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Tales and Legends of Garoora, Chittibandhi and Tantraypora

By Upender Ambardar

About one and a half km. away from the village Aragam lies Garoora village on it's western side. Garoora is a combination of two Sanskrit words, 'Garoo' and 'Rah' meaning the path or track of spiritual and religious guide. The village lore says that an accomplished ascetic named Shankpaul used to do religious penance at the nearby hill-top. He had twelve hundred disciples, who had exceptional devotion and faith in him. In order to carry water required by 'Garu' for his day to day religious rites, all the twelve hundred devotees would que in a line from the hermitage at the hill-top upto the 'Garu Nag' lying in the nearby Wular Lake.

As per a belief, the 'Garu-Nag' is said to be deepest part of the Wular Lake. In recognition of the extraordinary reverence and devotion for the 'Garu', the way was called 'Garu Rah', meaning Garu's path. With the passage of time, the very 'Garu-Rah' become the present day Garoora village. The elevated part of Garoora village has a pious and sacred spring known as 'Zaen-Mattan Nag', meaning being equivalent to the famous holy Mattan spring of Anantnag (Kashmir). The 'Zaen-Mattan' spring is believed to be invested with divine qualities and properties. It is a big spring with a radius of about 14-15 feet. About six hundred years back it had seven temples, made of chiselled stones of variable sizes, Sikander Bhutshikan, the Muslim ruler of Kashmir is said to have demolished six temples of the 'Zaen-Mattan' spring complex, while destroying the seventh temple, blood is said to have flowed-out from it mysteriously. The King is said to have been startled and frightened at the sight of this. This is how the seventh temple escaped the fanatic ruler's wrath and fury.

The chiselled stones of those demolished temples are believed to have been transported to 'Zainalank', the man-made island in the Wular Lake for the construction of a temple for the 'pooja' of Shriyabhat, the famous minister of the Kashmiri King Zaina-ul-Abidin. In addition to the temple, Budshah is said to have built a mosque at Zainalank. The state government has presently constructed a water reservoir at the holy 'Zaen-Mattan' spring and the surviving seventh temple now remains hidden in the reservoir construction. The holy spring is presently being used to supply water to the village Garoora and it's adjoining areas. Garoora village has about 2,500 Muslim families but no Kashmiri Pandit resided in the village at the time of their forced migration in 1990.

Chittibandi:

Adjacent to Garoora, is the village of Chitti-Bandi, which means a place having plentiful untanned or light coloured soil. A big stream runs through the village. It's main inhabitants are Gujjar families. In addition to them, about a dozen Kashmiri Pandit families resided in the village at the time of their migration in the year 1990.

The Pandit families of Chitti-Bandi were those of Sh. Kashi Nath Bhat, Sh. Shivji Bhat (presently at Bohri, Jammu), Sh Ved Lal Bhat (presently at Nagrota Migrant Camp), Sh. Jia Lal (presently at Udaiwalla, Bohri, Jammu). Sh. Pyare Lal (who runs a medical shop at Jammu) and Sh. Mukund Lal Bhat. All of them were agriculturists and orchardists, some of them were also state government employees. The village Chitti-Bandi has a small Shiv temple by the side of a big stream called 'Boed-Koel'. All the Pandit families had their houses in the vicinity of the said stream. A holy spring also existed near the temple. Chitti-Bandi is about a half Km. from Aragam village. Paddy forms the main crop of the village, while as apples, pears, cherry, peaches and walnuts are the major fruit bearing trees.

Tantraypora:

Adjoining the village Aragam at a distance of half a km is the village of Tantraypora. The village is adjacent to the cremation ground. A majestic Chinar tree growing near the cremation ground is even today called as 'Tantar-Boien'. In earlier times, Pandits well versed in tantric religious rites are said to have resided here. The earlier name of the village is said to have been 'Tantarpur', the name which proclaims it's past Hindu legacy.

Brar:

The village Brar is about 1 kms from Aragam, while as Gund-Dachan village lies at a distance of about 2 km from Aragam. No Kashmiri Pandit family lived in these villages.

Pandits of Aragam and adjoining villages celebrated a festival at the harvest time. A few freshly cut rice panicles hung at the upper part of the main house door were believed to ensure good harvest in the succeeding years. It used to be celebrated with a sumptuous and lavish meal, comprising of mutton and water fowl preparations.

Another agriculture related festival in vogue was known as 'Bal-Kadun'. In it cooked rice along with a cooked fish piece kept at the barrier of the paddy field  either on Saturday or Tuesday was thought to guarantee protection to the crops fram the pests and diseases.

