The traditional Halda festival was celebrated with fervour in Lahaul-Spiti in which residents of the Gahar valley, Chandra valley and Pattan valley took part. They sang songs and dance together.
The festival begins in January every year. The celebrations last for almost one month in different valleys.
Residents said as Diwali was celebrated all over India, the festival was celebrated in Pattan, Chandra and Gahar valleys in the second and third week of January.
“To celebrate the event, pencil cedar branches are cut into strips and tied together into bundles to make a torch called Halda and a number of torch remains equal to the male members of each family. Halda is lit in a house where all villagers gather to perform the rituals,” they said.
The residents enjoy by celebrating festivals in a unique way collectively, in which each family of the village ensure their active participation.
The date of Halda festival is fixed by a lama in the Gahar valley, while in the Pattan valley, it is celebrated on Magh Purnima (full moon).
Prem Lal, a resident of the district, said, “The festival is celebrated in January every year to appease local deities, seeking better crops in the coming season as well as to expel evil souls out of the villages.” He said when the ceremony was over at a specific place in each village, the villagers return to their houses.
Ramesh Kumar Rulba, president of Zila Parishad, Lahaul Spiti, said, “Despite modern era, the residents of Lahaul Spiti are preserving their local tradition and culture through these fests. It gives us opportunity to make merriment together to reduce our problems, which we face during the winter season because of heavy snowfall. The entire district cut off for more than six months from rest of the state, while power and water supply also get disrupted for days.”
Source: The Tribune