Monday, July 28

Festival in Jammu and Kashmir

Amarnath Yatra

Introduction to Amarnath Yatra in Jammu
Located 145 kilometers east of Srinagar in Kashmir, Amarnath is virtually a paradise for the Hindus. There is no Hindu in the world who would not like to go on a tour to this consecrated place. An Amarnath Yatra is said to be most promising for the Hindus. Amarnath Yatra is said to be sacramental because of the fact that it releases human beings from all their sins and also guarantees their entry into heaven.

History of the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu
There is a myth connected with the Amarnath Yatra. This saga begins with the intention of Lord Shiva to narrate the secret of immortality to Goddess Parvati. To do so, he started on his journey to Amarnath and on his way left all he had to ensure that no one listened to the secret. He left his bull known as Nandi at Pahalgam. He also released the moon from his hair at Chandanwari. Lord Shiva unconfined his snakes on the banks of the Lake Sheshnag and ultimately left his son Ganesh at Mahagunas Parvat. He finally left the five elements namely earth, air, water, fire and sky at Panjtarni. After his arrival at Amarnath, Lord Shiva seated himself on a deerskin and took his Samadhi so that no one could hear his secret. He created Rudra and Kalagni who would eliminate all traces of life from the vicinity of the cave. But an egg escaped his eye and remained under his deerskin. A pair of pigeons emerged from that egg and it is said that those two pigeons became immortal because they heard the tale of immortality. There is also another legend related to the Amarnath Yatra. According to this tale a shepherd by the name Buta Malik found this holy cave. A saint presented him a sack full of coal which he gladly accepted. But, after reaching home he found that the bag full of coal had turned into gold. This was an amazing incident and the place where Buta Malik found the saint was nowhere but Amarnath Cave.

Description of the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu
Since the Himalayan pilgrimages are the oldest organized travel systems numerous tourists visit Amarnath during Shivratri and also at other times of the year. It is a place of spirituality and adventure. The ancient Indian chronicles testify the existence of Amarnath as a splendid spiritual locale. Those two pigeons (who were born from the remaining egg after Shiva cleared all traces of life from the Amarnath cave), are often seen by the visitors during their tour to Amarnath. Tour to Amarnath is a rigorous journey that requires courage and enthusiasm. The route to Amarnath consists of a journey over large mountainous regions and often for help there is a donkey or a horse at hand. But when the tourists go too high up the mountain then there is no aid; then they are required to walk alone with sticks in their hands. There is also a number of hot springs on the way. Hot Springs in the midst of such snowy terrain is an amazing natural occurrence.

Time for the celebration of Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra is conducted by tour operators all round the year but especially at March or at the end of February (during Shivaratri).

Baisakhi Festival in Jammu

Introduction to Baisakhi Festival in Jammu
The name Baishakhi suggests the first month of the Hindu calendar, so it is evident that the Baishakhi Fair is also held at the beginning of the New Year. Baisakhi offers numerous scopes for entertainment and also makes it possible for the people to enjoy to the fullest extent. Baisakhi means the advent of summer and since summer is the first month of the year, people in North Indian celebrate Baishakhi with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm. Thus the Baishakhi Fair is actually the celebration of the New Year and people enjoy this by conducting a fair known as the Baisakhi Fair. India is an agricultural country and so the people are dependent on agriculture. This makes them wait for a golden harvest all round the year. When the rich golden harvest actually arrives, then men throng in the streets crying aloud in joy. The cheerful cry of people is a pleasant sight; their eyes are filled with hopes and their aspirations brighten up the atmosphere. The hopes of men seem to be fulfilled and like the seven colors of a rainbow, which is a sign of the eternal covenant of God’s promise, the rich harvest signifies the eternal bliss to the Indians.

