was combined by the Raja into a Royal pilgrimage every twelve years.Raja Ajay Pal (Shesh Pal) of Chandgarh started the Nanda Raj Jat in the 15th century. Since then,the royal family takes the pilgrimage along with their purohits to seek forgiveness from NAnda Devi,and offer 'Tarpan' for the ancestors who had died at the Roopkund, along with his pregnant wife and courtesans.

The Legend of Nanda Devi

King Jasdhaval of Kannauj is closely associated with the history of Nanda Raj Jat. It is believed that Jasdhaval's Raj Jat. It is believed that Jasdhaval's queen, Vallabha, was the daughter of rulers of Chandapur (Garhwal). Once upon a time, the queen was cursed by Nandadevi. Because of this, her kingdom became victim of draught, famine and many other natural calamities. The king's irreverence earned the Goddess' wrath, who caused a very heavy snowfall that night. It was followed a deadly avalanche in which the entire royal entourage perished. Some persons are said to have slipped into the nearby Roopkund lake and died. According to the local legend, the dancing girls were frozen and tuned into rocks that can still be seen arranged in a circle. This accident is believed to have occurred sometimes around 1150 A.D. Jasdhaval is believed to be an ancestor of the prince of Kansua and thus began the tradition of offering homage to Jasdhaval at this point.

The Royal Journey

After the programme for the yatra is chalked by the Kunwars, the prince of Kaunsuva arrives in Nauti to seek the blessings of the goddess and to organise the Jat. He brings offerings including the Ringal-Ki-Chhantoli, a specially prepared umbrella and a four horned ram,which becomes the seat of the idol of the Nanda Devi and is made of gold.

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