Fairs and festival are an important part of the culture life of the people of Himachal Pradesh. They have educational,social as well as religious character.They actually serve the need of social cooperation not only for the economic requirement but also for the cultural survival.
With the exception of few, all the main Hindu festivals of North India are celebrated in Himachal Pradesh with traditional flair.
Every fair and festival of Himachal Pradesh has a legendary origin which is the governing factor in each of such gatherings. Hill people are very much in love with their ancient tradition and,therefore, they have kept the celebration of these fairs in its original flavor.
KULLU DASHEHRA : Dashehra is celebrated across India but the Dashehra of Kullu has its own special significance. The celebration continue for a week every year. On the first day of the fair, the idol of Lord Raghunath enthroned on a gaily attired “Rath” and attended by numerous village Gods is tugged from the fixed place into Dhalpur ground. The famous idol of Lord Raghunath was brought from Ayodhya in July,1651 A.D., by one Damodar Dass and was installed in Kullu by Raja Jagat Singh. The tugging of the “Rath” is considered as sacred act by the local people. All the Gods of the nearby villages of Kullu (more than 250) obliged to visit Kullu on Dashehra in order to pay their homage to Lord Raghunath. On the last day of the fair the “Rath” of Lord Raghunath is taken to the bank of river Beas where the pile of wood and grass is set on fire,symbolizing the burning of Lanka. The last part of the festival constitute the sacrificial ceremonies. At the end of the fair, the “Rath” is brought back to its original place and the idol of Lord Raghunath is taken to its temple. The attendant gods also retreat to their respective destinations.
THE SHIVRATRI FAIR OF MANDI: The Shivratri fair of Mandi also steals the limelight among the traditional observances in Himachal in so far as the worship of Shiva is concerned. The week long shivratri fair of Mandi is unique in style and attractive in its colorful display. Hundreds of gods and goddesses on their ‘raths’ carried on the shoulders of their devotees come with their followers.Then starts a week long programme of fun and frolic where the hill folk exhibits their talents in the colorful dances,drama and amuses the people throughout the period of festivities.
MINJAR FAIR OF CHAMBA: Minjar fair is celebrated during the monsoon season in August. Before the harvesting season starts,it provides leisure and pleasure to the people of Chamba and adjoining Kangra district. On the last day of the fair, thousand of people gather near the bank of river Ravi and make offering to Varuna God of rains. The offering made to God Varuna is minjars (stubble of maize) and coconut in the river Ravi.
LAVI FAIR OF RAMPUR-BUSHAHR: Lavi is the most ancient trade fair of Himachal in the month of November every year at Rampur- Bushahr, which is also considered as the gateway to Kannaur. This fair is being celebrated for last 300 year and stated to have orgin much older. The main attraction of this trade fair is raw and semi-finished wool,woolens, pattis,pashmina, chilgozas etc.
With the mingling of different types of populations like rajputs, tribals, gaddis, kolis, gujjars, kannets,brahmins, buddhists etc, HImachal Pradesh has developed an enriched traditional heritage. Most parts of Himachal remained unknown to the outside world for a long time and this helped the state to develop its own cultural identity. One can find a lot of supernatural elements in the region including Devtas, Lords and Demons. Most of the fairs and festivals of the state have a background of these elements and their stories are even more fascinating. Apart from the above mentioned fairs,a list of such splendid fairs and festivals is mentioned below.
- Navratra Fairs
- Fair at Diyotsidh
- Cheshu Fair of Rewalser
- Dal Lake Fair
- Summer Festival of Shimla
- Winter Carnival of Manali
- Hamir Fair
- World Famous Kullu Dussehra
- Ice Skating Club Shimla
- International Skiing Competitions at Rohtang
- Paragliding Fair at Bir Billing
- Renuka Fair at Sirmaur
- Shoolini Fair
- Manimahesh Yatra
- Nalwari Fair