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Fairs & Fests

Ages of rich tradition, warm and hospitable people, a landscape of breathtaking variety and beauty - all combine to pack each year in Himachal with a variety of fairs, festivals and celebrations. There are some 2000 deities worshipped in Himachal and numerous Fairs & Festivals are held in their honour. From religion to trade, from seasons to sports - and month by month - here is a joyous celebrations of life.

Dec to Feb
March to May
June to Aug
Sept to Nov

Manali Winter Carnival Much gaiety and fanfare marks the 5-day long national level Winter Carnival that is held in the popular tourist township of Manali in the month of January every year. The carnival attracts a large number of Indian and foreign tourists, and brings cultural teams from different States to perform folk dances, solo and group dance competitions, fashion show, song competitions, besides the Winter Queen Contest.


Christmas celebrations Christmas celebrations overtake Shimla and Dalhousie (Chamba) and as the church bells chime, they carry away another event-packed year.


New Year Celebrations A cliche if you will - but often laced with snow - the year opens with a heady cocktail. Thousands of revelers head to celebrate the new year in Shimla, Chail (Solan), Manali (Kullu), Dharamshala and Dalhousie (Chamba).


Halda Around New year comes Halda in Lahaul, which is a more private celebration of the event. Along the valleys of Chandra and Bhaga rivers, a few members of every household step out with lighted cedar twigs to a west oriented place selected by the 'lamas'. These slender branches form the first flames of a bonfire which is then dispersed. Shiskar Apa, the goddess of wealth is worshipped, and the dancing continues for a couple of days.


Lohri There is greater sobriety, but no less joy, when Lohri or Maghi comes along in mid January. This is the traditionally mid winter day and also commemorates the last sowing of the Rabi crops. Community bonfires, folk songs and dancing, mark the festival. Pragpur Lohri festival is now state level fair.


Dechhang In tribal Spiti, Dechhang is celebrated at the height of winter in January, while the Lahaul area reserves it for early April. At Paonta Sahib (Sirmour) the major focus is on Guru Gobind Singh's birthday. The town and other gurudwaras close to it are closely linked with the Guru's life.


Phagli On a mid-night towards the end of Paush (December-January), Phagli begins in Lahaul's Pattan valley with snow being packed in a conical basket - kilta. This is upturned on the roof, this resembles a Shivalinga. Shiva, Naga and the goddess, Hidimba are worshipped, and the younger generation mark this by venerating the village elders. Chhang and lugari, locally brewed liquors flow freely, and ritual dishes are eaten. Kinnaur's Sazi (or Sazo), also comes at around this time.
To make this wonderful time of year all the more attractive, Himachal Tourism offers special discounts and packages in its wide network of hotels.


Gochi Celebrated in the month of February, Gochi in the Bhaga Valley is an unusual festival when the villagers celebrate the birth of male children. Token marriages of children below the age of six are also performed - comes when children throw snow balls at each other.


Baba Barbhag Singh Mela In February, Baba Barbhag Singh Mela is held in Una to honour the sage who was renowned for his magical powers.


Basant Panchmi Basant Panchmi marks the arrival of spring in the lower areas, and every town seems to keep a reserve of colour for the occasion and the skies are filled with a medley of kites.


Lossar Ritual dances and an unbelievably rich imagery mark Lossar. This is celebrated in Buddhist areas throughout the state while Lahaul's monasteries have some of the most spectacular performances. On its eve, the stylized chhaam dance with elaborate costumes and masks, commemorate the assassination of the cruel Tibetan king, Langdarma of the 9th century. Often - though wrongly - called 'the devil dance', it symbolises the triumph of good over evil.
To visit the traditional fairs or to participate in the festivals, do confirm the dates as many vary from year to year. A range of accomodation is available at, or close to almost all the places.


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