Fairs & Festivals in Chamba
¤ Minjar Fair
One of the most important fairs of Himachal, the Minjar is a seven-day
harvest festival held in July-August. Much of rural India is still
largely dependent on the rains for watering their fields. So much so
that rain is looked upon as a god and is thus appeased
from time to time.
Minjar festival is a kind of a thanksgiving ceremony to the god of
rain and a prayer for good harvest. Although meant to honour gods,
such fairs and festivals provide people a welcome break from their
¤ The Great Processions
Processions with decorated horses and banners are taken out through
the streets to mark the beginning of the fair. In keeping with
tradition, all the gods and goddesses are brought out in colourful
palanquins to the Chaugan on the banks of the Ravi river.
People float minjaris or the silken strands of maize shoots, from
which the festival gets its name.
The colourful gaddis and gujjars (nomadic tribes) seize this seven-day
opportunity for some good singing and dancing.
¤ Sui Mela
Held for 15 days in the month of Chaitra (March-April), this fair
commemorates Sui Mata, a beloved deity of the region. See Sui Mata
Temple for the full story of Sui. Women gather to sing, dance and
worship the Devi during this festival. The event is an all-women
affair men are strictly prohibited from participating in the
mela. Gaddi women from Bharmaur and other villages participate in the
fair as it coincides with their return from the foothills.
A month-long festival of fire and flowers, Pathroru is celebrated in
Chamba with much fervour. Its held in August, the month for the
ritual purification of fields to ensure abundant produce. The chira (a
structure of wood and earth to which dry grass and flowers are tied)
is worshipped in the belief that it will destroy pests that come with
the rains. It is also known as prithvi puja (or earth worship).
In Chamba, girls sing and dance to celebrate the festival. The men
are not allowed to participate in this. But they do take part in the
general feasting. A special dish called Pathroru (green leaves of yam
coated with gram flour, rolled and steam baked) is cooked.
Baisakhi is known as Lishoo in the Pangi-Chamba region. Though
celebrated in many northern states, this agrarian festival is
celebrated differently in different regions of Himachal. In Shimla it
is called Bissu. Lishoo is generally held on the first of Baisakh
(13th April). It signifies vigour and vitality and serves as a ritual
before the onset of the harvesting season. Burning the jhalra a
pile of dry twigs with a pole bearing a conical bamboo basket erected
in the middle is an important ritual. It is set afire in the
morning as young boys sing and dance around it.
Nawala is the family celebration of the gaddis (nomadic
tribals of the Chamba region). A lot of feasting and merrymaking is
done in the name of Lord Shiva (third of the Hindu Trinity of
Creator-Preserver-Destroyer). The festival has no fixed day on the
calendar but is celebrated whenever the head of the family thinks its
time, but it has to be held at least once in a lifetime.