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Fairs and Festivals

Bhadraaj Temple Fair 14 Km Westwards of Mussoorie on an isolated meadow top (7000 ft.), stands the temple of celestial serpent king Sheshnaag who accompanied lord Vishnu’s incarnation lord Krishna in anthromorphic form as Balraam, also known as Bhadraaj- the elder brother of lord Krishna. The Bhadraaj temple vicinity and the route itself encompass one of the most scenically beautiful places around Mussoorie. The otherwise silent and green passage to the temple turns vibrant withcolors of life every year on the 16th & 17th of August when people from the nearby villages and far gather at the temple to witness the festivity that has been echoing in the mountains since ages. Bhadraaj temple lies in the Jaunpurtribal belt which is inhabited by the followers of the Pandavas. It is a belief that the Pandavas of the epic Mahabharataspents someconsiderable span of time in the region. Bhadraaj or Sheshnaag is the prime deity of the people of the region.Bhadraaj temple is believed to be the place where Bhadraaj taught passing herdsmen the skills of cattle rearing as he himself was a cattle bearer. People paid heed to the lords’ advice and got blessed with livestock wealth which they enjoy till date. As a gesture of gratitude, people started offering milk and butter to the deity on the auspicious occasion of Saawan-Bhaadon Sankranti and Jayestha Mass Sankranti which falls on the 16th and 17th of August respectively. Eventually, the procession took form of a fair in which people gather in their finery to sing, dance, eat and meet. Men folk used to organize wrestling competitions which is no more a part of the festivity. The Nagar PaalikaParishadMussoorie has taken the responsibility to carry out the two days festival in an organized manner in order to promote cultural tourism. The initial 9 Km from Mussoorie till Dhudhalee village is a motorable track. From Dhudhalee village onwards a 5 Km trek leads through lush greenery. A stone outside the temple bears the inscription in English and Arabic pertaining to the early visitors to the site. The grandeur of the ancient stone images of the deity, the trance gestures of the believers, colorful people, folk music and dance, delicious snacks and sweets makes it an experience of its kind and as the evening approaches, people finally walk back home leaving behind the mysterious silence in the temple of the king.

KanhaiyaJi ki Doli Although every season in the Queen of the Hills Mussoorie has something special about it but monsoon is definitely the most romantic one. The wild flowers embrace the amazing greenery under the cover of moist fog. This is the time when Lord Krishna comes out to spread the message of love in the town. Every year, on the Sunday following Janamashtami, a socio-religious gathering carry the Doli( palanquin) of the Lord from the LandourSanatanDharam temple through the Radha Krishna Mandir(Kulri) till the Laxmi Narayan Mandir (Library Chowk). People of Mussoorie and nearby villages of Jaunpur-Jaunsaar fill colors, laughter and fragrance in the otherwise quiet monsoon air. The commencement of the procession, locally known as ‘KanhaiyaJikiDoli’, dates back to 1928 when ChowdharyHiraLal and BaishakhiLal felt the need of a social expression of the Indian feelings which were suppressed under the British rule and the struggle of freedom movement was forming its roots nationwide. The SanatanDharamMandir formed connections with great Indian freedom movement leader Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya when he roped the MandirSimiti with AkhilBharityaSangathan in the year 1936. Earlier, in the year 1929, SanatanDharamKanyaPaathshaala (Girl’s school) was formed as a step towards encouraging women education. In order to promote Indian culture, the foundation of a Sanskrit Vidhyalaya (Sanskrit school) was laid in the year 1951. Both the schools are still functional. The formal inauguration of the Doli is thus carried-out by the SanatanDharamMandirSimiti. As for the people of Jaunpur-Jausaar the roots are deeply connected with lord Krishna and his elder brother Balbhadra who is worshipped as NaagDevta, the deity of the region. The village elders can be seen, in traditional attire and jewelry, feasting on milk-jalebi while the youngsters prefer chit-chatting over momos, chowmein and ice-cream. The tourists, on the other hand, receive it as a surprise package. The Doli, accompanied by the caravan of numerous folk and cultural performers, reach Library Chowk where the Laxmi Narayan MandirSimiti welcomes it and perform rituals amidst huge crowd. KanhaiyaJikiDoli is indeed one warm celebration of love, belief and integrity which Mussoorie is all about.

