Every year this month, Hinglaj Mata Festival is celebrated by the Hindu community at the Hinglaj Temple in the Lasbela district of Balochistan.
Hundreds of Hindu yatris or pilgrims from the interior Sindh, Makran Coast, Qalat and southern Punjab make it to the temple in April and perform their rituals for the pilgrimage. Yatris from India couldn’t make it this year as they were not issued visa amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan.
The temple is located in the middle of the Hingol National Park, in a mountain cave on the bank of the River Hingol.
Those coming for a pilgrimage to Hanglaj Mandar first stay at a ground near Chandar Gup, which is world’s tallest mud volcano located 38 km from Hingol.
The Volcano is 300 feet high and people come to Chandar Gup to seek their wishes.
According to the Hindu myth, Goddess Sati burnt herself alive in Yagna, which upset Lord Shiva. He picked the corpse of Sati on his shoulder and started his Taandav dance.
This horrified all deities in the heaven as this could lead to Holocaust. This urged Lord Vishnu to unleash his Chakra that cut the Sati’s body into 51 pieces.
The pieces were scattered across the Indian subcontinent: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. But it is said that the head of Sati fell at Hinglaj — and that’s why this shrine is so important.
According to Hindus, the temple of Maha Kali, meaning Bhawani, is at Astola Island and he used to go to Hanglaj from Astola to bathe every day.
One of the pilgrims told Pak Voices, “We believe that this is the resting place of Shankar Devta and by throwing coconuts at Mud Volcano one can get his wishes come true.”
Imran Das is working with Pak Voices as a citizen journalist from Rahim Yar Khan. He traveled to the Hinglaj Mata Temple to cover the three-day festival.
All photos by the author