This sleepy hamlet in Himachal Pradesh dispenses its own home-grown brand of justice. There are no courts or lengthy litigation for the residents who are driven by faith and the power of nature alone.
In Naggar, a heritage village in Kullu district, it’s a shake of the animals’ head that resolves resolve disputes.
According to villagers, a special court is held at Jagatipatt temple, believed to be a meeting place for local deities — around 360 — of Kullu, to settle the disputes.
Explaining the tradition, Jai Chand Kayasth, a village elder, said the parties involved in a dispute get goats or sheep to
the temple. The animals are left untied and a priest starts chanting vedic hymns.
“During the rhythmic chant, the priest picks up the dust and throws it on the animals. The one that shivers badly is declared guilty and the person accepts the culpability. In thefts and other crimes, the guilty person has to pay the compensation. The animal is then sacrificed,” he added.
“The judgement is actually pronounced by the Gods and the animals only act as their messengers. We have been following this tradition for centuries and our faith in it is intact,” said the 64-year-old Kayasth who retired from the Indian Air Force in 1985.
It is also believed that all deities of Kullu assemble at the Jagatipatt temple whenever there is a natural calamity or some new project is to be started in the area.
“Deities gather at the temple to discuss the issue. Gur, a communicating link between a deity and the people, is also present at the assembly. The spirit of deity enters the Gur who goes into trance and conveys the deities’ decision to the people,” said Kayasth.
The last such assembly was held in February 2006 to discuss the $520-million Himalayan Ski Village project. “At Jagati Puchch (grand convention), the Council of Gods unanimously vetoed the project,” he said.