Just when I entered the blue- coloured temple shrine of Chogan, I spotted a woman sitting with her kids praying to the goddess: The Kali Maa for the well-being of her husband, who is away in the city to get himself operated on. She holds a firm belief that Kali Maa, shall bless her husband and keep him safe. Like her, other locals of the Gond Tribe in Chogan live with the same belief that the goddess is their protector and shall bless them, both with good health and wealth. She is their sole guardian and would free them of every demon that touches them. She is going to keep them safe and grant them their wish if they show her dedication and faith.
This is not the first time that I was visiting an exorcism temple in India. I have visited a couple of them before but those outings have never culminated into something fruitful because there are dedicated days on which the exorcism ceremonies take place and I haven’t been that lucky to witness any of them. But in Chogan, I could get a glance of it, for a brief moment though, which had me intrigued that our country is full of hidden gems and there are mysteries to be unearthed, just when you start exploring it. Chogan or Chougan has one such fascinating tale to tell. A story of a strong belief and faith that the goddess Kali protects them from every evil eye.
The Town of Chogan in Mandla District of Madhya Pradesh
There is a place near Ramnagar in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh which is known as Chaugan/Chogaan ki Madiya, which serves as a prominent pilgrimage site for Gond tribals of the state. There is a different belief among the Gond tribals here in Chogan. It is said that every wish sought here is fulfilled and whoever comes here does not leave empty-handed. The interesting thing to note here is that the wish can be of any form. Generally, it is believed that those possessed visit an exorcism temple to get rid of the spirit but that’s not the case here. The locals believe that Kali maa is going to answer to every problem of theirs which can be in the form of an unfulfilled desire or health. One of the team members who accompanied us, shared, that the last time they were here, there was a ceremony going on where the local was treated for his mental health. Even, the couples who are not able to conceive have been blessed with kids, with a visit here.
Another thing that I couldn’t miss noticing is that the Chogan Exorcism temple doesn’t have any particular goddess statue placed in the central shrine, rather they light a lamp that remains lit for 24 hours a day, signifying goddess presence in the temple. This is because the culture of Gond tribals doesn’t believe in statues and therefore when you have a look around the main shrine of the temple, you are going to notice the swords and all sorts of sharp weapons which the local priest said are an offering to the goddess when a wish is fulfilled, along with a lighted lamp, signifying Kali maa presence.
Meet the Exorcist of Chogan Temple: Ramesh Pathi
Inside the main sanctum, I saw an old man sitting dressed in white with a turban and a yellow scarf around his neck. On the introduction, I was told that he is the priest, the one who conducts all the related ceremonies here at Chogan temple, and is the communicator between the goddess and people. He is Ramesh Pathi, a fourth-generation exorcist, who has been carrying out the rituals respectfully for more than a decade here. He added that his ancestors were all exorcists and he hasn’t learned anything about the rituals, rather it came to him naturally. His family has been performing the ceremonies here for generations and the tradition will continue, with his son taking over the duties soon, he added
The significance of Staircase of Heaven at Chogaan Exorcism Temple
Just when you will enter the exorcism temple at Chogan, you are going to notice a huge ladder, which is about 25 feet in length and is believed to be a direct connection to heaven.
The stairs to heaven have been an astonishment with people, so much that they gather here from around the country just for its sight. The locals believe it to be the ladder where the gods reside and it is only a person with the spiritual connection, the exorcist, who can climb this stair when a ritual is going on. It is said that during the ritual the possessed are generally chained, so that they cannot climb the ladder while the ceremony is being performed, to get them rid of the demon. I saw Ramesh Pathi offering ashes on the stairs when the woman’s wish was granted for keeping her husband safe. I was also told that it is generally on a Monday that a ceremony is performed here and no one is allowed inside the gates when the ritual is on, to avoid distraction.
The significance of wearing white clothes in Chogan village
Now one of the things that I couldn’t ignore noticing while I was walking around the village of Chogan is the locals wearing white clothes. I saw some women also wearing the white sarees, to which I thought that they might be widows and according to Indian traditions must wear the plain colour. But, at chogan, the significance of the color is a little different. I learned that white-coloured clothes are of special importance here among the villagers, so much that even the newlywed bride steps into their in-law’s house in white pairs. The locals consider the white color as a symbol of peace and progress, so the white dress has special significance here.
Is the Exorcism Ritual Real?
Well, is it not always that you get to witness these places but when you do there is certainly a little doubt that crosses your mind, if this is for real? Blame it on an urban upbringing where we are almost devoid of such experiences but let me also share something that I have learned with my years of traveling experience. It is to accept things as it is because as an outsider, we might not be able to comprehend the importance of the place for the villagers because we don’t live there to experience it ourselves. But whatever it is a visit to the Exorcism temple in Chogan was worth a visit to give you a peek inside the less known rural rituals of the tribal belt in Madhya Pradesh
Ever visited any exorcism temple in India yourself or experienced one? Let me know in the comment section below
Reproducing Content & photographs from this website is prohibited without Author’s approval and liable for strict action
Join me on my Social Media Channels and explore the World with me. Like me on: