Place : Haridwar
Kumbh Mela is the largest peaceful congregation of pilgrims on earth.
Held alternately between Prayagraj(Sangam of Ganga and Yamuna), Haridwar(Ganga), Nashik (Godavari)and Ujjain(Shipra) every 3 years which represents a syncretic set of rituals related to worship and ritual cleansing in holy rivers in India.
At any given place, the Kumbh Mela is held once in 12 years.
UNESCO has inscribed ‘KumbhMela• on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Bhitauli and Harela
Place : Kumaon Region
Harela falls thrice in a year marking the commencement of a new season. It is celebrated during both the Navratris, Chaitra Navratri in the month of Chaitra (March/April), Sharad Navratri in the month of Ashwin (September/October), and in Shravan (late July).
This festival is followed by Bhitauli which is the occasion of giving money to the young girls in the family. On the first day of the two Navratris, women sow 7 types of grains in the soil, which is symbolic to future harvest. The yellow leaves that are there in the plant during germination are called as Harela. These Harela are cut on the tenth day and people place them behind their ears or on their head.
Harela festival of Shravan month marks the advent of the rainy season and it also commemorates the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati. People make small idols of clay of Gauri, Maheshwar, Ganesha, to worship them.
Makar Sankranti / Ghughutia
Place : Kumaon Region
A festival named ‘Ghughutia’ is celebrated on Makar Sankranti in Kumaon.
The main attraction of the festival is the crow. Children feed the crooked crows made on this day and say – “Black crow eat black garland.”
According to a legend kings of Chandra dynasty used to rule in Kumaon a long time back.
Chandra dynasty’s King Kalyan Chand’s only son Ghughuti was saved by crows with the help of the garland that his son use to wear from king’s minister who wanted to take the place of the king
On this day a dish is made from sweet flour which is named ‘Ghughut’. Children make a garland by putting it around their neck on the day of Makar Sankranti and call the crow and say –
‘काले कौवा काले घुघुति माला खा ले’।
‘लै कौवा भात में कै दे सुनक थात’।’
‘लै कौवा लगड़ में कै दे भैबनों दगड़’।
‘लै कौवा बौड़ मेंकै दे सुनौक घ्वड़’।
‘लै कौवा क्वे मेंकै दे भली भली ज्वे’।
Place : Garhwal
Chandrabadni Devi temple is a shrine located in a village called Jamnikhal in Tehri Garhwal district.
The temple is guarded by a Shri-yantra, skillfully carved on a flat stone instead of an idol.
Each year a cloth canopy is traditionally tied over the Shri-yantra. The priest is blind-folded while performing the ritual.
A big fair is held annually in the month of April in the premises of the Chandrabadni temple.
Ganga Dussehra or Gangavataran
Place : On the bank of river Ganga
Ganga Dussehra is a major festival of Hindus celebrated along the bank of river Ganga celebrating the avatarana (descent) of the Ganges. Jyeshtha Shukla Dashami is called Ganga Dussehra.
The festival celebration lasts ten days, including the nine days preceding this holy day.
Taking a dip in the river on this day is believed to bring the devotee to a state of purification and also heal any physical ailments he may have. One who does this is absolved of ten sins equal to the superpowers.
Special Ganga Aarti is done at holy places like Haridwar.
Place : Kumaon (Chaudans region of Pithoragarh district)
flower – Kandali ( Strobilenthes wallichii ) – blooms once every 12 years and the people celebrate Kandali festival between the month of August and October.
The festival begin with the worship of a Shiva Linga made of Barley and Buck wheat flour mixture in a decorated corner of the courtyard.
People pray for prosperity . The individual Poojas are followed by a community feast .
Then, the women and men, in that traditional dresses and laden with gold and silver ornaments, assembled around a tree on a sacred ground of the village . Strips of white cloth are tied to the tree and a flag is raised .
Place : Parts of both Garhwal and Kumaon
Women observe fast from the morning in this festival with great enthusiam on Krishna Amavasya in the month of Jyestha.
They offer their prayers to Goddess Savitri and Bat or Banyan tree.
They pray for the welfare of their husbands. They remember the passion of Savitri, who fought against Death, the divorcer of souls and eventually emerged successful. Her will power forced Yama, the Lord of death to grant life to her husband Satyavan.
Women recite the story of Savitri Satyaban on this day.
According to legend, Satyavan took shelter under a banyan tree when death was approaching him. Women thus pray to it so that their husbands may be happy, healthy and prosperous and considers it holy.
Place : Danda Range, Tanakpur, Uttarakhand
Held in the famous Shri Poornagiri Temple in Uttarakhand, this colourful and sacred festival commemorate Goddess Sati.
The fair that is held at Annapurna Peak is colourful and offers panoramic view of the surrounding Himalayas.
The Mela takes place every year in Chaitra Navratri over the period of two months.
The Purnagiri Temple is one of the 108 Siddha Peethas and a sacred place to visit for pilgrims throughout the year.
Place : Parts of both Garhwal and Kumaon
On this day the Sun God enters the Leo sign(सिंह) from Cancer(कर्क). This is also called Singh (सिंह) Sankranti and Olgia festival and in Uttarakhand it is celebrated as Ghee Sankranti.
