Fairs and Festivals of Uttarakhand
The Jhanda Fair is held every year at the historic Guru Ram Rai Darbar in Dehradun City on the fifth day after Holi in the sacred memory of Guru Ram Rai, who founded the city. The fair begins with the hoisting of a new Jhanda ( Flag ) on the staff located in the compound of the historic complex. Besides the local people, a large number of devotees turn up from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, U.P. and Himachal Pradesh etc.
Tapakeshwar is a legendary place located on the eastern bank of the River Tons. Lord Shiva is the reigning deity of the ancient temple located, here, in a cave. In the Skandapurana, the place has been referred to as Deveshwara. It is also believed that during the Dwaparyuga, it was the abode of Guru Drona- charya, the teacher of the legendary Pandavas, who lived here with his family.
Since then, the cave has been known as Drona Gufa. One of the famous heroes of Mahabharata and the son of Guru Drona, Ashwathama, was born here. When Ashwathama was very young, his poor father could not find any milk for him. The Guru was too poor to afford a cow. It was a matter of worry to the great master. One day, when young Ashwathama was crying for milk, the helpless Guru advised him to pray to Lord Shiva, who would bless him with milk.
Ashwathama did so. Pleased with the young boy's tough penance, Lord Shiva appeared before him disguised as a Brahmin and offered him a boon.
Little Ashwathama asked for milk. Lord Shiva blessed him and said milk would be made available here. Ashwathama found that milk had begun to fall on the Shivalinga, drop by drop.
Ashwathama had prayed to the Lord by the name of Tapakeshwar and hence the place came to be known by the same name.
A big fair takes place here on the Shivratri day. Thousands ofdevotees congregate on the day to offer prayers.
Tapakeshwar is approachable from Dehradun by City Bus or Three Wheelers. It is about 5 kms. from the Bus-Stand and 5.5 kms. from the Railway station.
Lakshaman Siddha Fair
Lakshman Siddha is one of the four "siddhpeeths" around Dehradun. It has immense religious importance. It is about 10 kms. from Dehradun on the Dehradun- Rishikesh road. It can be easily approached by city bus or three wheelers and is situated about 1 km., off the road, inside the jungle. It is mainly a local religious fair held every Sunday, but the last Sunday of April has a special significance, when people turn up in very large numbers and acongregation of 20 to 25 thousand people can be seen offering obeisance to the Samadhi here.
Mahasu Devta's Fair
Mahasu Devta's fair is held at Hanol which is about 120 kms. from Dehradun, on the Chakrata Tyuni road. The fair takes place in August every year, when Mahasu Devta (deity) is taken out in a procession. Musical prayers continue for three days and nights. The havan samagri ( sacrificial offering) is arranged by the Government of India. This is a local fair of the Jaunsari tribe.
Thousands of participants throng the place on the occasion from the adjacent Tehri, Uttarkashi and Saharanpur districts.
This fair is held at the Jhanda ground in the cantonment area of Chakrata block of Dehradun district. It is about 3 kms., from Chakrata. The fair reflects the cultural heritage and tradition of the Jaunsari tribe. A large number of people turn up at this fair from nearby Tehri, Uttarkashi and Saharanpur districts. The fair marks the harvesting season in the area and reflects the happiness of the local people.
Saheed Veer Keshari Chandra Fair (Chakarata Fair)
This fair is held at Ramtal in Nagau gram sabha of Chakrata tehsil in Dehradun district . Ramtal is a beautiful natural tank of about 30 mts., length and 30 mts., width, located on a hill and is connected by a 700 mts., long motorable road. The tank is surrounded by a green expanse which is the venue of the fair. Every year, during the navratras (April), a big fair is held here. A temple and a memorial dedicated to the freedom fighter Veer Kesri Chandra are located at this spot.
Neelkanth Mahadev Mela, Rishikesh
The temple of Neelkanth Mahadev is situated on a forest clad hill above the famous Swarg Ashram in Rishikesh.
The fair associated with this temple is held in the month of "Bhadrapad" according to the Hindu calendar, which comes in July/August. This is the time when a visit is considered most auspicious. Thousands of pilgrims make the trek up the hill to pray and make ritual offerings.
The temple is associated with the tradition involving Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, the gods and demons performed "Sagar Manthan" (churned the ocean) to extract the boons available. The first product of this was "Vish", the effluent venom, which was toxic to all beings. So that the "manthan" could continue, Lord Shiva drank the venom but contained it in his throat. As a result, his throat turned blue and he also came to be known as "Neelkanth". The temple is dedicated to this aspect of Lord Shiva.
It is celebrated on the Vishuwat Sankranti day and commemorates an ancient victory. On this day, the Bagwal is held at Syalde Pokhar in the old town of Dwarahat. People also celebrate the occasion with music, songs and dancing. One day before this a similar fair is held at Vibhandeshwar in which Lord Shiva is worshipped. The Syalde Bikhauti fair has been successful in retaining its old colour and gaiety to a large extent.
This fair, also on Vishuwat Sankranti day is held in the Shiva temple at Masi. It is a famous fair of Pali Pachhaun. Animals, specially bullocks and calves, are sold at this fair. On the same day a fair is held at Thal. In the summer the people in the valley of Ramganga (West), especially in Masi and Bhikiasen, celebrate the unique machhli utsav (the fish festival). The villagers bearing tumra come with Jaal, fatyav and hathiya to the river to catch fish. The fish festival is locally known as Dahau.
This fair is held at several places in the valleys of the rivers Tons and Yamuna, viz. Dini, Jad, Thana Danda, Lakhamandal and Nagthat.
This fair is connected with fishing and hence it is held on the banks of the Yamuna river and its tributaries, viz. at Purola, Jalori, Saundari, Bankholi, Meenar and Duniyara.
Mangshirsa Amavasya Fair
This fair is held at Sem Mukheim in the Jalkur valley. Thousands of people converge here to worship the Nag Devta.
This fair is also held at Burha Kedar (Thati Kathur). Thousands of people come here during the fair to worship the Goddess Jwalamukhi.