Fair Festivals in Garhwal
Sharadotsava (Autumn Festival) is celebrated every year during October-November in the picturesque Pauri town. This festival has over the years became a showcase for local talent in Art, Culture, Dance and Music. For many an artist, this is the springboard to fame and stardom! Organized for about 5 days at a stretch , this festival also serves for some as a business opportunityas exhibitions are also held at various venues selling local souveniers, and serving local cuisines ! The Shardotsav also showcases some big singers and artists to add star value to the event every year!
‘Vaikunth Chaturdashi’, a fair is organized at the Kamleswar Mahadev Temple of Srinagar on the auspicious date of ‘Shukla Chaturdashi’ of Kartik month. The festival is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety and is full of recreations & entertainments . The holy Alaknanda river witnesses scores of childless couples praying with lighted ‘Diya’ for fertility, in the freezing waters at night – This is the true purpose of this famed festival! It is said that Lord Shiva always answers the prayers of these childless couples. The fair was initially organized for a single day , but now the same is extended to five days, also including a number of other fun activities
‘Gindi’ fairs are organized at some places in the southern part of Pauri district, on the day of ‘Makar Shankaranti’ n the month of ‘Magh’ , a number of fairs are organized in whole area, each with its own distinctiveness and flavour. The’Gindi’ fairs of ‘Dandamandi’ & ‘Thalnadi’, however are the most famous of all, attracting people from remote and far-away places . Probably designed to instill a sense of team spirit, and bravery, the highlight of the festival involves two teams of the local villagers in a game with a specialized ball (Called Gindu in the local dialect). For the simple and hardworking hill folk the festival adds colour and joy to their life!
Gaurchar Mela is held from 14th – 21st November in the broad, fertile and scenic valley of Gauchar. The fair which is held every year as an industrial fair is being organized since pre-independence days, and still continues to attract a large number of merchants/traders and local people. Cultural programs add a lot of zing to this fair in the modern times, and often well known musicians and dance/ cultural troupes are invited for this event!
The slopes of Auli are known to be the longest in Asia and a lot of Skiing Competions have been held here ranging from National Games till the recently held Common Wealth Winter games!The winter games are held in February/March at this venue every year, attracting many from different nationalities. Cultural programmes are also organized showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Uttarakhand to all the visitors and participants.
The Raj-Jat takes place once every 12 years after elaborate preprations by the descendants of the royal priests living in village Nauti and the royal family of Kunwars living in Kansuwar. The religious pilgrimage covers a total of 280 Kms, taking about 20 days to complete this arduous pilgrimage. Led by a sacred ram, who leads the yatra and mysteriously vanishes on the last day, this Yatra is now a well publicized event. The last yatra was held in the year 2000. Shri Nanda Raj-Jat fair is an excellent example of preservation of cultural heritage of Uttarakhand!
The ‘Binsar Mela’ is organized at ‘Bindeswer Mahadev’ temple situated at the remotest corner of Garhwal District on ‘Vaikunth Chaturdashi’ & ‘Kartik Purnima’, in the thickly wooded’Chauthan Patti’ & ‘Dhoodatoli’ area every year. People from different areas of Pauri, Chamoli, Almora and Rudraprayag participate in this mela and collectively worship Lord Shiva. The fair witnesses a fine blend of cultural heritages of Garhwal & Kumoun regions. ‘Pandav’ & ‘Chaufula’ dances, ‘Mangal’ & ‘Khuded’ songs are performed on the rhythm of traditional musical instruments continuing till the break of dawn!
This is a multi-event lasts for a fortnight and is held in the month of October-November in Dehra Dun. A true Cultural festival in its modern avatar, this festival attracts the elite as well as the commoner with a thirst for art, theatre, craft and culture! Inviting some of the biggest names in the creative fields, this is a venue for showcasing educational exhibitions, talks, lecture-demonstrations, workshops, documentary, screenings, film-festival, literature festival et al! Artists and artisans from different parts of the country and abroad perform in this festival, that is fast becoming synonymous with Dehra Dun’s culture.
Believed to have been mentioned in the Skandapuran, a place referred to as Deveshwara, and believed that during Dwaparyuga this place was abode of Guru Dronacharya who livd here with his family. Since then, the cave was known as Drona Gufa, also known as Tapkeshwar in the modern day!