Description of the Baisakhi Festival in Jammu
Baisakhi Festival brings in more hues to the rich pageantry and since it is a New Year’s Eve people wears their nicest costumes, bought from stalls of the market. They sing and dance in tune of music and this is an amazing show. Baisakhi is also known to be the Harvest Festival. Rich Harvest which brings in happiness to the lives of men seems to gear up their hopes for a brighter future. Their aspirations rise sky high and this blissful moment is like a dream come true for them. They enjoy this moment’s bliss with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm. So the fervor of the Baisakhi Fair is simply indescribable. People try to attain solace from a holy dip into the sacred rivers. After a sacred bath in the rivers they put in their best garments and pay their homage in the temples. People enjoy this incident with hearts full of contentment and in the month of Baisakh marriages are also conducted. These marriages are said to be extremely lucky and peaceful. The ritual dip followed by worshipping in the Nagbani Temple is a sacramental affair. This phenomenon is an integral part of the Baisakhi Fair.

Time for the celebration of the Baisakhi Fair
The time for the celebration of the Baisakhi Fair is usually April or May.

Jhiri Mela in Jammu

Introduction to Jhiri Mela in Jammu Jhiri Mela is actually an annual Fair held in Jammu during October - November. Jhiri Mela in Jammu symbolizes courage, honesty and compassion. It also upholds the values, customs and culture of the Indians. Jhiri Mela in Jammu also brings in a festive mood that is almost incomparable to any other festival of its kind. It rejuvenates the mood of the people and offers them some amount of rest and relaxation from the humdrum of daily lives.

History of the Jhiri Mela in Jammu
There is a legend behind the Jhiri Mela in Jammu. According to the legend, there was a local farmer who was truthful and uncomplicated. His name was Baba Jitu. He used to stay with his family at Jhiri which was located 14 kilometers from Jammu. Once the local landlord demanded that he should part with his crop. This was an injustice because Baba Jitu spent days on the fields to produce that rich yield. He could not accept the unfairness of the zaminder and committed suicide because there was no other option before him. Neither was there a police station nor was the king ready to listen to a mere peasant. So, the naïve peasant had to end his life.

Description of the Jhiri Mela in Jammu
People of Jhiri began to worship Baba because of his honesty and self respect. They started believing that his soul was eternal and needed to be worshipped. So every year the people of Jhiri celebrate the Jhiri Mela during the end of October to commemorate the great sacrifice of the peasant. From every corner of India people visit the Jhiri Mela in order to pay homage to the great soul. In the Jhiri Mela at Jammu various things are sold. Pottery, vases, utensils and toys are some of those items. Apart from these there are stalls that sell books on the legendary Baba Jitu for whom this fiesta has gained such popularity. These books and pamphlets glorify the life and activities of Baba Jitu. Jhiri Mela in Jammu is a thrilling experience.

Time for the celebration of Jhiri Mela in Jammu
Jhiri Mela is usually held at the end of October or at the beginning of November. The fair continues for a number of days at a stretch and offers entertainment to old and young alike.

Lohri in Jammu

Introduction to Lohri in Jammu
Lohri is a renowned Festival in Jammu and is the precursor of spring. So, at the onset of spring, the Lohri Festival is held amidst great pomp and gaiety. This festival marks the beginning of a pleasant season when the chirping of birds and the fresh leaves on the branches of trees marks a new beginning of life. Lohri Festival is also a way of bidding good bye to the sharp bites of winter and welcoming the new spring of life that waits to be discovered. On the day of the Lohri Festival the entire region bedecks itself in a gorgeous manner and wears a festive look. Some say that Lohri in Jammu characterize a composite culture. Jammu with its wide array of religious diversities is a home to many different spiritual cults. During the festive occasion of Lohri they forget their differences and participate in the carnival to make it brighter and promising.

Description of the Lohri in Jammu
The holy carnival of Lohri is marked by ceremonious dipping into the sacred river. In each and every house of Jammu and Kashmir the Havan Yagnas are lit. This indicates the driving away of the evil spirits and welcoming of the good ones so that each and every household is free from the evil encounters like accidents, deaths and unnecessary harassments. In the rural areas of Jammu the young boys wander in the streets and ask for gifts from the parents of a newborn baby and the newly wedded couple. In the Lohri Festival a special form of dance presentation known as the Chajja is also performed by the young boys into the streets. They bedeck themselves with the chajja which is decorated with colored papers and flowers. They dance in tune to the pulsating drumbeats and the pageantry becomes a lively and spectacular event. Such festival like Lohri brings in happiness and unity and they also ensure tranquility to the state. In India harmony is a pre-requisite or a better existence and so, such pageantry as Lohri is always welcome.

