The Jwalamukhi fair is held twice a year during the Navratri of Chaitra and Aswin. The devotees go round the Jwala Kund in which the sacred fire burns, making their offerings. The Gorakh Tibbi a centre of the Gorakhpanthi Naths is placed near the Jwala Kund. Folk-dances, songs, plays, wrestling matches and athletics are some of the important attractions of the fair. The Jwalamukhi Temple in Kangra becomes the venue for the major fair.
In April and October, the people of the area who believe that the jets of the inflammable gas coming from the volcano are actually the sacred fires coming out from the mouth of their Goddess, worship the Goddess of the Jwalamukhi volcano in the district of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh.
People come with red silken flags (dhwaja) to greet the Mother Goddess, ‘JwalaJi’. The fair is attributed to the worship of that Eternal Flame which is coming out of earth spontaneously and perpetually. One of the 51 Shaktipeeths of India, the temple of Jwalamukhi is in Jwalamukhi town, which is about 70 kilometers from Dharamsala. Jwalamukhi is a famous temple of Goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of flaming mouth, believed to be the manifestation of the Goddess Sati. The building is modern with a gilt dome and pinnacles, and possesses a beautiful folding door of silver plates. The Devi appears in the form of nine different flames. The principal one is believed to be Mahakali. The other eight flames at different places in the temple represent the following Goddesses Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj, Vidhya Vasini, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Sarswati, Ambika and Anjana.
In princely times, temple affairs were guided and supervised by the princely state of Nadaun. In 1809, Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited the temple and after dyeing his hand in saffron, stamped an agreement in the temple premises with Raja Sansar Chand-the local ruler. Later after tasting success in the Afghan war, Maharaja Ranjit Singh gilded the roof of the Jwalamukhi temple as a thanksgiving. His son Kharak Singh presented to the temple a pair of silver-plated folding doors.
One legend says that Prajapati Daksha, the father of Sati once organized a great Yajna and invited all gods except Shiva. When Sati came to know of this, she pestered Shiva to go to Yajna. Shiva maintained that they should not go uninvited. Sati argued that it was not bad to go to parents or Gurus un-invited. Shiva did not agree for himself but allowed Sati to go. On reaching her father s house, Sati saw that no seat (assan) had been earmarked for Shiva, which meant a deliberate attempt to humiliate Shiva. She was so offended that she at once plunged herself into the havankund of Yajna. On hearing this, Shiva rushed to the spot and found Sati half burnt. Distressed Shiva carried the corpse of Sati, gyrated it from summit to summit. Apprehending a great calamity befalling, the gods ran to Lord Vishnu for help who then severed Sati s body into pieces with his Sudarshan Chakra. Places where the pieces fell, gave rise to fifty-one Shaktipeeths, the centres where the power of goddess is inherit.
Jwalamukhi Temple Fair
There is another legend associated with Jawalamikhi. A cowherd found that one of his cows was always without milk. He followed the cow to find out the cause. He saw a girl coming out of the forest, drank the cow s milk, and then disappeared in a flash of light. The cowherd went to the king and told him the story. The king was aware of the legend that Sati s tongue had fallen in this area. The king tried, without success, to find that sacred spot. Again, some years later, the cowherd went to the king to report that he had seen a flame burning in the mountains. The king found the spot and had darshan (vision) of the
holy flame. He built a temple there and arranged for priests to engage in regular worship.
It is believed that the Pandavas later renovated the temple. The folk song that "Panjan Panjan Pandavan Tera Bhawan Banaya" bears testimony to this belief. Raja Bhumi Chand, the progenitor of the ruling Katoch family of Kangra, first built the temple. Jawalamukhi has since times immemorial turned out to be a great pilgrimage centre. The Mughal Emperor Akbar once tried to extinguish the flames by covering them with an iron disk and even channelizing water to them. But the flames blasted all these efforts. Akbar then presented a golden parasol at the shrine. However, his cynicism at the power of devi caused the gold to debase into another metal. His belief in the deity was all the more strengthened after this incident. Thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine round the year to satisfy their spiritual urge.
The deity is offered Bhog of Rabri or thickened milk, Misri or candy, seasonal fruits, milk and arti is done. The puja has different phases and goes on practically the whole day. Arti is done five times in the day, Havan is performed once daily and portions of "Durga Saptasati" are recited.