Sunday, 24 August 2014

Gogamedi fair in Rajasthan

This entry has a personal touch, because the God in veneration of which the Gogamedi fair happens also happens to be my 'Kul Devta' or the family god.

I belong to Himachal Pradesh and my ancestors come from a village named Larha in Naduan Tehsil of Hamirpur District. The village has a temple which we call Googa Temple named after the God Googa. Its widely believed that Googa can cure you of a snake bite if you are brought to the temple and drums played alongwith. People sit in the temple campus called Chelas...they hold chabuks in their hands made up of short chains and bless people curing them of all the evil spirits. The idol of Googa sits on a horse and there are some other gods and goddesses alongwith which sit on horses. You cant miss the horses.

My family and consequently me believed it to be a local devta. Though I found one temple of Googa near East of Kailash in Delhi. I thought somebody from Himachal must have made it. Then later in my travels to Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh, I found another temple of Googa there...making me wonder how widely the God has travelled from Himachal.

But I was in for a shock last year when one of my friends from the Indian railways poster in Rewari told me that he is busy preparing for the Gogamedi fair as lots of devotees travel there for the fair. I wondered if that was the same Googa as my village. Some checks on the internet was confirmed that what I thought to be a local devta was indeed the Guga Jahar Peer of Gogamedi. Wow man! now I was part of  huge mass of followers of Googa from around India. I took up a resolution to visit the temple but couldnt do it last year. But this year I am Gogamedi returned. Ha Ha.

Planning the trip was a little easy as my railway friend could have helped me in reaching that place. Very minimal information is available on the internet about this fair. There are those 4-5 lines, which are repeated in all the websites. No information on how to reach that place, where to stay etc.

So, I thought why not put it on my travel blog and write my experience as well as how to reach kind of stuff.

The nearest big train station from Gogamedi is Sadulpur Junction, which is about 80kms from Gogamedi. The good point is that the birth place of Googa Jahar is Dadrewa is about 15kms from this place and should definitely be visited if you are going to Gogamedi.

 Another option is to travel to a town called Sirsa in Haryana, from where Gogamedi is 50kms. However, there is just one train from Delhi to Sirsa during they day, while there are three from Delhi to Sadulpur. if you want to hit the road, Gogamedi is about 300kms from Delhi.

Sadulpur is a small town and it will be good to book a taxi in advance. No taxi is available online and hence i had to ask my friend to help. You could try my taxi driver...His number is 09413451545. A return journey to Gogamedi will cost 1800 bucks and if you want to go to Dadrewa as well, it will cost you around 2700 rupees.

Dadrewa is a sleepy little village and is the birth place of Googa with a temple. 

There is a pond nearby where people take bath, but the water is a bit dirty. People perform some rituals on the pond side burning some coconuts and onions. Its a sight to see people peform these rituals and take bath.

There are some shops which sell Goga memorabilia, prominent being the blue horse of the God, called Javadia. There are a lot of langars for you eat sumptuos food.

You will find many people with the chabuks blessing people. You have to bend down and the person will hit your back with the chabuk and may be with his hand as well. Thats are blessed and devoid of any evil spirits.

Putting a video below of how this blessing is done:

There are some old trees inside the Dadrewa temple complex and people had printed their hands on the walls of the temple. Couldnt find out what that ritual was.

A sea of humanity lands at this place on Janmashtami day wearing yellow clothes. Thankfully we visited a few days after Janmashtami and hence it was relatively less crowded. 

Its a very different affair in Gogamedi though, with shops spread over 4 square kilometre area around the shrine and parking places beyond that. Shops primarily include eateries and memorabilia. People come from places as far as Punjab and UP and even Himachal. A sight to catch is when people come in processions playing the dhol/drums and with colourful flags in their hands. Watch one procession here:

Getting inside the temple could be difficult affair. Even on the light day that I reached, I had to stand in queue for an hour to get inside the sanctum sanctorum. The main temple is just a room with a white mazaar/grave of Googa Jahar Veer.

People rub sandalwood or chandan on the grave. All that you get to do there is to bow your head, rub the sandalwood and move. No time to pray. Just keep moving. I prayed while walking. As you come out you may see the shrines of some lesser known saints - Pandey ji and Ratan ji.

I may point out here that Googa Jahar Veer is also known as Googa Jahar Peer...dont know whats the right word, though I saw Jahar Veer written everywhere. Incidentally, its a secular place and people from all religions come here including Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, though I found very less Muslims when I was there.

As for the fair it has also become commercialised with Giant wheels, Maut ka kuan and women dance shows. There is also a camel fair but it was night when we reached there and got scared of the came back. But it must be interesting.

I found it relatively safe for women as well. The temperatures were just fine around 23th of August in the evening with minor sweating, though it was lot hotter and humid in the morning. 

Didnt find any place to stay there, though I had planned to go back in the night. There was a charitable hotel I found right next to the shrine which named Nohar, with free AC rooms, but didnt have the time to explore that. Very poor people come to this shrine and in groups. They camp in tents around the huge fields near the shrine and cook their own food. A reason why you will find a lot of people selling firewood in the fair.

It was a memorable experience for me to visit the headquarters of my kuldevta. Jai Guge di!

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