Time for the celebration of Lohri in Jammu Lohri is usually celebrated in January. It is also known as Makar Sankranti in other parts of India and is the harbinger of spring.

Purmandal Mela in Jammu

Introduction to Purmandal Mela in Jammu
The Purmandal Mela in Jammu is the celebration of marriage between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, the darling daughter of the king of the Himalayas who arranged his daughter’s marriage with Lord Shiva after a lot of hesitation. So, the Purmandal Mela in Jammu is a spectacular event held every year at Kashmir with tremendous zeal and enthusiasm. A three day long celebration ensues and since in Hindu marriage, 3 days are required for the couple to be completely tied in marital bonds, the fête continues at Jammu for three days. Jammu is a land of temples and the serene backdrop commemorates the splendor of the Supreme Artist’s brush which has created such an exquisite picture in the canvas. Here nature speaks words in the form of rippling water flowing down the valley, the sunrise and sunset over the Blue Mountains and the unique dazzle of the dusk light over the snowy peaks. The spectacular Purmandal Mela in Jammu adds a new feather to the stunning coronet of Jammu’s elegance.

Description of the Purmandal Mela in Jammu
The Purmandal Mela in Jammu is a splendid incident. It is usually held to commemorate the tying of bonds by Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. According to the Mythologies, Lord Shiva had been a beggar who begged from door to door when his meditation was over. He was above the bond worldly riches. Parvati being the daughter of King of the Mountains called Himalayas, was born and brought up amidst luxury and wealth. So, King Himalaya had no intention to give his daughter in marriage to a beggar because he was ignorant of the fact that Lord Shiva has transcended the greed for the worldly riches. But then, Parvati sticked to her judgment in marrying Shiva and at the end the king had to agree with his daughter. So, Purmandal Mela in Jammu is held to commemorate the blissful moment when the Gods and Goddesses were married and people wears their best clothes and rushes out of their house to find some amusement in the fair. In the Purmandal Mela in Jammu materials like winter garments, fashion accessories, gents’ costumes and accomplices are available. Actually Purmandal situated 39 kilometers from the main city of Jammu, is the place for offering worship during this time. People also celebrate Shivratri at this time in Jammu and the principle locales for the fête are Panjbhaktar Temple, Ranbireshwar Temple and the Peer Khoh.

Time or the celebration of the Purmandal Mela
This festival known as Purmandal Mela is usually celebrated in February or March, on the eve of the Shivratri Festival.

Bahu Mela

Introduction to Bahu Mela in Jammu The Bahu Mela in Jammu indicates a rich cultural heritage of India and the integrity of Indian customs and traditions. This is because of the fact that Bahu Mela is celebrated at Jammu in spite of it being a religious festival of the Hindus. People join hands and they together celebrate the Bahu carnival to brighten it up and make it more brilliant. Bahu Festival in Jammu is held in the Bahu Fort where the idol of Goddess Kali is worshipped. People adore Kali Goddess because of her miraculous power which is said to do magic and solve men’s problems. So, people gather at the Bahu Temple to offer their worship to the Goddess and also in order to gain some blessings from the Mother Goddess Kali. The name Kali emerges from the concept of darkness in Indian Mythology. It is believed that the Goddess have been empowered by the ability to eradicate darkness and evil from the world. While worshipping her, therefore, the hearts of people are also sanctified with the removal of evil from the mind. Therefore she is being worshipped twice a year and simultaneously with that, a fair is also held at Jammu known as Bahu Fair.

