Rashmi Talwar

World famous “‘Langoor’ Mela” starts in Amritsar

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Amritsar: Few are aware that the holy city of Amritsar is “world famous” for the annual “Langoorwala Mela” at the Hindu shrine Durgiana Temple, architecturally built as the replica of the revered Sikh shrine – the Golden Temple, in Amritsar. 

Durgiana Temple with a similar, gold-covered dome, the circumambulation around the temple and causeway path to the sanctum sanctorum of the main shrine, sitting in a similar pool of Nectar is exactly like the Sikh Golden Temple and a mere few kilometers apart, located in the ancient walled city of Amritsar.

What Eid is to Kashmir, “Durga Puja” to West Bengal and “Dandiya celebrations” to Gujarat, the langoor-wala Mela or fair is to the Holy City of Amritsar.

Every year on the occasion of the onset of winter- on the ‘Navratras’- (9-Holy Days), thousands from across the country and abroad arrive at the ancient “Bara Hanuman Prachin (ancient temple) Mandir” on the premises of Durgiana Temple here, to participate in the internationally famous Mela to make a wish for a child or for thanksgiving.

The unique mela is a rare feast for the eyes, in the Holy city that sees children dressed as ‘Langoors’ – a species of monkeys, dancing to the tune of drums in a procession passing through different parts of the city. This time over 5,000 ‘Langoor’s’ symbolizing the army of Lord  Hanuman – the Monkey Lord, are participating as a thanksgiving to  Lord.

Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, president Durgiana TempleCommittee, said over 200 volunteers will undertake the management of the mela.

More than 3000 ‘Langoor’ costumes are sold annually while many languor outfits are given for rent. Childless couples, irrespective of ‘religion’ or caste, seek blessings of Lord Hanuman( from epic Ramayan ) for the birth of a child and on wish fulfillment dress their child as  ‘Langoor’, in gratitude to the Almighty.

In bright red silver-striped outfits, with silver and golden trimmings, conical-shaped caps, faces, arms, smeared with fuller’s earth, and make-up like ‘‘Langoor’s’ complete with long tails and silver-colored staffs in hand, children dance to drum beats for all nine days. lately, monkey masks too have also become popular.

Bimal Arora, finance secretary Durgiana Temple committee informs –“The temple boasts of a “rare” idol of Lord Hanuman in sitting position which is only found in two other temples in the world, at Prayagraj and Hanuman Garhi”.

Legend has it that the twin sons of Lord Rama – Luv and Kush of epic Ramayan who were born close to Amritsar in a mud hut of Rishi Valmiki the author of the Ramayan,  called the “Ram Tirath” lived in exile with their mother, Sita Mata till their youth. The twins captured the ‘Ashwamedha horse’- or the horse of victory, let loose after “Ashwamedha Yajna” performed by Lord Rama (the twins’ father and King of Ayodhaya) to stake his claim over all land territories where the Royal horse set afoot. —Lord Hanuman, who unknowingly came to defend the captured horse from the two young sons of Lord Ram, was taken prisoner by the twins and tied to a Banyan tree which is believed to be the offshoot of the same tree located on the Temple premises eons past. Later the truth about the children’s parentage was revealed here.s As a ritual, childless couples believing auspicious spirits lovingly tie a red sacred thread or ‘Mauli’ around the majestic bark of this ancient banyan tree seeking a boon of a child.

Interestingly the city of Lahore and Kasur in Pakistan are named after Luv and Kush respectively, and the fact is even mentioned in the official records of Pakistan.

Remarkably, the pledge to make a ‘Langoor’ can carry on for life, and an eighty-year-old ‘Langoor’ and a few months old baby could be dressed as ’Langoors’ to fulfill the vows of parents or grandparents. A strict regime of custom is followed by parents or a guardian of ‘Langoor’ – to sleep on the floor, observe fast, shun footwear, eat vegetarian food uncut with a knife, and recite verses from Ramayana during the entire 9-day period.

The ‘Langoors’ on their part remain barefoot all 9-days and sleep on the floor. The mela concludes on Dussehra festival when ‘Langoor’s’ finally take off their ‘Langoor’ outfits near the banyan tree. Childless mothers gifted with a child, untie the thread on the ancient tree on the fulfillment of their wish. In popular belief, the unique festival has been celebrated for centuries.

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