12 Best Festivals of Uttarakhand
7 months ago
‘DevBhoomi’- Uttarakhand is a place carrying the majestic power of nature. The holy city calls people to live the exquisite beauty of the state and dwell in the lifestyle of Utttrakhandis for a while. To enhance the magnificent beauty of the state, the Himalayas, holy temples, and the beliefs of the people are related to it. The people here celebrate many festivals of their own with great enthusiasm and vigor.
If you are ever planning to visit here, make sure you take part in witnessing one of the festivals of the Uttarakhand.
1. The Grand Kumbh Mela, Haridwar
Kumbh Mela is an auspicious festival of Uttarakhand taking place every 12 years in the four cities of Prayagraj, Ujjain, Nasik, and Haridwar. Haridwar lies in the state of Uttrakhand. The Kumbh Mela is a religious fair that is celebrated on the banks of the river Ganga at Har ki Pauri Ghat. The mythological tale behind this festival is that Lord Vishnu while transporting the Amrit (elixir) to a safe place, four drops fell at four places where Kumbh Mela is now celebrated. A huge gathering takes place in the city during the Kumbh Mela. An Ardh Kumbh (a small part of the Mela) is held every six years. Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh both happen during the end of the year or the beginning of the new year.
2. Bhitauli and Harela
Harela is an Uttarakhandi festival that is celebrated mostly by the people of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The festival marks the beginning of the monsoon season. It is celebrated during the month of Shravana, i.e., Shravan maas in July-August. The celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati takes place during Harela. People prepare small idols of Hindu Gods and pay offerings to them. Another festival that falls just before Harela is Bhitauli. It is celebrated in the month of Chaitra.
During the festival, women of the place sow different seeds in the soil and real the harvest which is called harela. This provides them an idea of the quality of the seeds. In this festivals, the brothers also give gifts to their sisters.
3. Kale Kauva or Ghughutia
Kale Kauva also goes by the name Ghughutia and is widely celebrated among the people of Uttarakhand. It is celebrated during the time of Makar Sankranti. This festival of Uttarakhand has one of the sweetest traditions. During this festival sweets are made from flour in various shapes like knives, swords, etc. and are fed to the crows and migratory birds. This is done to celebrate their coming and in the hope that they will come next year as well. The children call and attract birds by singing songs.
4. Phool Dei
Phool Dei is celebrated to cherish the harvest and to celebrate the coming of the spring season. Celebrated on the first day of Chaitra Maas (March- April), it is also known as the harvest festival.
After the flowers blossom, the locals make pudding which is called dei made of jaggery, curd, and flour. This dish holds significant value in the festival. During this festival of Uttarakhand, little girls roam around the locality singing the folk song ‘Phool Dei’ and offer jaggery and coconut. The locals believe that the young girls bless people’s homes by putting rice and flowers on the doorsteps. Sweets and blessings are given to the girls in return for their act.
5. Kandali festival
This auspicious festival of Uttarakhand is celebrated by the Rung tribe that is found in the Chaundans valley of Pithoragarh district, Kumaon. This festival celebrates the blooming of a flower called Kandali which blooms only once in 12 years. Few interesting tales are associated with the celebration of this festival. Women defended the Kumaon region against the soldiers of the Zorawar Singh Army in 1841, who tried to loot the villages by hiding in the Kandali shrub. The shrub was destroyed during this process of defense. Another story that goes by is that a woman cursed the plant and ordered to rip it when it reached its full potential because his son died by applying the Kandali plant on his wound.
This week-long Uttarakhandi festival is celebrated with great vigor. The locals worship the idols of Lord Shiva made from barley and buckwheat. A puja, a ceremonial feast, and the raising of the flag are followed by the worshipping of the idol. The locals then move to attack the shrub of Kandali.
6. Ganga Dusshera
Ganga Dusshera is also known as Dasar to celebrate the advent of the Ganga River from the heaven above. This ten-day long Uttarakhandi festival falls on the tenth day i.e. Dashmi of the month of Jyeshtha month. It is observed on the ghats of Ganga in Allahabad, Rishikesh, and Haridwar. Ganga River holds a very special place in the hearts of the Hindus, so this festival is very much famous among the people.
Huge flocks of devotees take a dip in the holy waters of Ganga to purify themselves of their sins. Kakdi, watermelons, and flowers are offered to the river.
7. Purnagiri Mela
The fair is held in Purnagiri Temple. The festival is celebrated to commemorate Devi Sati. It is held during Chaitra Navratri and goes on for 2 months every year. Purnagiri temple comes under the 108 Siddha Peeths and holds a great significance. The place is swamped with devotees throughout these months as many other fairs are organized near the Puranagiri Devi Temple.
8. Syalde Bikhauti Mela, Almora
This annual fair is organized in the town of Dwarahat (Almora). The fair is held in two phases; the 1st is organized in the Vimandeshwar Temple and the 2nd is held in the Dwarahat marketplace. The festival of Uttarakhand is filled with colorful environment and joy along with the folks. One can enjoy the folk dances and songs during the festival. ‘Oda Bhetna’ is a very important ritual where a stone is struck.
As per legend stories, During ancient times, the locals worship their deity in a temple nearby and due to some conflict between the two groups, a fight happened between two groups, the losing group leader’s head was cut off and a stone was placed near it. The festival has many traditions that go around in the area. One can witness the entire festival and can enjoy the delicious jalebi (sweet) which is an important part of the festival.
9. International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh
Rishikesh organizes the great international festival to celebrate Yoga. This international festival sees lots of tourists coming from across the world. The yoga festival of Uttarakhand takes place at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Yoga along with many Indian sciences of stress management and health are taught during this festival. This one-week long festival also has another attraction such as bhajan and kirtan goes around in the premises, provision of satvik bhojan, Ganga Arti, Satsang, cultural song and dance performances and campfires. This grand festival of Uttarakhand takes place during the month of March.
If you want to relieve your stress and give yourself some peaceful time among nature, International Yoga Festival is for you. The participants get to have lectures from revered saints and yoga classes from highly trained professionals.
10. Magh Mela, Uttarkashi
Magh Mela is the most famous festival in Uttarakhand state. Organized in the Uttarakashi district, this fair holds religious value. The mela promotes tourism on a large scale and is held annually. Magh Mela is organized during the month of January in which palanquins carrying the deity, proceed to the Ramlila Ground where devotees bathe in the River Ganga. The fair highlights the artwork and craftsmanship of local artisans of Uttarakhand.
An aura of religious spirituality is created during the month of this festival. People flock in large numbers to witness this auspicious fair.
11. Nanda Devi Festival
This five to seven days fair is widely held in Chamoli, Mussoorie, Nauti, Dandidhara, Almora, Bageshwar, Ranikhet, Kichha, Nainital, Bhowali, and Kot. Huge numbers of devotees gather here to pay offerings to the Nanda Devi Temple and be a part of this fair. One can see the culture and lifestyle of the Kumaon region during this fair. This Uttarakhandi festival sees markets of local crafts and art made by the people. Folk songs and dance go around in the place. Students from schools and colleges also perform during this fair. The final day of the fair sees the submersion of the idol of Nanda and Sunanda Devi in the water by the devotees.
12. Hilljatra Festival
The festival of pastoralists and agriculturalists, Hilljatra is celebrated in Pithoragarh. It is celebrated by some people of the Kumaon region and involves 3 phases with goat sacrifice, then drama, and lastly folk songs performances. The festival of Uttarakhand was originally celebrated in West Nepal but later brought to Pithoragarh by the Chand Dynasty King Kuru after he sacrificed a buffalo with horns in Sorar, West Nepal. Hence, the Hilljatra festival of Uttarakhand was introduced here. During this festival, a deer is worshipped in white clothes as a regional God. The celebration goes on for the whole night. This festival is also celebrated with the name ‘Hiran Chital’ with some modifications in Kanalichhina and Askot regions.