Malana kingdom gives in to fire

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By: Satyakam Bharti

Kullu: When fire consumed about 100 houses in Mohani village of Kullu district sometime back, the tears of homeless people shivering in the cold almost went unnoticed, had it not been for the then chief minister’s emotionally charged tour to the place.

Malana has always been different. A civilisation, perhaps the oldest democracy, undoubtedly home to Malana Cream, the so-called best quality cannabis… But all this is almost history today, a day after an inferno swept across the kingdom of Jamdagini devta. Abut 200 houses were turned to ash before sunrise on Saturday morning even as villagers sobbingly labouring to break a line of houses to save rest of the village.

Though no loss of life has been reported, loss of property is estimated to be in crores. The greatest loss, except for the physical misery these ‘descendents of the Alexander’s soldiers’ will now have to go through living in the open, will be rebuilding their lives without the physical presence of their deities as the centuries-old temples of Jamdagini devta too were consumed by the flames, turning to ash his personal belongings of historical importance, including gold and silver ornaments, weapons and even a statue of emperor Akbar, which he himself is said to have gifted. Though few years back the government was able to set up a panchayat in the villagers, Malana residents still govern themselves as per the wishes of their presiding deity. But the kingdom is no more. While the flames were not yet doused, the deity’s helpers were able to reason out the destruction as Jamdagini’s wrath.

He had warned against the village joining the mainstream, of a road reaching the village… So when the news of the fire reached Kullu, there was no way a firibrigade could reach there as the nearest road is still about five kilometres from the village. It was only a miracle that the villagers managed to save rest of the houses. Divine intervention again.

Though the administration announced relief measures, the villagers will again look up to the divine to rebuild their lives, and also their faith.