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From the devil’s abode

The Daitya,or devil,is the presiding deity in Nandur Nimba Daitya and he banned Lord Hanuman from the village. But that’s more than just a village folklore

Written by Tanvi Salkar | Published: February 1, 2009 5:59 pm

The Daitya,or devil,is the presiding deity in Nandur Nimba Daitya and he banned Lord Hanuman from the village. But that’s more than just a village folklore
Dr Subhash Deshmukh had his finger on the pulse of Nandur Nimba Daitya village. He was a popular doctor. His patients—both from the village and from the neighbouring ones—patiently queued up outside his clinic all day. But a few years ago,all of a sudden,the queue outside his clinic vanished. It didn’t take long for the doctor to figure out why—it was the Maruti 800 car he had bought a couple of days earlier. Illogical? Dr Deshmukh didn’t think so. He should have known,he thought,and sold his Maruti 800 to buy a Tata Sumo. And then,magically,the queue outside his clinic was back.

Here in Nandur Nimba Daitya,a village that’s a four-hour drive from Pune,Nimba Daitya,or the devil,is the village deity and the villagers will have nothing to do with Lord Hanuman. So the popular monkey-god finds no place in Nandur Nimba Daitya—not on calendars,not in toy shops,not even in the form of a car named Maruti (another name for Hanuman).

For an outsider,Nandur Nimba Daitya,a village in Pathardi taluka in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra,seems perfect to a fault. The village has eight doctors,besides Dr Deshmukh. Most of the villagers either work in government organisations or as teachers or engineers. Even the ones who have stayed back to work on their fields boast of graduate and postgraduate degrees. The fields are lush and the houses are neat rows of concrete or mud. The village also has almost 250 hectares of forestland. Nandur Nimba Daitya always decides on its grampanchayat committee by consensus and has no visible social barriers based on caste and no court cases. The children study up to Class X in the village school. The villagers are warm and courteous—except when you mention Hanuman to them.

While every village in Maharashtra has a Hanuman temple,the legend here is that following a clash between Hanuman and Nimba Daitya,the latter went up to Lord Rama and asked for Hanuman to be moved out of Nimba Daitya. Lord Ram agreed and Hanuman was moved out,villagers say. They also have stories to back their beliefs. “About four months ago,a group of labourers camped here. They were working on a road from Nandur to Bhagwangadh. One night,a labourer started yelling and beating up others. We rushed there and found out that his name was Maruti. We took him to the Daitya temple,offered prayers and he was cured,” says Ashok Dahiphale,who works in Pathardi Taluka agriculture office.

There is this other story too—of two teachers named Maruti who were posted at the government school. “They never turned up to take lessons. If at all they came,it was to sign the register,” jokes Subhan Garje,a teacher.

The villagers say that though Daitya is their deity,they follow no macabre rituals. “No animal is slaughtered here. We are the only village to worship a Daitya in this state. His idol is worshiped in every house,all of us have immense devotion towards him. While many might call us superstitious,we stand by our faith,” says Digambar Gade,who teaches history at Pathardi.

Komal Deshmukh,a Class VII student,too has his Daitya story to share. “Recently,a tractor got stuck in one of the fields. We were passing by and heard the driver say,“Pavanputra Hanumanji ki jai” while hauling it out. He also had a Hanuman photo on his bonnet. We told him about the Daitya here. He was so scared that he offered prayers to Nimba Daitya before running for his life.”

As we leave Nandur Nimba Daitya,we spot a Shiva temple,which has a carving that vaguely resembles Hanuman. Arjun Dhahiphale,a scholar,says,“The temple borders the neighbouring village. This carving has been there for years. We let it stay but ignore it.”

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