Etymology of Hilljatra
Hill Jatra is a distorted word which is actually referred as "Hal Jatra". Hill Jatra simply means the worshipping of Hal (Plough) which good crop yield. The festival of Hilljatra is actually related to the concept of paddy plantation, which is called ropai. It is also related to other pastoral and agricultural labourers of the rainy seasons.
History of Hilljatra Festival
Legends have it that this festival is also connected with the victory of the Champawat ruler. Another story says in the 15th Century during the regime of Chand King, Karu; the representative of the Chand King, went to Sorar (in Nepal) to take part in hilljatra festival. He won the festival by his intelligence and bravery and was able to sacrifice a buffalo with horns covering the neck. Hence people became happy and joyful and wanted to present Karu with a gift. Karu pondered about introducing this festival in Sor Valley and also asked for four masks, two bullocks, Lakhia Bhoot, Halwaha, and one implement - the Nepali plough. This was actually the way by which this festival was introduced in Sor.
Celebration of Hilljatra
In the first part of the Jatra, rituals like animals sacrifice is performed, and dramatic presentation of pastoral and agricultural activities are done in the second part. The masks are very communicative and this happens to be the most entertaining part of the festival. In presenting "Hill Jatra" Lakhia Bhoot is exhibited as con trolled by two body guards and the controlled energy is used for genuine purposes is the main theme.
In the last part of the festival however, dances and songs are performed. The dance is performed in circle known as Chanchari Dance. The celebration of dance goes on late in the night. The songs that are played are generally traditional and in some cases popular songs are also played. Beside this the center of attraction of Hill Jatra is white clothed deer which is worshipped as regional god. The hilljatra is a living tradition and all care should be taken to preserve its style in a rapidly changing society.
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