Minjar Fair is a popular event of Chamba valley of Himachal Pradesh. The Fair is organised every year to express gratitude towards gods and further ask their blessing for a good yield. During the fair, Chamba comes to life. Celebrated every year in July/August, Minjar Fair extends for a whole week. Its main highlights are folk singing and dancing. People also make offerings which include seasonal fruit, a rupee, a 'Minjar' (composed of golden and paddy silk wrapped in red fabric), and also coconut.
The Minjar Fair is celebrated since 935 AD as a way to commemorate the victory of Chamba’s Raja over that of Trigarta. It is said that on his return, people greeted him with sherfs of maize and paddy, as a gift to symbolise happiness and prosperity. Since then, Minjar Fair is held in the same vein of continuing wealth and blessings. Earlier, a buffalo was also used to be sacrificed but that practice is discontinued now.
There are also some other heartwarming tales of how the Minjar Fair started.
There’s a story of an old lady who once wanted to meet the King. She didn’t have much money and couldn’t afford a gift for the King. All she had was a humble Maize flower and she took it along and went to see the King. Humbled by the purity of the gift and a heart filled with love, the King was moved to tears and he declared the day to be celebrated in honour of the selfless gift the lady brought for him - the Maize Flower. From that day on, the day is revered as Maize day or Minjar day.
Another anecdote from the locals talks about the colourful Minjar woven by the Banarasi Brahmins. That’s where the festival gets its name from. The story goes on about the River Ravi flowing between the two famous temples of Chamba - Champawati and Hari Rai Temple. The might of the river was so strong that people couldn’t go across. On the behest of the King, a yajna was performed by a saint for seven days where Banarasi Brahmins were called upon. They wove a colourful sacred cord known as Minjar. Post the yagna, the river is said to have changed its course.
1. A Colourful Celebration. The distribution of the colourful silk tassels or Minjar announces the start of the festival. The whole town blooms into a colourful assortment of intermingled traditions. Of the seven days till which the festival is celebrated, the third day sees the most amazing of rituals associated with the festival. The locals mingle with the dancing troupes and march from Akhand Chandi Palace.
2. The Offerings. The crowd flanks the procession by tossing items of religious sanctity into the river. It has everything from coconuts, coins, seasonal fruits and, of course, a Minjar wrapped in red cloth - all this is done as an offering and showing respect to the life-giving waterbody. The rhythmic notes of the Kunjari- Malhar, the leaves of Betal and the fragrance of Itra wraps up the third day of the festival. The procession is carried on a large scale and continues for a week with maize at its epicentre treated as a symbol of faith in God.
Chamba is a must-visit if you want to experience the ancient temples, edifices and caves and get to know many more interesting things about Indian history. It is located at an approximate distance of 579, 1,991, 2,102, 2,754 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Here is how you can travel to Chamba by the following means of public transportation.
By Air. The nearest airports are Kangra Airport (DHM) and Pathankot Airport (IXP) situated (approx) 125 and 100-120 km respectively. Depending upon your convenience, you can consider deboarding at one of the airports. It is best advised to take connecting flights from Delhi or Chandigarh to reach here. From the airports, you can easily take a cab or some other means of public transportation to travel further.
By Train. For planning a trip by train, you will need to deboard at the Pathankot Railway Station (PTK). It is situated at an elevation of about 331 metres and connects nearby regions fairly well. From Chamba, it is situated at a distance of about 100-125 km. Thus, after you deboard at the station, consider taking some means of public transportation to reach Chamba. For instance, you can easily avail a taxi from the station and on average, it might take you about 4 hours to reach here by road.
By Road. Depending upon your location, you can consider travelling to Chamba by motorable roads as well. Interstate buses of HRTC (Himachal Road Transport Corporation) are readily available and travel to and fro other cities on a frequent basis. Otherwise, you can also book a private bus or if want to travel in a more remote manner then, you can book a private cab or self-drive here.
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