Being a diverse and peaceful state of India, Himachal Pradesh has various festivals and celebrations associated with it. Almost 1900 – 2000 deities are worshipped in Himachal and different festivals are organized in their honour. Festivals enliven social life in Himachal Pradesh and unite the people. In many of the festivals individuals collect in huge amount and dance on the track of Himachali music. This dance represents the serenity, lifestyle and joy of the people. The main population in Himachal Pradesh consist of Hindus which is approximately 98%. That is why the most of the festivals have direct origin in faith and myths. The few of the popular festivals in Himachal Pradesh are as follow:-
The very first festival in Himachal Pradesh celebrated by Lamas in the month of January in Lahaul region. On the auspicious occasion of Magha Poornima branches and twigs of Juniper tree are tied together. The people of the village gather together at a common location in the village and special ceremony is performed and many offering are made to the deities. This festival is like Diwali for the people of Lahaul.
After Halda the preparations for Lohri starts and usually celebrated at the culmination of winter. This festival belongs to the agriculture and is popular for its folk songs and dance. The festival is also named as Saza in many places. In major parts of the state this festival continues for 7-8 days. The festival is help to ensure fertility and prosperity. Bonfire is an integral part of the festival.
Navratras are celebrated with great interest and belief by people in Himachal Pradesh. Durga Ashtmi has the great importance all over the state. During this time people visit the nearest Durga temples having devotion in heart and offer several praying to the Goddess. During the Navratras Devotees visit the many shrines in Hamirpur, Kangra, Bilaspur and Una.
Chet is the first month of the Lunar year and starts with happiness and prosperity. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the people. The festival is known as Chatrali in Kullu and Dholru in Bharmaur.
It is one of the biggest festival of Hindus from ancient time and is celebrated with happiness and passion in Himachal Pradesh. It is also known as Deepawali which is a composition of two words “Deep+Avali”. Deep means light and Avali means row. Diwali is distributed in four days and each day has its own tale and myth to tell. The light in the home of every individual and skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of wealth, health, peace and prosperity. The tradition of gambling on Diwali has also a tale to tell. It is believed that Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness.
Dussehra is also known as Vijayadashmi and is an important festivals of Hindu’s celebrated on the tenth day of Ashvin month as per Hindu calender. The day is celebrated to commemorate the killing of Ravana by Lord Rama and killing of Mahishasur by Goddess Durga. The Kullu Dussehra is very famous and celebrated vibrantly in Himachal Pradesh. It is well known throughout the nation.
In the monsoon month of Bhadrapad, Rakhi is celebrated. It is the symbol of pure bond of love between brother and sister. Sister celebrates this emotional bonding by tying a holy thread around the wrist of the brother. Rakhi means “Bond of protection” which signifies that strong must protect the weak from all evil of the world.
Holi in Himachal Pradesh is celebrated exactly the same way as in the rest of the country. People in the state remains charged when it comes to play with the colours. The interesting fact to note about Holi is the fair of Sujanpur Tihra in Hamirpur district and gathering of the thousands people at the holy shrine of Ponta Sahib in Sirmaur district. Kullu holi is marked by mixing snow with colours-making it an ice-holi.
In Himachal Pradesh this festival is celebrated in the month of the September. Rich food is prepared on the first day of the month and people worship their local deities.
This festival is celebrated to demonstrate appreciation towards Shiva who is worshipped during disaster and hardship. The relatives on this day gather together and then compliment Master Shiva the hole evening.