Many people claim that they have seen a rider in white clothes, with white turban riding a black horse in the area many a time who guides them when they are lost in the way or scared at night while commuting through the interior of jungles.
He is the most revered local deity in the Zundhar area of Ramban known as Lakru Dada Ji or Lakru Nana Ji with respect. People in Ramban regard him as their Graham Devta. He is considered as the most dreaded and powerful among his twenty two brothers and twelve sisters.
After dramatic events with his father and villagers he settled down in the village temple. Temple dedicated to this local Naga deity is situated on the way to village Gham in Ramban District. At a distance of 10 KM from Ramban towards Marog village one has to turn right on Silla road. Reaching Jandi Morh one has to walk towards Gham village to reach the Temple dedicated to Lakru Dada Ji. Also a small temple of Lakru Dada Ji was built on NH 44 in Morgodi Morh for the safety of the travellers. Locals pay obeisance, offer Jaggery and Shereni while passing through that temple. It is also believed that this is the meeting place of Dada Ji with his two sisters Mata Kicholi and Mata Charkhi.
He was the youngest among his siblings and was the favourite one of his father Nag Vasuki. Lakru in local dialect is the morphological derivation of Lokdu / Lakkut, meaning the smallest or the youngest one. It is said that Nag Vasuki distributed the area to all his sons as their kingdom except his most loved one Lakru Dada ji. He didn’t give anything to him. He wanted to give him the best place to rule. But his son, ignorant of this, became impatient and demanded his area to rule. Nag Vasuki got angry at his tantrums and ordered him to live near a Shamshan Ghat (cremation ground).
Disheartened with his father’s decision he asked his father,
“And what will I eat? Father?”
“You will eat dead bodies.”
“What will become my home, father?”
“You will live under the Kusheer bush (Giant Reed; Arundo donax)”
“As you say father”, with this he jumped to the Shamshan Ghat.
It is said that the land granted to him was densely populated. The village had a Kabaddi team, with hundred players on each side. Lakru Dada joined the team discreetly. And it happened; with each passing day one young boy started dying. And a body was burnt every day in the Shamshan Ghat. Initially villagers could not understand what was happening to them. Later the village priest, with divine powers, envisioned the presence of the killer among them. He tried to catch him, but with agility he hid himself under the soil. At last they conducted a havan and with powerful mantras the priest was able to becharm him.
On asking who he was and why he was killing the villagers, Lakru Dada explained about himself and said that he wanted to demonstrate his power to the villagers without which they would not allow him to settle in their village.
Then he promised them that he will not harm villagers anymore instead he will protect them. For that villagers have to give him a place to live and food to eat. After that villagers made a stone shelter for him to live in and served him with the local available food every day. Then he changed his abode from that shamshan ghat to that stone shelter. Around two hundred and fifty years earlier, shamshan ghat was shifted down on the banks of Chenab River. In the place of shamshan ghat now there is a dry pond with black coloured soil.
In the past a concrete temple was constructed at the place and till today Makki ka daala (Baari- a local floor) is offered to him. People on every Monday offer a Mitha Roath (Sweet flat bread) to the deity which only male person in the family can prepare. A separate plate and water is used for its preparation.
While speaking to the temple head priest Sher Singh Ji, he disclosed that the stone idol of Lakru Dada Ji inside the temple is six feet in length, of which only the upper part is accessible for darshan, the rest is under the earth. It is said that he himself ordered the priests to establish his idol in human shape with a Janeu (a sacred thread) and a safa (head gear) on head. There is a stone near the temple which is considered the horse of Dada Ji; no one sits on that stone. A bogh (oblation) is also offered to that Stone horse of Dada Ji.
One can have a darshan of a stone figure of human shape with a neat and crisp white turban and engraved facial features inside the temple. Iron trishules (tridents) and Sankals (iron chains) are presented to the deity on occasions.
Also in the village a Kumb of all twenty-two deities in the form of pindi is established. That abode of Deities is called Thath in the local language. On the special occasion food for all twenty-two brothers is prepared and is served to them.
It is said that Lakru Dad Ji manifested himself in idol form in the Gham temple and in living form in one of the oldest homes in the village Sulli adjacent to Gham Village.
According to the story, in olden times an epidemic broke out in the area, all the villagers and livestock were dying. People started fleeing from the villages to lower areas. But only one person stayed in the village. Once Dada ji came in his dreams and told him to establish him in his home. he promised him that he will face no harm. Lakru Dada Ji gave him an Iron piece, tied with some wood which he found on his bed in the morning. That person kept that on the ceiling wooden log. And then he forgot about him. After a few months when the disease ceased to spread, people started coming back. Once it happened after dinner, he saw that something was burning from that iron piece. He got scared and thought it would burn down the whole house. He immediately stood up to see that the iron and wood piece were not burning. He got confused about what was happening to him. Then he remembered that he had kept that a long time ago. He understood that Dada Ji was doing this. Then he placed that iron and wood piece under the ground in one room and established him in his house.
It is said that in that room Lakru Dada Ji manifested himself in living form. Sitting on his chair (pead), he used to spin the wool on the spinning wheel (Charkha) and smoked his hookah (Hubble- bubble) there. It is said that one can still hear the sound of spinning wheel and hookah in silent night. Very ancient weapons like tridents (trishules) and wooden javelin (bala) are kept in the place and well preserved by villagers.
