Sair festival: With winter's onset, the gods return from heaven in Himachal!

  • IANS, Shimla
  • Updated: Sep 18, 2014 13:49 IST

It's a fair celebrated in Himachal Pradesh to mark the end of the crop harvest, prepare for the harsh winter ahead and the return of the gods from heaven.

Old-timers say the centuries old Sair festival is celebrated mainly in the interiors of Shimla, Mandi, Kullu and Solan districts every year in mid-September.

In Mandi and Kullu areas it was celebrated Tuesday, while in Shimla and Solan, it will be observed Wednesday.

Like a Spanish or Portuguese or Latin American spectacle, a bullfight before many spectators is the main attraction of the festival.

In Arki area in Solan district and Mashobra in Shimla district, known for bullfights, the festival will be organised Wednesday.

"Though the fair has lost its traditional charm and saw the invasion of modernism, still the locals celebrate it with enthusiasm by participating in bullfights and offering harvest crop to the god," Shiv Singh, a local in Mashobra, told IANS.

He said as per the tradition the elders in a family offered "dhruv", a sacred grass, with dry fruits items by the younger family members.

The festival also sees purchase of utensils and clothes and cooking of special dishes.

"More than 50 bulls, reared by the locals especially for the occasion, would participate in the bullfights," he said.

Before the fights, the bulls are generally drugged or made to drink alcohol to keep them charged up.

In a majority of villages in Mandi and Kullu districts, where it was celebrated Tuesday, the locals believe the return of the gods from the heaven to the earth and onset of winter.

The festival marks invoking gods amid the beating of drums and blowing of trumpets and offering of the harvested crops to the gods for a bumper crop in the next summer.

In the picturesque Kullu Valley, the locals held oracle sessions to ward off evil spirits, ensure the prosperity of the family and the protection of livestock and crops from natural calamities.

"We beat drums and blow trumpets to give a warm welcome to the arrival of deities to their respective temples," said Hem Singh Thakur, a villager in Naggar village in Kullu district.

The picturesque Kullu Valley is known for its local demigods and ancient shamanistic traditions that govern the lives of the ethnic communities.

Every village has several resident "gods" and "goddesses" who are invoked as living deities.

As per the tradition, the Sair festival marks the end of summer and onset of harsh winter.

"Since germination in the fields will stop now, we will now start stocking of foodgrains and firewood for the harsh winter days," Rashmi Devi of Banjar area in Mandi district said.

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