Faguli Festival

Faguli derives its name from the local word for Spring season (Falgun). In Kinnaur region, the festival is associated with Basant Panchami, which is celebrated all over India. One of the major customs involves taking aim at a picture of Ravana using a bow and arrows. Hitting the picture with the arrow requires a lot of skill. If the arrow hits the picture, Ravana is believed to have been destroyed. In other words, the gods have found victory over the demons.

To assist the gods in their fight against the demons, the villagers maintain pin drop silence. It is said that any noise can distract the gods and stack the odds against them. Even blowing conch shells, otherwise an auspicious activity, is forbidden during this period of silence.

The region celebrates the vanquishing of Ravana through different customs. In some places in Kinnaur, the occasion is called Lanka Dahan, and marks the burning down of Lanka. On this day, people clean their homes and offer prayers.

Another custom associated with Faguli is the Suskar Horing. A family that is nominated for the task is required to collect wood and carry it to a cave. The wood is burned in the evening. The roof of the cave is smeared with lard, and the bonfire is used for roasting barley. If the barley grains pop and stick on the lard smeared roof, it is considered to be an omen of good fortune.

The lard is then collected and the villagers use it for another ceremony. A group of men carry the lard, known as Doo, to the temple. There, they take it around the temple premises three times. The rest of the people attempt to obtain a bit of the lard as it is being carried by the chosen group of men. Successful seekers feed the lard to their cattle.

In other parts of the region, the festival is marked by serving food to Savanis. This festival is seven days long. In many other places, the names of the monsoon gods are called.

Springtime Festivals

While some places witness celebrations and serving of food to some communities, there is also fasting among the women. The women observe fasts on days such as Nirjala Ekadashi and Navratra. The fasting is performed as a mark of devotion to Santoshi Mata. It is believed that the fasting will please the goddess and she will bring good fortune to the family.

Associated with the festival is the fair called Phagli. The highlight of this festival is an event that celebrates the victory of gods over demons.

Another festival that falls in the month of Falgun is the Sajo festival. Like Faguli, it is primarily celebrated in Kinnaur. The festival is a time to see off the local deity, with a lot of ceremonies and farewells. The temple doors are shut and palanquins are prepared. People prepare special meals for themselves. The village priest visits every home in to give his blessings. He is received with warm welcome and gifts of food and money.

Besides fasting, this is also a time for celebrating the bounties of nature. The festival helps build bonds within the community. People develop a sense of camaraderie, and this is one of the major reasons for celebrating such occasions.

Another festival celebrated in the Falgun month is Holi. This is a major festival celebrated all over India. In Himachal Pradesh, women perform special prayers. Little branches of a Kamal tree are painted in different colors and collected in a bamboo basket. The basket also contains thread, jaggery, kumkum, and roasted chick pea. A few pots with dyed water are also prepared. Women take these items and perform a ritual worship ceremony. After that, the Holi celebrations begin.

On the day before the actual celebration, a Holi bonfire is prepared. In the evening, the twigs are set on fire, and the bonfire is started. A Holi flag is displayed, and young men compete with each other to touch the flag first. The person who gets to touch it first is considered to be blessed with good fortune.

The Faguli festival occurs at a time when nature is at her best, and the crops have been harvested. It is the best time for celebrations. The local communities in Himachal Pradesh organize different events, prepare special meals, and offer prayers to deities to show their gratitude for the gifts of nature.

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