It was around 10 pm…
“The road was deserted, and we were out on a stroll when I felt someone walking behind us. It was not a sound but a strange feeling of someone being close. It was too dark, and I was scared to look back. We didn’t look back until there was enough light and we were a little less scared. There was no one behind us. There was nobody all the while. Just a lingering feeling of someone’s presence.”
This was the experience of two of our group members, out of the three who went out for a walk, while the other two were having dinner at the hotel.
When they returned they were full of questions in their minds and then started the discussion on the unknown.
Some of us also claimed that they had heard the sound of drums beating at the middle of the night.
What was that sound?
To Belong to Uttarakhand, aka Dev Bhoomi (The Land Of Gods), has its own perks. I have been listening about Gods and Goddesses since childhood, but not till recently have I been closer to it. I have seen certain peculiar things happening; things which are a little hard to believe and, to be honest, I still am not a believer. It would need more than what I have witnessed yet.
Being one of the three pahadi (people who belong to hills) in the group, Yogesh and Shubham being the other two, I hardly know much about the culture.
So, Yogesh shared whatever he had heard about these sounds. The drumbeat seemed to be the indication of some sort of ritual, that includes chanting and drums called ‘Jaagary’.
But what is Jaagary?? By the way, it is NOT Jaggery!!
After an episode of confusion and digging a little deeper, I found out what Jaagary is.
Have you ever felt that there is something wrong with your life? That things are just not going in the correct direction.
Well, that’s life.
But after everything tried with no result, people in Uttarakhand, just like many people in the world, turn to the unbeatable God. Only, they prefer Jaagary or Jattaare.
‘Jaagary’ is a ritual to please the Ishtdev, our God/s.
There are believed to be thousands of gods and goddesses or even millions in the villages. Every village has a special God/Gods called Ishtdev worshipped by them. These Gods are believed to have a close bond with humans and are ready to help their children in need.
Do you know how they communicate with humans? One might think it can be done by feeling the inner peace, or probably dreaming. But it is different here.
Here, God chooses the devotees worth being the mode to communicate with others! Yes, you have guessed it right! Probably…
Some dedicated worshippers are chosen by the gods to communicate with others and are called Dungree (also called Devtai). This does not mean that Gods call on their mobile phones, but appear in their body! There are a giant number of people who are believed to be Dungree, with the gods appearing in their body, mostly in a ritual.
During Jaagary, a pandit (priest) and a Dungree come together at the home of the troubled person. When I say troubled person, I don’t mean someone possessed by a ghost. It means if things keep going wrong in your life after all has been tried and you start suspecting that it might be your own wrongdoing or of your ancestors or some evil influence, then maybe its time to ask your Ishtdev/devi for some guidance. And of course, it can be a spirit haunting you, can’t overrule that…
Hence, the Devta/Devi (God/Goddess) is called upon by the chanting and the beating drum. The question is asked and the solution is bestowed.
We also have a vaster version of Jaagary, called Jattare, in which the whole population of the village is invited to this ritual held outside the house. There are variations of this ritual; as the villages change and the distance increases the same ritual is called differently.
But our topic was not God but Ghosts.
We started to share some of the ghost stories, including the ones shared by our own family members. Two of them contradicted each other.
A man once shared this experience with Yogesh –
During his younger years, he with other students was making his way to the school, when he heard a sound coming from a distance – of drums. The curious boy moved towards the direction, but because the boundary of the village was not supposed to be crossed, the child just peaked over it. And all he saw was several jolly men dancing to the beat of the drums. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sing. They were headless.
Found by the other students, he was escorted back securely without drawing any attention. The boys never looked back at the lively party.
My granny, recently, shared her experience as well:
“When I was young, I went to stay in the village. I had to use the toilet in the middle of the night, but there were no lavatories in the villages at the time. I had to go outside, so I asked my mother to come with me. There was something odd about the atmosphere; there were faint red lights floating in the air in a queue. In the darkness of the midnight, this strange light was the only thing visible.
Midnight, considered the hour of the dead, was not an ideal time to leave the house and those lights were the path of invisible souls passing by.”
There are many questions that arise in one’s mind.
Could it really be possible that there were headless men dancing, absolutely visible to everyone? Whereas the grandmother declared that ghosts are invisible souls; their presence can be felt but not seen.
Were those lights really souls or just some natural phenomenon taking place?
We had a little chat with the cook of the hotel who told us a different story. He too called the sound of the drum related to ‘jaagary’, but mentioned that apparently, it was done because someone had a bad dream, and wanted to get rid of any kind of the evil spirit that might be disturbing them. He also said that since Dalhousie is a metropolitan city, the lively environment does not invite the spirits or ghosts, which seems rather odd to me; what does a ghost have to fear in a city? Must be something I have no knowledge of.
What I have written here is just a gist of what I have heard. I have heard of the sad souls haunting the whole generations of a family for their wrongdoing. I have also heard of the people who never intended any wrong and yet had to endure the haunting for as long as 18 years!
In any case, it is clear that Gods, ghosts, and spirits are ideas which are more than mere topics to the people living in the mountains. People of the Dev Bhoomi have been diving deep into this from a long time, and it seems that there are traces of this in Himachal Pradesh too, probably in some other ways, but they do exist.
There is no proof of what our group members felt was real and no evidence of what the sound of the drum was for. I have never really been able to believe in all this, even if I saw some of it. I always feel that there has to be some kind of explanation, or maybe not…yet.
Have you ever witnessed such a thing? Do you believe in this?
Comment below and share what your experiences are.