Near Kalsai Pul, Ghera Rd, Dharamshala

  +91 98160 96962

Fairs and Festivals of Himachal Pradesh

These popular fairs/festivals of Himachal Pradesh offer a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of the unique regions in Himachal Pradesh.

The grandeur of Kullu Dussehra, the spirituality of Mandi Shivratri, or the simplicity of Halda, these festivals are a testament to the enduring heritage and vibrant celebrations.

Here are some of the most important festivals and fairs of Himachal Pradesh:

1. Minjar Festival: A Tapestry of Vibrant Celebrations (August)

The Minjar Festival, celebrated in August, is one of Himachal Pradesh’s most vibrant and culturally rich celebrations. Minjar festival is held annually in Chamba. This grand festival marks the culmination of the monsoon season and the beginning of the harvest season.

The fair takes place on the second Sunday of the Shravana month and is marked by the distribution of Minjar. Minjar is a silk tassel worn on various parts of clothing by men and women. It symbolizes the emergence of shoots of paddy and maize, which typically occurs during this time of the year.

During the Minjar Festival, the town comes alive with a riot of colors, music, and traditional rituals. Main highlight is the grand Minjar procession, where a silk flag (known as the ‘Minjar‘) is carried through the streets. This procession is accompanied by folk dances, music, and joyful chants.

The festival also features cultural events, including traditional Himachali dance performances, sports competitions, and craft exhibitions. It’s a time when locals and tourists come together to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Himachal and seek blessings for a bountiful harvest.

2. Losar Festival: Welcoming the Tibetan New Year (February/March)

Losar is the Tibetan New Year. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the serene landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, typically falling in February or March. Losar marks the beginning of the Tibetan lunar calendar. It’s a time for spiritual reflection, joyous festivities, and a unique blend of Tibetan and Himachali traditions.

Losar is also known as the “Festival of Swords” in some places. Losar Festival is a prominent event rooted in the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. It typically falls in February and extends for about 15 days, with the primary festivities concentrated in the initial week.

How is Losar celebrated?

Losar is celebrated with great energy in regions like Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj, which have a significant Tibetan population. The festivities include colorful processions, traditional Tibetan dances, and the creation of intricate sand mandalas.

In India, Losar is celebrated in regions influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The areas include Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Spiti, Kinnaur, and other Himalayan regions.

A Losar greeting is “Losar by Tashi delek”, which translates to “blessings and good luck for the New Year.” Throughout the festivities, vibrant prayer flags grace the surroundings. The schedule is packed with engaging activities like horse racing, wrestling matches, and spirited tug-of-war competitions.

Inspired by the Chinese New Year, there is a tradition of distributing red packets or envelopes filled with money. It is a symbol of good fortune and a prosperous year ahead, especially for children. To ensure a bountiful harvest, traditional offerings are made on home altars. These include sprouted barley seeds, containers of tsampa (roasted barley flour mixed with butter), and grains. Losar preparations begin in early December. It involves crafting butter, brewing chang (barley wine), preparing delightful pork and mutton dishes. It also involves cooking Guthuk soup and dough balls.

The Importance of Guthuk Soup

Guthuk plays a pivotal role in Losar festival ceremonies. Guthuk symbolizes the cleansing of the past year and the readiness for a prosperous new one. This special soup is made with nine key ingredients, including mushrooms, celery, labu (daikon radish), peas, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, and spinach. Yak or cow meat and dry cheese also add depth to its flavor. A fundamental component is a substantial dough ball containing an object or symbol representing one’s character.

What is Metho Ceremony ?

Notably, the Metho ceremony holds a significant place in Losar celebrations. It involves sacred chanting and the kindling of a sacred fire. This ritual is believed to dispel negative energies and invite positive spirits. These age-old traditions and vibrant festivities define the rich tapestry of Losar, a cherished cultural event celebrated with deep-rooted significance.

3. Kullu Dussehra: A Magnificent Celebration of Good over Evil (October)

Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in October. It is not just a festival; it’s an extravagant carnival that takes place in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India. This grand celebration is a unique blend of religious devotion, cultural splendor, and a showcase of the region’s rich heritage.

