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UTTARANCHAL

Uttaranchal Fairs & Festivals

The 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 of Uttaranchal:

Uttaranchal Fairs

Kumbh Mela (Mahakumbh)
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 and Saraswati
Haridwar (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas
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.

The 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.

Kumbha 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

The 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 or Nirvana.

According to astrologers, the 'Kumbh Fair' takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.

Jauljibi 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.

The Uttarayani fair
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 maximum people.

The Nandadevi fair
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

Syalde Bikhauti
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.

The 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.

The Devidhura fair
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.

The Jageshwar fair
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.

The Punyagiri fair
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.

The Haatkalika fair
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.

Other Fairs
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.


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