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Fairs

admin 09:01:am Feb 17 2017

Many fairs are held in Chamoli, the important ones being mentioned below.

Bishwat Sankranti held on the 13th day of April every year. This fair is also mentioned in the Pandukeshwar inscription of Lalitashuradeva issued in the 22nd regnal year. It is held for 5 days at different places:
First day (April 13) at Panti
Second day (April 14) at Meeng , Maal and Kaub
Third day(April 15) at Khanoli
Fourth day (April 16) at Aser
Fifth day (April 17) at Hans Koti, kaub , Tharali Kulsari and Adbadri

Gaucher Mela another important fair of Chamoli is the held at Gaucher in Karnprayag in the month of November every year and is attended by number of people.

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat the big pilgrimage of Nandadevi, is unique to Chamoli. It is very old traditional pilgrimage from the time of shalipal in the ninth century. There are no historical records but it is gathered from the local folklores and folksongs (jagori) that Shahipal who had his capital at Chandpur Garhi, buried a tantric instrument at Nauti nearby, and installed his patron-goddess Nandadevi (Raj Rajeshwari) there. The Royal priest, Nautiyal, of Nauti was made responsible for regular worship of the goddess.

King Shahipal started a tradition that a big pilgrimage (Nanda Raj Jat) would be organized every twelfth year to escort Nandadevi to her in-law's place, near Nanda Ghungti peak. When the capital was shifted by Ajay Pal, Kunwar (the younger brother of the king), who got settled at Kansuwa nearby, was authorised to organize Raj Jaat on behalf of King.

Traditionally the Kunwar comes to Nauti to seek the blessing of the Devi to organize the Jaat. A four horned ram takes birth in Kasuwa area thereafter. A time schedule is drawn up for the Jaat so as to reach Homkund on the Nandastami day in August/September, and Kulsari on the preceding new moon for special worship.

Accordingly the Kunwar reaches Nauti with the four horned ram and ringal-umbrella. The Raj Jaat starts on the long round-trek of about 280 km. with 19 halts on the way, taking about 19 days. Bhumiyal, Ufrai and Archana Devis are worshipped prior to the departure. The golden image of Nandadevi is carried in a silver palanquin and thousands of devotees follow in a long procession.

Great festivities and religious observances mark the Jaat wherever they halt or pass through. The procession swells as it advances with various groups joining from far and near with their idols and umbrellas. Special mention may be made of those coming from kurud from Ghat, Lata near Tapovan and Almora in Kumaon. Some 300 idols and decorated umbrellas assembles at Wan, en route Homkund.

Mass participation and religious devotion are unmatched, for the Jat involves a long and arduous journey over treacherous terrains rising to an altitude of 5335 mts. at Jiura Gali Dhar from a near 900 mts. at Nauti, walking barefoot over snow and moraines and passing through deep forests.

At Shail Samundra the pilgrims see three lights and a streak of smoke just before dawn as a divine beckon.Surprisingly the four horned ram, loaded with the offerings for the goddess, guides the procession of devotees from the Nauti till it reaches Homkund, near the base of Nanda Ghungti, resting every night near the Nauti umbrella of the goddess. At Homkund it manifests human emotions and tears are seen in its eyes before it leaves everyone behind to get lost towards the mountains, laden with the offering of the devotees for the goddess Nandadevi.

There is a unique custom of keeping everyone's house unlocked in Wan village for the use of the yatris on the Jaat day, according to the divine instruction of the goddess Nandadevi, and it is followed religiously. The last NandaDevi Raj Jaat was held during August/September 2000.Smaller Raj Jaats are organized annually from Kurud village near Ghat, covering a smaller circuit in August–September.

Others fairs of importance are the Nautha at Adbadri, Naumi at Hariyali, Nanda Devi at Bedni, Dattatreya Pooranmasi at Ansuya temple, Nagnath at Dewar Walla.

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