fairs & festivals

  fair and festivals  
In the arid trans-Himalaya, at Kaza's Ladarcha fair, the old trade routes come alive as traders barter and sell a variety of goods and produce. At Keylong, the Lahaul festival is also held this month. Shravana Sankranti is celebrated at Nahan; at Arki, buffalo fights mark the Sair fair and conducted in honour of Banar devta of Shari, the Rampur Jatar is held near Jubbal in district Shimla.
Chamba's famous Minjar fair which celebrates the bounty of nature and prays for a good harvest is normally held in August. Also in Chamba, the Manimahesh Yatra to the sacred tarn of Manimahesh is held immediately after the festival of Janamashtmi. Celebrated in Chamba, Kullu and elsewhere, Chrewal, Badronjo or Patroru is a festival of fire and flowers - and a time for purification of the fields. In August, several places in Chamba, Bilaspur and Sirmour have the Gugga fair which is connected with the worship of Gugga, the Nag devta. The same month witnesses the Dal fair in upper Dharmsala. The Shravan fair is held at the shrine Naina Devi, while the Ashapuri fair is held in Kangra.
As the rains end, autumn sends flery colours racing through the hills. In Kinnaur, the festival of flowers, Fullaich opens a window to its remarkable people and their beautiful countryside. Villagers scout the hillsides for flowers which are collected in the village square. These are then offered to the local deity. Then comes a spate of revelry - singing, dancing and feasting. Kalpa has some of the most vibrant celebrations and every twelve years, there is the special festival. Also in September, at the village of Chhatrari, near Chamba and centered around the exquisite temple of Shakti Devi - a fair is held and masked dances performed. The Kangra valley celebrates the festival of Sair. This is also celebrated with stalls, singing and buffalo fights at Arki and Mashobra, both near Shimla. At Nurpur in Kangra, under the watchful walls of its old fort, the Nagini fair bids the summer farewell.
More traditionally, over two hundred deities coverage on Kullu for its unusual Dussehra celebrations. They pay homage to lord Raghunath while music and colour fill the Silver valley. Numerous stalls offer a variety of local wares. This is also the time when the International Folk festival celebrated. The Jwalamukhi temple in Kangra becomes the venue for a major fair. At Killar and Panai, the Phool Yatra witnesses a remarkable display of neighbourly affection and the Dehant Nag is worshipped.
With winter just a hop and skip away, the age-old Lavi fair fills Rampur with a burst of activity. The town was once a major entrepot on the old trade routes to Kinnaur, Tibet, Ladakh and Afghanistan. Even today, the tradition is as vibrant as ever. By the churning waters of the river Sutlej, a variety of goods including wool, dry fruits and horses are bartered and sold.
As winter arrives, anglers shift to the Pong Dam. With the blessings of Nobel Laureate, his holiness the Dalai Lama, the International Himalayan festival is held in Kangra district. Troupes from the Himalayan nations are present. In their icy wake, the winter winds carry all the delights of ice-skating at Shimla. The extravaganza of the Ice Skating Carnival is normally reserved for December. Christmas celebrations overtake Shimla and Dalhousie and as the church bells chime, they carry away another event-packed year.