Bhaderwah: To welcome the spring after prolonged harsh winters, thousands of Nag devotees converged at the ancient high-altitude Subar-Nag temple in Bhaderwah to celebrate the first Baisakhi festival on Thursday.
Located at a height of 12,000 feet from the sea level, the doors (Kewaar) of the 1600 years old temple were opened today on the eve of the Baisakhi festival.
The ancient festival which marks the beginning of spring in this hilly region symbolises the ancient Naga culture of Bhaderwah.
The traditional celebrations started early in the morning with the opening of doors of the 1600-year-old temple at Subar Dhar, 35 Km from Bhaderwah town followed by sacrificing of rams.
Hundreds of devotees converged at hilltop meadow surrounded with snow peaked mountains after trekking a 12 km steep hill to pay their obeisance to Lord Subar Nag.
On this occasion, dozens of sheep were sacrificed as per ancient custom. “This festival has not only religious importance but this is also the most ancient festival in this area. Devotees from the different parts of the Valley including Chinta, Bhlaara, and Sharora arrive here with holy mace to have the blessings of Lord Subhar Nag. The doors of the 1600 year old temple were thrown open for the devotees this morning,” Anil Kumar Raina, head Priest of the historic temple said.
Locals demanded that the ancient spring festival which is celebrated since time immemorial be brought under pilgrimage tourism.
This is not only an ancient and historic festival symbolizing the unique Nag Culture but the temple is also located amidst lush green grasslands surrounded with snow peaked mountains,” said Phulail Singh (61) head organiser of the mela.
“Having all the ingredients to attract devotees and tourists from across the globe, the tourism department and BDA (Bhaderwah Development Authority) have done nothing concrete so far to project it as a pilgrimage destination,” Phulail Singh added.
“After four months of a dull life, during which we mostly remain indoors due to harsh climatic conditions and snow, this festival which marks the new spring season, not only rejuvenates us but also gives us a chance to meet our relatives and friends. Besides, all our wishes are fulfilled by Lord Subhar Nag,” a young devotee, Diksha (21), said.
SP Bhaderwah Kameshwar Puri said that elaborate security arrangements were made to facilitate the smooth conduct of the spring festival.
“A total of 15,000 devotees, including 9,500 women visited the ancient temple. To keep the high altitude meadow clean and free from plastic waste, BDO Bhaderwah Sunil Kumar has deployed men and collection kiosks to collect polythene and plastic waste,” said Kameshwar Puri.