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Gugnaumi Festival

The Gugnaumi festival in Himachal Pradesh is celebrated to honour‘Googa’, the lord of snakes. This spiritual festival is an important one in the state and can be seen being conducted in all Googamadhi temples in the region. On this day, large feasts known as Bhandara’sare organized in all these shrines. The temple priests collect food grains through an elaborate affair and make food offerings to the God. Farmers of the region also make food offerings to the lord to pray for the well being of their families.

A visit to the state at this time can turn out to be a great experience for all visitors. Himachal Pradesh is also called ‘DevtaBhoomi’ or the Abode of God owing to its picturesque landscapes.

The snow capped mountainous hill tops can make you feel at home while you are busy soaking up the rich cultural traditions of the local inhabitants. Some of the major tourist destinations in this region are Shimla, Chamba, Dalhousie, Hamirpur, Manali, Mandi and Kangra.

Month of Celebration of The Festival

Gugnaumi is usually celebrated on the day ofNavami, which falls in the month of Bhadrapada or August. The festival is usually conducted a day after Krishna Janmashtami and is dedicated to pay homage to GugaPir, commonly known in tourist circles as the Snake King. The GugaPir is believed to possess supernatural powers that can even cure a person suffering from a snakebite.

The Guga shrine is said to be made up of a cubicle, which has a minaret on either corner with a tomb located at the center.During the festival, pictures of snakes are recreated on walls by using turmeric and lots of people feed the snakes with butter and milk. As part of tradition, mentally challenged women are made to dance at the festival to help cure them of their sickness. According to local legend it is believed that the Googa spirit descends on these women and suggests them means and ways through which the condition can be cured.

Married women also offer their prayers at the temples to pray for the health and well being of their loved ones. Women with no children are known to undertake the GuganaumiVrath in the belief that it will help them conceive.

Description of Gugnaumi Festival

The festival also features a procession where the villagers build a ‘Chari’, which is type of structure. It is made up of long bamboo shoots and is taken around the village. The Chari is also beautifully decorated with flags, colourful threads, peacock feathers and hand fans.

All residents offer prayers as the Chari passes through the streets of their neighborhood.The procession finally comes to an end when the priests reach the designated gathering place in the village, which is often called Choupal. The priests then conduct some religious rites to invoke the blessings of Lord Googa on their community.

Gugnaumi is not only a holy festival but also a cultural one. Following prayers, the villagers all huddle together to dance to the beats of music. It is common to see people dressed up in their best traditional costumes and often decked up in expensive jewellery. The festival also hosts a number of cultural shows across the state where people sing songs and dance to pay their homage to this day. Several stalls are erected to indulge in the buying and selling of various goods. The fairs also organize stalls that sell sweets and various other savories to the visiting public. Apart from food, many of the stalls also sell commodities like pottery, garments, utensils and other accessories. The festival receives a huge influx of visitors every year and offers a lot of entertainment even for first time tourists. The cultural fest also encourages people of various backgrounds and religious beliefs to take part in the festival. All the dancing and singing accompanied by tasty food will make it a memorable experience for the ages. The Hindu festival of Gugnaumi is usually performed in villages of the Himachal Pradesh Two of the most popular Googmadhi temples where the event is conducted in a big way are the Shibo-Da-Than and GoogaSaloh shrines. It is also believed that it can be very auspicious if a person catches a glimpse of a snake on this day. This popular festival is also celebrated in parts of Haryana and Punjab apart from Himachal Pradesh.

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