Fairs & Festivals
religious, social and cultural urges of the people of Uttaranchal
find an expression in various fairs, which are in turn closely
linked to the economic activities of the region. Various
folk songs and dances have been kept alive because of these
fairs. In older times, when means of transport were not
so good these fairs were an opportunity for friends and
relatives to meet regularly. Inspite of all the changes
in our society, the tradition of fairs has been kept up
by the people. The fairs of Jauljibi, Thal and Bageshwar
have been closely linked with the trading activities of
the people of this region, while the fairs at Dwarahat,
Syalde and Devidhura are important from the religious and
cultural point of view. The following are the major fairs
Kumbha (Kumbha means pot) Mela is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage
that takes place at the following four locations of India
Prayag (near the city of Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh)
at the confluence of three rivers Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna
Haridwar (in the state
of Uttar Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains
Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh),
on the banks of Ksipra river, and
Nasik (in Maharashtra)
on the banks of Godavari river.
The pilgrimage occurs four times every twelve years, once
at each of the four locations. Each twelve-year cycle includes
the Maha (great) Kumbha Mela at Haridwar and Prayag, attended
by millions of people, making it the largest pilgrimage
gathering around the world.
observance of Kumbha Mela is based upon the following story
: thousands of years ago, perhaps in the Vedic period, gods
and demons made a temporary agreement to work together in
obtaining amrita (the nectar of immortality) from the Milky
Ocean, and to share this equally. However, when the Kumbha
(pot) containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away
with the pot and were chased by the gods. For twelve days
and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the
gods and demons fought in the sky for the possession of
this pot of amrita. It is said that during the battle, drops
of amrita fell on to four places : Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain
and Nasik. Thus, Kumbha mela is observed at these four locations
where the nectar fell.
Mela is attended by millions of people on a single day.
A ritual bath at a predetermined time and place is the major
event of this festival. Other activities include religious
discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men/women
and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are
debated and standardized. Kumbha Mela (especially the Maha
Kumbha Mela) is the most sacred of all the Hindu pilgrimages.
Thousands of holy men/women (monks, saints, sadhus) grace
the occasion by their presence. The suspiciousness of Kumbha
Mela is in part attributed to the gathering of thousands
of holy men/women at one place on earth
Ardh Kumbh is held every six years and than after six years
Kumbh Mela is held. It is said that a holy dip in the river
Ganges during the Kumbh & Ardh Kumbh gives you Moksha
to astrologers, the 'Kumbh Fair' takes place when the planet
Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.
and Thal fairs
This fair is held every year in November at Jauljibi, the
confluence ofthe rivers Kali and Gori, which is a meeting
place of three different cultures - the Shauka, the Nepali
and the Kumaoni.
This fair is held in a number of places including Bageshwar,
Rameshwar, Suit Mahadev, Chitrashila (Ranibagh) and Hanseshwar
etc. on Uttarayani day. At Pancheshwar the dola of Chaumu
comes down to the temple. The fair at Bageshwar attracts
The Nandadevi fair is held at Almora, Nainital, Kot (Dangoli),
Ranikhet, Bhowali, Kichha and also in the far flung villages
of lohar (like Milam and Martoli) and Pindar valleys (like
Wachham and Khati). In the villages of the Pindar valley
people celebrate the Nanda Devi Jaat (journey) every year,
while in lohar people come from far and wide to Danadhar,
Suring, Milam and Martoli in order to worship the Goddess
It is celebrated on the Vishuwat Sankranti day and commemorates
an ancient victory. On this day, the Bagwal is held at Syalde
Pokhar in the old town of Dwarahat. People also celebrate
the occasion with music, songs and dancing. One day before
this a similar fair is held at Vibhandeshwar in which Lord
Shiva is worshipped. The Syalde Bikhauti fair has been successful
in retaining its old colour and gaiety to a large extent.
Somnath (Masi) fair
This fair, also on Vishuwat Sankranti day is held in the
Shiva temple at Masi. It is a famous fair of Pali Pachhaun.
Animals, specially bullocks and calves, are sold at this
fair. On the same day a fair is held at ThaI.
This fair is held in the compound of the Varahi Devi temple
at Devidhura on the day of Raksha Bandhan. Devidhura is
situated at a trijunction of Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital
districts and the fair is well known for its enchanting
folk songs and dances as also for its Bagwal.
This fair is held on the fifteenth day of the month of Baishakh
(late March or early April) at the Shiva temple in Jageshwar.
During the fair people take holy dips in the Brahma Kund
(pool) and worship Lord Shiva. On this day, fairs are also
held in many other places.
Many people throng the temple at Punyagiri, which is situate,d
on the top of a mountain on the right bank of the river
Kali, in the district of Pithoragarh. The temple is very
crowded during the Navaratris of Paush and Chaitra.
On the ashtami (eighth day of the month)of the Chaitra and
Bhado, a fair is held in the Kalika temple at Gangolihat.
People come with drums and flags to pay homage to Goddess
Kalika. On this day, animals are sacrificed and offered
to the Goddess. The athwar (eight sacrifices) processions
with drums and dances are worth seeing.
The Mostamanu (Pithoragarh) fair held in August - September,
the Chaiti fair at Kashipur during which Talsundhari is
worshipped, the fair of Jahraulia Peer at Kashipur, the
Shiva Mela at Ataria (Rudrapur) on the day of Purnamasi
in the month of Chaitra; the fairs at Nanakmatta, Saneti,
Sanigaar, Berinag, Wadda (Chaupakhia), Dharchula and Tapovan;
the Shivratri fair at Bhikiasen and Salt Mahadev; the Devi
fair at Deghat and Kalanka (at Almora - Pauri border, once
in three years); the Krishna Janmastami fair at Kalapani
and Gunji; the Kanar Devi fair (above Baram in Gori valley);
the Hokaradevi fair at Birthi; the Dhanlek fair at Askot;
the Lachher fair near Nainipatal are some of the important
fairs, which playa major role in the social and cultural
lives of the people of Kumaon. In all these fairs one can
feel the coexistence of the forces of continuity and change
in Uttaranchali culture.
here for more information on Uttaranchal Festivals