Gaindi Khagoti Fair is celebrated in Chwicha village in the Pauri district of Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. The fair begins on Vasant Panchami and continues till Baisakhi. Gaindi Khagoti Fair holds immense cultural significance and used to be one of the most awaited fairs. However, just like other cultural fairs, its significance has been decreasing with time.
History of Gaindi Khagoti Fair
According to folklore, Khagoti Fair started at the time of Mahabharat. Yudhister needed the skeleton of rhinoceros for the proper funeral ceremony of his father, Pandu. Pandavas started their search and in the course of his search came across a crash of rhinos grazing near Haryali Lake in the supervision of Nagmal and Nagmati (Naga caste couples).
When Arjun tried to kill one rhino, the Naga couple objected him. As a result, a fight between the Naga couple and Arjun took place. After a lot of struggle, Arjun was finally able to kill the rhino.
How is Gaindi Khagoti Fair celebrated?
Gaindi Khagoti Fair honours the tradition of the search of rhinoceros by the Pandavas by enacting the event at the Devi’s Temple located at the centre of the village. 5 people dress as Pandavas, one as Nagmal, one as Nagmati and dance while the folklore is orated. The woman dressed as Nagmati carries a pumpkin in her lap which symbolises the rhinoceros. The Pandavas enact aiming at the rhino with their bows and arrows and the Nagmati enacts protecting the rhino from the arrows.
Three days prior to the fair, the idols of gods and goddess are polished and decorated. Drums and music are played for the whole night and people perform the dance forms of Thadiya, Choufla, and Jhumauli for the entire night. On the last day of the fair, people go their respective houses and end the celebration by singing and playing traditional songs.