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Harela : Festival of Greenery

Uttrakhand, the land of gods contains enormous natural  and cultural heritage. In the region of the kumaon, a festival known as Harela is celebrated thrice a year. Let's read it to explore it.

Harela is the prominent festival of Kamaon. It is associated with social harmony, agriculture, and climate. Harela refers to greenery. This festival is also related to Lord Shiva’s marriage by the native people. Harela strikes the calendar thrice, as follows :-

1)     Chaitra month(21/22march – 22april) – Harela is shown on the first day of the lunar month and reaped on is reaped on the ninth day.

2)     Shravan month(july23-23august) – It is sown before 10 days of monsoon and is reaped on the first day of the fifth month of the solar year.

3)     Agrahayan month(22nov-22dec) – In this month it is sown on the first day of Navratra and is reaped on the day of  Dussehra.

Among the three of above Harela held in the month of Shravan holds the greatest importance because with the showers of monsoon the land blooms up with greenery. Farmers celebrate Harela for better crops and good rains.

In the month of Shravan Harela holds the most importance due to the extraordinary love of Lord Shiva towards it. Uttrakhand hilly region is said to be the home for Lord Shiva. To sow Harela a material like poly bag or bowl is chosen. Wheat, Barley, Rice, Horse Gram, Mustard etc are pounded into a bowl with some soil and are left for 9 days to be shown. Sprinkling of water droplets is done for 9 days and on the 10th day they are ready to reap. These 4 to 6 inches plant that is sewn into the pot is known as Harela. The eldest female of the house carry a ritual of applying it to every family member from head to toe. A leaf is put on head and ear top of every member.

Everyone is blessed singing :-

Laag harela laag daso laag bagwal

Ji raye jaagi raye, dharti jatuk chakau hai jaye,

Aagasak taar hai jaye, sieyo kas taaran ho,

Sayav kas buddhi ho, dub jas punjuriye,

Sil pisi bhaat khaye, jaanthi teki jhaad jaye”.

जी रये, जागि रये
धरती जस आगव, आकाश जस चाकव है जये
सूर्ज जस तराण, स्यावे जसि बुद्धि हो
दूब जस फलिये,
सिल पिसि भात खाये, जांठि टेकि झाड़ जाये।

and elaborates as; may Harela meet you to prosper you, aware you and build you as patience as Earth, as huge as sky as brave as Lion, as intelligent as Jackal, to grow as Scutch grass. May you die so old that you don’t have teeth to chew food and you use a stick to go for excretion.

Harela is a festival for peace and happiness. Its primary symbolization is, ‘the longer the Harela is, the better the crop is in health’. A better health of body and brain is prayed to god on this auspicious festival.

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