Chander M. Bhat 
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Jagan Nath Bairav Temple of Village Achan, Pulwama  

by Chander Bhat

Achyan Cham Chyani maay mato

Har jaaye tsaran chus chyani tsay mato

Tatya lolike qunya zan dwar wathi

Katya rozi krardil mea by woy mato

Mai gachi ACHAN wuni achanachi joy mato

 

The worship of the village gods "Raza Sahib" is most ancient form of the Indian religion.  Before the Aryan invasion, which probably took place in the second millennium B.C., the old inhabitants of India, who are sometimes called Dravidians, were a dark-skinned race with religious beliefs and customs that probably did not greatly differ from those of other primitive race.  They believed the world to be propled by a magnitude of spirits, good and bad, which were the cause of all unusual events, and especially of diseases and disasters.

 

Front view of Shri Jagan Nath Bairav Temple, Achan, Pulwama
Front view of Shri Jagan Nath Bairav Temple, Achan, Pulwama

 

This worship of the village Deity, or Raza Sahib, as it is called in Kashmiri, forms an important part of the conglomerate of religious beliefs, customs, and ceremonies which are generally classed together under the term Hinduism.  In almost evey village the Raza Sahib is periodically worshipped and propitiated.  Shiva and Vishnu may be more digified beings, but the village deity is regarded as a more present help in trouble, and is more intimately concerned with the happiness and prosperity of the villagers.

 

The origin of this form of Hinduism is lost in antiquity but it is certain that it represents a pre Aryan cult of the Dravidian people, more or less modified in various parts of North India by Brahmanical influence; and some details of the ceremonies seem to point back to a totemistic stage of religion.  The normal function of the Raza Sahib is the guardianship of the village, but many of them are believed to have other powers, especially in relation to disease and calamity.  The village deities and their worship are widely different from the popular Hindu deities, Siva and Vishnu, and the worship that centres in the great Hindu temples.

 

Shiv Lingam inside the burnt temple

Shiv Lingam inside the burnt temple

 

Shiva and Vishnu represent forces of nature: Shiva symbolizes the power of destruction and the idea of life through death, Vishnu the power of preservation and the idea of salvation.  Both these Gods and the system of religion connected with them are the outcome of philosophic reflection on the universe as a whole.  But the village deities, on the other hand, have no relation to the Universe.  They are related, not to great world forces, but to such simple facts as cholers, cattle disease etc.

 

The village deities are almost universally worshipped with annual sacrifices and in Kashmir the same practice continued. The sacrifice of lamb, in Kashmiri “Raza Kath” was offered to the village deity or Raza Sahib when the wish made by a villager especially the Pandits was fulfilled.  The lamb so sacrificed was then cooked without any spices and distributed amongst the villagers. When the lamb is sacrificed the blood of the lamb is collected in an earthen pot called “Tok” in Kashmiri and the blood is added to flour to make a paste and this paste is applied to the lid of the pot in which the dish is prepared. All the parts of the lamb are prepared including the legs etc. The member who has performed the sacrifice retains big chunk of the dish.

 

There was a cremation ground situated at Sheikhpora and was also the residing place of Raza Sahib of village Murran, one of the brothers of Aasth Bairaves. The detail of the eight Bairaves with place of residence is as follows:

  1. Shri Jagan Nath - Village Achan

  2. Shri Nandkisher - Village Sumbal

  3. Shri Ganganand - Village Mattan

  4. Shri Kakvishal - Village Pargachu

  5. Shri Jeevan Nath - Village Ladhoo

  6. Shri Moonglesher - Village Sirnoo

  7. Shri Omkar Nath  - Village Drussu

  8. Shri Neilkanth - Village Murran

Bairav of village Achan, Shri Jagan Nath is the eldest one and that of village Murran Shri Neilkanth is the youngest one. Shri Keshev Nath was the grandfather of the Ashth Bairavas.  Raza Sahib of Achan and Sirnoo were vegetarian and rest were non-vegetarian. 

 

Village Achan is in Pulwama and is 12 km away from the district headquarter. Achan village has probably derived its name from Sanskrit work Akhan meaning immortal. It may have been that village contained unending capability or harvest and unending Santosh to the people living there in. This Akhan must have stood to what it is currently known by the name Achan. Village has its own history to explain. Its topographical situation give it the distinction of getting maximum period of sunshine during the day and thereby larger amount of solar energy to ignite life in this village or magical coincidence with other adjoining villages.

There were some 30 Kashmiri Pandit families living in Achan. 28 families have migrated to other parts of India during mass exodus. Two families have held back despite all odds against them.
 

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