Uttarakhand’s Spring Folk Festival of Harvest and Well-Being
Uttarakhand is a land of many beautiful folk festivals that are unique to this region. It has Diwali celebration in Jaunsar one month after Diwali is celebrated in the rest of the country. Holi in the Kumaon area of Uttarakhand begins in December in the form of Baithhaki, Khadi and kater Mahila Holi. Holi is a festival of singing in Kumaon as Baithhaks of classical music begin in households long before the actual festival of colours arrives. Like these festivals in the hills, there is a very beautiful celebration that welcomes the onset of spring after a long winter and this Himalayan region comes alive with colours and joy, especially for children. This festival-known as Phooldei- begins on the first day of the month of Chaitra.
There is something very fascinating and unique about this festival of flowers and springtime that is celebrated in the hills and dales of Uttarakhand in March every year to mark the advent of spring. On the first day of the month of Chaitra, young girls carry out most of the rituals and they are the most eager participants. In some places like Tehri, though, this festival is like a carnival and the celebrations go on throughout the month. Dei, a special ceremonial pudding made of Jaggery (gur) , white flour and curd is offered to everyone. Little girls go to every house in their village with plates full of rice, jaggery, coconut, green leaves and flowers. Festivities have begun in many parts of the state and will carry on for some time.
The girls put forward their good wishes for the prosperity of the household and are given blessings and presents like sweets, fresh jaggery and money in return. The girls shower flowers and rice on the doorsteps and sing:
Phool Dei, Chamma Dei Deno Dwar, Bhur Bhakar Vo Dei Sei Namashkar, Puje Dwar
The festive occasion derives its name from the word ‘Dei’ which refers to a ceremonial pudding. During this festival, people of villages sing, dance and make merry to celebrate the harvest and to pray for the well being of their relatives. It is one of those times when everyone exchanges wishes of prosperity. Folk singers sing Chaiti and are given rice and other gifts as appreciation. This festival of flowers is unique to the hill state and has a dimension of colour and love.
Phool Dei is a festival that showcases the inner bonding between the communities who all are residing in the hills. During the festivity, the young girls pluck the first flowers of the season. They not only scatter these flowers in front of their own doorsteps but also at the doorsteps of the other villagers. It is believed that these flowers are the indications of good luck. This is the best part of the festival. Folk singers of the village welcome the spring with their musical tunes. The drummers, known as bajgi, auli and dholi visit different village courtyards and sing these mellow and soothing songs.
The festive occasion heralds the beginning of spring. Anybody who is visiting the region during this time is offered the delicious ceremonial pudding. Money is also exchanged in the form of gifts wishing the well being of one another. Doorsteps are decorated with flowers to spread the positive message of the Phool Dei festival.
This folk, harvest festival celebrates prosperity and well-being and the people pray for peace and joy. The purity of the celebrations brings happiness to all and an atmosphere of calm and rejoicing prevails all around. The festival is a reminder of the leisurely pace of life in the hills which is also now giving place to a faster way of life. These hill festivals linked to the changing seasons have a special beauty and place in the culture of this picturesque Himalayan state and attract tourists from various parts of the country and abroad. Music is mostly linked very closely to all such celebrations in this region. Folk dancers and singers lend additional colour and zest to these celebrations. So now, it is time to sing and dance for Phooldei!
Thursday, 14 March 2019 | Jaskiran Chopra | Dehradun