This ancient festival is celebrated during the time the crops are growing well, milk-giving animals are healthy and trees are laden with fruits. It denotes the gratitude of the locals and families indulged in the occupation of farming.
People gift each other Ghee and Milk products.
Important rituals of this festival is pouring ghee on the foreheads, feeding ghee to kids and eating ghee and chapatis stuffed with urad dal.
There is a belief in some parts of Uttarakhand that if a person dont eat Ghee on this day then in the next birth he/she would become a snail.
Place : Pithoragarh
The festival, which basically came to the valley from the Sorar ( Mahakali ) region of West Nepal, was first introduced in Kumor village, Pithoragarh.
The Hilljatra is related to ropai ( the plantation of paddy ) and other agricultural and pastoral labours of the rainy season (Hill stands for mud and Jatra stands for Jaat ).
It has also been connected with the victory of the Champawat rulers.
Amid the celebration, a white-dressed deer is venerated as a territorial god. The party happens in three stage, and in the first stage forfeit of goat is made, in the second stage, shows are performed and in the third and last stage, songs are sung and permormed.
Syalde Bikhauti Mela
Place : Dwarahat in Kumaon
The Syalde – Bikhauti Mela is held in a small town of Dwarahat in Kumaon. Dwarahat is at a distance of about about 64 kms from the town of Ranikhet (28 kms from Almora)
The fair is held every year in the month of vaisakh.
The fair commences with the beginning of the Hindu New year.
The fair is held in two phases. The first one is held on the last day of the month of Chaitra at the Vimandeshwar temple of Lord Shiva, while the other is held on the first day of Vaisakh at Dwarahat market.
Singing of traditional Jhoda songs begins at the houses of the village chiefs.
The various traditions attached to this Mela are still intact and the cultural convergence of all folk art-forms, makes it a memorable experience for both the locals and the visitors alike.
Place : Chakrata (Garhwal)
The Jaunsari tribals of Uttarakhand celebrate a week long Bissu Fair marking the happiness and propersity coupled with the harvesting season.
This fair is held in the Chakrata Block of Dehradun District.
People turn up in large numbers to participate in this fair from nearby Tehri, Uttarkashi and Saharanpur Districts.
Bissu Fair is also celebrated at the well-known temple of Santoora Devi(avatar of Goddess Durga ) in close proximity to Kempty, about 5 kms from Mussoorie.
The fair is held during the Shukla Paksha in the month of Chaitra.
Nanda Devi RajaJat Yatra (श्रीनंदा राजजात)
Place : Nanda Devi
Rajajat is traveling to send mother Nanda to her in-laws. Mother Nanda is considered to be the consort of Lord Shiva and Kailash (Himalaya) abode of Lord Shiva. It is believed that once Nanda came to her maternal home. But for some reasons she could not go to her in-laws’ house for 12 years. Later he was sent to the in-laws with respect.
Patti Chandpur and Sriguru area in Chamoli district are considered as Maa Nanda’s Maika and Badhan Kshetra (Nandaq area) as their in-laws.
It is Asia’s longest hiking and cultural heritage of Garhwal-Kumaon, Srinanda Rajajat has preserved many mysteries and adventures.
Place : Near river shores like Ganga
According to Hindu Panchang, this fair is held in Magh month on the day of Makar Sankranti on 14th or 15th January.
It is celebrated in all major pilgrimage sites in India. River or ocean bath is its main purpose.
Religious activities, cultural events and traditional handicrafts, food and traditional items of daily use are also sold.
Magh Mela is famous in places like Prayag, Uttarkashi, Haridwar etc.
Place : Kumaon
The Uttarayani fair is held in the city of Bageshwar.Fair is organized in the holy confluence of Saryu Gomti and Sushta Bhagirathi rivers.
It is believed that on this day, sins are cut by bathing in Sagam.
Uttarayani Mela is a famous fair of entire Kumaon.
Place : Kumaon
A very unusual fair, which attracts people from Kumaon, Nepal, and even other places, is held every year at the temple of Maa Barahi Devi, Devidhura on Raksha Bandhan day.
During this festival, known as Bagwal, two groups of dancing and singing people throw stones at each other, while they try to protect themselves with the help of large wooden shields.
Place : Both Garhwal and Kumaon
There is a tradition of celebrating Igas Bagwal in Uttarakhand just eleven days after Diwali.
People with great fervor participate in the celebration of this festival.
People cook traditional dishes like puri, swala and pakoras.
One of the major attractions during this festival is the ‘Bhelo’. Bhelo means a rope which is made from bark of trees. People set fire on one side of the rope and play with it by spinning the rope.
According to beliefs, the NEWS of Lord Rama return to Ayodhya from exile reached 11 days late to the residents of upper hilly regions. So, people in Uttarakhand started celebrating Diwali on Ekadashi, eleven days after Deepawali and it came to be called as ‘Igaas Diwali’.
Place : Parts of both Kumaon and Garhwal
Known as the reap celebration of the state.
It is celebrated on the primary day of the Hindu month, Chaitra.
Phool Dei is about blossoms and springtime.
In a few places, the celebration continues for many months.
The term ‘Dei’ means a pudding which is the key eatable in this celebration that is produced using jaggery. White flour and curd are likewise offered to everybody.