Syalpati Fair is a fair dedicated to Nanda Devi and is celebrated in the regions near Joshimath in the Chamoli region of Uttarakhand. The fair is celebrated on years fixed by the heads of the village and lasts for about 2-4 days.
In essence, Syalpati Fair is a celebration rejoicing the arrival of Dhyano (married daughters) to their paternal homes.
When is Syalpati Fair celebrated?
Syalpati Fair is celebrated on the 7th and 8th day of the month of Margshirsha or Vaisakh of Hindu calendar.
How is Syalpati Fair celebrated
On the occasion of Syalpati Fair, it is a long held tradition for families invite their married daughters. The fair is held at an open space and essential items for preparing stalls are brought.
In the early morning of the 7th day of Vaisakh month, some people are sent to bring the bunch of flowers kept separately during Nandajat for this fair. The villagers carry materials required for the fair and travel towards the ground accompanied with music and songs. After reaching the ground, seeds and saplings of plants like bananas are planted and the idols of Nanda Devi and other gods and goddesses are placed in their designated areas. The whole process is known as Devta Aagna.
In the evening, the entire area around the idols is lighted with lights and diyas. The priest begins the prayers and the people who had gone to get the flowers return to the ground. The flowers are offered to the idols of all the gods and goddesses and a vigil is held where Bhalla (traditional singers of Jagar) sing religious songs throughout the vigil.
On the last few hours of the night, the spirit of the worshipped gods and goddesses descends into the chosen people who bath in cold water in the shivering cold of the month of Vaisakh and settle in their designated spot. The people start preparing food items for the guest and performers attending the fair next day.
The next day, i.e. the 8th day of Vaisakhis the main attraction of Syalpati Fair. The invited guests arrive with songs and music and move towards the location and inaugurate the fair.They are heartily welcomed by all the villagers. The guests reach by morning and have their lunch by the noon.
After lunch, Nanda Devi is worshipped and preparations for her departure are made. The chosen people on whom the spirit of the accomplices of Nanda Devi have descended dance and move towards the common people. People pray to them, ask their blessings, and offer puja items. Farewell songs are sung and the departure of Nanda Devi is celebrated and worshipped with great devotion and passion.
People pray for the well-being of the village and bid farewell to Nanda Devi with utmost love and respect.
Significance of Syalpati Fair
The significance of Syalpati Fair lies in its relationship with Nanda Devi and involves inviting Nanda Devi in her pateranal home, celebrating her arrival, and sending her off to her in laws’ place after celebrations. The villagers travel to Nanda Devi temples located in high elevated bugyals (meadows) and invite her to their villages. Nanda Devi is considered the married daughter of every village in the region and hence she is invited and her arrival to her paternal home is celebrated with great joy.