Kullu: Malana , the well known village in Manikaran valley of Kullu is also famous for it’s unique religious system where Akbar, the Mughal King, is worshipped with Jamadagni Rishi (sage), the presiding deity of the village.
Other than being famous globally for illegally producing Malana Cream, the notorious high quality charas cultivation there is another interesting aspect of the village.
The religious customs of the village includes worshipping the presiding deity of ‘sage Jamadagani’, also known as Jamalu Devta and the Emperor Akbar. Both are properly worshipped twice an year on the occasion of ‘Fagali’, one of which falls in February (during Falgun month of Hindu calendar) and the other won in August.
At the Fagali festival in Malana some symbolic articles of sage Jamadagni and a gold idol of Akbar are brought out of temple where they were worshipped with full rituals as per customs in front of all the villagers.
The folklore story about Akbar being worshiped as narrated by Surajanu Ram, the priest of sage Jamadagni temple is that ”during Akbar’s reign, his soldiers trekked all the way to Malana to collect the taxes, but sage Jamadagni’s priest refused to pay any tax.”
“During Mughal emperor’s rule, all deities of Kullu valley used to pay taxes as a symbol of respect and honour to sage Jamadagni. It was considered outrageous for the temple priest to pay taxes to the ruler. But Akbar’s soldiers forcibly recovered the tax by taking a takka (gold coin) from the temple,” says Surajanu Ram.
Rishi Jamadagani resented the forceful collection of the gold coin tax. Emperor Akbar’s officers were shocked when they noticed that the gold coin collected as tax from Malana village started flying in the treasury.
Not convinced, Akbar questioned the deity’s divine power and asked Jamadagni Rishi to cause a snowfall in Agra, if he really possessed any power. The next day a miracle happened as Agra, the Mughal capital, got snow.
The king was astonished and impressed by the divine powers of the deity. As a mark of respect and obeisance, Akbar sent a gold idol of himself to the Malana temple. From that day the idol of Akbar is also worshipped along with the village deity, says Surajanu Ram.
Bhagi Ram, the Panchayat Pradhan (president) of Malana emphasises that the village strictly abides by age old customs and no one is allowed to use leather in the village area. “Even visitors and tourist who reach the village are asked to leave all leather stuff including shoes, belt or purse outside the village to maintain purity of the village,” says Bhagi Ram.
Malana is known for its culture which is much different from other villages of Kullu. Governed by an archaic form of democracy, which it counts as an age old tradition. Most matters related to the village religious and social life are conducted in accordance with the deity’s decree that is passed on through an oracle (called ‘puchh’ in local dialect).
The oracles word is considered to be final and is obeyed by all villagers. The locals claim that only about 10% of the disputes from the village reach the courts because 90% of them are settled in accordance with the oracles word, on of the most interesting aspects of this village.