Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chhintang - A Pilgrimage

Chhintang is a prominent pilgrimage site in Dhankuta district. Not only the local people from Dhankuta go on a pilgrimage to Chhintang but pilgrims from far and wide have been seen visiting this beautiful place. The Devi who resides here is known as Chhintang Devi. Hindus believe that Chhintang Devi fulfills all the wishes of her devotees. Years back, pilgrims had to travel on foot to reach the place but these days there are transportation facilities right up to the temple. Pilgrims just need to get a ride from the Tongba Chowk at Hile , occasional buses or regular taxis cost about NPR 160/- per person. The vehicles usually head towards Chhintang after 12 noon.

We got on the crowded taxi and started our journey at around 1:30. Because of less vehicles plying along that route, the taxi was stuffed with people but we just considered that taking in mind that we were on a pilgrimage and pilgrimage is usually about suffering for God!

On the way at Pancha Kanya, we viewed the statues of the martyrs. They were killed during the Panchayat era, most of them were shot. The murders were atrocious, they say innocent people who had hidden inside caves and holes had been forced to come out in the open by burning chilly at the mouths of the caves!

We reached Chhintang Devi Temple at around 4 o'clock. I had a deep sensation of religiousness as I entered the temple premises..........a pleasant and calm feeling that we get whenever we visit some religious shrines. The most baffling thing for me were the trees in the vicinity of the thick a jungle but I couldn't name a single strange!

The pilgrims to Chhintang usually make a vaakal (promise) before visiting the place. Most of the vaakals are usually made on a yearly basis e.g. "If my son passes the SLC, I will visit you Oh Chhintang Mother! I will sacrifice a goat or a cock!" Lots of pilgrims were around with their various vaakals and their sacrificial goats, roosters, eggs etc. The puja usually starts late, at around 3 and the priest and his helpers behead all the sacrificial animals and birds and throw them outside in the square. The pilgrims need to recognise their birds and animals and take them outside. It is widely practised that the pilgrims should never take back the sacrificial beings, there is a limitation to that..........they can carry back the prashad (the meat) only up to Marga Pokhari which lies some kilometres above Chhintang!

We had two roosters, one large and another just a chicken. We were afraid we might lose ours in that crowd of beheaded hens, cocks and goats, so we just kept a sharp eye on our roosters!! The other tradition in Chhintang Devi is that the pilgrims need to offer the head and legs to the temple.

After the rituals were finished, we took our roosters towards Mangthaana Hotel where we were lodging for the night and we hoped to enjoy the prashad with some hard liquor. We found that the little lodge was well facilitated. Mr.Yogendra Rai the proprietor of the lodge also informed us that we need not have carried the roosters all the way from Pakhribas. He says if pilgrims wish then he can arrange for whatever sacrificial animals they need. So here's a piece of advice, if you ever decide to go on a pilgrimage to Chhintang then you can call him at 9842076773 beforehand and he will make arrangements for sacrificial goat or cock and also take care of your lodging and fooding. We had a merry time throughout the night, drank to our fill with the meat(prashad). In the morning we got on the vehicles which were heading for Hile. The road is comfortable, quite wide for a hilly road and it has been gravelled.

Thanks for reading..............Have a happy journey..........Jai Chhintang Devi

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