Hilljatra, a famous festival of Pastoralists & Agriculturalists of Uttarakhand
Hilljatra is a traditional festival of Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, especially in Pithoragarh district. The Kumaon people who are associated with agriculture mainly celebrate Hilljarta festival. This festival is mainly associated with the farming of paddy and other related tasks of agriculture in monsoon. The origin of Hilljatra festival is believed to be West Nepal where it is celebrated with the name of Indra Jatra festival. It is believed that the King of Nepal was happy with the four brothers of Nepal who celebrated and presented Indra Jatra festival as a gift to the four brothers of Kumaon (Kunwar Sing Mahar, Chahaj Singh Mahar, Chanchal Singh Mahar and Jakh Singh Mahar). The four brothers of Kumaon were also received many other items in the Indra Jatra festival of Nepal. When these brothers came back to Pithoragarh district of Kumaon, they celebrated this festival with the name of Hilljatra including some modifications in Indra Jatra festival. From then the Kumaon people celebrate Hilljatra festival for the well being and prosperity of their close ones.
Celebration of Hilljatra Festival in Pithoragarh
Actually Hilljatra means the worship of “Plough” which is a very important tool used agriculture. This is one of the important festivals of Uttarakhand. Hilljatra festival is celebrated in Aantho (8th day of Bhaado) in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. This festival is celebrated in three phases. In Phase I of Hilljatra festival, the traditional ritual will be followed which is the worship and sacrifice of goat.
In the Phase II of Hilljatra festival, drama will be performed including various pastoral & agricultural activities. In second phase of Hilljatra festival, the characters of the drama will be wearing the masks that look quite expressive and entertaining at the same time. The main attraction of the drama is Lakhia Bhoot (Lakhia Ghost). Lakhia Bhoot is the main character of Hilljatra festival. When he appears wearing back costume, skin painted in black color, wearing rudraksha and thick rope tied in his waist, everyone starts taking the blessings from him. Everyone worship Lakhia Bhoot for health and prosperity of their family, friends and village.
In the Phase III, the people celebrate Hilljatra festival with performing songs and dance. They perform Chanchari Dance which is the traditional folk dance of Uttarakhand. In this dance form, people perform dance in a circle. In this way, the celebrations of the festival go on and on late night with enthusiasm & energy.
How to reach Pithoragarh:
Pithoragarh is one of the famous places to visit in Uttarakahand. Pithoragarh has the beautiful locations that are capable enough to grab the attention of visitors not only from Uttarakhand but from other cities of India as well. As far as Hilljatra festival is concern, you can plan your travel either by air, train or by road.
- Travel to Pithoragarh by flight
Pantnagar airport is the nearest airport to Pithoragarh. Pantnagar airport is situated in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand which is approximately 241 kms. from Pithoragarh. Buses and cabs are easily available from Pantnagar airport for Pithoragarh district. You can choose any of these options as per your convenience and reach at your desired location in Pithoragarh.
- Travel to Pithoragarh by Train
Tanakpur is the nearest railway station to Pithoragarh. The distance between Tanakpur railway station and Pithoragarh is approx 138 kms. After reaching at Tanakpur, you can either hire a taxi for Pithoragarh or can get a bus to reach at your destination in Pithoragarh.
- Travel to Pithoragarh by road
Pithoragarh is easily accessible from major cities of Uttarakhand such as Nainital almost 218 kms, Badrinath almost 329 kms etc. and even from Delhi as well almost 475 kms. Travelling by road is one of the widely used means of transportation to reach at any destination in Pithoragarh. You can easily get cabs or buses to reach Pithoragarh district and take part in the Hilljatra festival to experience endless moments of joy.