Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fairs and festivals in Himachal Pradesh

Dancing with Gods and Goddesses

Fairs and festivals in Himachal Pradesh

During the year, there are as many festivals in Himachal as there are villages, and on any given night there is a chance that one can pick up the strains of verses being exchanged between men and women in some distant villages down in the valley. The culmination of each cycle of events gives the Himachalis an opportunity to express their cheer and gratitude. Such an occasion might me structured around a formal gesture of reverence towards the presiding presence, but invariably it transforms itself into a one-day free zone for self expression. An alpine blossom adorns braided hair, and Himachali topis assume a rakish angle. The local ensemble pick rakish angle. The local ensemble picks up a lilting pahari melody, and it is time to link hands and swing to the community dance steps –the naati. Even the devtas are made to join, supported on the shoulders of their devotees. Over the evening, the human chain acquires a special flourish, aided by swigs of the celebrated local wine made from apricots, plums, apples or barley. Some of it is young and heady, brewed just for the occasion, but, some sipped delicately by the elders as they watch from balconies, is actually a vintage liquor to match the best in the world.

Some religious occasions have, of course transcended mere village celebrations to attract just not hundred of villagers, but also scores of deities from all parts of the valley. During such festivals, the local village gods congregate to pay homage to the presiding deity of the valley, and the proceedings of the fair last beyond the auspicious day, sometimes for as long as a week. Perhaps the best known is Dusshera at Kullu, which unlike in the other parts of the country begins on Vijayadashmi, the day it culminates elsewhere. Over hundred local deities gather to salute Shri Raghunathji, whose image is pulled across the Dhalpur maidan in a chariot, symbolizing the march of Lord Rama to battle Ravana.

Minjar, held sometime in August, is a similar occasion for the gods to congregate, this time in the Chowgan at Chamba. Thronged by Gaddis and pangwals adorned with minjars, caplets made to stimulate the silky golden fronds of the maize plant, this fair is held to appease the rain god Varuna. The minjars are immersed in the Ravi River on the concluding day.

Shivratri, in February or March, is the day for all to pray at the temple of the supreme Lord Bhutnath, after which the fair continues in a week-long exposition of local talent in a folk theatre such as Kairala or Bainthra.

The unique Manimahesh yatra is more than a festival, on the 15th day after Janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna, thousands climbs up from Bharmour to the sacred Manimahesh lake at 3,800 meters (12467 feet), for a ritual dip in its holy waters. Above the lake towers Manimahesh Kailash, 5,575 meters (18,290 feet) high, also considered by local people to be the abode of Lord Shiva.


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Himachal Tourism said...

Himachal Pradesh is a very big state and also called as a land of festivals.All the festivals are celebrated in himachal with great pomp and show. Himachal Tourism

Manali Tourism said...

informative blog
Manali Tourism