Dussehra holds immense significance in Himachal Pradesh, deeply rooted in its culture, traditions, and rich history. The festivities commence with a grand procession of Lord Raghunath’s chariot, an event that marks the beginning of Dussehra. Local deities and gods join this vibrant celebration, resonating with the beats of traditional drums and trumpets.

In Himachal, every village reveres its deity, believing them to be the caretakers of their destinies. Despite the cold winters and limited resources, the people in these mountains thrive due to the benevolence of these deities. During Dussehra, more than a hundred deities, splendidly adorned and seated on palanquins, come together. 

A little history of Kullu Dusshera!

It’s believed that around 1650, King Jagat Singh of Kullu suffered from a severe illness. A sage from Payahari advised that the only cure lay in bringing Lord Raghunath’s idol from Ayodhya to bath him in the divine nectar of his feet.

After many challenges and endeavors, Raghunath Ji’s idol was consecrated in Kullu. King Jagat Singh extended invitations to all local deities, declaring Raghunath Ji as the principal deity. This auspicious gathering marked the inception of Dussehra, a tradition that continues to this day.

The festival spans seven days and commences on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami, marking the victory of good over evil. The centerpiece of the festival is the Raghunath Ji Rath Yatra. The idol of Lord Raghunath (Lord Rama) is carried in a beautifully decorated chariot through the streets of Kullu.

Kullu Dussehra also features folk music, dance performances, and stalls showcasing local crafts and cuisine. It’s a time when the entire valley comes alive with a festive spirit, and visitors get to witness the rich traditions and rituals of Himachali culture.

4. Phulaich Festival: Himachal Pradesh’s Festival of Flowers (September)

Phulaich, celebrated in September, is a lesser-known but immensely charming festival in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, India. As the name suggests, Phulaich is all about flowers, nature’s bounty, and the joyful spirit of the locals.

The Phulaich festival commences on the 16th day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. This festival is alternatively known as the Ookayand Festival and Ukyam Festival. The word ‘Oo‘ translates to ‘flowers,’ and ‘Kayang’ signifies ‘festival.’ Hence, Phulaich is essentially a ‘festival of flowers.’

During Phulaich, the people of Kinnaur decorate their homes and temples with vibrant flowers, creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle. The festival also includes traditional dances, music performances, and feasting on local delicacies.

This vibrant festival is a way to honor those who have passed away. It involves offering wine, rice, and food to the departed souls, with the excess food being distributed to the less fortunate. The entire village gets immersed in the festive spirit. The festivities attract both vacationers and tourists who join in various events.

5. Doongri Festival: Celebrating the Spirit of Manali (May/June)

Doongri Festival, also known as the Hadimba Devi Fair, is celebrated in May or June in the town of Manali, Himachal Pradesh, marking the arrival of spring.

This colorful event pays homage to the local deity, Hadimba Devi, and showcases the rich culture of the region. People come from various villages in Himachal Pradesh

in vibrant processions, bringing their deities adorned in splendid silk attire and garlands carried on beautifully crafted wooden chariots.

The festival spans three joyful days.

The festival begins with a procession featuring a chariot carrying the idol of Hadimba Devi. The locals dress in traditional attire and participate in folk dances, music performances, and other cultural events.

One of the highlights of the Doongri Festival is the Natti dance, a traditional Himachali dance that involves intricate footwork and vibrant costumes. The fair also features stalls selling handicrafts, local cuisine, and souvenirs.

6. Renuka Fair: Where Tradition Meets Natural Beauty (November)

The Renuka Fair is a highly esteemed event in Himachal Pradesh, held along the picturesque Renuka Lake in the Sirmur district. This annual fair takes place in November and holds diverse significance. It offers numerous sources of enjoyment, typical of fairs and festivals, and carries particular religious importance for Hindus. The fair extends for five days during November.

History Of Renuka Fair

The Renuka fair pays tribute to the sacrifice of Mother Renuka, who was the mother of Parshuram. She was tragically slain by her son, as per her husband’s orders. Therefore, the fair commemorates the enduring legacy of Renuka and her son. Every year, thousands of devotees converge here to offer their prayers to their revered deities. The fair ushers in a sense of positivity and relaxation among the locals. With winter approaching, it offers a welcome break from their daily routines.

