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Festivals of Uttarakhand - India's Devbhoomi

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"Devbhoomi" or the “land of gods” as it is popularly known, Uttarakhand is a Uttarkhand is as beautiful a destination as it is a site of pilgrimage. From the fervorous Ghats of Ganga in Haridwar to the beautiful Auli, Uttarakhand is enchanting all around. It is has a diverse and lively culture owing to a multitude of ethnic groups, tribal communities, and immigrants residing in this state.

This diversity shines through in dialects like Hindi, Bhotia, Garhwali, Kumaoni that are predominant here and the way people celebrate different festivals of Uttarakhand. The Garhwali as well as Kumaoni influences define the way of life in this region.

Here is a list of Uttarakhand Festivals which people in full enthusiasm celebrate:

 1. Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela in Uttrakhand is a festival that we all hear about a lot. But how grand it really is?! Well, it goes beyond a mela or fair for those who celebrate it. This rather important occasion sees the greatest assemblage of explorers that take a plunge into the Ganga River in order to free oneself of one's transgressions. Followers, saints, sadhus, and spectators,  regardless of their caste, creed, or orientation, immerse themselves in the waters of Ganga, thereby harmonising with the pattern of birth and passing. A 3-month extensive celebration, this mela happens once every 4 years wherein it pivots in between Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and also Nasik i.e. exactly once in 12 years in any one place. The fact that this festival is perpetual across the different places to visit in Uttarakhand makes it even more popular.

 2. Basant Panchami

Basant Panchami in Uttarakhand commends the beginning of Basant or the spring season which makes it quite a significant festival in Uttarakhand. This occasion marks the end of winter, a period of death and degeneration, and is also celebrated in the month of Magh or January/February. People dress themselves up in yellow apparel, do Chounphula and Jhumelia dances, and also fly kites. At the centre of it all, they worship Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and prosperity in the land. Magnificent rice is made in pretty much every home at this time.

3. Bhitauli and Harela

When it comes to Uttarakhand, each season has a significant number of celebrations, and every celebration sees a scale that it warrants. Harela, for instance, is a celebration that denotes the start of the rainy season or monsoon. Individuals belonging to the Kumaon community engage in this festival during the period of Shravana i.e. July-August. The premise of this occasion is to honour the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati. People make little idols or dikars of divine beings like Maheshwar Ganesh.

Celebrated in the month of Chaitra, this festivity is trailed by Bhitauli that revolves around farming; the ladies plant seeds in the dirt and procure the reap called harela. In a sense, it is a ritual with a purpose since it lets them test the qualities of their seeds. At the same time, it is also an occasion where brothers gift their sisters.

4. Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti or Ghugutia in Uttarakhand is one of the well-known Hindu celebrations that is commended with a lot of enthusiasm. As indicated by the Hindu sacred texts, on this day, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn from the zodiac sign of Cancer. This day denotes the northward transit (Uttarayan) of the sun.

This is an occasion where people give Khichdi in charity and take a plunge into the holy rivers in Kumaun Bageshwar (Saryu and Gomti Sangam) and Ranibagh (Gaula). There are Uttarayani fairs as well that see immense participation to commend the celebration of Ghughutia (also known as Kale Kauva).

It is also a time to savour, quite literally. Sweetmeats are made out of wheat flour that is deep-fried in ghee and formed like drums, pomegranates, blades, swords, and so forth. They are hung into a necklace and are worn by youngsters on the morning of Ghughutia. Additionally, songs are sung to draw in crows and different birds. Thereafter, these consumable pieces of jewellery are presented to welcome the transitory birds back to visit in the fields after the colder time of year.

5. Uttarayani Festival

uttarayani

The Uttarayani Fair is typically held in the second week of January yearly on the divine festival of Makar Sankranti in Uttrakhand. It is held at an assortment of spots in the Kumaon area of Uttarakhand including Bageshwar, Ranibagh, and Hanseswari, however, the main fair has entirely been that of Bageshwar. The ground of the spiritual Bagnath Temple in Bageshwar, on the banks of River Saryu, turns into the setting of this festival which continues for seven days. All through the Mela, it is depicted that when the sun migrates from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere, it is believed auspicious to take a plunge in the water of the river.

6. Phool Dei

Phool Dei is a festival of Uttarakhand that commends the year's harvest and the coming of the spring season. It happens on the first day of the Chaitra season (March-April) according to the Hindu calendar and is otherwise called the harvest festival. It is when blossoms bloom and this is accompanied by the ceremonial pudding called dei which is made by local people utilizing jaggery or gud, curd and flour. This dish is an indispensable part of the celebration.

 7. Kandali

Kandali festival is celebrated by the Rung tribe of Pithoragarh district of Kumaon. This festival honours the defeat of Zorawar Singh's army,  which attacked the area in the late 19th century. According to the local stories, the ladies guarded this region against the troopers who attempted to loot the villages and found a rescue spot in the Kangdali plants. In this process,  the same plants ended up being destroyed and uprooted.

The locals celebrate this by enjoying folk music and dancing upon destructions of the plants blooming every 12 years.

 8. Bissu

This festival takes centre stage in the Chakrata Block of Dehradun. The Bissu Mela is commended by the Jaunsari tribe whose origins can be traced back to that of the Pandavas. Celebrated for an entire week in virtue of a decent harvest season in Uttarakhand, This fair sees villagers from all over gather to shower their love & affection to 'Santoora Devi', a manifestation of Goddess Durga. Interesting yet quite different from the main festivals of Uttarakhand, this occasion lets you enjoy the cultural diversity by grooving to the folk music in a large company of people sporting distinctive, traditional garments while reviving the lost practices for the younger generations to take note of.

9. Kanwar Yatra

'Kanwar Yatra' is a sacred pilgrimage journey of Kanvarias (devotees of Shiva). During the yatra, Kanvarians from everywhere the nation make an excursion to Hindu pilgrimage places of Haridwar, Gaumukh, and Gangotri in Uttarakhand to fetch holy waters from the river during Sawan (July -August). Throughout the journey, the devotees of Lord Shiva chant the slogan of 'Bol Bam' along with the religious bhajans of Lord Shiva. A number of NGOs provide free services like food, water, tea, or clinical assistance to Kanwarias. Kanwar Yatra is also recorded as one of the biggest human gatherings in India for ages.

10. Egaas

People of Uttarakhand believe that Lord Rama got back from his exile 11 days late to the upper sloping districts which is the reason they celebrate Egaas, 11 days after Diwali. This festival of India sees the preparation of different indulgences, performing folk dances, and illuminating their homes. Individuals even celebrate by spinning a rope called "Bhailo" with a fire lit at one end.

Home to a diversified population, the unique festivals in Uttarakhand are a big part of the culture they follow and rotate around harvest and agribusiness which is an indispensable wellspring of their occupation. If traditional celebrations are your thing, then experiencing one of these festivals during your Uttarakhand tour package is a must.

February 13, 2022

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Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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