Dyali Festival

The Dyali Festival is unique to Himachal Pradesh. It is celebrated two months after Diwali, which is one of the major festivals all across India. Dyali festival is celebrated with much joy, and some of the customs are new to people from outside the state. On Dyali, women go out in the evening to collect twigs of pine. The twigs are heaped together. The heap is lighted to create a bonfire. After that, the women offer prayers to it. The customary pooja is performed.

After the prayers, another unique custom is followed. The women toss walnuts in an open ground. The young boys in the village go around collecting these walnuts. This adds a fun element to festivities, where even children can join in.

The festivities come to an end with consumption of sweets. The sweets are especially prepared for the occasion by the women. Dyali is indeed a festival of joy, playfulness, and good food. Additionally, it is a time to worship the deity and offer thanks for the bounties of the year.

The custom of Dyali is one of the special traditions of this state. Every state in India has its own way of worshipping deities, local and regional, and of celebrating joyous occasions. Dyali gives visitors a glimpse into customs that are specific to the Himachal Pradesh region.

The Dyali festival is celebrated in the winter season. The entire season sees many types of festivities, dedicated to local deities, gods and goddesses, and a celebration for a good planting season.

Time For Celebration

Dyali, also known as dayali, has an interesting legend associated with it. The festival is an occasion to celebrate Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya. The festival is also called Boodhi Diwali or Boodhi Dayali. It is said the when Lord Rama returned home, the news reached the far flung mountainous region very late. That is why they celebrate his return much after the rest of the country does.

The real reason for the delayed festivities, though, is the busy harvest season and the extremely cold winter season. Only after the work in the fields has been finished for the season, is there time for festivities. In many ways, this becomes an occasion for celebrating the end of field labor. As the winters can be difficult, one of the ways of coping is through bonfires, dancing, and other celebrations.

The bonfire, made of pine or oak twigs, is known as ghena. Traditional sweets eaten on this day include sidku, walnuts, and patande. This is a time when prayers are offered to local deities such as Shirgul and Mahasu.  In some regions such as Kupvi, the Boodha dance is performed where Boodha dancers wear masks and perform a dance drama. Archery contests are also common, and attract huge audiences.

Seasonal Festivities

The Sairi is another festival that celebrates a good planting season. This is a time when maize crops are standing in the field, ready to be harvested. To celebrate successful planting and crop growth, the local people decorate their arms and feet with henna. Sweets are cooked, and fried dumplings made of lentils are partaken. On this day, the village barbers fill a basket with coconut, lemons, and flowers. They carry the basket from door to door, where householders contribute to the contents in the basket by further adding flowers, and even sweets or money. This is considered an offering to the deities.

Just like the Dyali festival, the Sairi festival is also celebrated by use of walnuts. In places such as Palampur, children can be seen playing with walnuts.

Another festival held during the winter time is Lohri. This festival is celebrated across the country. The most distinct feature of this festival is the bonfire. In Himachal Pradesh, a roaring bonfire dispels the cold and helps people bond by the fire. This is a time when people dress in new clothes and dance around the fire.

A trip to Himachal Pradesh is incomplete without experience these festivals. Every region has a legend associated with the festival. While Dyali is mainly a celebration of Lord Rama's return from exile, it is also a celebration of the milestones reached in the lives of the local people.

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