6 Himalayan Festivals in the Coming Months You’ll Love Being Part Of!

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Photo of 6 Himalayan Festivals in the Coming Months You’ll Love Being Part Of! by Palak Doshi

Himalayan towns are not places, they are feelings. And if you want to get a real flavour of these small towns sprinkled along lofty peaks and of the friendly locals who keep you warm even in the lowest of temperatures, you should attend some of the many traditional festivals here. You'll not only get to learn some interesting facts and legends but also dance your heart out and have a lot of fun!

1. Hemis Festival

A melange of colours and pomp, this festival celebrates the birth of the local deity and saviour Lord Padmasambhava. Lord Padmasambhava founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. Hemis Festival involves a mystical and vivid masked dance performance that depicts the triumph of good over evil. Travellers from all over the world swarm to Ladakh to witness the festivities, during which the otherwise tranquil Hemis Monastery turns into a vibrant mix of dance, music and prayers.

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Photo of Ladakh by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Ladakh by Palak Doshi

Where: Hemis Jangchub Choling Monastery, Ladakh (45 km from Leh)

Dates: 8th - 15th July 2019

The dates keep changing as it is celebrated every year on the tenth day of the Lunar calendar of the Tibetan month.

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Photo of 6 Himalayan Festivals in the Coming Months You’ll Love Being Part Of! by Palak Doshi

2. Haryali Teej

Haryali Teej is the celebration of greenery and fertility. This festival welcomes the month of Sawan and signifies the arrival of the rainy season. It is also known as Rhyali in the upper hills of Shimla district, Dakhram in Kinnaur and Jubbal and Shegtsum in the Lahaul valley. During the festival women dress up in brightly coloured ethnic outfits, wear gold jewellery and apply henna on their hands and feet.

Prior to the festival, five to seven kinds of grains are sown together in a small pot by a family member and kept next to the household deity. Farmers do not yoke the oxen on this day and locals in the Kinnaur district garland the village deity with beautiful rare flowers, dance, sing and make merry.

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Photo of Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

Where: A number of fairs for Haryali Teej are organized at Nag Nagpi, Shibbon Da Than and Piron-Vironka Than in the monsoon months. Usually, these small fairs are held on Saturdays and commemorate the sacrifices of local heroes Sukrat and Binchi.

Dates: Saturday, 3 August 2019

3. Ladarcha Festival

The Ladarcha festival in Kaza, celebrates the coming together of people and cultures of the Spiti, Ladakh and Kinnaur regions. Originally organised to strengthen the commercial bond between India and Tibet, the fair attracts many regional traders, local inhabitants, and tourist from across the world.

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Photo of 6 Himalayan Festivals in the Coming Months You’ll Love Being Part Of! by Palak Doshi

Initially, traders from the three districts used to put up their stalls here and trade items like jewellery, accessories, utensils, apparel, metalwork, plastic goods, dry fruits, grains and even livestock including yaks and pure blood horses. Now, one can witness the Chaam and Buchan dance, special Buddhist sermons, an archery competition, and performances from the artists of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Art, Bhutan, Ladakh, Sikkim, Kinnaur, and Nepal. There are large community meals organised for the visitors as well as locals.

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Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

Dates: 15th August – 20th August 2019

Where: Kaza in Spiti Valley

4. Fulpati and Dasain Festival

Fulpati is a Nepali festival celebrated at the time of Durga Puja, almost like an extension of Dassam or Dussehra. The people of Darjeeling dance all the way from Ghoom Monastery to the main town wearing white dresses and headgear in a big procession meant for worshipping nature.

Dasain is a festival celebrated by the Nepalese Hindu of Sikkim. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil when Goddess Durga defeated Mahishasura. This fortnight-long festival celebrates different days as Fulpati, Maha Ashtami, Kala Ratri, Navami and Vijay Dashmi that marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.

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Photo of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Darjeeling, West Bengal, India by Palak Doshi

Where: Darjeeling Ghoom Monastery and Sikkim

Date: Around Dussehra; 8th October 2019

5. Phulaich Festival

A seven-day extravaganza, Phulaich means ‘the festival of flowers’. The festival is associated with the blooming of flowers in the Kinnaur valley. On the first day, villagers go to the mountains to collect Ladra flowers in a procession, playing drums and blowing biguls. All the inhabitants dance and celebrate the 18th night with charismatic music beneath the deodar trees.

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Photo of 6 Himalayan Festivals in the Coming Months You’ll Love Being Part Of! by Palak Doshi

Celebrated as an act of remembering the deceased, relatives offer rice, wine, and food to the departed, which are later distributed amongst the poor. Then, they head to the Dhangaspa family house and show their respect by putting garlands on members of the family.

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Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Kalpa, Reckong Peo, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

Dates: The 16th day of the Hindu month of ‘Bhadrapada’ marks the beginning of the Phulaich festival. Last year it was on 30 October.

Where: Kalpa, Kinnaur, and Sangla

6. Ice Skating Carnival

This Ice-skating festival is held in Shimla’s natural open ice-skating rink, which also happens to be the biggest in Asia! Thanks to its proximity to Pierre Panjar, Dhauladar, Shivalik and Himalayas, Shimla is blessed with the perfect weather to conduct full-fledged winter sports for visiting tourists. Ice Skating Carnival is managed by the Skating club of Shimla, which has been successfully running the program for over 60 years.

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Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

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Photo of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India by Palak Doshi

Ice-skating, skiing, figure skating, chain tags, speed hockey, and ice hockey are some of the prominent sports organised during the festival. There are plenty of other cultural and entertaining activities like fancy dress and dance competitions. All in all, with the fanfare enthusiasm, and the spell-binding views this event is no less than the Winter Olympics!

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Photo of 6 Himalayan Festivals in the Coming Months You’ll Love Being Part Of! by Palak Doshi

Where: Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Dates: 1 December 2019 – 28 February 2020

Duration of Festival: 3 months

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