Jai Mata Di !
Facing of the Dhari Devi (Kali) murti [‘Living Image’] in Uttarakhand. Now, the Temple there is … interesting, because of what happened there in 2013. That year, Her Shrine was due to be relocated in order to make way for a hydroelectric dam – following a Supreme Court decision which overruled both locals and (federal) Ministry of Environment and Forests opposition to the scheme.
Except only a few short hours after the Murti had been cut from Her base so as to begin the relocation … the Skies opened and a torrential rain began – causing massive floods which flattened at least two towns, and severely damaged others, killing hundreds (3,886 people were reported missing in the immediate aftermath).
Plans were rapidly made to put the Murti back in as close to Her original situation as possible.
Now, it may be simple and compelling to presume that what had happened here was a case of a Wrathful Goddess being rather annoyed, and then choosing to visit Destruction from the Heavens, The Waters, down upon those who had failed or worse, outright insulted Her.
But I am not quite sure that that is the (full) story. You see, for some years prior to this – greedy local corporations had conspicuously attempted to undermine the protections upon the environment which were supposed to maintain the integrity of as much of the course of the river as possible. They wanted to mine for minerals, or they wanted to build this aforementioned hydroelectric dam.
And so, they deforested and carved up the banks; and it is even alleged that the eventual build-up of water and silt which began flooding the Temple in the first place may have been a deliberate act by the corporation in question, designed to compel a speedy relocation of the Murti.
Deforested and otherwise weakened hillsides along a river’s catchment are notoriously poor for absorbing rainfall – water just goes straight down them, often taking appreciable chunks of hillside with it in landslides, which then further raise the river levels and add destructive force.
This meant that what could have been a much smaller event in 2013 … instead became far greater in its impact – thanks to a set of deliberate (if negligent/foolhardy) decisions by various people to actively and rather literally undermine the natural environment of the Goddess’ Realm.
As is so often the case – wise Environmentalism and devotional Piety are truly the same cause here. Both were overruled or even merely outright ignored – and death was the ultimate outcome.
Still, there is one further point of curious – downright weird in the old Germanic sense, we might say – resonancy to the story.
The neighbouring town of Kedarnath is famous for its incredibly important Shaivite temple – one of the 12 (or 13, if you count the one in Australia) Jyotirlingams [‘Pillars of Starlight’]. During the disaster on the night that the Dhari Devi Murti was moved – the town of Kedarnath was amongst the worst hit, being devastated by both flood and landslide [something remarkably similar in outcome to a previous attempt made by a local king in 1882 to do much the same thing …]
The Kedarnath Jyotirlingam shrine, however … was not.
Indeed, even despite all around it being hugely damaged
A massive stone which had come off a mountain further up the river was propelled by the flood-waters to plant itself immediately behind the Temple, directly in the floodwaters’ path. Under normal circumstances – not that there was anything particularly normal about that night – we should probably have anticipated the huge rock careening into the Temple like a wrecking-ball. Except it didn’t.
As I say – it planted itself in such a position that the floods’ major flows were dispersed around the Temple, as were the boulders that came along with them down the sides of the valley. And through a combination of the Temple’s sturdy, redoubtable construction and this mysterious rock … the Temple itself was so untouched that even though water levels rose inside there also – the offering of Bel leaves (Belpatra) atop the ShivLing (Shaivite Altar-stone) inside was undisturbed ; with many of the survivors in Kedarnath being those who had taken refuge there in the Temple.
To sum it up, then – the massive disaster which accompanied the attempted removal of the Dhari Devi Murti nearby in Uttarakhand , was accompanied by an incredibly fortuitous (‘Shiva’, indeed, via another translation) occurrence which saw His Holy Site protected from the devastation, along with those who had sought to take refuge directly with Him.
The overarching series of events was a tragedy – and I mean that also in the classically Greek sense , insofar as it was caused by hubris and mortal folly, leading to a severely sad outcome.
Whether we wish to say that said hubris and folly was the attempt to move the Murti in order to make way for the dam and other such developments – or whether we instead wish to pursue the more … materialist explanation hinging around the ignoring of the environmental caveats in a way that destabilized the river and its catchment –
It is difficult to read of these events, and the miraculous potency inherent in their occurrence. Some would say it is ‘Nature’, others would say it is ‘Divine’. Many of the latter would not see the difference.
I am one of them.
जय माता दी
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Look after Nature, Nature shall look after you.
Disrespect The Gods – and the Opposite shall be true.