BY SHITAL PRADHAN
Sikkim is a home of religious front. Admist the fact that these heritage sites are now a part of negligence but still richness lies in its glory of past. With the wheel of clock things have gone through their mid way but there are certain strokes that pave its own path and remain the testimony of the hour. Through this blog I have always tried to give the best insight story to its reader regarding the Sikkim, it’s past and present. Here comes a story of a Shiv mandir in Rhenock that has been weaving in tale frozen in time.
A Shivalaya at Rhenock Jeep stand near Bhanu Bhakta‘s statue had its own glory days and now lie in a affirm of deep silence. Once much crowded mandir is now on the verge of loosing its charm. I met Sunder Kumar Pradhan, former Panchayat member from Rhenock in his early 80s some time back and have heard a fascinating story of this mandir. According to Pradhan, this mandir has been in its present position ever since he was a child. He told his father used to let him visit this place and the mandir is over hundred years.
Pradhan told an interesting narrative that goes as: “During those days landlord inherited the land of Rhenock. The landowner of Rhenock then was one Rai Saheb Tulshi Das Pradhan. Once Rai Saheb had a strange dream. He saw in his dream a Sadhu inform him of a presence of a Shivling in the small pond present at Rhenock bazaar and ask him to construct a temple. The next day he unfolds his dream with his associates as a result it was decided to empty the pond water. The water was emptied and as told by the mysterious Sadhu a Shivling was found on the bottom of the pond. A small mandir was then constructed with walls and roof over the precious stone. (The above photograph according to Sunder Pradhan was shot around 1935-1940) Newar Samaj was formed and given the charge of the mandir. Later years land was owned and a house for Pujari was constructed”.
Sunder Pradhan recollected those days when Lakhey Dance (traditional Newari dance), Gai-Jatra (traditional Newari ceremony), Krishna aastami was performed in the mandir. Gai-Jatra, a religious ceremony held in Newar community was last held in this sleepy Sub Division in late 90s. According to it, after the death of male or female person a statue known as Basah in Newari language is made. In case of female the statue resembles a cow while for male counterpart ox is made. The statue is made of paper, mud, cement, marble rock, pottery and others. These statues are kept in man-made Rath and moved around the bazaar and returned back to the mandir. Higher the cart better the occasion, as it is told. It is believed that the ceremony will help the sprit of the departed person attain moksha.
Pradhan told Kumalay were trained Lakhey dancers. Man Singh Bhujel was one the last Kumalay Lakhey dancers who would thrill the gathering crowd. Pradhan narrated that the dancers would wear traditional dress and masks. At one time there were four trained dancers. Ever since the death of the last Lakhey dancer some forty years back and lack of interest among the younger generations made the pride of Rhenock extinct.
These celebrations now a part of legend in Rhenock and in some way or the other it is the loss of Rhenock that today’s generation fail to witness such tradition.