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Abode of the Hindu saints

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

IT is a place where miracles have happened and people are reportedly healed.

People from all walks of life have been visiting it for several decades with the hope to find an end to their problems.

And it is not only the Hindus but people of other religions and ethnicity also who frequent this place.

Those who are reported to visit this "holy place" include foreigners, Hindus and even Muslims who go there to seek comfort.

It is the Naag Baba Kuti, a place of worship established by the indentured labourers who were brought to Fiji from India.

The place also holds the story of three Hindu saints (sadhu) who came in one of the ships carrying the early indentured labourers.

What makes the place more interesting is stories of the three sadhu being seen as the new day breaks.

The three sadhu died decades ago but their spirits are reportedly wandering at the Naag Baba Kuti, which is situated on a hilltop at Raralevu in Nausori.

As you enter the gate to the temple premises, you will first come across the tombs of the three sadhu.

The tombs are situated next to the temple, which was built by Brij Bhan Singh's family with some assistance from the monetary offerings by devotees.

From the temple, steps lead devotees down to the creek where the Shiva Lingam or Shiv Ling, as commonly known, is located.

The Naag Baba Kuti at Raralevu is said to be one of the three such places of worship established by the first group of indentured labourers who arrived in Fiji.

But there could be more than three such places of worship established by the indentured labourers around the country as they arrived to work in the cane farms in Fiji.

However, situated among lush forests, the Naag Baba Kuti in Raralevu is a place filled with peace and tranquility.

Sanjeet Singh, whose family looks after the temple, said people who prayed there with a clean heart and mind had their prayers answered.

Mr Singh said the worship site was known for miracles, with people being healed of their personal and health problems.

"The place has a lot of powers from the time our forefathers established the area as their prayer place," he said.

"But the reason they chose this particular place is still unknown. I don't think there is anyone alive who can give the reason.

"The three sadhu who came from India with the other indentured labourers settled at the site and prayed there to the Hindu Gods and Goddesses."

Mr Singh said three sadhu were buried at the site next to the temple and their presence can still be felt.

"If someone spends a night at the temple, that person will just wake up fresh between 4am and 5am.

"You will wake up and hear bhajan (devotional songs) and the recital of the Hindu holy scriptures as the new day breaks.

"The three sadhu can also be seen in the misty morning getting ready for the morning prayers.

"But only those who spend the night at the temple with a clean heart and mind will be able to see and feel this.

"Since our family looks after the temple, I have slept at the temple with my family members on a few occasions.

"I have seen the three sadhu early in the morning getting ready for prayers and I've heard devotional songs and recital of the holy scriptures too."

Mr Singh said many people would not believe what he said but the truth was that he had experienced such things at the Naag Baba Kuti.

His mother-in-law, Aruna Devi Singh echoed similar sentiments, saying that people who pray at the site with a clean heart and mind will have their problems solved.

"The water from the creek also has healing powers and some people fill it in bottles and other things and take with them," she said.

"The place is always full during Shiv Raatri, Ram Naumi, Naag Panchmi and other major events in the Hindu calendar."

Mrs Singh says since her family looks after the temple and its premises, they are always there during such prayers.

She said personally, she had experienced some miraculous things at the Naag Baba Kuti and so had her family members.

"We pray there during major events in the Hindu calendar and worship at the statues of the gods and goddesses there.

"And in doing so, we put husked coconuts at the statues as an offering to our gods and goddesses.

"During Ram Naumi last year, we went to the temple and put coconuts and other things at the statues and prayed."

Mrs Singh said after praying, they picked up the coconuts put at the statue of Hanuman (Hindus monkey God) and Lord Shiva.

"When we lifted the whole coconuts, it felt a bit different as we didn't hear the sound of the juice inside when we shook them," she said.

Mr Singh said when he cracked open the coconut that was offered to Hanuman, it was filled with sindoor (vermilion).

He said when cracked open, the coconut that was offered to Lord Shiva had bhabuthi (holy ash) inside.

"The inside of the coconuts was completely filled with vermilion and the holy ash, there was no coconut juice.

"Such things happen at the temple if you pray with a clean and clear heart and mind, and with the belief," said Mr Singh.

Mrs Singh said the vermilion they got had a different colour from what is normally sold in shops in the country.

She said the vermilion gift to them from Hanuman was strong, in that the colour would not go off easily.

"The bhabuthi gift by Lord Shiva is also very powerful, a little bit applied on people with medical problems or those possessed by the devil makes a lot of difference," she said.

Mr Singh said people who tried to test the powers of the holy place were also punished to some extent.

The most visited place at the temple site is the Shiv Ling which is situated next to the creek, with a pond next to it.

It is believed by worshippers that the pond is the abode of the naag (snake god).

A hole in the rock right behind the Shiv Ling is also reported to be the place where the naag dwells.

Mr Singh said a woman from Rakiraki in Ra recently visited the spot and tried to peep into the hole in the rock saying she wanted to see the snake God.

"The woman was looking inside when she claimed that she was bitten on the hand by something," he said.

"When we checked, there were two marks on her hand and it appeared to be like those from a snake bite.

"The woman still has that scar on her hand."

Mr Singh said the Naag Baba Kuti had the remedy for all types of problems if people worshipped there — believing that their problems would be solved.

He said people with skin infections, other medical problems, family problems and even work-related issues had been healed at the place of worship.

"The place is always filled with people from different parts of Viti Levu and even tourists have been coming here.

"When it's time for the exams, a lot of students come to the temple to seek the blessings of the gods and goddesses to do well in their exams."

Mr Singh said people possessed by demons were also healed at the temple.

On Sunday, hundreds of people from different corners crowded the temple from as early as 4am to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.

Since it was the day when Hindus celebrated Shiv Raatri, devotees lined up with their offerings at the Shiv Ling.

And while people were praying, a mobile phone kept ringing in one of the devotees pockets, disturbing the peace in the area.

The mobile phone somehow reportedly fell into the pond which is said to be the abode of the naag.

The owner of the mobile phone went into the pond to retrieve his mobile phone but there was no sign of it in the pond which has a diameter of about one metre.

Although some coins offered by devotees to the God were reportedly seen at the bottom of the pond, the mobile phone was said to have disappeared.

* NEXT WEEK: I was healed.

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