Fairs and Festivals of Haryana
In Ambala, the most famous fair is held at Gopal-Mochan near Bilaspur in Jagadhari tehsil. There is a sacred tank of the same name in the place. The legend is that once Lord Shiva while rescuing Saraswati, who was being pursued by Brahma, struck off the latter's head. A lock of hair was left in Shiva's hand and his body was blackened. For a long time Shiva was unable to cleanse himself. One night, when he was resting at a cow shed he overheard the conversation between a cow and her calf. The calf said he was going to kill his master, a Brahmin, to avoid being castrated. The cow tried to dissuade the calf from the sin, but the calf said, it knew of a tank where it could cleanse itself from the sin of killing a Brahmin. Shiva followed the calf the next day and saw it kill its master. The bodies of the cow and the calf where then blackened until they cleansed themselves by bathing in Gopal Mochan tank. Shiva followed their example and was like wise cleansed. Since then, the water of Gopal-Mochan has retained its virtue. It is considered by many to be more efficacious than the waters of the Ganges at Hardwar. The Rin Mochan is another water tank situated close to the Gopal-Mochan. A big fair is held in the village in the month of Kartik.
Haryana's most famous fair is held in honour of the goddess of small-pox, Masani whose temple is in Gurgaon village. There is a legend about this temple. There was a shrine, sacred to the goddess Devi, locally known as Masani at the village of Kesopur in the Delhi district. Some two hundred and fifty years ago according to tradition, the Goddess appeared in a dream to one Singha, a Jat of some influence and a resident at the village of Gurgaon. The Devi communicated to Singha that she wished to leave Kesopur and directed him to construct a shrine for her in his village. The shrine was built and flourished, its fame spreading far and wide. A visit to the shrine is an antidote for small-pox and women from great distances flock to it with their children to obtain this benefit. The greatest crowd is in April-May but all the year around steady stream of people flows, Monday being the favourite day.
At the village of Basdoda in Rewari tehsil there is an ancient temple of Bhaironji. A fair is held on Chatsudi 11th, and the two following days.
Mela Devi is held at Beri in Jhajjar of Rohtak district, twice a year. According to a Legend, the image of goddess Bhumeshwari Devi was brought from the hills and installed at Beri. Newly married couples blessed with a son come here to pay homage. Mela Baba Mast Nath is held in February-march each year at the Samadhi of the saint at Bohar near Rohtak. It is also held at Khera Sadh and the people worship both at the Samadhi and the temple. Sat kumbh fair is a religious celebration and is held at Kheri Gujar (Sonepat) twice a year.
In Haryana Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm. It comes in the middle of the month of Karthik. The deceased ancestors are said to visit the house of their families on that day, and it is in their name that the ceremony is performed. Houses are whitewashed and cleaned. On the next day, or Govardhan, Diwali lamps are lighted in the evening and sweets distributed. On the following day all the sweepings are thrown out on to the refused dumps outside the village. The old lamps are also thrown their and new ones placed in the house. The rich and trading classes specially consider Diwali as their own festival. On this occasion they perform pujas, which are considered auspicious for their profession. For children Diwali provides an occasion for fire works.
Dussera is probably the chief Hindu festival, being associated with the great Epic Ramayana and its renowned hero, Rama. The celebrations last nearly a month. The Brahmins are fed on these days in memory of the deceased elders of the family. The Shradas are followed by Nauratas, which as the name implies are nine in number. Oats sown in the field or deposited in big utensils are watered on each of these days. On the Dussera day, pudding (halwa) is eaten with rice and cured. The Brahmins are also fed. All the members of the family except woman put stalks of green oats on their head. Ram Leela is enacted in various places. On the last day the effigies of the demon king Ravana and his supporters are burned, which forms the concluding event.
Holi is celebrated with considerable zest, particularly in the area bordering Uttar Pradesh. Four days before the festival, married women play Holi with their men folk by throwing coloured water on them. The day following Holi, Dhulandi (Phag), men folk throw water on women who retaliate by a mock beating with sticks or kolras (twisted cloth strips). The men act as if they are powerless and they pretended attempts at shielding themselves lead to much fun and amusement.
This is a religious festival, celebrated all over Haryana. It is connected with snake-worship and observed in August-September. A number of legends have clustered around Gugga Pir or Zahir Pir (the saint). He is also referred to as Baggar wala because of his grave near Dadrewa near Ganga nagar, a tract over which he is said to have ruled. He was reputed to have the power of curing people of snake-bite. Monday is his day, the date being 9th. The shrine is distinguished by its square shape with minarets and domed roof.
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