Chaiti Mela is a popular fair held every year during Navaratri at Kashipur, located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. The fair goes on for 15 days during which circus, fun activities, shopping stalls, and buying and selling of animals are held.
History of Chaiti Fair
In earlier times, trade was an important aspect of these fairs. Horses were in great demand then for transportation vehicles and were traded on a high scale. Other kinds of goods were also popular and sold on a massive scale. Traders from as far as Delhi and Meerut would participate in Chaiti Fair and set their stalls. Customers from across Uttarakhand would visit the fair to shop for goods and horses.
The modern developments have led to the establishment of shops in every region and have also eliminated the need for horses. As a result, the trade component of the fair has lost its importance.
Along with trade, the fair had an important religious aspect which is still prevalent. The revered temple of Maa Balasundari Devi is located in the route to Chaiti Fair. It is believed that praying at Balasundari Devi temple during Navratris, especially during Ashtami and Navami, fulfills all the wishes asked for. The temple is filled with pilgrims from all over Uttarakhand during Ashtami and Navami.
How is Chaiti Fair celebrated?
In earlier times, Chaiti Fair used to be a hub of commercial activities with traders coming from different regions and buyers eagerly waiting for the fair. Buying and selling of horses was a common event. However, with modernization and development taking place, the importance of trading in the fair diminished.
Chaiti Fair serves as an important religious event. People across Uttarakhand visit the Maa Balasundari Devi temple located near Chaiti Fair during Navratris to seek the blessings of maa. Visiting the temple at this time is considered auspicious.
The actual abode of the idol of Maa Balasundari Devi is at Pakkakot area of Kashipur city where the pundits of the temple reside. It is located 4kms from Chaiti Fair. On the first day of Chaiti Fair, a shobha yatra (religious parade) is performed till the time while carrying the idol of Maa Balasundari Devi in a decorated carriage.
The Boksa people of this region have extreme devotion and faith towards Maa Balasundari Devi. Newly-weds visit the temple to seek the blessings of Maa Balasundari Devi during Navratris.
Thus, even though the commercial importance of Chaiti Fair has been forgotten, the importance of its religious aspect is still intact and deeply rooted.
The idol of Maa Balasundari Devi kept at the temple near Chaiti Fair from Ashtami to Dasami, i.e. for 3 days of Navratris has now been extended up to 5 days.