Last year I could not honor Yuv Raj’s invitation to visit his village and family house in Lahashni village: this time, in spite of my very tight schedule, no way to refuse! So here we are, after work, in local buses up to a village at the entrance of Manikharan valley, then more than one hour walking up on a steep path to our dream village Lahashni (2500 meters high). Hopefully the sun was not that strong at that time but both of us were heavily sweating and happy to reach home! Young women were singing and dancing while we were walking up through the village, what can you expect more!
Yuv Raj’s father and mother settled from Lahaul to this village in the years 1970s, bought their land, built their house and struggled hard to raise their big familiy (2 sons and 4 sisters “all married”). With Yuv Raj they faced of course more difficulties due to his physical impairment. During Yuv Raj’s early school time, they even lived in a very small house down in the valley so that he could attend school in spite of his disability. This type of landscape and the setting of traditional houses (with no ro o ms on the ground floor, which is kept for animals) make the daily life of physically-challenged persons quite impossible. Anyway, the boy’s happy nature, his studying capacity and intelligence, his parents’ love and friend’s respect have built the young Yuv Raj who so much impressed me when I first met him and whom we are so happy to have with us in this project.
Yuv Raj’s family follows both Buddhism and Hinduism, as is very often the case in Lahaul. As a child, Yuv Raj was brought to Dharamsala by his parents and blessed by HH Dalai Lama who also gave him a Buddhist name.
Unfortunately, I could spend only a few hours in such wonderful surroundings, enjoying the real Himachal that can only be found nowadays in remote villages. Of course, life is not easy in such high places and only constant hard work can provide a decent comfort to families – far from the glittering and illusion of touristic places… But people in Lahashni seem happy and not ready at all to leave their village, new houses are even under construction. For the hard working people, this place is idyllic.
Yuv Raj's mother and nephew
I have posted a few pictures in the Lahashni album (on the French blog), so you may judge by yourself of the beauty of such place. I was even lucky to see the local devta (god) leaving the village to take his annual bath at the confluence of the Beas and Parbati rivers, followed by many men as one member of each family must accompany the devta in each of his outings. Kullu valley is also known as the “valley of gods” and for those who are interested in this kind of traditions, please read the note written by Yuv Raj below this page, giving explanations on the nature of their village devta, Gargacharya Rishi.
The light that morning was ideal for photography and I could not resist taking as many pictures as possible while visiting the village. After taking an early lunch (which was following a heavy breakfast…), we rushed down the slopes under the midday sun, to catch a bus back to busy towns…
More pictures here (from the French blog)
I was happy and grateful to be given the opportunity once again to share some time with a local family, in the beauty, authenticity and simplicity of the true Himachali life.
Article written on 21 April in Kullu with fond memories of a happy day
and while waiting for my flight rescheduled for 23 April from Delhi (hopefully!)
Who is Gargasharya Rishi? Gargasharya Rishi (or Guru) was the guru of Lord Krishna in this childhood and the rishi (*) who performed Lord Shiva’s and Parvati’s marriage. Gargasharya Rishi, although visiting Dusserah festival each year in Kullu town, is the only devta who does not participate in the various phases of the festival as he prefers peaceful atmosphere. Under Gargasharya’s temple lies a small pond of holy water. (Yuv Raj Negi)
[(*) And what is a “rishi”? According to tradition, a rishi is a kind of saint who, while meditating in specific places in the valley (such as near Beas Kund lake or Brighu lake), was “revealed” the holy texts of the Vedas. If my memory is good enough, there are seven or eight rishis in Kullu valley, who are being worshiped by the local population with the same devotion and faith as other “devtas” (gods and goddesses) and also have their own “gur” (oracle) to communicate with the people. The most famous rishis are Manu Rishi (Old Manali) and Vashisht Rishi (Vashisht village). The culminating event of devtas’ and rishis’ social life is their attendance to the Dussehra festival when they come to pay homage to “lord” Ragunath, under the benevolent leadership of goddess Hadimba – yes, there is a whole fascinating world to be discovered and experienced in Kullu valley and Himachal! – Dominique]