Tapakeshwar is a legendary place located on the eastern bank of the river Tons. Lord Shiva is the reigning deity of the ancient temple located here in a cave. One of the famous heroes of Mahabharata and son of Guru Drona- Ashwathama, was born here. When Ashwathama was very young, the poor father could not find any milk for him. The Guru was too poor to afford a cow. It was a matter of worry to the great master. One day, when young Ashwathama was crying for milk the helpless Guru advised him to pray and worship to Lord Shiva who would bless him with milk. Ashwathama did so, and pleased with the young boy’s tough penance, Lord Shiva appeared before him in the garb of Brahmin and enquired about his wish. According to the wish granted to the young boy, the cave walls started dripping milk! This can be seen till date, as milky lime water drips from the ceiling and walls of this cave.
The festival of Tapkeshwar commemorates this event, at the end of monsoons, when a huge congregation of devotees throng this venue to seek blessings of Lord Shiva!
Hariyali Devi Mela
Held every year during the months of Navratra (September-October) at Hariyali Devi Temple. The temple has an ornate of the Goddess on a lion’s back. Devotees from various places throng here to worship the Goddess and seek her blessings.
Deoria Tal Mahotsav
August-September marks the date of this festival that is organised every year at the sacred Deoria tal lake. The heavenly water body situated on the Chopta-Ukhimath road has a captivating view, and is surrounded by a picture perfect meadow with forests all around. Many persons from the surrounding villages take part in this religious/cultural gathering.
Mahakavi Kalidas Mela Kabiltha
15th to 17th June – the birthday of the legendary Sanskrit poet Mahakavi Kalidas marks this 3 days fair which is organized every year . Many Learned scholars from Banaras, Ujjain, Garhwal and Kumaon congregate here for the Kavi Sammelan. A debate is organized to commemorate this date. Cultural programs are also organized during this period in memory of the great (Maha) poet!
The three Sidh Peeths, are located at three different mountain locations in Garhwal, dedicated to ‘Sati’ the wife of ‘Lord Shiva’. Legend has it that, as Shiva appeared with his “Ganas” to a feast organized for the highs and mighties, the father of “Sati”- Daksha Prajapati did not take kindly to the presence of Lord Shiva’s unruly appearance, and dishonoured him! Sati was so so infuriated and embarrassed by this incident that she immolated herself in the Havan Kund’s fire!.
As Lord Shiva took the dead body of his wife to the lofty heights of the Himalayas , parts of her dead body fell over places now known as Kunjapuri, Surkanda Devi and Chandrabadani and are thus worshipped as Siddha Peeths.
Chandrabadani temple is accessable either from Kandikhal en route Srinagar-Tehri, from where it is a 8 km walk to the temple or from Janikhal en route Dev Prayag-Tehri via a link road up to Jurana (9 km) and then take a foot path path (1.5 km) up to the temple.
A commemorative fair is held in April attended by a large number of people of Uttarakhandi origin from all over the nation. There are many religious and culture performances, during this time. A visit to the lofty shrine surrounded by a bird’s eye view is an experience to cherish.
Surkhanda Devi Fair
Surkhanda Devi another of the previously mentioned Siddha Peeths holds a fair on the Ganga Dussehra day at Surkhanda Devi temple, located at a distance of 33 kms. from Mussoorie. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is an important pilgrimage center. It can be reached by trekking about 2 kms. from Kaddukhal via Dhanolti on the road to Chamba. The worship of the Goddess is the main attraction of the fair. Besides folk music and dance, the traditional handicrafts are also on display.
Organised at Narendra Nagar annually in October, at the Kunjapuri temple during the Navratras, the Kunjapuri Fair showcases displays of skill and strength by the youth! This fair is held on Jyestha Dashmi, also holds exhibitions of handicrafts and handmade articles. Over fifty thousand people gather here to participate in various activities, and this fair now has a considerable presence of foreigners owing to its close proximity to Rishikesh!.
Magh Mela takes place on the occasion of Makar Sankranti ( January) in Uttarkashi every year. It is an important event for the local people from the point of view of religion, culture and commerce! A large number of local people and tourist participate in the Mela, with many visitors from different parts of Kumaon, Garhwal and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.
The most popular fair in the entire Bhagirathi valley,this fair showcases the bringing of all local deities deities , brought in a procession to Uttarkashi, and bathed in the Bhagirathi river and thereafter, taken to pay respects at the Vishwanath temple.
The butter festival is celebrated in the upper reaches of Uttarkashi, and is associated with the advent of summer months! This festival is celebrated with much fun and gaiety on the grasslands of Dayara, where the local villagers smear each other with dollops of butter, symbolizing a plentiful produce of milk products the previous year. There is much fun and frolic, and this festival has been promoted by the local mass media since the last few years.