Harin Chital means ‘spotted deer’. Celebrated in the Pithoragarh district of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Harin Chital is a folk drama with a cultural and religious significance. The folk drama is held every year usually on the 8th day of Bhadrapad month (late August) where 3-4 men dress up and represent themselves as a deer and perform various dances and acts.
Where is Harin Chital celebrated?
Harin Chital is a significant celebration held at Askot village in Pithoragarh district of Kumaon division of Uttarakhand.Since the folk drama is celebrated along with GamraMahotsav, the location of Harin Chital is set at the place where GamraMahotsav is celebrated.
How is Harin Chital celebrated?
In the folk drama, about 3-4 men position themselves so as to resemble a deer. The person at the frontwears the mask of a deer and the other persons stand behind each other by placing their heads and hands on the shoulder and hips of the person ahead of them respectively. They arrange themselves and position themselves in the shape of a deer.
The persons behind the first person are covered by a colourful sheet of cloth and a tail is hanged at the end of the cloth. The lokdevta of the region becomes the shepherd of the deer and dances along while catching the tail of the deer from behind.
After the preparations are made, the men are brought to the performance area where they dance, jump, and enact various movements and expressions of the deer along with the beats of music. The people gather around in large number to watch the drama both in awe and enjoyment.Throughout the drama, the coordination of the men shines through and the people completely immerse themselves in the act.
The act requires complete surrender to the performance and the artists reach a meditative state while performing.
After a successful completion of the folk drama, the chital harin(deer) dances and moves along the common village paths. People enjoy the performance and shower them with flowers. After taking a complete round, the dance concludes at the same spot it started.
Significance of Harin Chital
Along with Uttarakhand, Harin Chital is celebrated with great zeal in other nearby areas of Shimla, Kullu-Chamba, and Kinnaur. It is known as ‘Harinantar’ or ‘Harinetar’ in Kullu-Chamba and as ‘Hauridfo’ or ‘Harinpashu’ in Kinnaur. Though the methods and dates of the celebration varies, the undertone of the celebration remains the same.
This suggests that Harin Chital was and is an important part of the culture and celebration in the Himalayan regions of India.