Pilgrimage: Monday and Saturday are considered auspicious to visit the temple in Village Ghaam. One of the knowledgeable persons Ragibir Singh Raju Ji who is a teacher by profession and has a deep knowledge of the local customs of the area revealed that annual pilgrimage of Lakru Dada Ji is commemorated in the days of Vikram samvat hard maas. Starting seven days are called Satya and next eight days are called Than. These eight days according to local customs are favourable for auspicious things. Yatra starts from Gham village to Marmund Devta Ji. For the whole night, Jagran and mandali (congregation) are performed at Marmund Dev Ji temple. Arrangements for the yatra are done collectively by the people of nearby villages; According to customs if the person is not able to go in yatra he will send ration and food supply on his behalf for the other pilgrims. Earlier male buffalo sacrifice was made in the yatra, the practice has been stopped now.
Customs and Legends: Lakru Dada Ji is a very popular figure among the locals of Ramban. His essence is intrinsic among the day to day life and stories of local people. His personality is such that one is awful while uttering his name from his mouth. And at the same time they have tremendous faith in him, that he will protect and guide them in distress. He is also considered as the saviour and protector of the livestock in the area. A number of local customs have followed since olden times. Playing of Dhol (drums), Doli (palanquin), processions of marriage or funeral are restricted near his shrine. Loud noises are prohibited near his place. As per custom, ladies are not allowed to visit the inner sanctum. Also in olden times it is said that brides had to keep their bridal nose chain in front of the Devta before wearing them in their marriage to seek the blessings for their new marriage life.
No one is allowed to ride on a horse when passing though his area. Even the bride when crossing through the abode of Dada Ji has to get down from the palanquin to cross that patch. It is said that once a person disregarding the advice of elders rode on a horse through Lakru Dada Ji place. Suddenly his horse got possessed and was reluctant to cross. At this his master forced him to walk. Rider was tumbled down from the horse instantly and got paralyzed.
It is said that in the night Lakru Dada Ji roams around Ramban area, just to monitor the well being of his people. In earlier times there was an old Maitra bridge instead of the Jula bridge which we see today. And one had to pay charges while crossing it. One night the guard saw a person mounted on the black horse crossing the bridge without stopping there. Till the guard reacted, the rider had reached the middle of the bridge. At this the guard shouted “Taka diya Jaa”. (Pay the money). The rider turned his head and extended his arm from the centre of the bridge itself and dropped the Taka in the hand of the guard, mounted from his place only. Seeing this delusion, the guard got unconscious. Next morning he briefed the incident to village elders who informed him he was none other than Lakru Dada ji himself.
In the hot summer day’s people used to sleep outside their homes on the charpie (cots) to take respite from heat, enjoying the soothing cool breeze of Chenab River nearby. But it was the rule that no one would place his cot in the middle of the road as it was believed Dada Ji does his patrolling on his horse at night. Once, a young guy reasoned that this all is a myth. He placed his cot in the middle of the road and slept. Morning he was seen lying on the side of the road under his own cot which had turned upside down. When he woke up, at the same time he pleaded sorry and made a pilgrimage to his temple.
While talking to the most renowned figure in the Gham area, Sher Singh Ji, who is the village priest too, told about his personal experience about the legend.
“My two daughters died twelve years back. My heart bereaved on their demise and I was angry with my Lord Dada Ji. I thought, I served him with my true devotion, constructed his temple, fasted with strict worship, but after all of this, he didn’t save my daughters. And I stopped visiting his temple and worshiping him.
The same year during the Amarnath yatra, a sadhu came to meet me. He told me to come with him to the temple of Dada Ji. I said I will not come. He insisted again, but I refused. I sent a person with him to fetch water to perform his rituals in the temple. He left and did his puja over there. Later the person I sent told me that he was talking with something invisible. He was saying, “I tried, but he didn’t listen, what I can do?” When Sadhu came back, I offered him water. He declined and said, “I will not drink water given by a sinner like you”. I asked him which sin I had done. I got angry too. Why is he calling me a sinner? One doubt I luked in my mind and this pertained to committed sacrifice of sheep and goat in temples, may be because of that he may be saying. “What sin have I done? Baba ji”, I asked.
“You are angry with your God. You don’t worship him anymore”, he replied. I was surprised at how he knew about this.
“Baba Ji, how do you know that?” I asked him in awe.
“Yesterday night when I was sleeping, a person in white clothes woke me up with his baton. He was mounted on a blue horse. He spoke to me and sent me to meet you. He wanted me to convey his message to you that, “age is not in my hands son. I am just your saviour from evil, and there to guide you to take the right path. If age would be in my hands then all your forefathers would have been around you right now.”
Then I understood it was all the leela (play) of Dada Ji; with the wet eyes I pleaded sorry to him in my heart. Then he drank water and milk. I offered him some money and clothes but he declined. On my request to take something from me, at last he asked for a walking stick. I presented him with mine. He did not accept, saying that it will be cherished by me. And it was true also, that stick was with me for the past number of years. But instantly my heart related it to detachment from the materialistic world. Again I implored, at last he took that and left for his journey towards Amaranth. He never came back again.