The highlight of the fair is a colorful procession carrying the idols of Renuka Devi and her son Parashurama.

Apart from the religious aspect, the fair also features folk performances, including the famous Renuka Rasa dance, depicting the legendary story of Renuka Devi. 

Twelve local deities’ processions visit the Devi’s temple during the fair. Food stalls and entertainment zones are also set up to cater to visiting pilgrims. 

In essence, the fair offers holistic entertainment and amusement for tourists and visitors. Visitors can also enjoy boat rides on the tranquil Renuka Lake and explore the nearby Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary.

7. Chamba’s Minjar: A Festival of Unity and Abundance (August)

Chamba’s Minjar Festival, celebrated in August, is a time of joy, unity, and abundance in the charming town of Chamba, Himachal Pradesh. This unique celebration brings people together to commemorate the harvest season and seek blessings for prosperity.

Minjar stands as one of Chamba’s most prominent fairs, drawing a diverse crowd from across the country. As the Minjar flag unfurls, the town of Chamba adorns itself in vibrant colors, and residents dress in their finest attire.

The event hosts sports and cultural programs. On the third Sunday of the celebration, the Minjar procession reaches its zenith, with deities, dance troupes, traditionally dressed locals, and traditional drummers, accompanied by the Police and Home Guards band. 

This lively procession begins its march from Akhand Chandi Palace, concluding near Police Lines Nalhora. A vast assembly of people eagerly awaits their arrival.

This annual fair takes place on the second Sunday of the Shravana month. The festivities are heralded by the distribution of Minjar, a silk tassel worn by both men and women on their attire. This tassel represents the emerging shoots of paddy and maize during this season. The week-long celebration commences with the hoisting of the Minjar flag in the historic Chowgan.

During the procession, the chief guest, once the Raja of Chamba, throws a coconut, a rupee, a seasonal fruit, and a Minjar wrapped in red cloth (known as Lohan) into the river as an offering. Following this, everyone present also casts their Minjars into the river. Local artists perform the traditional Kumjari-Malhar. The tradition involves offering betel leaves and ittra to all attendees as a gesture of respect and festivity.

Minjar is not just a religious festival; it’s also an occasion for cultural events, including traditional dance performances, music, and a fair showcasing local crafts and cuisine.

History of Minjar Fair

Minjar Mela, celebrated in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba valley, commemorates the historic victory of the Raja of Chamba over the ruler of Trigarta (now known as Kangra) in 935 AD. Upon their triumphant king’s return, the people greeted him with gifts of paddy and maize to symbolize prosperity and happiness.

Before 1943, a live buffalo was pushed into the river as an offering. If it was carried away and drowned, it was deemed auspicious, signifying the acceptance of the sacrifice. However, if the buffalo swam to the other bank, it was also considered favorable, as it was believed that the town’s sins were transferred to the opposite side of the river.

8. Lohri : Himachal Pradesh’s Winter Festival of Bonfires (January)

Lohri, celebrated in January, marks the arrival of longer days and the end of winter. This festival is celebrated with great fervor in Himachal Pradesh and many other parts of North India.

Lohri is synonymous with bonfires, where families and communities gather around to offer prayers and throw sesame seeds, gur (jaggery), and popcorn into the fire. The festivities also include traditional Punjabi dances like the Bhangra and Gidda, music, and delicious winter delicacies.

It’s a time when people come together to celebrate the harvest season and seek blessings for a prosperous year ahead.

History of Lohri 

The predominant theme of Lohri songs revolves around the legendary figure of Dulla Bhatti, a revered hero from Punjab during the reign of Akbar. Dulla Bhatti was celebrated for his valiant efforts to rescue underprivileged Punjabi girls who were forcibly being taken to be sold in the Middle Eastern slave markets, particularly from the Sandal Bar region.

There are differing beliefs regarding the origin of the term “Lohri.” Some associate it with the word “Loi,” who was the wife of Saint Kabir. Others connect “Lohri” with the word “Loh,” signifying the warmth and illumination of a fire.

