Fairs & Festivals

Sirmauri Nati

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Sirmaur
is full of fairs and festivals. Most of these fairs and festivals had their origin in some religious or otherwise holy or sacred concept or commemoration. Dance and music came to be associated with these occasions party because of the Hillman natural fondness for these traits and party because music and dance have traditionally been the integral features of many forms of religious worship in India.Thus merry making and worship have long been mixed together in the celebration of fairs and festivals. Later businessmen saw their opportunity in these gatherings when people assemble in a mood to spend for enjoyment as well as relaxation. Temporary shops and stalls thus became the added feature of fairs and festivals in most places.Now the government,dedicated to the development and welfare of the people,has utilized the great value these celebrations offer by way of opportunities for mass contact. The result is that exhibitions are being organized and other audio visual methods of mass education are also being used for service among the people. While the worshippers worship,the merry-makers make merry, and the businessmen do their business, those interested in contacts with the masses for any purpose(and the purposes are many) try their best catch the attention of the throngs.  Even recruiting parties and family planning staff tryto take advantageof theoccasion. These broad features will be observable in most of the fairs and festivals attended,in the open, by large gatherings, and within this heneral framework,peculiar characteristics mark each fair and each festival from the rest. The following are some of the more important of the fairs and festivals.

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Byas Fair


It takes place near the village of byas in tehsil Paonta, five days before the holi, in month of Chaitra. Byas rishi, it is beieved practiced penance at the site of the mela where there is a bowli and a temple dedicated to the renowned rishi. At a distance of about 4 km from the mela site are remains of a ruined town. A legend goes that two of the disciples of Byas practiced penance there but got enamoured of some village belles. When making advances to the girls they were spoted and beaten by the villagers. They, thereupon, cursed the village and as a consequence the village was destroyed. The remains of the village still show that it was well designed. There is also an old well in the heart of the jungle. Wrestling matches constitute an important feature of the fair. About two thousand people attend the fair coming form far and near to make their votive offerings to Shiva and Byas.

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Gandhi Fair


At
Amboa, tehsil Paonta, Gandhi fair is held on the 30th January each year when a large number of people, from hills and the plains of Bhangani, gather here. This fair of recent origin, started after Independence, is dedicated to Gandhi Ji and has most of the features of a village fair

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Nag Naona Fair


This fair takes place duringdusehra ast an ancient and flood-damaged Nag-Naona temple near purowala village in the Paonta tehsil.Hindolas(merry-go-rounds) are the main features of the fair. Confectioners shops attracting multitude people are also set up during the fair.Sweets, utensils, toys, village pottery etc. are sold

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Bisu


The bisu festivals falls on the last two days of the solar month of Chaitra and the first of vaisakha i.e. corresponding to generally 18th and 19th of April. It is more or less akin to the baisakhi of the plains. The forest day is asklanti, the second bashri and the third is saja. The bisu fair is held in several village, and the dates of bisu also vary. The fair is held on a high summit under the flag of the village devta. The gathering worship Lord Shiva. All over the hilly areas of the Paonta tehsil it is celebrated from Ist to 12the Vaisakha. There is regular chain of fairs, one after another in the villages of Banor, Bharli, Kamrau, Kandon Dugana, Chouki Margwal, Bakhota, Rani-Bag and Sataun. Archery is the highlight of the fair. Often it ends in a dispute because people raise excited and provocative slogans and lose temper. Besides thoda (dance with archery), there is much feasting, drinking and general dancing. Goats are sacrificed and uskalian are eaten. Merry-go-rounds are much in evidence.

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Haryali


As the name signifies this is a festival of verdure. The time of its celebration would seem to have given rise to its name as it is celebrated during the raniy season on the first of Sravana and last two days of the preceding month of Asadha, to hail theverdurous nature all round. Milk and rice play a large part in the preparation of the dainties of the occasion. The village deity os taken out in a palanquin. Haryali songs are sung.

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Diwali in the hills


The manner of celebration of diwali in the illaqa Dharthi, Sain and trans-Giri is different. A bonfire called the balraj is lighted on the tops of the hills. The villagers assemble there and twirl the fire-brands called mushi tied with ropes, producing a pleasing effect of fire works in a dark night. This festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the hilly parts where the normal activities are suspended for about four or five days. There is a night- long vigil and a torch-light procession is taken out in the villages of trans-Giri area. Rasa is yet another highlight of the festival. The people dance and sing throughout the night. During this festivity rice is preferred to chapaties. The first day of the festivals is asklanti, the middle saja, and the last prainth. On this festival Kolis and Dhakis sing, dance and give humorous performance during the night in the houses of those of their   landlords who have been blessed with a son during the preceding year. In return they are given small presents. They also visit the villages in which girls of their own villages are married. Sometimes a barricade is put on their route to close it, and unless they sing certain particular songs they cannot go across. Those who do not know these songs return to their homes. The party who violates this rule or enters a house before sunset is liable too be fined by the brotherhood.

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Lohri or Maghi


It commences on the 28th of pausa. The first day is called asklanti, the second dwalanti, and the third altranti and the fourth saja. Nearly the whole month of Magha is spent in feasting and merry- making. The preparations for this gay period take at least a month. Magha is the coldest time of the year and the husbandman, forced by the climate to spend his days indoors, does his best to make himself merry. Sheep and goats that have been reared in the preceding year specially for this festival are killed on the saja day. Every household slaughters at least one goat. The flesh is distributed among friends and relatives besides being cooked and served at home to the invited guests. The people also indulge in drinking sur, a sort of country liquor, and freely perform folk dances. Gee dance is performed during the festival.

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Salona


It is celebrated by the Hindus on puranmashi of Sravana.People offer prayer to their deities and oblation to their forefathers after changing their sacred threads. This festival is also called rakshabandhan. Invitations for feasts, comprising dishes like saimia,sweets, ice etc. are extended to friends and relatives. Besides, sisters also tie the rakhari (wristlet) on the wrists of their brothers getting in turn cash and other gifts including clothes. In the hilly areas special dishes like saimia and patande are prepared and visits reciprocated by friend and relatives.

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