(Last Updated on : 24-01-2009)
Jammu and Kashmir temple festivals are closely associated with the tradition and age-old myths of the state. Lohri is held in January every year. This festival is also known as Makar Sankranti. It states the onset of spring. The whole of Jammu region is adorned with a festive look on this day. Thousands take a dip in the holy rivers. 'Havan Yagnas' are lightened up nearly every house and temple in Jammu.
In the rural areas, during the Jammu and Kashmir temple festival - Lohri, a custom is followed where boys to go around asking for gifts from newly-weds and new parents. A special dance, the 'Chajja' is held on the occasion of Lohri. It makes a spectacular scene to see boys along with their 'Chajjas' elaborately decorated with coloured paper and flowers to move on the street in a dancing procession. The whole atmosphere comes alive with the pulsating drumbeats. Baisakhi is held in April. This Jammu and Kashmir temple festival is celebrated to mark good harvest that year and the event is considered auspicious especially for marriages. Devotees who unfailingly take a ritual dip every year throng Rivers, canals and ponds. People go to the Nagbani Temple to witness a grand New Year celebration. Numerous fairs are organized in Jammu and Kashmir and people come in thousands to celebrate the start of the New Year and watch the famous Bhangra dance of Punjab.
For the Sikhs of Jammu, Baisakhi is the day their tenth Guru Gobind Singhji formed the Khalsa sect in 1699. The Gurudwaras is filled with people who come to listen to Kirtans, offer prayers and feast on the prasad from the common kitchen (Langar). Bahu Mela, a major Jammu and Kashmir temple festival is held at the Kali Temple in Bahu Fort (Jammu), twice a year, in March-April and September-October.
Chaitre Chaudash is one of the important Jammu and Kashmir temple festivals, held in March or April. In Purmandal Mela, held in February or March, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the temples. On Shivratri, people celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati in this state. The people of Jammu also come out in their colourful best to celebrate Shivratri at Peer Khoh, the Ranbireshwar. The Panjbhaktar Temple is the main site for this celebration. The people of this state passionately celebrate the Jammu and Kashmir temple festivals. The traditional and heritage of Jammu and Kashmir is reflected in these conventional festivals