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Festivals of Kumaon

The  rich culture  of  Kumaon  is depicted  in it’s fairs and festivals  and play an important role in the  life cycle.   Life  in  hills is tough and  these  festivals  and fairs are awaited anxiously   by  all   particularly   by  children  and   women  as   these  occasions  provide them  relaxation,  shopping  opportunities,  entertainment  and   information.   Festival    season    starts   on  the advent of spring .  It is time for flowering     of   Mustard    in   the   fields     and     Pine, Rhododendron (Burash) and lot of other wild   flowers in  the  jungle  which   sets   the background for celebrations. In  the backdrop of variety  of  wild flowers,  fragrance of  pollen   grain    of    Pine    in    the     air     and       ripen appetizing ,   juicy     and    lucid    wild   fruits  of  KafalHisalu    and   Kilmora   even     birds     like       KafuwaGhughuti  as well  as  folks  cannot   resist  singing “Kafal Pakoo". The  other birds replies in affirmative.
Festival Calendar

FEBRUARY 

Basant Panchami It  is  festival of spring  and  all  yellow affair.   If not  a full   dress, at  least  a yellow  handkerchief   is  provided to each member of family. It  is  also time for   singing   of  songs  in  Baithaki (sitting) Holi.
Maha Shivratri People use to fast and take a holy dip in  reverence   to   Lord   Shiva    and   fairs  are held at every Shiva Temple.   

MARCH

 

Phool Dai It is a festival exclusively for children. They  tour  each  house  and  shower rhododendron   and    other         wild    flowers     on     every         beautifully     Alpana  decorated      doors    (Daili)    with   chanting of good wishes    for     ensuing    year.  In  return the house owner  gives  sweets  and  money to children.

  

 Professional    Holi   singers     are  called      Huliyar     and   they     sport       traditional Kumaoni     Cap,           Churidar Paijama   and  Kurta.  On     last    day    the   Holi procession visits all   houses      and    wish      the household long prosperous   life and with   a  assurance  to meet next year in the month of Falgun (March).

Colorful Holi The     culmination     of    joy       and happiness  is  reflected  during  Holi which  is    celebrated     with    great   gaiety   for   one  week. People singing and dancing all around on the tune of Dholak and    Majeera  is   a   common  sight. Classical  Kumaoni    Holi    of    Almora Nainital, Satrali, Champawat,   Dwarahat  and  Katyur (Bageshwar)      is  rated    best   at   par with Mathura     and     Vindravan.  Holi  is  an unique musical  affair  in  Kumaon. It seems that every child,    young,  old,  man,  woman is a  perfect classical singer. Melodious songs are sung at Baithaki  (sitting)  Holi,  Khari   (standing)  Holi   and   Mahila (Ladies) Holi. Each song is based upon some   Raga with touch of humor and spirituality.   
APRIL/MAY/JUNE   Being summer harvesting season it   is   an   interval    for    festivals.     However,     on    Baisakh  Purnima  and Ganga  Dushera   people use to take dip in holy   rivers. On  Ganga  Dushera  a   Chakra  with  idol  of  Ganesha   in   the  middle and Vedic Hymns written around it is pasted atop the door to ward off evil sprits.
JULY Harela Symbolizes greenness and 7 types of seeds are grown in small   baskets   and  worshiped for a week. Elderly women use to bless by putting these green siblings on the head of youngsters wishing them prosperity and good luck.
AUGUST Ghee Tyar Held during rainy season when there is plenty of milk and butter    Ghee Tyar   is   celebrated.  It  is believed that one who   does   not   take  Ghee on this day will born as Snail in next birth.
Janmashtami The birth day of lord Krishna and children use to display life    and    deeds    of    Krishna  in ‘Jhankis’. Elders fast till midnight and offer puja.
SEPTEMBER Nandaashtami Fairs    take   place  at  Almora,  Kot Mandir and Nainital. Idol    of    Goddess   Nanda   is  carried  in   procession  for emersion in nearby rivers.
OCTOBER Dushara Classical   Ram   Lilas  are conducted for 10 days during Dushera nights at every nook and corner.
NOVEMBER Depawali The  festival  of lights is celebrated for 3 days as Laxami Puja, Goverdhan Puja and finally Bagwali .
DECEMBER   Due to extreme cold, festivals are also put in cold storages.
JANUARY Ghugutia/Uttrayani It is the culmination of festival year on Makar Sankranti. It   is    dedicated to  children and birds. Fried   Cakes  are made in different    shape    of    birds,    animals    and   flowers and arranged    in    garlands.    Next    day early in the morning children    use    to   call crows, ask for blessings and offer them the cakes.    Only  after their offerings are accepted by the crows they may eat the cakes.