When you live in a country like India, festivals are something you witness at every corner of every turn. With six major religions, India is home to numerous other tribal religions, each of which have different beliefs, faith systems & festivals.
While the festivals of India differ religiously and geographically, all Indian festivals have a reason behind them, traditions that have been passed down to centuries and people coming together to celebrate them. When in Kumaon, Spring is perhaps the most joyous time of the year. The very first day of the Spring Season is celebrated with two major festivals; Bikhoti & Phool Dei.
Bikhoti or Vishuvat Sankranti is a traditional festival celebrated on the first day of the Vaisakh or the Chaitra month. The Vaisakh/Chaitra month marks the beginning of a new year in the Hindu calendar. Bikhoti is celebrated with grandeur every year at Bairat in the Kumaoni region of Uttarakhand.
The traditions of this festival are numerous and captivating and differ from region to region.
The women of traditional Kumaoni households’ practice ‘Natbandhan’ which translates to ‘forming relationships’. In this practice, the women of Kumaon draw a symbol in the kitchen after cleaning the stove with cow dung.
It’s common belief to make wishes/resolutions on the first day of the year. Kumaoni women follow the same belief and wish for the thing that’s most important to them; their family.
On the first day of the Chaitra month, to welcome the spring season, a festival known as ‘Phool Dei’ is celebrated all over the state. While ‘Phool’ refers to flowers, and ‘Dei’ refers to a ceremonial pudding, these two things are the key components of this festival.
According to the tradition of the festival, young girls collect flowers from nearby forests and go door-to-door to shower these flowers wishing prosperity to households. In return, the kids receive presents in the form of sweets and sometimes, even cash.
While celebration continues for the entire month, the first day; Phool Dei, is the most significant occasion of all. After this tradition, a procession of sorts, called the Shobha Yatra is carried over town in which people sing and dance and welcome the spring season.
Most people living in Uttarakhand practice sustainable farming which is why a good harvest is an assurance of a stable year to the common folk. When you visit Uttarakhand in spring, you’ll find a sense of enthusiasm that is not common. The people of Kumaon are not just celebrating a festival, they are celebrating the fact that their hard work has paid off.
They are not just carrying on traditions; the people are celebrating a good harvest. They are merely praying because the tradition says so, they are praying for an even better year to come.
The people of Kumaon lead very simple lives. They wake up at sunrise and go to bed at dawn. For these people, their land and their harvest is the most important thing in the world. So, when comes Spring, you’ll find the people of Kumaon singing folk songs and dancing to their tunes because for the people of Kumaon, putting enough food on the table is the thing that matters most.
We at Alaya are an experiential travel resort. Being located in Kyaari, we try our best to introduce all our customers to Kyaari culture with the help of the locals of Kumaon. For those who wish to explore the Kumaoni culture but aren’t sure where to start, Alaya would be where to start.