Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mamas turn sons into monkeys --LANGOOR WALA MELA IN AMRITSAR...

September 30, 2008------

'Amritsar' conjures up images of the glistening 'Golden Temple' but few are aware that the holy city of Amritsar is also "world famous" for the "langoorwala Mela". What "Durga Puja" is to West Bengal and "Dandiya celebrations" are to Gujarat, the Langoorwala Mela is to the Holy City of Amritsar.
Every year on the occasion of the Navratras, thousands from across the country and abroad arrive at the ancient “Bara Hanuman Prachin Mandir” at Durgiana Temple here to take part in the internationally famous nine-day Mela to make a wish for a child or for thanksgiving.
The unique mela that began here on Tuesday, on the auspicious occasion of Navratras saw children dressed as “langoors” dancing to the tune of drums in a procession passing through different parts of the holy city , in a rare feast for the eyes.
More than 2000 langoor costumes have already been distributed say temple authorities.
Many childless devotees, irrespective of 'religion' or any caste, don the garb of langoor to seek Lord Hanuman’s blessings for the birth of a child, while many children can be seen wearing the languor dress to show their gratitude towards Him.
In bright red outfits, with silver and golden trimmings, conical caps, faces smeared with fuller’s earth and make up like langoors complete with long tails and silver-coloured staffs, children dressed as langoors dance to drum beats for all nine days of Navratras.
The temple boasts of a "rare" idol of Lord Hanuman in sitting position. Except for Hanuman Gadri, Ayodhya, such posture of the idol is believed to exist nowhere in the world.
According to legend in the epic Ramayana, twin sons of Lord Rama – Luv and Kush (Lahore and Kasur in Pakistan were named after them, respectively) — who lived in exile with their mother, Sita Mata at Ram Tirath (near Amritsar ) captured the Ashwamedha horse let loose after “Ashwamedha Yajna” performed by Lord Rama to stake his claim over the territories where the Royal horse set afoot.
Lord Hanuman, who came to defend the horse, was taken prisoner by the twins and tied to a banyan tree which is located in the Durgiana Mandir . Later, a temple was built at this place. To commemorate this, couples still tie a red thread on this very ancient banyan tree after wish fulfillment.
Interestingly, an eighty-year-old and a few months old baby alike can be seen dressed as langoors to fulfill the vows of their parents or grandparents. On their part, the parents or a guardian sleeps on floor, observe fast, avoid footwear, eat vegetarian food uncut with knife and recite verses from Ramayana during the entire 9-day period. The “langoors” on their part remain bare-foot all the 9- days and sleep on the floor. On the first day, they bring some sweets, coconut and flowers after seeking blessings from the head priest.
Many childless devotees, irrespective of religion, don the garb of langoor to seek Lord Hanuman’s blessings for the birth of a child, while many children can be seen wearing the langoor dress to show their gratitude towards him.
The mela concludes on Dussehra festival when “langoors” finally take off their langoor outfits near the banyan tree.
The childless mothers gifted with a child, untie the thread on the ancient tree on the fulfillment of their wish. According to a popular legend, the unique festival has been celebrated for centuries.