Description of the Bahu Mela in Jammu The Bahu Mela at Jammu is held with great vibrancy and enthusiasm. People wear their best costumes and congregate in the streets. They also pay homage to the goddess Kali in their own possible ways. It is said that the mind is its own place and in itself it can make a heaven of hell and also ha hell of heaven. So while offering their homage the minds of people become a heaven with all the blissful moments surfacing up in front of the eyes and they try to revive those incidents in their hearts. The Bahu Fort, in which the idol of Mother Goddess Kali has been kept, is situated 5 kilometer from the Jammu City. It is located on a rock which faces the river Tawi. The Bahu Fort was believed to have been constructed 3,000 years ago by Raja Bahulochan from which the name Bahu Temple has emerged. Pilgrims gather here to offer reverence on every Tuesdays and Sundays. It is also known as the Tawi Flowing Worship. Even from the temple premises one can get a nice view of the eloquently flowing river. The Bahu Fair comprises of various incidents like joy rides, temple viewing, and also a holy dip into the sacred river. Various articles like accessories, utensils, garments and other pottery items are being sold here.

Time for the celebration of the Bahu Mela
Since the Bahu Mela is conducted twice it is celebrated both in March-April, and also in September-October.

Chaitre Chandesh in Jammu

Introduction to Chaitre Chandesh in Jammu India has a very rich cultural heritage and this is evident from the numerous Fairs and festivals that are usually held here. The Chaitre Chandesh is one of the major Festivals in India and it is said to enliven the Indian spirit. Chaitre Chandesh is held in Northern India amidst tremendous pomp and gaiety. The name Chaitre Chandesh comes from the month of Chaitra which is the concluding month of the Indian year. It is customary in India to do something exclusive at this time of the year. So to celebrate this propitious time, the people of India, especially the people of North India celebrate the Chaitre Chandesh with great deal of enthusiasm and vigor.

Description of the Chaitre Chandesh in Jammu The festival known as Chaitre Chandesh is typical to Uttar Behni. It is a festival of entertainment and hilarity. Men and women in their trendiest attires throng the fair and enjoy to their hearts content. The main purpose of the fair is to establish amity between the different religions and also to make human beings more tolerant as regards religion and class. The Chaitre Chandesh is actually celebrated because of the northern flow of the river Devak. This river is also known as Gupt Ganga. People come and take a holy dip into this sacred river. It is considered to provide blessings and also to enhance the wealth of the people. Generally, rivers flow from North to South. But this river is an exception to that rule. So, due to its difference from the rest, it is considered to be auspicious and is worshipped by the people of India. The Chaitre Chandesh signifies the spiritual inclination of the Indians. They think that since this river Devak flows to the North, the propitious place where Lord Shiva resides, it links the world to that sacred place. A holy dip into the river is said to relieve all pains and bring peace and contentment in their lives. So, Chaitre Chandesh is feted with such vibrancy.

Time or the celebration of the Chaitre Chandesh
As the name suggests Chaitre Chandesh is usually celebrated in the month of March or April, during the Indian Chaitra Month.

Kheer Bhawani Srinagar

Introduction to Kheer Bhawani Srinagar
Jammu and Kashmir the heaven on earth, the picturesque vale studded with flowerbeds and glaciers harbors a homogenous culture. With coexistence of a large number of Hindus and Muslims in the valley, the fairs and festivals in Jammu and Kashmir are varied in color, spirit and their background. The Kheer Bhawani Srinagar is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the Kheer Bhawani Temple. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Ragnya Devi and is located in the village of Tulla Mulla, at a distance of 27 kilometers from Srinagar. Devotees fast and gather here on the eighth day of the full moon during the auspicious month when, according to the belief, the goddess changes the color of the spring's waters. The temple was originally built by Kashmir's erstwhile King Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh. Time of Kheer Bhawani The festival is celebrated on 'Jyeshtha Ashtami'- the birthday of the Goddess Kheer Bhawani. This falls on June.

Description of Kheer Bhawani
The devotees make offerings of flowers, lamps and of course kheer (traditional condensed milk) and pray for the well being of their family. Round the year thousands of devotees offer kheer at the feet of the goddess- it is believed that if your future holds something ominous, the goddess, knowing that would immediately turn the white kheer black making you careful and aware of your impending doom.

