Jagar is the cultural and musical heritage of Uttarakhand practiced in both Kumaon and Garhwal regions. A form of prayer, it is organised to seek justice/punishment from the gods in the wake of injustice/crime. Every village has its own god (Bhoomial Devta or Khitarpal) and each family has its Kul Devta.
Jagar ceremonies are of two types – one is the Dev Jagar, the invocation of a god, usually local gods in the body of the medium and the other is the Bhoot Jagar the invocation of a deceased person spirit or soul in the medium’s body, although other forms also exist.
There are a minimum of three participants in this practice. Jagar is conducted at the house of one who is seeking intervention. The Jagariya sings the ballads of gods and leads the rituals, and two or more people who assist him and sing along in chorus. The Dangariya is the medium whose body is used by the gods when they incarnate. The room in which the Jagar is to be performed is purified by purification processes closely administered by the Jagars. A sacred fire is lit for the home; Chaitra, Pous and Bhadrapad are considered auspicious times for Jagar.
Behind the performance of Jagar is the deep-seated belief of the people of Uttarakhand in divine justice and the Law of Karma – that bad deeds shall be accounted for and that justice will finally be delivered by the Gods.
It is strange that in a state which boasts of such elaborate traditions for delivering justice, grave injustice is being done to the animals and the weak. While on one hand people are praying to gods, on the other they throw old cows off the cliff to let them die. The forest authorities refuse to grant permission to feed monkeys in the jungle saying that it is equivalent to hunting them, even as thousands of them come on the roads and are run down by traffic because there is no food for them in the forests…Paradox of a culturally rich state.
Author: Shweta Verma