Himachal is a land of Devi and Devtas and most of the fairs are of mythological nature. There are 20 State National and International level fairs and Festivals recognised by Government of Himachal Pradesh. They are The famous Dushehra of Kullu ,Renuka Fair of Sirmour and Summer festival of Shimla .These fairs are celebrated at large scale and are known as International Fairs. and the other are Shivratri of Mandi, Minjar of Chamba, Holi of Sujanpur tihra, Lavi of Rampur Bushahr, Chaichu fair of Rewalser, Kaleshwar fair near Jwalamukhi, Summer Festival of Dharamshala, Nalwari of Bilaspur, tribal Divas Fair of Keylong, Winter Carnival Manali, Salooni Fair Solan, Ladarcha Fair of Kaza, Rohru Fair, Sundernagar. there are some District level fairs like- Pouri Fair Trilokinath(lahaul) Tribal Fulaichfair of Ribba Kinnour, Winter Fair of Una, Shivratri of Kathgarh Kangra, Dushehra of Sarahan, Winter Fair Hamirpur, Baisakhi of Jawali Nurpur Nagini Fair of Nurpur, Baisakhi of Rajgarh Sirmour, Jogindernagar mela.
Fairs have an educational, social as well as religious importance. They serve the needs of social integration and cultural survival also.
Minjar Fair: Minjar stands for Maize flower here. This fair is celebrated in Chamba at the place Chaugan in Chamba town. This festival is held inthe month of August. It is celebrated for one week. Maize flowers, Coconut , fruits and few paddy tentacles are offered to God “Varuna” the God of rain, in the river Ravi. After the Minjars are floated, people distribute sweets. During the celebrations, feasts and musical concerts are organised at various places in the town. Raja of Chamba used to organised this festival earlier , but now Municipal Committee has taken all responsibilities. Minjar Fair has given the status of a State Fair.
Kullu Dushehra: Kullu Dushehra Mirrors Himachal culture in its entirely. It throws light on the life, music of the people in this religion. To see the colourful Himachal at one place, Kullu Dushehra is the right place to visit. Dushehra in Kullu starts on the “Vijay Dasmi” day and continues for seven days. Although Dushehra is celebrated all over the country, but in Kullu it has its own distinctive glamour. The famous idol of “Raghunathji” which is carried from its fixed place in “Dhaulpur Maidan” to another spot across the “Maidan” was brought from Ayodhya in July 1651 A.D. by Damodar Dass and installed in Kullu by Raja Jagat Singh. The pulling of ropes is regarded sacred by the local people. On this occasion, people bring local Gods to Kullu and take out a large procession to pay homage and respect to Raghunathji. The festival starts only with the arrival of “Hidimba Devi” from Manali, who is received by the Kullu Raja, outside the town and brought to the Raghunathji temple. This festival cannot start unless powerful Goddess Hidimba, known as the patron deity of Kullu Raja, arrives from Manali. People from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh come here to enjoy Dushehra. This festival provides ample scope for social, cultral and economical flourishment. It is an International fair.
the festival concludes with the burning of “Lanka”. The Chariots of Raghunathji is taken near the bank of Beas on the last day of festival, where a pile of wood and grass is set on fire, which symbolized the burning of Lanka and is followed by the scarifies of chosen animals
Baijnath town never celebrate Dushehra. Dushehra is celebrated with great joy all over the country , however in Baijnath town in Kangra district people do not celebrate Dushehra. they do not burn the effigy of Ravna. Even the market remain closed in Baijnath and Paprola. A strong belief that celebrating the festival will bring the wrath of Lord Shiva on them keeps the residents of the town away from burning the effigies of Ravna.
Lavi Fair: This fair is celebrated in the month of October- November every year at Rampur Bushahr. Te word Lavi is dericed from the word “Loe” which means a sheet of woolen cloth. Another meaning of Lavi is shearing of the sheep. In ancient times Tibet and Kinnaur had good trade relations and Lavi fair is the outcome of business interest of both sides. People in general and tribal belt in particular participate in this fair with horse, mules, pashminas, colts, yaks, chilgoza(dry fruit), namdas, pattis, woollen, raw semi-stitched wool clothes.
Lavi fair is about almost three hundred years old and now provided with the status of International Fair. It is the biggest trade fair of the hills in the country. During day time, hectic trade activities are witnessed all over the town. At night folk dances and music around small bonfires are organised. It continues for three days.
Renuka Fair: This fair is celebrated in the month of November for Six days. Renuka Fair starts ten days after the Diwali festival. According to believes Parshurama, the youngest son of mother Renuka, used to visit his mother every year. The fair commemorates the annual meeting of Parshuram and his mother Renuka. The place where fair is held , mother Renuka and her husband Rishi Jamdagani used to live. According to another version the sage Jamdagani was murdured by ane named Saharrarjuna. Renuka was a devotee , stuck by the incident, she jumped into the lake . The lake was named after Renuka, which is assumed as the status of Maa Renuka after the great sacrifice, Parshuram is believed to be the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In an impressive procession, many idols of Parshuram are taken in planquins to Parshuram Temple situated on the top of the hill. Renuka Fair in district Sirmour is one of the most important cultural event. It provides business exposure to the local people. One can see the glimpses of hill culture at Renuka fair. Rural people market their produce of walnuts, dried and wet ginger and other dry fruits. Folk dance, magic shows, Kariyala plays, thoda dance, wrestling bouts, fire works Police and hone guards band , developmental exebitions display bhajan kirtans are other attractions of the fair.
Renuka fair was declaired as International fair in October 2011. by state Government. the other International fairs are Kullu Dushehra, Rampur Lavi Fair and Mandi Shivratri.
