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Gotsi Or Gochi Festival

Gotchi or Gotsi is a popular festival that is conducted to celebrate the birth of sons in the previous year. The event takes place in the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh that is often called ‘DevataBhoomi’ or the ‘Abode of Gods’. The snow filled mountainous landscapes of the state harbors societies that are seeped in tradition. The people of this region take great pride in their culture and the celebrations of festivals usually involve the entire population of the village. They dress up in traditional attire to enact rituals that have been passed on for ages by their ancestors. Gotsi is one such festival that truly describes the belief systems of these people. A trip down to one of these events can turn out to be a memorable one for all visitors.

Month Of Celebration Of The Festival

Gotsi or Gotchi is usually celebrated during the month of February each year to celebrate the births of male new borns the preceding year. Though an unusual kind of festival, it has its own charm and has been celebrated by the people of this region for many years.

Description About Gotsi/Gochi Festival

The Gochi festival in Himachal Pradsh is celebrated with great fervor and splendor. Gotsi is a popular festival of the State and is usually celebrated in all houses where a son was born in the previous year.

A day before festival, the priest of the village invokes a prayer to the village deity by holding a bow and arrow. After this ritual, the priest visits every home in the village where a newborn male child was born the previous year. A lavish meal composing of tea, chaang, meat and sattu is served. One of the young boys of the village is also made a Laopa by garlanding him.

The villagers of the valley all get together in the morning of the festival. A cake is prepared from the dough made of Sattu, which is composed of roasted barley. This is then placed on a large plate and carried by four men to the village shrine. The shrine could be an idol made of stone, a shrub, tree or mound depending on the village it is celebrated in. A young unmarried girl is made part of the celebrations where she is dressed up beautifully in her best clothes and is made to carry a flask of Chaang, which is a type of locally prepared wine.

As part of the ritual, the girl is to be followed by two men with one carrying a lit torch while the other carries a bundle of pine branches wrapped in sheep skin. The women who have given birth to their first sons in the previous year are made to accompany these men in order to pay homage to the village deity. They will be dressed in their best traditional attire and will be also be carrying their new borns tied tightly securely to their back. Other devotees who are also women who have given birth to sons before follow these women.

The village priest or Labdagpa as he is known in many circles then makes a prayer to the God with a bow and arrow. The dough made from barley is then broken down and thrown away in order to appease the village deity. The sheep skin used to wrap the pine branches is then freed and places in a row or fixed on a tree. The village priest then fires arrows at the sheep skin.

For instance, in KeylongVazir which is one of the places where the Gotchi is celebrated, the priest fires 12 arrows. If the arrows are fixated towards the right end of the sheep skin, it means the right side would have more sons the following year and same vice versa. In the event the arrows happen to miss their mark, it would mean that there would no male new borns in the upcoming year. The entire ceremony is accompanies by the beats of drums known as Lohar.

Once the ritual has been completed, all other relatives and members of the community join in and drink Chaang and dance to the beat of drums. Upon returning home, all men and women throwsnow balls at each other, which is the culmination of the Gotchi festival.

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