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Fairs

 

 

  The fairs and festivals of Almora are not only an expression of the religious social and the cultural urges of the people but have also sustained the folk culture and have been central to the economic activities of the people. Also at remotely located places of hilly terrain, especially where communication is difficult and the land is cut up by mountain or water, the need is felt for periodical meetings at convenient centers, where exchange and sale of commodities may take place. A district like Almora holds many valleys which are absolutely dependent on such meetings for their supply of common necessaries, and consequently fairs or periodical markets are numerous. There are two kind of these. The weekly assemblages, corresponding to "market-day" in an English provincial town, are called "Penth". They are of an ordinary kind, and have no religious associations. The great annual fairs are known by the name of "Mela", and are always connected with religious ideas and customs. They very often center round some famous local shrine, which reaps an extensive harvest at the annual festival. Business, pleasure and religion are cheerfully combined in these junketing, which are doubtless the chief oases in the monotonous lives. Out of innumerous such fairs the following are of considerable importance :-  

Nanda Devi Festival

The best known fair of this region, held in the month of September at Almora town, is organized since the Chand kings ruled this place. It is believed that 'Nanda' used to be the family Goddess of Chanda dynasty. The word meaning of the word 'Nanda' is prosperity. The temple of 'Nanda' in Almora was built by Dyot Chanda in seventeenth century, the then ruler of this place. Presently this temple remains the core of the festival. The duration of the festival is five days and approximately twenty five thousand people tourist come to attend this festiva

Uttraini Festival Bageshwer

One of the largest fair of Kumaun region, the Uttraini festival of Bageshwer, is organized in the month of January for a period of one week and is frequented by Almora traders, on barter or money lending intent, and by the Bhotiyas from the snows, as well as by a great multitude of people from the surrounding villages. The town of Bageshwer, 90 km from Almora town, is a junction of two rivers, namely Saryu and Gomti. At the junction of these rivers stands a large temple with it's conical tower. Here is the shrine of Bageswar or Vyagreswar, the, "Tiger Lord", an epithet of Lord Siva. This temple was erected by the Kumaun king, Laxmi Chand, about 1450 A.D., but there is an interesting Sanskrit inscription there of a far earlier date. The chief articles of merchandise are : ponies, goats, sheep, furs, yak tails, musk pods, borax, salt horns, books, shoes, fruit dried and fresh. The Bhotiyas bring down excellent ponies, which breed in a wild or semi-wild state over the Tibetan border.

Dushara Festival Almora

The famous festival of Hindus, Dushara, in October, commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, the monstrous ten-headed king of Lanka or Ceylon, as described in Ramayana, is celebrated in a very unique way in Almora town. Approximately five to six thousand tourists from the outskirts come to attend the festival in Almora town. Showing the symbolic victory of the truth the effigies of devils are prepared in a very artistic manner in almost all the 'Mohallas' (wards) of the town. Finally in a social gathering all these effigies are burnt. The festival is generally celebrated in the month of October.

Other Festivals

In addition to these, various other local festivals are organized in this region, which are religiously or otherwise associated with the heritage, art and culture of this region. Out of these very famous are

Srikrishna Janmasthami Festival,Ranikhet,
Nanda Devi Festival of Nainital and Ranikhet,
Autumn Festival Nainital and Ranikhet,
Syaldey - Bikhauti Mela, Dwarahat,
Somnath Mela, Masi,
Mahashivratri Festivals of Binsar Mahadev, Sauni;Hedakhan, Chiliyanaula ; Bhikiyasain;
Punyagiri Navratri Maila,
Devidhura Raksha Bandhan Mela,
Doonagiri Mela,
Mustamanu Fair,
Kapileshwar Fair,
Krishnajanmashtami Fair of Kalapani Gunji
Kanardevi fair at Baram at Gori Valley
Honkara Devi Fair at Birthi
Dhanlekh Fair at Askot Laccher
Fair of Naini Patal.
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