Knowing and understanding Pangi

by Lovnish Thakur
Pangi Ghatti

Pangi is a world in itself. The landlocked valley remains cut off from the outer world for over six months during winters. It is during these months that people of Pangi rejoice and come along to relive the moments of togetherness that has bound them together for over centuries now.

Pangi is a world in itself. A trekker’s paradise to the core, the region lies amidst the majestic Pir Panjal range on one side and the Zanskar ranges on the other. Pangwals, as the locals are often known occupy the Himalayan treasure, we all known as Pangi. The people of Pangi who number around 18,000 were shrouded in mystery until late as the region was without a road link. The landlocked valley is located in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. Village deities and devtas still hold the might in the valley and every important decision is taken after their consent. The higher reaches in the valley are occupied by people of Buddhist origin who are known as Bhots. These Bhots occupy areas in the high reaches of Pangi Valley known as Bhatoris. Pangi valley is home to five Bhatoris namely Sural, Hundan, Parmar, Chasak and Hilu-Twan.

Land of Unique Traditions
‘Patar’ the locally brewed liquor is cherished by locals and visitors alike in Pangi. Festivities continue throughout the year as festivals of Jukaru, Phulaich, Phul yatra and Sheel keep the locals occupied thoroughly.

Jukaru is the most important festival in Pangi as it is held to mark the end of intense winter in February. The origin of Jukaru is interesting enough to be mentioned. Local folk stories mention that in older days two of the biggest landowners of the valley had a quarrel. The battle got so intense that they decided to kill each other. However, good sense prevailed and they reconciled. Jukaru has been celebrated since to mark their friendship.

Singing, dancing and feasting, not to forget the splendid use of ‘Patar’, Phulaich is held during the months of October and November in the region. The festivities continue for four days and people from all over the valley participate in Phulaich. The festival is held as a mark of respect to Dett Nag who is considered to be the deity of Kupha.

Phul Yatra and Sheel
Phul Yatra is often held to mark the end of harsh winter months. Offerings are made by locals to deity in the region even as they prey for a joyful summer. Another fair by name of Sheel is also held during March and April to mark the end of winters.

Legendary Det Nag Shrine
Almost every temple in Pangi valley has a legendary tale associated with it. Among these is the deity of Det Nag which is revered in Kilar, the headquarters of Pangi valley. Det Nag was originally based in Lahaul valley and used to demand people to be eaten.

One day it was a turn of an old widow to offer her only son to the Nag. However, a passing shepherd (gaddi) came to the rescue of the old lady and offered himself to the Nag. He laid a condition before the Nag and pointed that he be eaten alive and each part of his body be shown to him, while he is being eaten.

A fight eventually ensured and the Nag was thrown into the Chandrabhaga River from where it reached Pangi. A farmer carried the Nag and eventually the Nag was left at the present spot where the temple has been constructed.

The Det Nag has been worshipped ever since and occupies a significant place in religious references in Pangi valley.

Social fabric of Pangi
Despite the advent of modernization in form of mobile technology and internet, Pangwals remain connected to their roots. The age old tradition of Praja System still continues in the valley. Elder male members of the family form a part of the Praja or village council and are consulted on every matter of relevance to the villages.

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