The state of Himachal Pradesh lures travelers with its snow-clad mountains, picturesque valleys, abundant natural beauty and adventure sports. But for the travel and colour lovers in addition to this, the state holds a raft of bucket-list worthy festivals and festivities, reflecting its rich and colourful heritage, culture, traditions and beliefs.
Here is a list of the most beautiful and festive of the most festive festivals in Himachal Pradesh -
Halda One of the famous festivals in Himachal is the Halda festival, which welcomes the New Year by paying tribute to the goddess of wealth, ShashikarApa. During the day, a special ceremony is held in which people worship the goddess and seek her blessings, and by night, there’s everything from musicals, bonfires, dancing acts, heady cocktails and a grand feast.
As a part of the age-old ritual, every household in the district has to bring lit cedar twigs and when all the people assemble at a common location (which is decided by the Lama), they throw the lit twigs into the bonfire. The bonfire symbolizes harmony and solidarity in the community.
Kullu Dusshera The festival concludes with a sacrificial offering of an animal on the seventh day. A chariot is taken to the banks of River Beas, where a huge pile of wood and grass is set alight as a symbol of burning the figurine of the demon king of Lanka (Ravana). Following that, the idol of Lord Raghunath and other gods/goddesses are taken back to their temples in a grand procession.
Winter Carnival For over three decades, the Himachal Winter Carnival transforms Manali into an adventure and culture lover’s paradise. What started as a small carnival back in 1977, is now the most famous festival in the state, attracting hordes of visitors every year. This carnival focuses on promoting the culture of the state by means of street plays, folk dances, music and local cuisine. The carnival also includes a band competition, skiing championships, adventure sports, beauty contests, a food festival and craft bazaar, with several awards up for grabs.
Ice Skating Carnival When the winter sets in, Himachal Pradesh transforms into a magical wonderland of white landscapes, beckoning adventure lovers and travellers to experience this charm. One of the popular festivals held during this season is the Ice Skating Carnival. Said to have Asia’s largest natural ice-skating rink, Shimla lures ice-lovers of all levels. From figure-skating to skiing and ice-hockey, this festival does it all. Dance shows and fancy dress competitions also form part of this charming carnival, which lures people in their thousands, every year.
Losar While the world celebrates New Year partying, monasteries in Himachal Pradesh have their own beautiful way of welcoming the New Year – Losar festival, also known as Tibetan New Year. The festival is marked by worshipping the holy deity of the monastery to bring peace, happiness and good fortune for the incoming year. And, the celebrations are an amalgam of age-old customs and rituals, which provides an insight into Tibetan culture and beliefs. These include chanting, colourful mask dances by the Lamas, drama, folk music, prayers, Tibetan opera and several other traditional performances – it is definitely a sight to behold.
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Ice Skating festival, skiing, figure skating, fancy dress and bonfire, Wrestling Match...
Ice Skating festival, skiing, figure skating, fancy dress and bonfire...
Hidden from the world, is the Halda Festival celebrated in the magical lands of Himachal Pradesh...