Harela festival of Uttarakhand gives the message of environmental protection.

Harela Basket 

Harela is a folk Festival, it's celebrated with full joy and glory in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Harela gives a message of environment conservation and symbolize the starting of new season. As per Hindu solar Panchang this wonderful and environment friendly festival celebrated thrice in a year. First its celebrated during pre-summer season which starts in the month of Chaitra (March). It falls on 9th day of Chaitra month which is known as Navami. Second time Harela celebrated at the beginning of rainy season in the month Sawan (July). it's celebrated on 1st day of Sawan (known as Ekadashi). Third time Harela celebration takes place at the beginning of winter season in the month of Ashwin (September). On the 10th day of Ashwin (known as dashmi). 

Since Kumaon region in Uttrakhand state is mainly dominated by agriculture and farming related activities. Therefore, it's our tradition to welcome each season and make it informative about seasons. The most popular Harela festival is the one that is celebrated in the month of Sawan (July), on this occasion idol of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati are worshipped. People make clay of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati along with all member of Shiva-Parvati family. In popular Kumaoni culture these idols are called DIKARAS (Small idol of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are made of soil and decorate them with colours). 

Dikara on Harela

It's believe that the origination of Harela is primarily associated with greenery. 9 days before Harela festival people sow seven kind of grains, these grains are wheat, barley, maize, gram, mustard, bean and soyabean (known as bat dal in Kumaoni). 

Basket used to sow the seven grains is made of Himalayan bamboo( known as Ringal in Uttrakhand). People put these basket in a temple inside house or at nearby temple in village. Though, it's sound very simple but this entire process is quite interesting and has special procedure to follow. The first step is to make a layer of pure soil in basket then need to put the seven grains. Again need to make a layer of soil and followed by seven grains. This activity needs to be done around 5 to 6 times. This entire process is known as sowing Harela ( Harela Bona). Once grains sowing is done, it's important to save the basket from direct sunlight. 

On  9th day weeding of Harela is performed with pure plant leaf known as PATI. Next day which is the 10th day and actual Harela day. Harela that has grown in the basket is now ready for cutting. After cutting it, owner of the family or village perform some rituals and apply tilak with sandalwood. They also chant "Rog shok Nivaranarth, Pran Bhyakshak Vanaspate, Ida Gacchha Namastestu Har Dev Namostute रोग शोक निवारणार्थ, प्राण भक्षक वनस्पते, इदा गच्छा नमस्तेस्तु हर देव नमोस्तुते"

This mantra is called Harela patistana and dedicated to God/Goddess. Once rituals are completed Harela has to be offered to God/Goddess along with deities. Later on an elderly woman of the house apply Harela. First Harela has to be apply on foot, followed by knee, shoulder and finally head. People chants these lines as blessings and long life.

Ji Raya, Jagi Raya,
Yo Din, Yo Maas Bhyatnai Raya.
Dharti Jas Chakaav, Aakas Jas Ucch hai Jaya.
Suraj Jas Taran Ai Jou, Syaav Jas Buddhi hai Jou.
Sil Pissi Bhaat Khaya, Jaanth Teki Jhaad Jaya,
Ji Raya, Jagi Raya.

Meaning of the chanting is "You get all around greenery in your life. Live long, be aware. Be a forbearance like earth, be wide and generous like sky. Be as bright as sun, be wise and clever like fox. Live a full term life till the natural decay of teeth, so that you have to grind rice before eating. You grow that much old that you have to use a pole or stick in order to go for defecation." 

Afterwards, entire families sit together and enjoy delicious food, on this occasion it's a tradition to took black gram (urad dal) paraths and pudding. 

Plantation in Harela

Since Harela is very famous folk Festival and it's symbolize greenery. Therefore, planting trees is an important part. People plant trees in gardens, nearby forest. On this auspicious day it's believed that plantation of a small branch of tree is important. As the branch of tree will originate a root on it. This festival is also indicator of good crops. One of the reason and purpose behind the sowing Harela is to have a wonderful crop and there should be no harm to crops. 

It's belief that whose Harela is bigger his crops would be bigger and have bumper cultivation. Another belief is that incase someone died in family on Harela, that family do not celebrate Harela until someone does not born in their family. Even if a cow gives birth to a calf on Harela from their cowshed. This event also considered favorable and celebration of Harela restart.

Old Women in Harela Festival

हिंदी में यहाँ पढ़ें : संपन्नता, हरियाली, पशुपालन और पर्यावरण संरक्षण का संदेश देता हरेला पर्व।

  • Harela Festival 2024 Date: Tuesday, 16 July 2024