The ancient hill station of Manali is famous for a lot of things, from natural untouched scenic beauty to holy spots and adventure activities. However, that’s not it. The culture and traditions of the locals residing in Manali adds on to the vibrancy and color of this place. Traveling to this ancient hometown of Manu – the person responsible for codifying laws in Sanskrit called Manusmriti, will surely be an experience of a lifetime if you plan your travels on some big or small festival or fair event.
Festival time in India is unique. People come together in harmony, share smiles and goodness; everyone is washed over with a feeling of gratefulness and thankfulness. It is said about festivals in hills that once it starts it goes on for days and the way Pahari people celebrate remains incomparable to anywhere else in India.
Planning your next trip? Check out these interesting festivals of Manali and plan a unique trip to Manali:
List of 7 Most Famous Festivals of Manali
1. Winter Carnival (January)
The dawn of New Year is when Himachal Pradesh springs to life and laughter because it’s time for the winter carnival. While many people make their way to Manali to celebrate the new year on 31st or 1st January, if you just stay a bit longer you will get to experience one of the most unique and exciting cultural events. The tradition of these festivities date back to the 70s; it aims at promoting the local culture of the hill folks through dance performance and cultural events. The lanes are lined with delicious local food stalls against the backdrop of interesting competitions and street plays. Taking place in the iconic mall road, it is clearly one of the best events to take place in Manali, especially for tourists.
2. Doongri Forest Festival (May – June)
If you are looking for options to make your summer vacation with family even more memorable and special? Ditch the regular sightseeing expeditions and make your way to Manali during the Doongri Forest Festival. Organized to mark the auspicious occasion of Basant Panchami or the preparation for the arrival of the spring season. With clear open blue skies and pleasant weather conditions, this forest festival lasts for 3 days. Locals offer their prayers to goddess Saraswati, wear their traditional clothes, dance, and sing in the celebration of the goddess throughout the day. It feels like a local carnival which is a blessing to be a part of.
3. Hadimba Devi Fair (Spring Time)
Manali and Hadimba Devi temple go hand in hand. Nestled amidst the Dhungri forest, this ancient wooden temple is the site for many religious activities, festivities, and puja rituals. This Devi festival is held during the birthday of Hidimba Devi and involves various cultural activities. One of the unique features of this Mela is the intense use of aromatic and fragrant flowers which make the entire valley smell fresh flowers. As a part of the ritual various deities from nearby villages also make their way up to this temple which is surrounded by cedarwood tree forest, to offer their respect to the presiding deity. It is a great time to get some awesome pictures clicked and get to know the other and deeper side of Manali.
4. Losar Festival (January end – March)
Buddhists and Tibetans are among a small community of people who have called Manali their home along with many other different parts of Himachal as well as the Himalayas in general. Losar festival is one of the main festivals celebrated by the Tibetan community in Manali. You’ll see people wearing their traditional clothes accompanied by lots of singing and dancing in their traditional styles. Not just Manali, but the entire Himachali state makes sure to celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm and zeal. It is a celebration for Tibetan New Year which originates in the pre-Buddhist era and the Speciality is Chaam Dance performed with traditionally and elaborately colored masked dance.
5. Dussehra (October)
Dussehra is one of the most hugely and elaborately celebrated festivals in the entire Indian subcontinent and is celebrated with different names and traditions in different parts of India. Dussehra celebrations in Manali are called Kullu Dussehra and have to be one of the most awaited festivals of the year. The festival is so huge that it caters to over 4 lakh devotees, visitors, and tourists from all over the world who witness this glorious celebration of the goddess. People wear their best new clothes the whole day and the entire valley is seen dancing and singing local songs of joy. Locals can be seen taking out processions and Yatras dedicated to various gods and goddesses which adds a lot of color and vibrancy to the entire region.
6. Baisakhi (April)
Baisakhi is one of the most prominent festivals for everyone in the farming community and anyone whose livelihood depends on agriculture. Locally, the first day of Baisakhi in Himachal Pradesh is known as Shamshi Vishu and it marks the end of the winter season and welcoming of the summer season. During this festive occasion, many fairs are held in different places which also entails several competitive activities for the entertainment of the locals like archery competition, wrestling competition, and even dance performances. It is a great way of getting to learn a little bit more about the cultural aspect of Manali. The goddess of the temple where Baisakhi takes place is taken out to perform rituals and then later on taken back to the temple.
7. Lohri (January)
The people on the hills are heavily dependent on agriculture activities hence they value each of these festivals and fair a lot. It is one of those festivals that is not limited to one region but in fact brings people from different backgrounds, communities, and villages together in one string. Lohri marks the celebration of the fertility of their crops and they ask blessings for a fruitful growth of vegetation. Accompanied with foot-tapping local music people also celebrate with bonfires and dance around it. Every dance and musical performance depicts the deep bond people share with their land and crops.
Festivals in Manali are full of good vibes, oneness, and a feeling of deep togetherness. They make sure to celebrate with great enthusiasm that is clear through the energetic dancing and musical performances. Visit Manali during the festive era and create memories of a lifetime.