Kullu, also known as the ‘Valley of Gods’ is one of the most visited tourist places of Himachal Pradesh. This quaint hill town attracts lakhs of Domestic and International tourists every year. The beautiful gorges, roaring waterfalls and serene mountains of the region are sure to enthrall your senses.
The tourist turnaround is relatively higher during the world famous ‘Kullu Dusshera‘. The mega festival is celebrated on the tenth day of Navratri i.e. on Vijayadashami day, during the month of October with great pomp and gaiety. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in the valley. People all around the globe throng the maidan to witness the grandeur of one of the biggest festivals in the country.
There are many stories, myths, anecdotes that led to the birth of this festival. Legend has it that Maharishi Jamadagni after returning to his hermitage at Malana carried a basket filled with eighteen images of different gods. While crossing through Chanderkhani pass, he endured a fierce storm. Struggling to stay afoot, Maharishi Jamdagni lost his balance and the basket was displaced from his head, scattering the images far and wide. The natives retrieved them and began worshiping them as deities.
Another legend dates back to the 17th century during the regime of Raja Jagat Singh. Jagat Singh, the ruler of Kullu, heard about a peasant who had treasured pearls of knowledge. Blinded by greed, he ordered the peasant to give those pearls to him or face death. The peasant who didn’t want to part with his precious possessions killed himself by jumping into the fire and then cursed the Raja. While he was having dinner in the presence of his family, Jagat Singh saw worms instead of rice and blood in the pot of water. The Brahmin’s words, “Whenever you eat, your rice will appear as worms, and water will appear as blood”, echoed in his ears.
A panic-stricken Raja slowly began to fall ill. His disease couldn’t be diagnosed by hakims and the royal doctors. The spirit of the Brahmin continued to haunt him. Raja Jagat Singh recounted his horrific experiences to a Pahadi Baba who asked him to worship Lord Raghunath for the upliftment of the curse.
The week-long festival starts with a procession of Lord Raghunath. The idol of the Lord is installed on a beautifully designed chariot and the devotees pull the chariot across different parts of the town with great fervor. The sight of the idol draped with silk adorned with jewelry and flowers is scintillating. The occasion is graced by other village Gods and Goddesses. The people wallow in the celebrations by taking part in dancing, singing, and feasting. A cultural extravaganza called ‘The Kala Kendra Festival’ is organized at night where several cultural activities take place. The event is known to be well-organized.
The sixth day of the festival is marked with a magnificent assembly of Village Devtas that is definitely a sight to behold. On the last day of the festival, the chariot is brought by the banks of Beas River where a mass of wood grass is burnt, signifying the burning of Lanka. A huge bonfire is lit and animals like buffalo, lamb, rooster are sacrificed. The idol of Raghunath ji is brought back to its original place through a grand procession.
Kullu Dusshera reflects the culture of Himachal Pradesh in its entirety. The lifestyle, the people’s love for dance and music is evident during the week-long festivities. Although Dussehra is celebrated all over the country, the ‘Kullu Dusshera’ has its own distinctive glamour. One must indulge in the celebrations to witness the whole of Himachal Pradesh come to life.
Apart from waving the body, dance is always considered as a medium of conveying an expression of mind or state. And also considered as an exercise by some ‘Aerobics guru’, when the body moves rhythmically to the music of countless beats. Dance relaxes the body calm the mind and releases our stress to the greater extent. Formerly many dance forms are present. In this Incredible India, almost all state owns its own dance forms . there are many dance forms such as : Bharatnatyam , Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Oddisi, Sattriya, Mohiniattyam and many more… The names are endless and so does the enjoyment.
Himachal Pradesh always retains the traditional appeal and always celebrates the major fairs and festivals with the accompaniment of Performing Arts of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh, the land of dances, has a beautiful variety of dance forms. There are dances for every occasion, in every form carrying a unique identify for every region. Nati refers to the traditional dance of Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, the most important dance form among the Performing Arts of Himachal Pradesh.
