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Tourist Places

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Less Explored Places
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Kullu Culture

Handloom & Handicraft
Fairs & Festivals
Folk Tradition
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Folk Culture and Traditional Fairs & Festivals of Kullu



Fairs

The fairs of the valley portray rich cultural heritage of the valley. These fairs carry enormous religious worth and preserve a rich heritage native's belief in divine powers. During these fairs, the spirit of Kullu is visible on the faces of gay people. These simple rural folks take delight in songs, dances, laughter and celebration. The people are in a happy and festive mood. They visit their relatives to greet them. On the day of fair the guests are heartily welcomed and the hosts feel great honour in serving them with food and drinks. For local people, it is time to relax and enjoy with their friends and relatives.

Phalgun month (mid-February and mid-March) marks the beginning of fairs and festivals in the valley. Fair of Phagli is held between mid-February to mid- March. The fair depicts victory of sages Manu and Shandalya over demon Tundi Raksh. From this day onwards, there are various fairs taking place at almost every village. Nowadays, these fairs also have economic importance besides religious significance. During these fairs, people buy and sell various articles of basic necessity. Even as the years have passed, people still celebrate these fairs with full enthusiasm and exuberance as it used to be in the good old days.

International Kullu Dussehra Festival

Dussehra (Dushehra) is celebrated in most parts of the country on Vijya Dashmi(Dushehra) to commemorate the victory of Rama over demon king Ravana. The highlight of this fair is The victory of good over evil. Kullu Dussehra (Dushehra) is however, different in certain ways from Dussehra celebrations in the other parts of the country. It presents cultural ethos of the people and their deep rooted religious beliefs which manifest during this festival with traditional songs, dances and colorful dress. It begins on Vijya Dashmi and lasts for a week. There is an interesting story behind the beginning of Dussehra Festival. And now also, the internationally famous Dussehra (Dushehra) of Kullu is celebrated in the same tradition.

Winter Carnival

Winter carnival is the most awaited event in the valley. This festival has been declare a state level festival. Massive participation by culture groups and students from various colleges of India marks the success of winter carnival. The festival is held at 'Manu Kala Kendra' in Manali. Second and third weeks of January in Manali are a feast for the visitors when the five-day long festival is held. The performers try to show their excellence and give their level best. It provides opportunities to the artists to prove themselves. Competitions conducted include Indian classical music (vocal and instrumental), folk songs, folk dances, classical dances, group dances, group songs, fancy dress, film songs, film dances, one act plays, and street plays. The most awaited competitions are Men's personality contest and Winter Queen contest. First day of the festival is something to behold. First day tablos are presented by various cultural groups, which is also a competitive item. The rest four days are equally inviting, offering you a substantial variety of programs. On the last day of the carnival, finals of Winter Queen contest and Men's Personality contest are held. On the last day, the chief guest distributes prizes to the victorious participants of the five-day long festival.

Spring Festival (Pipal Jatra)

Spring festival is also called Basantotsava or Pipal-Jatra and takes place at Dhalpur ground Kullu from 28th April to 30th April. This fair has been declared a state festival by the Himachal Pradesh government. As it marks the beginning of the spring season (and also the tourist season) in the valley, it is also known as Spring Festival. Kullu is known as the valley of gods. The villages have their own gods and goddesses. It is said that in olden days, the King (or the Raja) used to sit in the Dhalpur ground with his courtiers under the Pipal Tree to look at the traditional dances. Earlier 16 Gods used to participate in the fair, but as the years rolled by, the fair lost its grandeur. Every night during the festival, cultural programs are performed by the various cultural groups at Kala Kendra which is a big open-air theater. The cultural groups and reputed artists come from all over India to perform in the festival.

Folk Dance

Kulu folk dances reflect rich cultural heritage, vibrant life style, love, hard work and the struggle of local people to survive in the adversaries. Kullu People are very fond of dances. They are prompt to dance on occasions like, fairs and festivals . The Folk Dances of Kullu can be broadly grouped as:

Women Folk Dances

Charasay-Tarasay: This dance is also called Birshu-Nirshu. It is performed in the months of March and April. Only married women can take part in it. Any number of dancers can participate. This dance is performed only on the songs and the musical instruments are not played. It starts in the evening and ends in the morning.
Lalharhi: Only unmarried women perform this dance during fairs and marriage ceremonies. The dance is accompanied only by songs. The musical instruments aren't played during the dance. The dancers arrange themselves in two rows facing each other. One of the rows starts singing, dancing and moves towards the other row. Then they come back to their previous positions. The other row of dancers follow the same step.
Kahika Dance: Kahika dance is performed on the occasion of Kahika fair. A man is made unconscious for one or two hours by the divine power. He is called 'Naurh'. The wife of Naurh, called Naurhan performs this dance. She dances around the temple in front of the palanquin of the local deity. Her dance expresses that she has offered her husband to the deity and if he does not return back to consciousness, she will take away all the belongings of the deity.

Men Folk Dances

Bandhu or Ghost Dance: This dance takes place in January from 4: 00 A.M. to 6: 00 A.M. Because of indecent songs and indecent behavior, which are an essential part of the dance, women are forbidden to see it. The dancers get together in the temple premises with torches in their hands. After dancing there for some time they move to a particular place. They dance at that place and move back to the temple. They light a campfire called 'Jagra' before the temple. It is believed that after performing the Bandhu dance the entire evil spirits ward off and the people of the village live in peace and harmony.
Horn Dance: It is a traditional dance of Kullu people, which is performed, in the cold and dark nights of January. The story behind it is that the people performed this dance to get rid of an evil king. He was so enchanted by the dance that he did not realize that the dancers had cut his throat. There are six dancers in the horn dance. Two of them disguise themselves as a deer by covering themselves with a shawl and placing horns on the head of the person who is in front. Two other dancers are dressed up as clowns. Out of the rest one is dressed up as a woman. They perform the dance in the temple and then go door to door performing their act.
Deo Khel & Hulki Dance: Deo Khel is a religious dance. The person who is dancing is believed that he goes into trance (that God has entered his body). This person is called Gur. When he starts dancing a procession is taken out which is led by the Gur. The local people dance and follow the palanquin of the deity. Hulki Dance is similar to Deo Khel.

Mixed Folk Dances (Men & Women)

Natti: Natti is the most popular form of mixed dance. On special occasions the dancers dress up in their traditional costumes. Generally there are twelve to sixteen dancers but any number of dancers can take part as the dance progresses. Usually they dance in a circle.
Apparently there are different kinds of natti, which differ in style, rhythm and steps. Some of the popular ones are Dhili Natti, Pheti Natti, Tinki Natti, Bushehri Natti, Dohri Natti, Lahauli Natti, Janhujang, Bajuband, Kharhaya, Uzgazma and Utharhi Natti.

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