Maroj MaaghkaMela or Maroj knocks the door during the whole month of January when the crisp winter Sun brings along the much needed warmth after the long chilly nights. The tired terraced fields go for a prolonged sleep under the thick blanket of soft snow. There is no work to do and the spirits are high. At dawn, the smoke coming out of the kitchen chimneys through granite slab roofs of wooden houses gel together with the morning vapors to ward off silence from the valleys. And it really works as the menu of the day remains mutton, mutton and mutton be it chili salt roasted with boiled potatoes, pan fried with choice of green or red chutney or the Pahaari way flavored curry. Even the infants with no teeth are made to taste some. No work means no work which saves time for the major work for the preparation of excellent homemade herbs and grains wine. Within no time, the Sun gladly becomes the focus light and gaiety enthralls. Eating, drinking and social visits brings the Sun for a rest and huge bonfires lay the carpet for the virgin evening. The voice of the dusk echoes with sounds of laughter, whistling and distant efforts of heaving while the baajgi (village drummers) basks his drum skin beside fire. Raasu, Tandi and Pandava dance revolves around the fire and the evening matures into a satisfied night.

Dubdee, the first feast Dubdee is a harvest celebration in which a bunch of the first ready crops of the season is worshipped by the womenfolk and plundered later by the men folk amidst continuous vigorous drum beats. Later, both men and women dance throughout the night. Dubdee is a phenomenal procession in which a bunch of different crops, which grow in the region, is erected in a small field. As the evening approaches, the sound of excitement takes over the tweeting of the cicadas and the crickets as people start gathering at the field after hearing a typical drum beat. The village informer or announcer called 'Pari' then shouts in a typical rhythmic tone- "GaonkiRehne… Dubdeepujeneaijaao…” (come on all the Rehne or daughter-in-law to worship Dubdee). The Rehne start gathering in all their finery. Only the Rehne or daughter-in-law of the village worship Dubdee. The Dhyaane or the daughters of the village join later in singing and dancing. According to the belief, Dubdee is also seen as a Dhyaane or daughter of the village who was prohibited by her in-laws to go to her village to witness Dubdee, the first festival of the year. She later died. The curse of a Dhyaane can be devastating, commit any sin but never upset a Dhyaane believe the people of the region. In order to pacify her curse, the village Rehne worship that Dhyaane in the form of that bunch of crops singing the Dhyaane's last song- "PehlkiDubdee re tewaaraa, me bhai me to jaanodesa" (the first festival Dubdee has come, I want to go to my village for the same). Women folk keep on fasting that day and eat only after the prayers are done. They offer Pinoa, a mixture of different floor primarily Jhangora, to Dubdee. Pinoa is dipped in pure ghee and is eaten as Prashaad. Cooked rice and milk is also offered. Men folk wait anxiously to snatch maximum out of the Dubdee bunch once the women are through with prayers and offerings while the Baajgee (the drummers) warm their drums beside fire, getting ready to throw energy through their beats. Soon after singing their last words, the women folk run off and the men folk attack Dubdee in order to seek maximum blessings in the forms of the snatch and within no time, the bunch gets disappeared. Then goes the singing and dancing session from the field to the village Pandaal where all the villagers and guests participate. The whole village echoes with the sounds of joy overlooked by the pacified soul of the ever blessing Dhyaane.

