Thursday, 30 April 2015

U for Ultimate festivals in Himachal

This post is written for A to Z Challenge.

U for Ultimate festivals in Himachal 

Himachal is a land of Gods. Every tribe, clan, area etc. have some God of themselves in the area. This is true with other parts of the country as well – like we call Kuldevta etc. But in most of the other parts we hardly revere the Kuldevta in the year. We only remember them during some celebration in the family. Unlike those here in Himachal you would find these Devta’s roaming around the state sitting in Palki on the shoulders of two devotees. Some are genuine, while others are just roaming to collect offerings. These Devtas play a significant role in the festivals here. Two such festivals which have famed to International level are the Kullu Dussehra and Shivratri at Mandi. 

Kullu Dussehra – Dussehra in Kullu is celebrated in a totally different way. It is celebrated at the same time as other parts of India mostly falling in the month of Oct. Here it is celebrated in the local Dhalpur Ground of Kullu , where processions of different Gods come to this Dhalpur ground on Vijaydashmi and stays there for seven days. There is local trade fair and musical nights that goes on along with it for the seven days. 

Kullu Dussehra

Its history dates back to the 17th century when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this, God Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley. The State government has accorded the status of International festival to the Kullu Dussehra, which attracts tourists in large numbers. 

As per legend Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu who had been informed that bowl full of pearls was in the possession of Durga Dutt, a poor Brahmin of village Tipri. The Raja directed his courtiers to fetch the pearls from the Brahmin, was greatly harassed by them. Finding the torture rather unbearable, he told them that the pearls would be delivered to the Raja on his return to the village from Manikaran where he was going. When the Raja arrived in the village, the Brahmin locked himself along with his family members and set fire to the house. Sitting by its side, he cut his flesh with a sharp blade at every leap of the fire and vowed curse to the Raja for his unjust demand by saying "Have the pearls, O' Raja". The entire family was reduced to ashes. 

After sometime the Raja was haunted by the spirit of the Brahmin family. Under guilt conscious and hallucination he used to see crawling worms in place of rice and human blood in place of water in the tumbler. The Raja did whatever he could do but to no respite. The news of raja’s illness spread and no body could help. At last a Bairagi named Krishan Dutt (Pahari Baba) offered his counsel that no medicine can be effective to cure the Raja except the blessing of lord Rama. He further suggested that Raja should take charanamrit of an idol of lord Rama. This idea struck sound in the mind of the Raja and further efforts were made to procure a holy idol from Ayodhya. His efforts succeeded in procuring a genuine idol from Ayodhya. For this work a disciple of Bairagi Krishan Dutt name Damodar Dass was selected and deputed for this purpose. Damodar Dass had attained miraculous power known as 'Gutka Sidhi'. Through this miraculous power he was able to procure the rare piece of Rama's idol alongwith Pujari from 'Tret Nath' Temple of Ayodhya in July 1651 AD which was installed in Raghunathjee's temple at Sultanpur Kullu with full rituals. 

Raja Jagat Singh with this showed signs of recovery. He was greatly influenced by the divine power of Rama, and thus offered his throne to the will of Raghunathjee and became 'Chharibardar' of Raghunathjee. This incident had a great impact in his state and as a consequence thereof all the Devis and Devtas accepted the overall lordship of Raghunathjee. The Raja sent his order to all the 'Kardars' of all Gods and Goddesses of the state to assemble at Kullu on the festive occassion of Vijya Dashmi to first pay obeisance to Raghunathjee and then participate in the festivities thereafter. 

Thus started the Kullu Dussehra. 

Tradition : On the first day when the Dussehra fair begins, the idol of Raghunth ji saddled in a gaily attired Rath is pulled from its fixed place in Dhalpur Maidan, to another spot across the maidan by big ropes by the local people. The village gods more than one hundred in number mounted in colourful plaquine attend this fair. There-after for seven days the fair goes on. At night in Kala Kendra International dance festival is held which is a stage of great cultural activities. Thousands of people witness the show in the open theatre at Dhalpur. Dussehra is a well-organised fair that provides entertainment business opportunities, fun and frolics to all. On the 6th day, the assembly of Devtas takes place. All the village Gods attending the fair with their followers and band of musicians participate in the assembly. It is an impressive and rare scene to witness. Devtas sitting together in colourful attires round the camp of Raghunathji. On the concluding day, the Rath is again pulled near to the bank of the river Beas, where a pile of thorn bushes is set on fire that symbolises the burning of Lanka. Some animals are sacrificed and Rath is brought back ina procession to its original place. Raghunathji is carried back to his temple at Sultanpur. The attending Gods disperse and so the people. Kullu Dussehra is full of grandeur and festivities. 

Shivratri at Mandi

Shivratri at Mandi. : Shivratri at Mandi is also celebrated in the same manner where Gods from all Himachal assemble at the Paddal Ground of Mandi. The festival continues for 7 days and is also treated as a festival of International level. The festival is celebrated in front of the Bhootnath Temple which is devoted to lord Shiva.

More than 200 deities of the Mandi district and around assemble here, starting with the day of Shivaratri. Mandi town located on the banks of the river Beas is popularly known as the "cathedral of temples", and is one of the oldest towns of HP with about 81 temples of different gods and goddesses in its periphery. There are several legends linked to the celebration of this event. The festival is centred on the protector deity of Mandi "Mado Rai" (Lord Vishnu) and Lord Shiva of the Bhootnath temple.

Shivratri at Mandi

That's with U . Tomorrow it would be V.

For other posts on Himachal written as part of Ato Z Challenge : List of post on Himachal Pradesh written as part of A to Z challenge.

Aditya Sinha

For other participants in the challenge visit : A to Z Challenge

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