DANCE FORM : This dance form is centuries old and the amalgamation of traditional Kulluvi colourful dresses and musical instruments .Seven types of Nati dances are popular in Himachal Pradesh including Dhili Nati, Pheti Nati, Tinki Nati, Bushehri Nati, Mahasuvi Nati, Sirmauri Nati and Lahauli Nati, Kinnauri Nati. The Kinnauri Nati dance is mime-like and includes languid sequences. Important among the dances of Nati is ‘Losar shona chuksom’. The name from Losai, or the New Year. Activities such as sowing the crop and reaping it are included in it.
This dance is performed by both men and women and in this dance forms almost twelve to fifteen number of people are present, however, the number does not matter. Nati is continued for hours and hours until the orchestras and gets exhausted. There is a long procession of dancers who are accompanied by musicians playing ethnic instruments. These insturments include Kranal, Shehnai, Dhol and Nagara. The shehnai played by the Hesis, which is life to this dance, The music supervises slow, but this tricks you and make you swing to its beat and rhythm.
The costumes used in this dance are shoes, socks, Boomani, Lachi, Gacchi, Churidar, Pyjamas, Silver chains, Ghagra, Choli. The women, however, also wear ornaments of silver and gold called Chuki and Tunki. Ornate fan is being used in one hand and handkerchief in another.
RECORD IT HOLDS: In 2016 with pride, honour and talent, Nati, the dance of joy, entered the Guinness Book of World Record. It was performed by 9892 women on 26th October 2015 and registered as the largest participated dance of the world on the second week of 2016. It was recorded from many cameras at the International Dussehra on the grounds of Dhalpur. The Nati dance of Kullu holds an earlier record in the Limca Book of World Records for the participation of 8,540 in 2014. The event was phrased as “The pride of Kullu” and it was dedicated to spread the message of girl child and to promote the campaign “Beti Hai Anmo” of the government of Himachal Pradesh.
CELEBRATION IT INCLUDES: This dance is also performed on Vijay Dashmi in October. This dance is also for New Year celebration and it also celebrates rich yield of this state. Reaping and harvesting is being celebrated along with this dance. This dance of state has two goals i.e. it welcomes the coming of New Year and it is also an indication of rich harvest.The local deities (called Devtas ) are believed to dance to it, through the tunes played by the traditional musicalmusic makes you swing with its rhythm.
Nati is representative of the joy and bliss that the Himachal folks experience at the time of the rich harvest of the crops.And when you experience it personally its slows music on the string of souls hypnotises and take you to another level of mind, makes you oscillate , and feel the inner peace which is inexpressible.
Jwala Ji is an ancient Indian goddess and her temple is one of amongst the oldest temples in India. It is also one of the 51 Shaktipeeths. ‘Jwala’ means flame in Sanskrit. The unique thing about the Jwala Ji shrine is that it does not have any idol of the goddess. Instead, there is a cave where an eternal flame shines.This temple is located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, about 55 kilometers from Dharamshala. This flame has continued to burn despite all kinds of circumstances and has been termed “mysterious’’ by scientists and scholars alike as no one has been able to explain the reason behind its eternal existence. Various attempts to extinguish this flame have gone in vain.
Legend has it that a tremendous fire that occurred during a fight between the gods and demons led to the birth of a girl called Sati. Sati later grew up to become Lord Shiva’s wife. After a bitter incident where Sati’s father insulted Shiva, Sati killed herself unable to bear the insult directed towards her husband. After Shiva learned of his wife’s death, he was driven into a fit of rage and he began stalking the three worlds with her body in his hands. Fearing his wrath, all the gods approached Lord Vishnu to deal with the situation. Vishnu is said to have fired many arrows at Sati’s body which severed her body into pieces and led to the formation of the 51 Shaktipeeths.The place where her tongue fell came to be known as Jwala Ji.
Once, emperor Akbar fascinated by the idea of the endless flame tried to extinguish it with a gold disk and water. Instead of putting out, the flame led the gold melt into another metal which has not yet been known to the world.
Apparently, there are eight other flames that shine in Jwala ji temple which represent the other 8 forms of goddess Parvathi. Every year, millions visit this holy shrine to worship the goddess and take her blessings. It is a common belief that visiting this place can help you get rid of your sins and quickly attain ‘moksha’ . If you happen to be in the beautiful district of Himacha; Pradesh, do visit the Jwala Ji temple to experience spirituality and the mystery behind the Jwala Ji flames.