Fossils

To the geological world, Shaligram is one of the coiled chambered fossil shells of the extinct Cepalopod Mullusks that came into existence as a part of the initial emergence of the Himalayan heights from the depths of the Tethys-sea millions of years ago. To the Nepalese however, the Shaligram features very prominently in their religious lives because of its embodiment of Vishnu, one of the major manifestations in the Hindu Trinity.

Puranas like Scanda, Padam and Baraha written around 2,000 years ago, give an exhaustive account of Shaligram, which are divided into a wide variety of colour, shape and size. They can be found in the north of the Nilgiri mountain range right up to Damodar Kunda, and also in the waters of the Kaligandaki river right up to Tribeni in Dolal Ghat.

However, the most popular belt is on the banks of the Kaligandaki River at Jomsom where the pilgrims who pass through on their way to Muktinath search for a wide variety of Shaligram. On the other hand, this belt also had a past in which non-Hindu tradesmen and local people, broke into pieces particularly the Shaligrams with golden streaks in them in their search for gold.

The tradition has it that the priest families particularly the ones that are involved in the ceremonies of a religious nature have been worshipping the Shaligram for aeons. Shaligrams do come in various forms and colours and one has to select a particular kind for worship depending upon what one wishes to achieve.

The Shaligram is often placed on a copper plate over which water is poured, and then a Puja is performed. Later the water is drunk to purify the worshipper inside and outside. Under normal circumstances, it is believed that a sleek looking piece with a small mouth that fits within the fold of ones hand is ideal for worship.

In Riddi at Ruru Chhetra there is a Rishikesh temple in which the deity on a single huge piece of Shaligram measures nearly four feet in height.

In its legendary stories Nepal is a country where deities mingle with mortals and Shaligram is a symbol that has contributed to keep the glory and the sanctity of the sublime Himalayas intact.

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