(Last Updated on : 16/03/2013)
The state of Himachal Pradesh has a long procession of festivals. This state astonishingly combines both antiquity and plenitude. The people in this state participate in all the festivals with equal amount of enthusiasm and traditional fervor. Most of the festivals in this state are in close connection with the various seasonal changes. Each district in this state indulges themselves in their distinct plethora of festivals, which are in turn associated with the historical and sociological background of that area. The festivals of Himachal Pradesh would not only enliven your spirits but also would be a warm welcome from the monotonous schedule of your regular life. The festivals of the state of Himachal Pradesh are in fact characterized by joyous ceremonies, enthusiasm paralleled with ample fun and celebration. Not only that during the festive celebrations the rich and the poor alike assemble together to enhance the spirit of their festive moods. There are some festivals, which are even linked with the lifestyle of the people, change of seasons and harvesting. And during this festivals the farmers do not work in the fields. But whatever the festival is, the people in Himachal Pradesh make for unrestrained merrymaking during the festivities. The Sikh festivals are celebrated with much exuberance and each tribal festival has its unique identity. The hugely popular festivals celebrated in this state are:
This festival of the Lahaul valley is truly remarkable in all its aspects. Pori is celebrated at the temple of Trilokinath in a much traditional manner. The religious rituals and traditions are followed with much veneration. The statues of the Lord is bathed with milk and yogurt on this special day at about ten in the morning and then a congregation of both male and female goes around the synagogue beating drums and blowing conch shells. According to the local myths and beliefs a horse is taken round the temple because it is believed that the God sits on its back. This also sums up as the reason as to why the horse is drenched in sweet after the ritual. The people then visit the palace of the local ruler who then rides the horse and visits the fair ground. Throughout the day of this festival a butter lamp burns within the temple.
The festival of Dussehra is celebrated all over Himachal Pradesh with great fun and frolic. In this state Dussehra is celebrated just before Diwali. This festival is associated with the great epic Ramayana. The Ramlila begins on a month prior to this festival and ends on the very day of the festive celebration. On the last day huge idols of King Ravana and his son Meghnad and his brother Kumbh are burnt all over the city at night and mark the victory of the good over the evil. The Kulu Dussehra is the biggest draw among festivals and is held in the month of October in Dhalpur maidan of Kulu. The beginning of this festival is marked by the Rath Yatra in which the chief deity Raghunathji is carried in a beautifully embellished wooden chariot.
The spring festival of Holi celebrated in Himachal Pradesh in the month of Phalgun or in the months of February/March according to the English calendar seems to have a universal appeal. The festival of Holi assumes an entirely new color in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Some women offer special puja during this festival. Fun and frolic is also redefined in various forms in the festive celebrations here. The Holi bonfire is lit the day prior to the actual celebration. People greet each other with colors and thus enhance the feeling of harmony due to which happiness prevails. There is also a competition among the young males to touch the Holi flag first as he who does it is considered to be very lucky. After the celebration special `kadah prasad` or sweet gruel is also cooked and distributed. The fairs organized in the different districts are a special attraction of this festival.
The festival of Baisakhi is held on the first day in the month of Baisakh according to the Hindu calendar or on the 13th day in the month of April according to the English calendar. This is one of the most important festivals in the state of Himachal Pradesh. As the origins of this festival can be traced in the rural agrarian tradition this festival is celebrated throughout the state to bid a final farewell to the season of winter. In several regions of the state people take purifying dips in the sacred water. Many village fairs including various cultural performances are also held on this day.
The festival of Halda is celebrated with much ebullience in the Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh. It is observed in the month of January according to the English calendar as the New Year festival of the district of Lahaul. The Lamas always decide the exact date of this festival. This festival is observed in the honor of `Shiskar Apa` the Goddess of Wealth in the Lamaisthic pantheon. The localites of Lahauli indulge themselves in a private celebration during this festival.
This festival is celebrated in the Lahaul district in the state of Himachal Pradesh and is also known as the Tibetan New Year. It is celebrated to welcome the season of winter. The blessing of the local deity is desired by the people of this region to make the season happy and prosperous for the people. The traditional dances and an unbelievable rich imagery form a special feature of the Lossar festival. The most spectacular cultural performances takes place in the Buddhist monasteries of Lahaul.
The festival of Lohri also known as Maghi, is celebrated in the Kulu region of Himachal Pradesh in the mid-January. The festival of Lohri commemorates the last sowing of `Rabi` crops. The warmth of the fire inside the house contrasts well with the chilled weather outside. This auspicious and joyous festival celebrates fertility and the spark of life. The religious rites and traditions are observed with great devotion. All the locals indulge themselves in merriment by singing songs and exchanging greetings.
The festival of Phulaich is celebrated throughout the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh in the month of September according to the English Calendar. This festival is locally known as `Ookayand` of `Ukyam`, a combination of two words `Oo` and `Kaayang`. This is also known as the `Festival of Flowers`. This is an eight-day festival during which the local God is embellished with colorful cloths and jewels and on the last day of this festival the local deity is brought back to the temple and a goat and lamb is sacrificed.
International Himalayan Festival
This much-awaited festival is celebrated in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh in the month of December. This festival can be redefined as a winter extravaganza. It is also a celebration of the ancient cultural diversity, which the Himalayas have nurtured and sustained over the centuries. It is also a global attempt to bring the rich and gentle cultures of the Himalayan Mountains.
The festival of Diwali is celebrated in the state of Himachal Pradesh with much exuberance. White clay and cow-dung are used to paint the mud houses after they are cleaned. Then they are decorated with pictures of animals and birds. It is believed by the localites that the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi visits those houses, which are clean and pretty. Clap lamps are lit on a plank after sunset in the memory of the deceased ancestors. The ritual of goat sacrifice is also observed on this day.