Mansar Food and Craft Mela

Introduction to Mansar Food and Craft Mela
Mansar Food and Craft Mela is one of the finest fair at Jammu. It continues for three days and attracts tourists from across the globe because of the exquisite items that are on sale at this fair. The Mansar Food and Craft Mela is an annual Far that is usually held during the month of Baisakh, or April. The Mansar Food and Craft Mela has gained so much reputation that people from all over the world come to this fair in order to enjoy the splendid display of Indian arts and crafts. The potential of India is exhibited by the various skilled artists and craftsmen at the Mansar Food and Craft Mela.

Description of the Mansar Food and Craft Mela
The Mansar Food and Craft Mela is the effort of the Jammu and Kashmir Travel and Tourism section. They have tried their best to preserve the essence of Jammu through the Mansar Food and Craft Mela. Therefore at the Mansar Food and Craft Mela numerous handicrafts items like Walnut Furniture and Artifacts, comprising of brilliantly crafted items, from Walnut, are obtainable. It consists of Wall Hangings, jewelry boxes, screens and room dividers. Moreover trays and wonderful lattice works are worth mention, because Kashmir is renowned for the extensive array of the mimic stone lattice works. The fair is well equipped with all these items. Lacquered papier mache or Nakarshi is a splendid design in which five layers of multihued lacquer are painted one over the other. The scenes of hunting, frolicking animals, flowered carpets are some of the requisite items for paint. These products are mainly used for making lamp bases, wall hangings and artistic boxes that are on sale at Mansar Food and Crafts Mela. Kashmiri Shawls are also available at the Fair. They are obtainable in various forms and textures with attractive designs. Silk Carpets and Pottery forms the rest of the items at the Mansar Food and Crafts Mela. The finest embroidery leather works are on display at the Mansar Food and Crafts Mela. The food items include the famous Shab Deg Kashmiri Roghan Josh, Kashmiri Gustaba, Kashmiri Mutanjan and Pasande Kabab. These are the non vegetarian items, while the vegetarian dish includes the renowned Kashmiri Aloo Dum, Haak Spinach Kashmiri and Kashmiri Pulao. All these are available at the Mansar Food and Crafts Mea along with many other exclusive Kashmiri dishes.

Time for the celebration of Mansar Food and Craft Mela
The Mansar Mela is usually held during the Baisakhi season.

Winter Sports, Kashmir
Kashmir is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India that offers numerous exciting options to its visitors from across the world. One such thrilling activity that is a particular favorite among tourists is Winter Sports in Kashmir. There are several sport activities that you can indulge yourself in exclusively during winters in Kashmir. The fun never ends with winter sports in Kashmir and you are sure to be left wanting for more! Some of the most popular winter sport activities in Kashmir are skiing, heli-skiing, ice-skating and snow boarding. These sports attract visitors to Kashmir in large numbers during the winter season. For winter sports like skiing and heli-skiing, Gulmarg and Khilanmarg in Kashmir are the perfect destinations. In fact, Gulmarg is widely acclaimed as the best ski resort in the Himalayas in India. The town is thronged by tourists from the world over during the months of December to March when the skiing activity here is at its peak. It is also that time of the year when winter sport festivals are held in Kashmir. A number of skiing races are held at Gulmarg during festivals like Christmas and Easter. The town also hosted the first National Winter Games in 1998 and, ever since, has been the venue for winter sport festivals in Kashmir, India. Heli-skiing is another winter sport that is quite popular at Gulmarg that boasts of being the only heli-skiing resort in Asia. You can enjoy other winter sports like ice-skating, ice hockey and cross country skiing in Pahalgam and Srinagar in Kashmir. Winter sports in Kashmir are not just games of adventure. In fact, a number of festivals are specially organized during the winter season in the state to add to the fun. These include races, contests and fests that are widely observed across the state and involve the participation of locals and tourists from the world over in large numbers. In fact, winter sports in Kashmir form an integral part of the fairs and festivals in Jammu and Kashmir.