When you trace the culture of a place, you come across precious stories folded in the deep ravines of memories held by its people. Minjar Fair is one such celebration of the goodness of the heart much like the beautiful maize flower which stands at the very heart of the fair. The fair is a long held tradition in the Chowgan town of Chamba. The essence of this colorful carnival traces its origin to the ancient folklore associated with it. It showcases a myriad of customs and rituals performed in the hope of a good harvest. Celebrated on the second Sunday of Shravana, the festival lasts for a period of seven days where the entire hill district erupts into a cultural amalgam.
The fair has its own beautiful stories behind its emergence as a local festival. There’s a heartwarming tale 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 colorful 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 called upon. They wove a colorful sacred cord known as Minjar. Post the yagna, the river is said to have changed its course.
The distribution of the colorful silk tassels or Minjar, announces the start of the festival. The whole town blooms into a colorful 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.
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 a 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.
By Air -The nearest airport is in Dharamshala, Kullu-Manali and Shimla. From there you would need to get a cab or avail some other means of transportation.
By Road - From Delhi, this distance can be more or less covered in about 7 to 8 hours. So, if you are planning a road trip then this it would be an overall convenient experience for you.
By Train - If you are planning a trip to Himachal for experiencing Minjar fair then you can travel to Punjab and from there take a train to Himachal Pradesh.
26 July 2020 - 01 August 2020
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