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The people in Himachal love festivals and participate in all the local festivals and fairs with great enthusiasm. Most of the fairs and festivals are connected with the various seasonal changes. There are many folklores connected with the beginning of each festivals. These fairs offer a clear glimpse into the lives, the beliefs and the popular customs of the rural life in Himachal. Each district has its own sequence of annual fairs which are connected with the historical and sociological background of that area. Festivals have an important place in the lives of the people in Himachal. On the festival day the farmers do not work in the fields and rich and poor alike celebrate these to the best of their financial abilities. If there has been a death in the family on the day of the festival, the festival is not celebrated by the other members, till a birth occurs around the same time. The Sikh festivals are celebrated largely in the cities. The tribal festivals have their own identity which is totally different from the festival celebration elsewhere.

Pori festival

The Pori festival of the Lahaul valley is remarkable. It is celebrated in the traditional way at the temple of Trilokinath. On this day the statue of the lord is bathed with milk and yogurt and then at about ten o' clock in the morning a crowd of people goes around the temple beating drums and blowing conchshells and bugles. A horse is also taken round the temple. It is believed that the god sits on its back and this is why the horse is drenched in sweet after the ritual. After the procession, the crowd along with the horse goes to the palace of the local ruler where the horse is given a grand welcome. The king then rides the horse and visits the fair ground which is dotted all over with small shops. On this day a butter lamp burns within the temple all day and all night long. The devotees add more butter to it as they come and accept the ritual Prasad of multi-coloured scraps of cloth with deep veneration.


Dussera is celebrated all over Himachal. The Ramlila plays begins a month prior to this and finish on the day of the festival. In the evening an actor dressed as Lord Rama shoots arrows at effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnad and his brother Kumbh Karna and sets them on fire. After this, crackers are lit and sweets are distributed.


The Kulu Dussera is the biggest draw among festivals. It is held in October in Dhalpur maidan of Kulu. The beginning is marked by Rathyatra, in which the chief deity 'Raghunathji' is carried in a fully decorated wooden chariot. The yatra signifies the march of Rama to conquer Ravana. The famous Nainadevi fair is held in August. Some of the devotees cover the entire distance to the temple by lying prostrate each time they take a step.


In the monsoon month of Bhadrapada comes the festival of flower-watching (ukhyang) in the Kinnaur valley. This festival is also known as Fulaich and it commemorates the dead. But it is not an occasion to weep and wail. The fair opens with animal sacrifices and soon the entire village collects on a hill top and looks for the 'Ladra' flower. People serve rice wine and food to the dear departed ones on a mound of bricks. These are later distributed to the poor and the Harijans in the village. Afterwards the people of the village reassemble at the house of the 'Dhangaspa' family and garland all the family members of the clan. The villagers also welcome the team that had gone up the hills to look for flowers. Sacrifices are made into wood nymphs and at many places. Dancers perform ritual dances with ancient weapons.


The festival of Holi comes in the full moon day in the month of Falgun. Some women in the village offer special Puja during Holi. Small twigs of the 'Kamal' tree are painted in red and yellow and then laid out in little bamboo baskets (khartoo) along with thread, kumkum, jaggery and roasted grams. The women carry this basket and little pots of coloured water in their hands and go for the Puja. This is first offered to an elderly man (Dandochh) and then the Holi is played. The next day the entire village plays Holi. The day prior to Holi, when the moon comes out, the Holi bonfire is built and set to fire. There is a scramble during this among the younger men to touch the Holi flag first. He who touch it first, is considered lucky. Special Kadah Prasad (sweet gruel) is also cooked and distributed.


The Holi melas at Palampur, Ghughar, Paprola, Baijnath, Jaisinghpur and Sujanpur also have an attraction of their own. The Holi festival of Sujanpur traces its colourful history back to the glorious days of king Sansar Chand. This fair has been declared as a state festival by the Himachal government. The fair lasts for five days during which various processions of deities are taken out. Folk dances and traditional folk theater forms are also presented. Clay pots are also sold and the entire valley seems to reverberate with the joyous sounds of the traditional Holi songs.


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