Gamra comes back to her Mother’s Place ! (UT)

saton Athon Friends, the whole of Uttarakhand is not only very much rich in its flora and fauna, but also in the legendary sagas and folklore's prevalent there. Today we will go into the most famous legendary saga,or say the famous saga (Gatha) of Gamra and Maishar, the rural form of Goddess Gaura and Lord Maheshwar in the high hills of Uttarakhand. This gatha is sung and played during the occasion of Satun-Athon (सातों-आठों) an eight-day long festival of fanfare. The legend of Gamra & Maishar, in nutshell, goes like this.

In the high hills of Uttarakhand, there was a cowherd owner, whose daughter was Gamra. On the hill top of Kailas, there also was a shepherd with the name of Maishar. While grazing their tamed animals-Cows and Sheep, they once happened to see one another and fell in love. Later, Maishar in the form of a sanyasi, met Gamra’s mother and begged the hand of her daughter in marriage. They ultimately got married. Gamra went to the hilltop of Kailas with her husband Maishar. But after some time she remembered her mother and decided to proceed alone to her mother’s place, but in the almost inaccessible snow clad hilly terrain she forgot the right path to reach her native place. As she proceeded ahead she sought the assistance of the fauna and flora to extend their helping hand in pointing to her the appropriate way leading to her mother’s place.  First of all she requested the lemon tree to tell her right path to her mother’s village-

सातों आठों पर्व

O lemon tree of the way--please tell me the path leading to my mother’s place. (बाटा की निमुवां डाली, म्यर मैत जान्या बाटो कां हो?). 

The lemon tree was kind enough to tell her like this-- “The right side pathway goes to Kedar and the left one to your mother’s place. (दैण बाटो जालो केदार को, बों बाटो त्यर मैत जालो.) Pleased very much over that helpful guidance, Gamra bestowed upon the lemon tree her good wishes-- “Always flower in the white colour and the fruits get ripe in the yellowish red. May your fruits be always eaten up by mankind. (धौला रंग फूलिए डाली, राता रंग पाके, तेरा फल नीमुवां डाली, मनुसिया रे खाला.) While proceeding ahead she once again forgets the appropriate pathway and asks the Orange tree to tell her the right way-- “O Orange tree of the way, tell me as to which of the paths goes to my mother’s place ?” ( बाटा में की नारिंग डाली,म्यर मैत जानी बाटो कां हो ?). In response to it the Orange tree is kind enough to tell her, like this-- “The right side path goes to Tirjugi, and the left one goes straight to your mother’s place” (दैनू बाटो तिरजुगी जालो, बों बाटो त्यर मैत जालो.”) Feeling very much grateful, she also wishes the Orange tree in these words--  “May you flower in the blue colour and your fruits ripe in the yellow ones.” ( निलारंगन फूलिएडाली, पीला रंग पाके.”). then again, she happens to meet the Ghingaroo plant (Pyrecantha crenulata)) and repeats her query-- “O, Ghingaroo plant of the way, tell me as to what is the appropriate pathway to my mother’s home?” ( बाटा में की घिंगारू डाली, म्यर मैंत जान्या बाटो कां हो ?”) The Ghingaroo plant tells her like this-- “The left side way goes to Badrinath, and the right one to your mother’s home.” ( बों बाटो जालो बद्रीनाथ, दैनबाटो त्यर मैत जालो.”)  Pleased very much on that response, Gamra, as a rule, wishes her best in these words-- “ May you flower in the white colour and may your fruits ripe in red, and be picked up by birds.” ( धौला रंग फूलिए डाली, राता रंग पाके. तेरा फल घिंगारू डाली पंछी लोग रे खाला.”) She proceeds ahead with the help of the flora and next comes up the Kilmora plant ( barberis arista), Hisaalu climber (rubus ellipticus), Deodar  (Cedrus Deodara) and Pine trees. Almost all the plants, climbers and trees cooperate with her, but the Pine tree does not extend its helping hand towards her. Gamra as a rule asks-- “ O Pine tree of the hilltop, tell me as to which of the ways leads to my mother’s home ?’’ The Pine tree tells her in an indifferent and arrogant manner like this- “I myself, am always busy in my hissing sounds of fury and tell me how I know the path to your mother’s place ?’’ (आपनै रूंराट अपनै फूंफाट, कि जाणों त्यर मैत बाटो ?”) displeased over that arrogance of the Pine tree she curses it like this-- “May you flower in the green, but your fruits ripe in the dried ones. Your fruits will drop in the dry land.” (हरियां वरन फूलेसूखा वरन पाके, तेरा फल सूखी धरती झड़ाला.”. 

Anyway, however, Gamra is successful in reaching her native place in the high Himalyas. She happens to reach there by the month of Bhadau, falling from mid-August to mid-September, when almost all the cereals and pulses get exhausted in the high hills. Her mother was very much pleased to see her lovely daughter back, but at the same time was very much perturbed to see as to what will she eat there in those all pervaded famine conditions. The saga of Gamra & Maishar, besides being a melodious folklore, also gives a very vivid account the flora and fauna of the present Nandadevi Abhayaranya in the Himalyan territory of Kumaon and Garhwal.

Article : Shri Uday Tamta 

(Retired Senior Class-I Officer, Government of India)

Photo Credit : Mr. Mannu Dafali