Himachal Pradesh has a fascinating history as far as the local deities of the state are concerned. Therefore, people have always been curious to know about the characteristics and behaviour of various deities worshipped in different parts of Himachal. This post is a source to answer any such queries related to the gods of Himachal.
Himachal Pradesh – ‘the land of gods’, famous by the name ‘devbhoomi’ worldwide. This state is said to be protected and sheltered by the power of numerous local deities. These deities possess some peculiar personality traits and have their own individual entity. Every region in Himachal believes in a distinct deity. All the faith of the local people is vested in these local gods called ‘devta’ in the regional language.
Some of the deities and their characteristics that distinguish them from each other are discussed below-
1) The Ghunda Naag devta-
Worshipped in some villages of the Kotkhai region, District Shimla. The Ghunda nag devta has a palanquin made up of wood, covered with silver metal sheets. It has a gold parasol. The Gunda name is the son of the Bhoori mata (a powerful goddess worshipped in Himachal). He is aggressive in nature, and the sacrifice of a sheep pleases him. 2 panchayats in the Kotkhai region worship him.
2) The Mahadev –
Worshipped in a village called Pudag in khotkhai, district Shimla. The palanquin for Mahadev Pudag is made up of wood, covered with a red cloth and has a parasol of gold on top of it. Mahadev is believed to be very calm and accepts no sacrifices. Just an offering of milk makes him content. Two panchayats worship him in Kotkhai. The Mahadev, Naag devta and the Doom devta are said to be brothers, Mahadev being the eldest of the three. The three of them travel together, and Mahadev’s decisions are obeyed by the other two.
3) The Doom devta-
Worshipped in Kuthan, Theog, Dist. Shimla and many other regions of North India up to Delhi. The Doom devta is said to be originated from the ground, and 9 scriptures of him came out of the earth. He is supposed to be one of the renowned local deities of Himachal. His palanquin is of wood, covered with a red cloth and a gold parasol on it. He is the most open sighted deity, put no restrictions of sacrifices etc., on the devotees, and unlike other deities, ladies and girls are allowed to enter the temple premises.
4) Devta Maneshwar-
Worshipped in villages of Narkanda region, Himachal Pradesh. He said to be another form of Lord Shiva. Aggressive in nature and does not have tolerance towards Mahadev and his followers.
5) Devta Baindra-
Worshipped in the village named Kyari and some more villages of Kotkhai region, Dist. Shimla. Two to three panchayats of this region have faith in this deity.
6) The Laankra veer-
Worshipped in Kyari village, Kotkhai. It is said that the Lankra veer protects the people of this area from all the negative powers that dwell in the surroundings. He is said to be originated from the long hair of Lord Shiva.
7) The Shirgul devta –
People in the Choor Dhar region, Chaupal, Himachal Pradesh, worship him. The main temple is built in the Shimla district. He is another incarnation of Lord Shiva, supposed to be very kind, generous and calm in nature.
8) Hatkoti mata-
The temple is situated in Hatkoti in Jubbaal, Himachal Pradesh. This goddess is a form of the goddess Durga. This place is a very famous tourist spot too. River Babbar flows right beside the temple. Many stories are famous about the history of this temple. There is a large vessel kept outside the temple, tied with strong metal chains. The other end of these chains is tied to the feet of the goddess statue kept inside. There were two such vessels; one of them has said to have disappeared in the Babbar river on its own. This is the reason the second one is kept tied to the goddess’s feet. People from all over the state come to this temple to pay their homage and bring their harvests as an offering to the goddess each year.
9) The Hadimba Mata-
Worshipped in Kullu, H.P. The Hadimba Mata has a peculiar wooden palanquin covered with gold and a gold parasol in the shape of a semicircle. The palanquin has masks of the faces of Hadimba Mata and Manu rishi ( another local deity of H.P.)inlayed on it. The Hadimba mata is aggressive nature . Girls are allowed in the temple premises. The flag pole called Dhwaja placed just outside the temple of Hadimba Mata is made up of the trunk obtained from a walnut tree. The trunk has to be in one piece, and the goddess herself chooses the particular tree. The tree towards which the palanquin leans when it is taken in the forest is chosen. The flag pole is helpful for the local people to locate the temple from a distance. It is said that the famous ceremony of the Kullu Dussehra does not proceed without the presence of Hadimba Mata. More than 100 local deities are present in Kullu at the time of this ceremony. Thousands of devotees pull a chariot of Lord Rama on the 1st and last day of this 10-day celebration. It is said that all your wrong deeds will wash away by pulling this chariot.
10) Baba Bala Kameshwar-
Worshipped in Mandi, H.P. Baba Bala Kameshwar is said to be worshipped in his adolescent state. He is the father of Kamsu Naag. He has a silver palanquin with a silver parasol, and his scripture is made up of silver. Girls and ladies are allowed near the scripture. The brothers of Baba Bala Kameshwar are also worshipped in this region. The palanquins of all the brothers are brought together each year during the Shivratri celebrations in Mandi. This ceremony is opened by the C.M. of Himachal Pradesh every year.
11) The Narsingh devta(Pudag)-
Worshipped in Kotkhai, H.P. He is a form of the Naag Devta. The difference lies in the fact that the Narsingh device does not have any palanquin. Instead, his symbol is a silver stick which is wrapped with a red cloth all around. The Naag devta, the Narsingh and Doom devta travel together.
12) The Narsingh devta(Dhami)-
Worshipped in a place called Dhami, Dist. Shimla, H.P. This deity has no scripture and is worshipped in the form of a stone. His temple is situated inside the royal palace of Dhami, and only the royal family of this region is allowed to participate and perform all the ceremonies.
13) The Shalu Devta-
Worshipped in Ganganagar, Rohru, Dist. Shimla, H.P. the word Shalu meaning stone in English, the Shalu devta and his brother Chaltu devta both originated in the form of two stones from a sheep’s stomach. Shalu devta is said to be a very calm deity as he was an anchorite. His palanquin does not have hair and has many faces of gold and two snakestones, one bigger than the other, played on it. He does not accept any sacrifices and is very calm and powerful. On the other hand, the palanquin of his brother has hair on it.
14) Bothe Mahsu devta-
Worshipped in Astani in Rohru, H.P. The Bothe Mahsu has a palanquin made of gold and silver. He is of a calm nature, but punishment is imminent if someone displeases him. No one accepts the main priest of the temple touches the scripture. Women are allowed but not inside the main premise of the temple where the scripture is kept.
15) The Bhimakali Mata-
Worshipped in Sarahan, Rampur, H.P. This is a mighty goddess who is supposed to be a form of the goddess kali. The temple of Bhimakali Mata was established by the price of Bushel many years ago. It is a beautiful ancient wooden temple. The royalty of this area is only allowed inside the main temple premises. Only the family of the former C.M. of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Virbhadra Singh, performs the ceremonies in this temple.
16) The Shali mata –
Worshipped in villages of the Sunni area, Dist. Shimla. The temple of Shali Mata is situated at the highest point in the Shimla district. The king of Patiala established this temple. Women are allowed in the temple.
17) Shringi Rishi-
Worshipped in a place named Skiran in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh. It is a 5 to 6-hour journey from the Jalodi Pass, Kullu. The temple is situated in a dense forest at the height of about 15000-14000 feet. This place is covered with snow for 7-8 months and is generally visited by the devotees in June. The scripture of the Shringi rishi has a horn on its head, which makes him clearly recognizable among the scriptures of other deities. He is one of the most famous deities worshipped in the Kullu district. It is said that it was Shringi rishi who performed the holy ritual at the time of the birth of Lord Rama.