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Naag Baba Kuti - mystery, miracles and healing

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, March 05, 2013

THEY died decades ago.

But their spirits reportedly live on amid the forest.

As the new day breaks, they can be seen by those, who believe, getting ready for prayers.

While they do so, the recitals of the Hindu holy scriptures are heard by the believers — echoing in the premises.

It may be a chilling experience for many but there are some people who say they experience such things.

The Hindu saints (sadhu) reportedly appear to only those who spend the night at the temple with a clean mind and heart — with the belief.

There are also some miraculous stories associated to the place which for many people would be just unbelievable or fairy tales.

It is the Naag Baba Kuti, a place filled with mystery, miracles and healing from the time of the forefathers of Fijians of Indian descent.

Situated on top of a hill at Raralevu in Nausori, the Naag Baba Kuti is a reminiscence of the first group of indentured labourers (girmitiya) who arrived in Fiji from India.

It dearly holds the story of three Hindu saints who came in one of the boats carrying the indentured labourers.

They established the worship site on the hilltop surrounded by a lush forest, with a creek running past one of the most worshipped symbols by Hindus.

It is the Shiva Lingam or Shiv Ling as commonly known by Hindus that has been naturally formed beside the creek.

A pond in the middle of the creek and near the Shiv Ling is reported to hold miraculous healing powers.

The surroundings of this pond and the Shiv Ling are reported to host the naag (snake God for Hindus).

A hole can be seen in the rock right behind the Shiv Ling and this is where Hindus worshipping at the site believe the naag is.

However, the reason or reasons for the three sadhu to establish themselves at this particular spot in Raralevu are unknown by anyone alive today.

But it is said to be one of the three such places in the country established by the indentured labourers to worship their gods and goddesses.

What makes the Naag Baba Kuti in Raralevu unique is that the three sadhu were buried there and their tombs are next to the temple.

People praying to the gods and goddesses at the worship place have reportedly found success in life, either good jobs, successful businesses or even migrating to greener pastures.

And some people who tried to defy warnings and catch prawns in the creek running next to the Shiv Ling reportedly had an encounter with the naag.

They are said to have been lucky to escape unharmed.

Story has it that some from the first group of indentured labourers to arrive in Fiji from India settled at this place in Raralevu.

They brought with them their places of worship thaan as they came to Fiji in search of a new life.

Aruna Devi Singh, who is in her 60s, said she was told by her grandmother that the indentured labourers did not have a smooth journey to Fiji.

"They met bad weather all along the way and the gods and goddesses came in a vision and told our forefathers that no one will worship them here," she said.

"Some sadhu were also on the ship and our forefathers slaughtered 120 goats as sacrifice for the gods and goddesses to ensure a safe journey, which they then had.

"When they arrived in Nausori, they moved to Raralevu and started worshipping at this site.

"The reason for them to come to the particular spot in Raralevu and start worshipping is not known and I don't remember being told anything about this by my grandparents."

Mrs Singh said she remembered her grandparents and other people praying at the place ever since she was a child.

She said people stopped going to the place to pray when her grandparents died several years ago.

In late 1960s or early 1970s, her husband Brij Bhan Singh, whose family held the land lease for the worship site, was given a notice on the expiry of the lease.

Mr Singh, 67, said he had discussions with his family members and people from the Raralevu area and sought donations.

"We collected the £600 ($F1608) that was required to pay the lease arrears and got a new lease which was under my name and still is today," he said.

"We then cleared the bush in the area and made a road leading up to the place and people started coming back there to pray.

"Since I have been praying from a very young age and doing firewalking when I was 12 years old, I took it on myself to look after the site."

Mr Singh said he and other people were praying at the site some time in the mid-1970s when Goddess Kali came in his vision.

He said the goddess told him that there were no gods and goddesses at the places they were praying at.

"Goddess Kali then pointed out the places where our forefathers had put their thaan and one of my relatives marked them with pieces of stick.

"People then stàrted praying at these places and they also had visions of the gods and goddesses.

"As people started donating statues of a particular god or goddess to be installed at the spot, they and their families became successful in life."

A stroke victim for the past seven years, Mr Singh said they did not know that the prayer place for Hanuman (Hindus monkey God) was also at the site but this was later made known to them.

Tears roll down Mr Singh's face whenever he talks about the Naag Baba Kuti.

He said the statues of gods and goddesses mostly worshipped were situated in various places at the site while Lord Krishna's statue was inside the temple which he constructed.

Mrs Singh said when her paternal grandmother and other women cooked puri before for meals after prayers, they often ran out of oil.

"They used to pray and the gods would appear in their vision and tell them to go to the naag kund (pond) in the middle of the creek and get the water.

"When they poured that water in the frying pans, it turned into oil and my grandmother and other women would continue cooking.

"The next day, someone would go to the shop and buy a bottle oil and pour it into the creek to replace what was taken out."

Mrs Singh said this miracle happened often when she was a little girl, as it was also a struggling time for people then when supplies ran short.

"But it is with the grace of Naag Baba that my grandmother and other women were able to complete cooking food for the prayers.

"The Naag Baba Kuti holds a lot of powers and people who tried to be defiant have also been taught a lesson in a light way.

"For example, three youths from Kuku (in Nausori) came to our shop about eight or nine months ago and said they were going to catch prawns.

"I asked them where and when they told me at the creek at the Naag Baba Kuti, I warned them not to go because Naag Baba won't like it.

"But they just shrugged off my warning and said it's all lies and went to catch prawns."

Mrs Singh said she was not surprised to see the three youth running back to her shop in a short while.

"They were very scared and panting and I asked them what happened.

"They told me that as soon as they started to try and catch prawns, they saw a very big snake come out of somewhere and look at them," said Mrs Singh.

* NEXT WEEK: The sadhu and other miracles.

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