Fairs & Festivals of Almora
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 festival.
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.
Jageshwer Monsoon Festival
The festival of great religious and historical importance, Jageshwer Monsoon Festival is organized from 15 July to 15 August. The temple of Lord Jagnath , erected somewhere in 8th – 9th century is one among the twelve ‘Jyotirlinga’ of Lord Shiva in India. Having it’s archeological importance the group of temples of Jageshwer consists of 125 small and big temples of ancient times. This festival is of great religious importance for Kumauni society. The daily inflow of the number of tourists in this month long festival remains one thousand approximately.
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.