During this phase, when the Earth is farthest from the sun, it commences its orbit towards the sun, marking the conclusion of the coldest months, known as Paush. This signifies the onset of the Magh season and the auspicious period of Uttarayan. According to the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna reveals his divine glory during this time. Hindus participate in rituals like bathing in the Ganges River to seek purification and absolution of their sins.

 9. Halda: Himachal Pradesh’s Winter Solstice Festival (December)

In observance of the Halda festival, residents create torches known as “halda” by assembling bundles of thin cedar branches. These torches are then ignited during a gathering at a local house where various rituals, singing, and dancing take place. 

The Halda festival traditionally commences in the second or third week of January each year and is observed in the Gahar, Ranglo, Tinan, Tod, and Chandra valleys. The specific date for the Halda festival is determined by a lama in the Gahar valley. 

Additionally, the Pattan Valley celebrates the Halda festival on Magh Purnima. The primary purpose of the festival is to appease local deities, ensure a bountiful crop yield, and protect against malevolent spirits.

History of the Halda festival

The Halda Festival, akin to Diwali, commences on a full moon day and is primarily devoted to Shishkar Apa, revered as the goddess of wealth in the Lamaistic tradition. The Lamas select a specific location to ignite a massive bonfire, drawing people to this spot with their Halda torches.

This festival serves as an act of appeasement to the local deities, seeking their blessings for a prosperous spring harvest and protection from malevolent influences. It is believed that during the winter, the deities depart from the mountains to their celestial abode, leaving behind a surge of malevolent spirits in the valley to trouble the local inhabitants. 

Such festivals not only aid the locals in mitigating the challenges posed by severe winters but also contribute to the preservation of their cultural traditions and customs.

10. Phagli (Fagli): The Himachali Festival of Colors and Frolic (February/March)

The Phagli Fair, held in the month of Phagun, derives its name from the same month. The festival will continue for the next two days in Pattan Valley of the district. 

This fair is a portrayal of the epic struggle for supremacy between the gods and demons, culminating in the victory of the gods. It commemorates the event of the god defeating and vanquishing the demon.

During this celebration, a person dons a mask and is covered with grass tied using strings all over the body to represent the demon, while another individual serves as the god’s spokesperson (known as GUR). Special dances called ‘Deo Khel’ and ‘Raksha Khel’ are performed by these participants, accompanied by rhythmic drum beats.

History of Phagli festival

The central character of the demon is ‘Tundi Raksh,’ who had been a source of trouble for people living from Manali to Archhandi. It was Manu Rishi, with the assistance of Shandalya Rishi, who eventually defeated this demon. Phagli is celebrated in various places including Malana, Jana, Halan, Soil, and in all temples dedicated to Jamlu.

By traditions, families prepare totu, a dough made from roasted barley flour and buttermilk. Totu is first offered to the deities on the rooftop and then shared among the family members. Following this, they pay their respects to cows and sheep while expressing their gratitude.

11. Mandi Shivratri: A Spiritual Extravaganza (March/April)

Mandi Shivaratri Fair, held for 7 days, commences with the Hindu festival of Shivaratri in the town of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. This festival, widely recognized, is often referred to as an international event due to its popularity. Mandi town has earned the title “Varanasi of the Hills” because it welcomes a multitude of gods and goddesses from 81 temples during the festival. 

The Shivratri festival falls in the Krishna Phalguna month. The Shivratri fair has been declared an international event by the state government, granting it widespread recognition and fostering trade and business activities.

History of Shivratri

It was initiated during the rule of Raja Ajbar Sen in the 16th century. Raja Ajbar Sen established the Bhootnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, as Bhootnath is one of Lord Shiva’s manifestations. The legend goes that Raja Ajbar Sen dreamt of an idol of Lord Shiva buried at the location of the temple.

In the past, the land on the left bank of the Beas River was unused, serving as grazing grounds for cattle. Bhoothnath, or Lord Shiva, is believed to be the guardian deity of Mandi town.

During the Shivratri fair, Madhorai (Lord Vishnu) leads the procession. Raja Suraj Sen, who ruled from 1637-1679, dedicated his kingdom to Madhorai when he had no heir. At the fair, other deities first pay homage to Madhorai and then to the Raja.