Mythologies of Kumaon – Chitai Golu Devta
by Nitin Chandola
In the Chid grooves of Kumaon, mythologies of the Chitai Golu devta plays an important role in maintaining the beliefs of Kumaoni residents and tribes of the region. Known as Manaskhand in Upanishads and Puranas, the region Kumaon’s name is derived from “Kurma Avatar” and signifies that most of the mythologies are related to Lord Vishnu, Shiva, and Shakti with appear as incarnations in different forms around the region; be it Shakti, Bhawani, Dhaulagiri, Nanda Devi or Golu Devta. Myths related to Manas Khand are exciting because they are like real stories and are in relation to Upanishads and Puranas.
When Justice thrives the lowest, the zeal of justice rises again; Golu Devta, or Gol-jyu in Kumaon is that zeal known for his way of justice. He was born in Katyuri reign of Champawat, and was famously known for fair and fearless justice in the region because of him. Chitai Golu is a temple situated in Almora District of Uttarakhand. Golu devta is one of the sacred groove prevented by the localities of Chitai which sets a perfect example of how a Mythological spirit and belief can contribute in saving nature. The temple consists of bulks of bells in robust to tiniest sizes in multiple corridors. Applications and stamp papers, written and notarized, are the most attractive mythological contribution in the region.Chitai Golu’s idol in the main temple is made of limestone. In the Chand Dynasty, the idol was of simple Slate stone. Being an incarnation of Bhairav (Shiva), worshipping Golu before visiting the Jageshwar Dham is considered Santum. Bells in the Golu Devta temple are a viable proof of the number of requests and prayers offered to the Deity. Though this sounds orthodox to us, there are lakhs and lakhs of bells hung in the temple’s corridor. Many large bells with robust design are fascinating and worth viewing.
Golu is most prayed in Champawat, Almora, and Nainital; some of the regions have the deity as their “Esta Devta” or “Kul Devta”. One of the common patterns of the temples is that, there is always a sacred groove near the temple, be it the sacred lake of Naini besides Naina Devi temple, or trenches of Jageshwar. Chitai Golu follows the same pattern, the whole temple, though connected to the state highway, is solitary in the whole Pine forest. The Kunaoni people call these sacred woods “Thans”. The forests related to Golu Devta are known as “Goluk- than”. Normally, it is not possible to visit the temple every day so the vicinities usually put “tilak” on their forehead from “thans”. Initially, until the end of 2013, Golu was given a sacrifice of Goat in form of worship, but Supreme Court ban on animal sacrifice in Hindu temples in 2014 was strictly followed in each and every temple of Kumaon. Kotgari Devi in Pithoragarh was the first to follow the ruling in the region where Buffalos were used as sacrifices. This step was supported by the Educated Society of Kumaon and by futuristic Brahmans of the temples. Chitai golu also supported this initiative by the Supreme Court. “Bali” was considered as superstitious in 2014 and has set a great example in the society to opt for valid forms of Religion.
Golu Devta exists in the form of Dana Golu too in many parts of Kumaon. A legend states that king Jhal Rai of Katyuri Dynasty sent his soldiers to fetch water, but in search of water, the servants disturbed the woman Kalinka, who was praying to Lord Shiva. Later that woman challenged the king for a ritual of separating the bulls. Impressed by the valour of this woman, the king of the katyuri dynasty married her. Being the last wife amongst six, the queen, gave birth to a boy. As a result of other queen’s jealousy, they turned the baby into stone; this destressing the queen. Golu was then thrown into a river but a fisherman found him. After some years, a group of women saw a child of ten to twelve on a wooden horse feeding it water. On being questioned about this stupidity, the child answered: “if a woman can give birth to a stone, how cannot this wooden horse drink water?” Dana Golu is the name given to him for his friendly cattle herding with friends in hills of Kumaon. Golu Devta ruled in the golden era of Katyuri Dynasty. The Architecture in the region flourished to such a great extent that Chand dynasty also followed and added their knowledge for further advances in interlocking construction techniques. In a reign of Katyuri Kings, belief in Bhairava or Shiva increased to such an extent that extensive exploration of Jyotirlinga in Ja
Golu Devta ruled in the golden era of Katyuri Dynasty. The Architecture in the region flourished to such a great extent that Chand dynasty also followed and added their knowledge for further advances in interlocking construction techniques. In a reign of Katyuri Kings, belief in Bhairava or Shiva increased to such an extent that extensive exploration of Jyotirlinga in Jageshwar became a milestone. Jageshwar is now under surveillance of Archeological Survey of India. Chitai’s Golu Devta is the only temple where applications are submitted to fulfil one’s wishes.
Many mysterious stories revolve around this temple, regarding disrespecting the deity. The sudden wrecking and damage of the vehicles drove believers of Golu to follow the Binsar route on a daily basis. Hence, tourist pray to the deity and it is still in the myths of kumaon that Gol-jyu’s spirit binds the spirit of the Kumaon and partial Garhwal. This concept of Golu’s immortal spirit took off the culture of “jagars” in the region. Jagar is a ritual to conjure a Deity to a human body for justice. In Kumaon, problems related to property, injustice, and harassment are still taken to Golu Devta at first which results to low FIRs in the region. Many deities in the region are prayed to reincarnate in a human body by conducting “Jagars”.
No matter how much modernisation happens in our cities, remote regions of Uttarakhand always amaze the world by the way the native people fit mythological concepts to each and every change in the world. Marriages from all over India are now a part of Chitai Golu devta. Pujaris of the temple claim that foreigners (especially British) are interested in having their first marriage at Golu’s
temple for a long and justified partnership. But immigration of the natives to cities has made the survival of this heritage a challenge for our government. People are leaving their ancestral legacy for the sake of earning a handful of money. In response to that, not only these mythologies are left undocumented, but also in ruins. Still, many of native Kumaunis think that serving their land with utmost hard work and progressiveness will bring them to accomplish the task of sustainable development.