Uttarakhand state has a rich cultural history and celebrates a lot of festivals based on harvest
Uttarakhand, also known as ‘Dev Bhoomi‘ is full of art, music, culture and traditions. There are a huge number of regional festivals celebrated in the state. ‘Harela’ is one such festival celebrated in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Like many other festivals of the region, this is also based on the harvest. The seasons’ change and so does the harvest cycles. This festival is the start of one such cycle.
9 days before the onset of Sawan (monsoon) a mixture of 7 seeds is sown with a wish for a good harvest for the upcoming year. The reason for this celebration is to pray to god for a good harvest for the season. Another reason that I heard from the locals is that farmers get to test their seeds beforehand. This assures a good harvest for them going forward.
These seeds are sown in a small basket, adding fertile soil to it. The 7 seeds include Gehoo (Wheat), Jaun (Barley), Dhaan (Rice), Mung Dal (Green gram split), Urad Dal (Black gram), Makka (Maize) and Sarso (Mustard). Till 9 days you water it and keep it away from direct sunlight. On the 10th day, it is cut pronouncing mantras and the festival is celebrated by praying using these grass grown from the seeds. Also, a variety of Kumaoni delicacies are prepared on this day.
It is said that the length of this harela decides the fate of the upcoming harvest. Though I am not sure how true this holds, as there are a lot of other factors that work. Also, the local official bodies recently have started holding competitions on the occasion of Harela Festival. The best harvest gets awarded by them.
Harela is a huge festival for the locals, celebrated with family and friends. It sums up to good food and a lot of prays to keep the harvest, health and wealth of the families in good shape. There is a lot of belief attached to the same. The elders in the family gift money to the children and girls with enchanting wishes and prays:
“Jee raye jagi raye, Dharti jas aagav,
Aakash jas chakav hai jaye, Surya jas taran,
Syave jasi buddhi ho, Doob jas faliye,
Sil pisi bhat khaye, Janthi teki jhad jaye.”
This year the festival falls on 17th July 2019, the dates are usually around the same time. In case you know any other information about this festival, comment below. Would love to know more about the same.