Fairs & Festivals Of Himachal Pradesh

Apart from the festivals that are celebrated on an all India basis, there are numerous other fairs and festivals that are the high point of Himachal Pradesh. These festivals are time when the religious and cultural faith of the people can be seen and felt clearly. These festivals are also the time for them to adorn colourful dress and accessories and mingle with the rest of their kins freely. Amongst these fairs and festivals are the Kullu Dussehra, Shivratri Fair (Mandi), Minjar Fair (Chamba), Mani Mahesh Chhari Yatra (Chamba), Renuka fair (Sirmaur), Lavi Trade Fair (Rampur), Vrajeshwari fair (Kangra), Jwalamukhi Fair (Jwalamukhi), Holi Fair (Sujanpur), Shivratri Fair (Mandi) and Naina Devi Fair (Bilaspur).

Kullu Dussehra

Kullu Dussehra is the Dussehra festival observed in the month of October in Himachal Pradesh state in northern India. It is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley. Dussehra at Kullu commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on 'Vijay Dashmi' day itself and continues for seven days. Its history dates back to the 17th century when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this, god Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley. The State government has accorded the status of International festival to the Kullu Dussehra, which attracts tourists in large numbers.

History

According to legend, after his return from a pilgrimage to Kailash, Maharishi Jamdagni went to his hermitage at Malana. On his head he carried a basket filled with eighteen images of different gods. Crossing through Chanderkhani pass, he came upon a fierce storm. Struggling to stay on his feet, Maharishi Jamdagni's basket was thrown from his head, scattering the images to many distant places. Hill people, finding these images saw them take shape or form as Gods, and began to worship them. Legend has it that idol worship began in the Kullu Valley.

Mandi Shivaratri Fair

Mandi Shivaratri Fair  is an annual fair that is held for 7 days starting with the Hindu festival of Shivaratri, in the Mandi town (31.72°N 76.92°E) of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Mandi Shivaratri fair is held as per Hindu calendar every year on the Krishna paksha13th day/13th night (breaking fast/'vrata' on 14th after sunrise) of the waning moon in the month of Phalguna that corresponds to February/March as per Gregorian calendar. The festival’s popularity is widespread and hence is known as an international festival. In view of the large number of gods and goddesses that are invited to the festival from its 81 temples, Mandi town has the title of 'Varanasi of the Hills'. During 2010, the festival will be celebrated from 12 February (Shivaratri day) for seven days till 19 February 2010.

The Mandi festival or fair is particularly famous as the special fair transforms Mandi town into a venue of grand celebration when all gods and goddesses, said to be more than 200 deities of the Mandi district assemble here, starting with the day of Shivaratri. Mandi town located on the banks of the Beas River, popularly known as the "cathedral of temples", is one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh with about 81 temples of different gods and goddesses in its periphery. There are several legends linked to the celebration of this event. The festival is centred around the protector deity of Mandi "Mado Rai" (Lord Vishnu) and Lord Shiva of the Bhootnath temple in Mandi.

Observance

The observance of the fair is marked on the Shivaratri day when the village gods are carried in palanquins or rathas (chariots by people) to Mandi to pay homage to Madho Rai and the Raja. Members of caste denominations such as Brahmin and Kshatriya carry their gods and goddesses by palanquins or on their back. However, some exceptions of carrying them in vehicles by some caste groups have been noted. Thereafter, the fair lasts for seven days.

It is an accepted practice that every deity that is brought to the festival (decorated with glittering embroidered drapery) visits Madho Rai temple first to pay obeisance to Lord Vishnu and then proceed to the palace in a colourful procession called the Shoba Yatra, known locally as 'Zareb,' to honour the ruler (the regent of the Lord Mado Rai). (It is said that Madho Rai comes out of his temple only once a year on the Shivaratri day and leads the procession. The ruler thereafter pay obeisance to Lord Shiva at the Bhootnath temple where the main festival of Shivaratri is held. The palanquins of the deities are swayed to the drum beats and folk music to indicate their happiness after visiting the temples of Vishnu and Shiva. People from all walks of life and belonging to all strata of the society from adjoining areas come to visit this fair and to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva on this auspicious day.

Sati Pradha Mela

Sati Pradha Mela or (pattharon ka mela) is an annual event held in Dhami, North India. It is said to mark the death of local queen Sati, who died in 1904. At the celebration, people gather to be divided in two groups which much engage each other in a stone throwing battle. The battle traditionally goes on for several hours. The group with the least amount of wounded members will be declared winner of the event. Local police and doctors are available at the event to treat the injuries.