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Chamba Fair & Festivals

Fairs & Festivals in Chamba

Minjar Fair: One of the most important fairs of Himachal, the Minjar is a seven-day harvest festival held in July-August. Much of rural India iFairs &  Festivalss still largely dependent on the rains for watering their fields. So much so that rain is looked upon as a god and is thus ‘appeased’ from time to time.

The Minjar festival is a kind of a thanksgiving ceremony to the god of rain and a prayer for good harvest. Although meant to honour gods, such fairs and festivals provide people a welcome break from their daily chores.

The Great Processions: Processions with decorated horses and banners are taken out through the streets to mark the beginning of the fair. In keeping with tradition, all the gods and goddesses are brought out in colourful palanquins to the Chaugan on the banks of the Ravi river. People float minjaris or the silken strands of maize shoots, from which the festival gets its name. The colourful gaddis and gujjars (nomadic tribes) seize this seven-day opportunity for some good singing and dancing.

Sui Mela: Held for 15 days in the month of Chaitra (March-April), this fair commemorates Sui Mata, a beloved deity of the region. See Sui Mata Temple for the full story of Sui. Women gather to sing, dance and worship the Devi during this festival. The event is an all-women affair – men are strictly prohibited from participating in the mela. Gaddi women from Bharmaur and other villages participate in the fair as it coincides with their return from the foothills.

Pathroru: A month-long festival of fire and flowers, Pathroru is celebrated in Chamba with much fervour. It’s held in August, the month for the ritual purification of fields to ensure abundant produce. The chira (a structure of wood and earth to which dry grass and flowers are tied) is worshipped in the belief that it will destroy pests that come with the rains. It is also known as prithvi puja (or earth worship).

In Chamba, girls sing and dance to celebrate the festival. The men Fairs &  Festivalsare not allowed to participate in this. But they do take part in the general feasting. A special dish called Pathroru (green leaves of yam coated with gram flour, rolled and steam baked) is cooked.

Lishoo: Baisakhi is known as Lishoo in the Pangi-Chamba region. Though celebrated in many northern states, this agrarian festival is celebrated differently in different regions of Himachal. In Shimla it is called Bissu. Lishoo is generally held on the first of Baisakh (13th April). It signifies vigour and vitality and serves as a ritual before the onset of the harvesting season. Burning the jhalra – a pile of dry twigs with a pole bearing a conical bamboo basket erected in the middle – is an important ritual. It is set afire in the morning as young boys sing and dance around it.

Nawala: Nawala is the ‘family celebration’ of the gaddis (nomadic tribals of the Chamba region). A lot of feasting and merrymaking is done in the name of Lord Shiva (third of the Hindu Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer). The festival has no fixed day on the calendar but is celebrated whenever the head of the family thinks its time, but it has to be held at least once in a lifetime.