FAIRS AND FESTIVALS OF
Himachal Pradesh … a state abundant in natural beauty and also abundant in various religious faiths is combined with the ancient and the age old traditions which give birth to a bonanza of fairs and festivals throughout the year. Famous as the valley of Gods there are some 2000 deities worshipped in Himachal and numerous fairs and festivals are held in their honour.
At the same time there is no dearth of the cultural festivals those are held in the state throughout the year. A celebration of life and living, that’s what the festivals of Himachal Pradesh speak of.
Apart from the national festivals and the common festivals that are celebrated throughout the country, Himachal has some special festivals of its own.
Starting with the New Year celebrations and Bhogi and Makar Sankranti along with numerous events related to skiing and skating, the first important regional festival falls February, known as Lossar. A typical Buddhist festival is celebrated throughout the state and especially in Lahaul monasteries. The Chaam dances are performed and the story of the triumph of good over evil is enacted wearing elaborate costumes and masks. Festivals of Mahashivaratri and Holi are celebrated with equal vibrancy in February and March.
The local festivals honouring the local deities of the particular region mark the month of April. In Chamba a huge fair and festivity dedicated to the Sui Mata festival is organized. The legend has it that it was due to the sacrifice of the Queen of Chamba that the region received water. Hence a huge fair takes place on the occasion. The month of May brings in pleasant climate and many festivals as well. The most important amongst them is the Hidamba Devi festival when all the Gods from the valley come to pay homage to this Goddess. The months of June and July are generally happy months when some or the other place has a fair or festival in honour of the presiding deity. August celebrates the bounty of nature and the good harvest that has been earned. The valley of Chamba celebrates the festival of Minjar. The locals hold talent competitions and everyone enjoys the festive season. The Phulaich festival of Kinnaur in the month of September is the beautiful celebration of life. This four day festival is celebrated as the flower festival by the people of Himachal. The Rajputs of the village go to pluck flowers from a specified mountain and return only the next day. The night is spent singing and dancing. On the third day, the village deity is taken out and bedecked with all the finery along with the numerous flowers. A procession is taken out and the rests only the next day when an animal is sacrificed.
Although this is a beautiful festival, the more famous and promoted is the Dushera of Kullu. Dushera is celebrated all around India, but not like that in Kullu. The celebrations start in Kullu when the celebrations of India for Dushera finish. The presiding deity of Kullu, Raghunathji is taken out on this day and around 600 deities of Himachal come to pay respect to this deity. Huge colourful processions mark the occasion and by the end of the festival the Lord is bathed in the Beas River and then taken back to its main temple. Singing and Dancing and worshipping is the core of this festival celebrated with pomp and show.
Shopping in Himachal Pradesh:
Himachal Pradesh is famous for its woolen articles and also wooden articles. The woolen articles are meant to bear the cold of the hilly area but are weaved in a special fashion and are very colourful. The caps and the shawls from this region are famous and can be carried as souvenirs. The typical wooden articles like various idols and other things depict the age old tradition that the valley follows and are definitely a must buy.
The most important however are the miniature paintings of Kangra. This art is loosing its strong hold daily, but some people who are trying to revive it are doing their best and these paintings are definitely a prized collection. The silver ornaments which the locals wear are also attractive but are quite heavy to wear.