Wular Lake:

Many fables and legends are also associated with the Wular Lake, which is the largest fresh water lake in Asia, being 16 km. long and 9.6 km wide. The presiding deity of the lake is known as 'Wular Raz'. The lake is said to have countless springs and the main spring is known as 'Neel Nag'. It is regarded as the deepest part of the lake and is supposed to be in a state of turbulence always. No boatman (hanji) even today dares to take his shikara across this part of the Wular Lake. The folklore says that the presiding deity of the lake known as 'Wular Raz' has his residence in the deep depths of the 'Neel-Nag'. As per a legend, a saint in bygone ages is said to have weaved a rope continuously for twelve years.

He is said to have dropped this rope tied to a grinding stone in the Wular Lake to ascertain it's depth but it is thought to have failed to touch the lake's bottom. Another legend says that centuries back, a sage endowed with tantric and supernatural powers once decided to take 'Wular Raz' into his custody. A boat was engaged for the purpose and an oil lamp was lighted by him in the boat amidst elaborate tantric rituals. He is said to have plunged into the 'Neel-Nag' area of the Wular Lake after instructing the boatman to ensure continuous lighting of the said oil lamp. The ascetic is said to have successfully emerged out of the lake along with the 'Wular Raz', who was then kept in confinement in the concealed part of the boat. The ascetic is believed to have dived again in the lake to capture the rest of the family members of the 'Wular Raz'. In the mean time, the Wular Raza enticed the boatman with the promise of unlimited wealth if he extinguished the oil lamp. Tempted by the greed, the boatman extinguished the lamp. As   fall-out, the ascetic lost all his supernatural powers and failed to emerge out of the lake.

Taking advantage of it, the Wular Raz (the presiding deity of the lake) dived back to be in his abode at the bottom of the 'Neel-Nag' of the lake. Instead of the promised wealth, the boatman encountered a heap of charcoal floating on the surface of the lake. Feeling betrayed and cursing his luck, he took a handful of charcoal in his fire-pot for burning purpose. He rowed back to his home. Next morning to his surprise, the charcoal in the forepart had turned into gold.

The 'Neel-Nag' and the 'Garu-Nag' (locally known as a 'Gor-Nag') are supposed to exist at the extreme ends of the lake. As per the folklore, the river Vitasta is aid to be the spouse of the Wular Raza.

Another legend connected with the lake says that hundreds of years back, a boat carrying a bridegroom got stuck-up near the 'Neel-Nag' part of the lake. The bridegroom pleaded and request ed 'Wular Raz' to permit his Shikara to sail through and promised to offer his spouse. After his return from the marriage ceremony the bridegroom failed to keep his promise. As expected the Shikara failed to move forward from the 'Neel-Nag' area of the Lake. Realising his mistake, the bridegroom offered his just married spouse to the waters of the Wular Lake. Shortly afterwards, to everbody's surprise the bride emerged from the depths of the lake dressed-up in the celestial attire.

Even today, no bridegroom can afford to annoy the 'Wular Raza', the presiding deity of the lake while sailing across the lake. He without fail has to take off his turban and keep the accompanying sword aside while crossing the Wular Lake. People even now pay, salutations and obeisance to the 'Wular Raza' whenever they happen to pass by the lake.

According to one more legend, the present site of the Wular Lake is believed to have been a flourishing city of affluence by the name of Sandimat Nagar, well before the Christian era.

It's inhabitants were so engrossed in the materialistic and worldly pursuits that virtuous  values and deeds were given a gobye. A sage advised the natives of Sandimat Nagar to correct their way ward ways, otherwise he predicted an enormous calamity for the city. Excepting for a potter, none paid any heed to his sane advice.

The potter not only entertained him but also gave shelter to him in his home. Out of gratitude, the sage of his supernatural powers turned the potter's clay wheel into gold. He also asked the potter to abandon the city and also cautioned him not to look back while moving-out of the city. Next day, as advised the potter along with his family fled from the city to seek shelter in the nearby upland ridge. Immediately afterwards, the entire city was engulfed by enormous amounts of water. Notwithstanding the warning of the sage, the potter looked back compelled by the incoming screaming cries of the city inmates.

To his surprise and horror, his fabulous and marvellous city had turned into a vast lake, which is now known as the Wular Lake. As the potter had failed to honour the promise not to look behind, half of the gold turned potter's wheel reverted back to clay part.

The ridge where the potter is believed to have taken shelter is even now known as Watlab Sanger.

The legends, tales and fables continue to be an integral part of our rich oral history.

They are proud relics of our past, though the degree of believability in them may vary. They need to be preserved and protected so that they do not fade away into obscurity.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

 
 

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