- About Nalwar Mela and Traditional Devta Mela
Fairs in Himachal Pradesh have very positive role to play in social life. It is in fact with different outlook that people here celebrate and participate in the fairs. Himachal is a land of ‘Devi’ and ‘Devtas’ and most of the fairs are of mythological nature. But to keep on rhythm in various walks of life, fairs have occupied predominant role and acquired varied dimensions, such as; trade, agriculture, culture etc. There is hardly any village/town where no fair is held. There is almost continuous succession of fairs.
Fairs have an educational, social as well as religious character. These serve the needs of social integration not only for economic sustenance but also for cultural survival. Fairs give people an opportunity to purchase and sell needed articles. Traders from far and near join these festivals to display articles like clothes, wool, pashmina, fur, leather, pottery, metal ware, jewellery, ornaments, fruits, vegetables and many other local products coming from the homes and fields of the ruralites. Shops of hosiery and cosmetics and toys are also displayed.
Himachal Pradesh is also known as ‘Devbhoomi’. Presence of Devta is the recognition of Himachal Pradesh. If one wants to visit a multicultural land that houses an assorted range of religions, Himachal Pradesh comes up as an ideal choice. The State has a rich cultural heritage and is home to people from diverse religions and culture. It is a universally acknowledged truth that every religion gets its own unique expression from the fairs and festivals celebrated by its followers on various occasions.
Fairs and Festivals are celebrated throughout the state with Great Spirit and devotion. These fair and festival reflects the traditional spirit and culture of the people of Himachal Pradesh. Religious fairs and festivals are celebrated by various communities living together in Himachal Pradesh. These fairs and festivals are a unique symbol of national integrity and pride for the people of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh is home to numerous religious, cultural and spiritual fairs and festivals. Many fairs and festivals of Himachal are celebrated to promote tourism or to promote the regional arts and crafts, music, dances, etc. Some of them are organized on a yearly basis to showcase the rich Himachali culture and heritage. But Nalwar Mela and Traditional Devta Mela of Sundernagar have their own identity in Northern India.
These fair begins with the celebration of International Shivrarti Fair of Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh. These fairs and festivals add colour to the mundane everyday life of the people who feels tired and bored.
Sundernagar Nalwar Mela is celebrated from 22nd March to 28th March of every year. The idea was motivated by a shortage of the good breed cattle, especially bullocks, which are so important for agriculture and are a prominent feature of the economy of the hilly terrain. In this Nalwar Mela cattles are purchased and sold on a large number. A cattle buyer looks for the healthiest cattle, while a seller wants to make sure that he gets the best prices for the cattles he is selling. Beside this, other different types of shops are installed in this fair. People from different parts of Himachal Pradesh and other states used to bring bullocks of good breed. In this Mela different types of games eg. kabaddi, wrestling, half Marathon etc. are the attractions. In evening, different types of cultural programmes are presented by the local artists and bollywood stars. A week long fair provides wholesome entertainment through various games, songs, dances, folk songs and skits performed by local artists. Governmental and Non-Governmental exhibitions are also showcase in this Mela. Swings, Circus and Tricks of Magician attracts the children and youngsters to join this Mela.
Traditional Devta Mela starts from Shukla Panchami to Shukla Navami of Chaitra Month, according to lunar religious calendar at Jawahar Park, Sundernagar. King Luxman Sen of Suket Empire started this Traditional Devta Mela in 1923. Kings of Suket Empire welcomed the famous and ancient Deities at that time, but now Mela Committee, Sundernagar made necessary arrangements very efficiently and effectively. Five-day long Traditional Devta Mela begins with the pooja of Shri Mool Mahunag, the main Deity of old Suket Estate (now Sundernagar). More than 150 Devtas (Hill Gods) are brought in this mela from various parts of Mandi district.
On the occasion of inauguration of fair a colorful procession is taken out from the HPPWD Rest House Sundernagar. Chief Guest of the Mela performs pooja of all deities at Community Hall, Sundernagar and the chariots of these deities are afterwards shifted to Jawahar Park.
The fair is inaugurated with the pooja of Hill Gods after the main deity of Sundernagar, The Mela Begins after the Pooja of Shri Mool Mahunag. Shri Mool Mahunag is brought here from Mahu Village of Karsog Sub-Division of Mandi District, more than 100 km far from Sundernagar. Interestingly the contingent of Shri Mool Mahunag consisting of more than 100 devotees covers more than 100 KM distance on foot. Around 200 deities are invited to the fair by the Managing Committee. As per tradition the Sundernagar town is decorated at various places and wears a festive look at this time. Environment gets musical with the sound of drum beats and folk music. A large number of devotees can be seen here worshipping.
At the last day of this Mela, all deities togethers at Mahamaya Temple. A colorful procession is taken out from Mahamaya Temple across the Sundernagar Bazar alongwith Devi Mahamaya. Afterwards all the deities and chief guests shifts to the Jawahar Park Sundernagar. Chief Guest performs the pooja of Shri Mool Mahunaag and other deities. This Mela ends, after the declaration of closing of Traditional Devta Mela by the Chief Guest.