The Shivratri Fair in Mandi: This fair is celebrated in the month of february on the Shivratri Day in Mandi. Shiva is the chief deity of Himachal people. This fair continous for one week with great fun and frolic. On this ocassion people bring hundred of Gods and Godesses in their “Raths:. Devotees carry them on shoulders amidst melodieous religious songs. People pay their homage to Lord Shiva at famous temple of “Bhut Nath” in Mandi town.The Bhut Nath temple was built by Raja Ajbar Sen when hefounded the present Mandi town in the 16th century.
Holi Fair in Sujanpur: It is held in the month of March every year in district Hamirpur at Sujanpur. This fair has also been accorded the status of a state fair. It exhibits traditional limelight of Holi, the festival of colours. People from all over the Himachal come to participate in it. A week long fair provides wholesome entertainment through various games, songs, dances, folk dramas and skits performed by local artists.
Chintpurni Fair: The fair of Chintpurni, locally known as Mata Da Mela, is held in the village Chintpurni near Bharwain in District Una. According to believes Mai Das had the first Darshan of Maa Chintpurni who appeared to him as a girl and asked him to perform the pooja of the Pindi(Idol)of the mother. henceforth generation to generation mother has promised to ward off the worries and anxiety of those who worshipping her. At the time of Navratras offering of Karaha (sweet halwa) is made by the devotees.
The Nalwari Fair : Nalwari fair in Bilaspur idea was conceived by “W. Goldstein”, the Supertendent of ShimlaHill Statesin 1889. The idea was motivated by a shortage of the good breed cattle, esecially bullocks, which are so important for good agriculture and are a prominent feature of the economy of the hilly terrain. In earlier people from Nalagarh, Una, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and adjoining areas of Punjab and Utter pradesh used to participate and bring bullocks of good breed. but fair now has gathered local touch in total. Now it has become more a business opportunityevent. It has been declaired a State fair now. Nalwari of Sundernagar, Jahu and Gasotaof district Hamirpur are very famous too.
Tara Devi Fair: The Durga Devi’s temple of TaraDevi is located on the ridge of the mountain about 8km. away from Shimla Town. The fair is held on Asthami in Navratras in September/ October. The believes about the construction of the temple are generally in vogue Raja of Junga construct this temple. At the time of fair people from Kalanchi,Kusumpti, Kasata, Kalahung and other nearby villages usually come to see the fair. A lot of tourists do visit here for its scenic beauty and worship of the famous mother Goddess.
Gugga Fair: Gugga worship is another from of snake cult. The deity is considered effective particularly in cases of snake bite. Gugga worshipping is much prevalent in district Kangra, Hamirpur, Una, , Bilaspur and Mandi. In a Gugga temple the idols of Gorakhnath, machhendranath, Narsingh, Bhairon, Hanuman, Sirkhand, Kailu , fatta, Gagri & Ghoga are also housed. The Gugga figuring in long ballads current in Rajasthan, punjab and Himachal Pradesh was valiant hero riding on a horse. He is believed to havefought andwon many battles. In his last battle, he is credited with having fought even when he lost his head. The miracle meant a victory for Gugga and he was later accepted as deity gifted with unusual powers.
Jawalamukhi Fair: The Jawalamuki fair is held twice a year during Navratras for the worship of Durga Goddess. This is the most important fair in District Kangra. People come with red silken flages called dhwaja to greet the Goddess. The fair is attributed to the worship of that Eternal Flame which is coming out of earth spontaneously and perpetually. Even the eminent Mughal Emperor Akbar is said to have made a pilgrimage to Jawalaji and after failing to extinguish the Eternal Flame by Pouring water on it , offered Chhattar(canopy) of gold weighing about 40 kg. But the Goddess changed it into iron metal to annihilate his pride. Akbar thus had to relent, as the historical song goes, Akbar traveled from Delhi to Jawalaji barefooted to pay his respect.
Gasota Fair: In District Hamirpur at a place known as Gasota, in the month of May this fair is celebrated. The fair of Hatkoti(in Jubbal of shimla district) takes place during the time of Navratras when people assembled fromfar and near to worship Goddess Durga. Almost all the rituals performed are similar to those in Kangra”Devi temple”. Similar fair aae held at many places like Durga temple at Kiari(Kot- Khai in Shimla), Bhimakali temple at Sarahan(Rampur Bushahr), Bala Sundari Devi temple at Trilokpur in Sirmour, Durga temple of Sherai Koti near Rampur Bushahr.
Manali Winter Carnival : The Manali winter carnival is held in December -JAnuary every year. It is celebrated as National Fair. Chief Minister Pro. Prem Kumar Dhumal upgraded the five day long Manali Winter Fair to National Level Festival and made a fervent appeal to residents and tourists to pool in their efforts to make the ” valley of Gods pollution -free “.
Ghund Fair: The fair at Ghund is held in the month of June-July. It is about 20 Km from Theog and 12Km from Deha. Ghund was once the Capital of small Ghund state.Two temples of Devta Mahasu and Shirgul are situated there in whose honour the is held. The game of archery is the famous sport of the fair.
Shoolini Fair(Solan): Solan Mela is held in the last week of June, for three days. This fair is celebrated even before the present Solan town was founded on the honour of thr Goddess “Shoolini” whose temple is situated in the near by village “Solan Gaon”. It is believed that Solan town is named after this goddess. In old days people from Baghat and Sirmour Statesused to participate in this fair. But now a days people from far away places have also started joining this fair celebration. The Fair starts with a procession carring “Shoolini” goddess to Durga temple in the heart of the Solan town. The highlights of the fair are dancing, singing and wrestling. BUt in recent time a subtle change by way of inclusion of cultural programmes, government exhibitions and other entertainments has replaced much of what used to be in the past time.