Festivals of Uttarakhand are known all over the world for its colorful and vibrant nature. The people of the hills are very religious and make it a point to celebrate every auspicious festival with complete dedication and devotion. Just like the rest of India this state also has some of the most magnificent and relevant holidays. You can even plan a trip to Devbhoomi during the festival season to experience the real culture and authentic ethnic vibe of the people here. There are a lot of fairs and festivals that takes place throughout the year in this state. Apart from the people here preserving the legacy this place is also home to innumerable temples, shrines and sacred destinations of worship so it is understood as to why festivals here holds a special significance.
Here are some of the top festivals in Uttarakhand which will leave you awe-inspired from within:
01. Nanda Devi Mela
Also referred to locally as the Nanda Devi Mahotsav this fair’s roots go deep into the time of Chand rulers who used to worship the goddess. The festival takes place in September and goes on for 5 to 7 days. It can be seen celebrated in full swing and complete festivities in various places of Uttarakhand like Almorah, Bageshwar, Bhowali, Johar, etc. the main place where the fair is held is at Almora where people from far-flung destinations visit to offer their prayer and worship the goddess. According to various historical sources Nanda Devi was the family goddess of the Chand rulers who ruled these regions during the 17th century. Later on to honour the goddess a temple was also built in Almorah where annually the fair is held ever since then.
Celebrated primarily in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Harela is one of the most awaited festivals for Hindus in India. Apart from Uttarakhand, it is also celebrated in parts of Himachal Pradesh as well. Harela literally translates into ‘day of green’ where the agriculturists of the hilly regions pray to the gods for a successful harvest every year. This day also marks the sowing season and is celebrated as the onset for monsoon months. Some religious people believe that this day also marks when Lord Shiva was married to goddess Parvati and so clay statues are also made and worshipped during this day. No matter what the reason behind its celebration is, people spend this day in a very festive and grand manner.
03. Kumbh Mela:
This festival is not an unknown word in India. Haridwar is the place where this iconic gathering of devotees on the banks of the holy Ganga River takes place. The festival takes places once every 12 years and switches between Allahabad, Ujjain, Nasik, and Haridwar. The last Kumbh Mela took place in Haridwar in 2010 and the next one is scheduled to take place in the year 2021. This is one of the holiest and the most religious day in every Hindu’s life and taking a holy dip in the holy Ganga River is considered to be an important part of this procession. According to religious beliefs, this Mela is held when the planet Jupiter is in Aquarius and the sun makes its entry in Aries.
04. Phool Dei:
This harvest festival which is celebrated with great pomp, show and enthusiasm are one of the most awaited holidays in this hilly state. The flower festival is when the people whose livelihood depends on a good harvest pray to the Lord for a successful harvest year. During this auspicious occasion young girls go from house to house decorating the threshold or the entrance of the house for which they get awarded with sweets and other such things. This festival is such a massive carnival that sometimes it also goes on for a full month which is also followed by happy and cheerful folk dance and singing performances along with praying to the gods above for a successful harvest and to keep their livestock and animals in a healthy condition.
05. Makar Sankranti:
This is one festival which is not only celebrated in Uttarakhand but is also celebrated as different versions all over the country. In Uttarakhand, this festival is indicative of the changing season. As per the local beliefs here they have also given it a different name of Uttarayani which literally means that the sun has officially entered the zodiac sign of makar or Capricorn from cancer or Kark Sign. This is simple terms means that the sun is now moving towards the northern region hence the season is changing. As a part of ritual these Days, people make it a point to worship the sun god during sunrise and bathe in the pure river water. A famous fair also takes place during this time marking this occasion which is attended by devotees from all over India. It is quite a spectacle to be a part of.
This festival is primarily focussed around the tribe of rung in the district of Pithoragarh within the Kumaon division. This festival marks the blossoming or flowering of the Kandali plant which only flowers once in every 12 years. There is a very vibrant and interesting history behind this festival which involves the defeat of the army of Zorawar Singh who had attempted an invasion in this region around the year 1841. This is a weeklong celebration of the victory of the army of Uttarakhand where the people offer their prayer to the idol of Lord Shiva made out of buckwheat and barley. There is also very elaborate ceremonial feast that takes place and the procession of raising a flag is also carried out. These festivities are carried on throughout the night where people not only dance and sing folk songs but also stage an attack on the Kandali shrubs as a part of their beliefs, traditions and culture.
There are lot more festivals which are celebrated by specific tribes and subgroups making it one of the most vibrant places in India.