Fulaich Festival

The Fulaich festival of the Kinnaur Valley in Himachal Pradesh is also popularly known as the Festival of Flowers. The valley is also known by the name of Fulaich and the festival is celebrated to pay respects to the departed ancestors of the region. Young men from climb mountainous peaks to pick flowers, which are then used as offerings to the God. Upon their return the valley celebrates the festival that is accompanied by prayers, dances and folk music.

Month of Celebration of the Festival

It is usually celebrated during the 20th of the month Bhadra, which usually falls during the first week of September. Fulaiach festival is celebrated over three to five days. Young men from the tribe climb up the tops of mountain hills in search of exotic flowers known as Bhramakamal. It is said that this type of flower blooms in the night and that too only once every year, which makes it very auspicious to the people of Kinnaur.

Description About Fulaich

During the first day of the festival, head priest picks boys from the village to gather flowers from mountainous hilltops. These boys then begin on their mission to climb a nearby hill, which is usually at least 4500m in height. Once they have collected the flowers they return downhill and offer them to the shrine to honour their ancestors. Goats are sacrificed as part of the tradition. Idols from the local temples are then carried on the head of people as others dance and sing to beats of folk music. The dances involve the use of drums, metal clappers and bugles. By dusk, wine and meat is served to all people taking part in the festival. One of the popular food items served here includes Poltu, which is a type of fried bread while the wine is made from apricot and apple. Once dinner has been served, the people return the idols back to the temple, which is again accompanied, by folk music and dances. The people then continue to dance and drink wine for the entire night.

One the second day of the Fulaich festival, youngsters are again sent to retrieve flowers from a different hilltop in order to make an offering to the Mother Goddess. Local legend has it that this hilltop is the place of origin of the Goddess. The youngsters then return with a bunch of exotic flowers, which include the Brahmakamal and the Musky Spur. Dusk sets in by the time the flower boysarrive and they are eagerly greeted by men and women in traditional costumes accompanied by music. With the idols in the centre, men and women form seperate circles by holding each other hands and dance in steps. The day ends with the service of meat and wine to all attendees.

The day three of the festival involves the main dance rituals that are centered around the Shiv temple. The celebrations go on till midnight with food and wine being distributed to the people. The idols are also toured through almost the entire village with a number of dancers as a part of the procession.  On day four of the festival the idols are toured along the entire village where men and women form large human chains. All residents of the valley take part to provide food, wine and other goodies to those who are taking part in the procession and festival comes to an end with distribution of gifts.

People coming to see the Fulasih festival in the Kinnaur valley can also make visits to some of the famous temples of this region. The Chandika temple of Kothi, is held under great reverence by the local people of the village. Goddess Chandika or ShuwangChadika as she is more popularly known here was the daughter of the Banasuur who was a demon god. The Maheshwar temple located in Sungra is one the most popular shrines in Kinnaur valley. The architectural style of the temple involves the use of wood panels on either side, which gives it a vintage and classical look. The temple also features several image of Hindu gods. There is also a depiction of Vishnus various avatars on the Eastern wall along with the Hindu symbol of the Zodiac.

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