Fair and Festivals
In state level fairs of District Kangra, Shivratri of Baijnath, Holi of Palampur, Baisakhi of Kaleshwar Mahadev Dehra, Dussehra of Jaisinghpur, Lohri of Pragpur and district level fairs, besides Shivaratri of Kathgarh Indora, Baisakhi of Jwalli etc., besides many types of village level fairs Is organized. Thousands of pilgrims on Shivratri visit Lord Shiva in Baijnath and Kathgarh, earn virtue by appearing in Shiva Temple, they also get uncomfortable pleasures.
Holi is celebrated in a very attractive and interesting fashion in Palampur as well as in Baijnath, Jaisinghpur sub-divisions. On this occasion, beautiful Floats are also carried out at the village level, in which hundreds of lugs are involved. In these fairs, cultural practices are also organized, in which many talented and emerging artists of the state get the opportunity to showcase their skills and art.
Several types of sports competitions are organized in fairs celebrated in Kangra district, as well as Wrestling in which many wrestlers came across the country. This cirque is called chhinj in the local language. At present, women’s wrestlers are also participating in these chinjs and showing their talent. Those who win the competition are rewarded with proper money and monuments.
These fairs are our cultural heritage, so they are celebrated in the whole district with great enthusiasm.
Although Makar Sankranti is an all-India festival it is celebrated a little differently in Kangra. It is said that Mata Barjeshwari got herself hurt while fighting the great Demon Mahishashura. To cure herself she applied ghee or clarified butter on her wound and it soon healed. During the Makar Sankranti a big fair is held at the Brajeshwari temple for seven days and special puja is also offered to the deity. Butter sculptures, flower decorations are as much part of the festivals as are holy dips at the Ban Ganga. Bhajans or hymns to the deity too add to gaiety.
Shivaratri and Navaratri
Shivaratri is another all-India festival celebrated little differently in Kangra. This festival is as much significant for the people here as for the temples of the town. While most keep fast throughout the day and offer their puja to Lord Shiva at night there is another unique aspect of it. Images of Lord Shiva and Mata Parbati are made either with clay or with cow dung. The idols are then worshiped with greatest devotion. Songs are also sung in praise of the lord Shiva and His Consort Mata Parbati. In all, Shivaratri is an example of a festival that combines devotion and piousness with gaiety.
Navaratri is also another important all-India festival celebrated with gaiety in Kangra. Out of the nine days, the Durga Ashtami holds special significance for the people here. On that day devotees go to offer puja at the local Durga Temple.
Chait, also known as Dholru, is an important festival for the people here. In Kangra, Hamirpur and Bilaspur, the festival takes place on the first day of the month of Chet. In Kangra, the festival is celebrated so as to drive away all that is bad and to usher in prosperity and happiness. Dholru, a special genre of songs, are sung on this occasion.
Biswa or Baisakhi
Biswa in Kangra is celebrated at the end of the Spring Festival. Generally it falls on 13th April. However, preparation for the festival starts much earlier. Houses are cleaned and where possible they are applied with fresh coat of paint. The pious also take a holy dip in Ban Ganga. Fairs are held on this occasion and residents take part in it with full gusto.
Haryali is held on the first day of Shravana (generally 16th July) in the honor of the Rain God. Ten days prior to this festival seeds of five to seven different kinds of grains are mixed together and sowed in a basket filled with earth. It is either done by the head of the household or by the family priest. On the day of the Haryali clay idols of Shiva and Parbati are married off because the devotees believe that it is Their union, which causes fertility to the land.
Sair and Nawala at Kangra
Sair is basically a festival of thanks giving and is held in September or October. A barber goes round with a fruit in a basket (galgal) and the residents bow to the fruit wishing for a rich harvest. Nawala is also a festival of thanksgiving, but it is mainly celebrated by individual Gaddi household of Kangra. This particular festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is believed to have driven out all kinds of misfortunes and calamity.