Mahasu Jaagda, the enlightening awakening Every year on the Ganesh Chaturthi, people from nearby villages and far gather for an enchanting night awakening locally known as "Jaagda" in praise of the great Mahasudevta. MahaasuDevtaa, according to one belief, is one incarnations of "Mahaa Shiv" who along with his allies Raghunaath, Chaaldaa and Bothaa had come long time back in the Jaunpur-Jaunsaar region to get people rid-off a demon. It is one belief that the demon had sealed the breasts of womenfolk of the region in order to prevent any infant from feeding resulting in the infant’s death. An episode in the Krishna Puraan supports this belief that Kans had a threat of life from the 8th kid of Devki, Kans’s sister. This whole chaos could have been an attempt by Kans to make survival impossible for all the young ones in his region and in the neighboring provinces. The people of the region, when had enough of the demon’s torture, called Mahasudevta from the highlands of Kashmir. Mahasudevta is one such deity of fury and anger that the demon couldn’t continue his evil practices and never returned to the region. Ever since then, Mahasudevta has his seats or temples, at Hanol in the Tons river valley and at Lakhwaar, Laksiyar and Biroud villages along with other villages in either sides of Yamuna river. ChaaldaDevta, as the name suggests, is ever moving and never sits in one place for long. The grandeur of the majestic ancient images of the great lord is visible for people only once a year for two days and a night in between on Ganesh Chaturthi when people spend the days and night singing and dancing in trance with the Devta’sPaalki. (However, visitors can see the image requesting the temple priest). The Pandavas also dance in praise of the lord using the believer’s bodies. Huge goats are offered to the lord not to be slaughtered but to be left in the wild later which remain unharmed by humans or the wild beasts. This mesmerizing procession keeps going on till 4 O’clock in the morning after which the Devtaa bathes in closed doors all by Himself unattended even by the temple priests. The next day, wheat flour is thrown in the air by the temple priest and later by the mob and who so ever comes under the shower of the flour is bound to visit the Jaagda each year.

Bagwaali, the belated diwali People of the region celebrate Diwali, what they call Bagwaali, precisely one month after the Diwali that rest of India celebrates. They have their own peculiar customs which are cherished during the festival. An interesting story leads to the logic behind such a delay. According to the local belief, which has traveled through words of mouth, once a fierce battle ensued between the Raja of Kumoun and the Raja of Tehri. The Kumouni fighters, who were famous for their warfare, were in large number. The Tehri Raja, on the other hand, was sharp with brains. He knew about his people in Jaunpur-Jaunsaar as most of the area falls in Tehri. There used to be ‘NauGajaBhad’ (nine feet tall men) in some of the villages of Jaunpur-Jaunsaar. The Tehri Raja took along ‘Bhad’ from each of these villages to fight against the Kumouni army. Diwali was few days away and the ‘Bhad’ had gone out to fight such a violent army so the villager with little hope didn’t celebrate Diwali. However the Tehri army won the battle and the ‘Bhad’ returned home a month after Diwali. Celebration was bound to take place to welcome the victorious ‘Bhad’ and to resume the paused Diwali. Ever since then, the people of Jaunpur-Jaunsaar follow the same regime. The Jaunpur-Jaunsaar Diwali embarks celebrations with a different kind of firework. On the first day womenfolk, while singing folk songs grind Jhangora and Kouni (types of rice) to prepare delicious cookies called ‘Askey’ after which the first day is named as. The night is spending munching, drinking Soor (homemade wine brewed with herbs and grains) and dancing. Notably, Pandava dance is the pride of the region. Next day is known as Pakodya as pakoda of various pulses are cooked, all the while munching, singing and dancing continues. The third day which falls on AmaavasSankrant is known as Baraaj on which people spent the whole night making long ropes of Babaeen (kind of hay) to play Bhaand (tug of war) the next day, Huge sacks of dry weeds and crop leftovers, known as Dhimsiya, are first worshipped and then set to fire which sources fire to individual torches made out of Bhimal twigs. These torches are called Holday which people juggle around with in the fields. Long time back, humans used to slide down a long rope from a hill top to the valley below carrying Holday in hands, thankfully the suicidal performance has been replaced by a human effigy. Forth day is the much awaited day of playing Bhaand (tug of war). The rope is considered as Naagdevta who is the prime deity of the region and hence it is made to purify in the village stream. Then follows a hilarious tug of war between men and womenfolk in which most of the time the womenfolk win. After the decisive game is over the rope is covered with a huge metal cover and is guarded the whole night or else it (the deity) will runoff to other village, believes the villagers. The festival that begins late ends late as well. All the while munching, drinking and dancing continue.

Other fairs which keeps the spirits high throughout the year are Devgatikamela (February-March), Bissukamela (April), Challikamela (3rd May), Asaadkamela (July), Saawankemela (August) and Bhadraajkamela (16-17 August).