Harela Festival: India is an incredible country with so many festivals that we can even have a separate calendar just with the names of the Indian festivals. Every religion, every state, every union territory, and every society has its own festivals in India. With that being said, let’s talk about Harela festival of Uttarakhand.
In Uttarakhand, generally known as Devbhoomi, one of the most important festivals celebrated is “Harela festival”. Harela celebration is the purest example of how we can thank and take care of our Mother Earth which gives us so much and never asks for anything in return. People celebrate Harela festival on the first day of the monsoon season (Karksakranti). It is one of the most important festivals of Uttarakhand. Moreover, especially the people in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand celebrate it.
To honor the new harvest in the region, Harela festival is celebrated by the folks of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. “Harela” as the name suggests, generally refers to “Greenery”. On the day of Harela celebration, people pray for a good crop and plentiful harvest in the coming sowing cycle. Also, the first day signifies that it is just the commencement of the crop cycle. Moreover, in the local school, colleges, government organization as well as in private organization, everybody celebrates it. Most of all, people motivate their fellow mates through different campaigns for planting more and more trees. Harela celebration is done in different schools as well where the students are assigned activities. Sometimes, Harela competition also takes place.
In Hindu mythology, it is a belief that Uttarakhand is the home of Lord Shiva. Thus, the people of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati with all their hearts. Now, as monsoon season is Lord Shiva’s favorite season so the Kumaoni people celebrate the commencement of this season. And for that purpose, they plant saplings and worship them.
The preparation of this day actually starts at least 9 to 11 days before. For that purpose, people begin by sowing the mixture of the seeds of grains like mustard, gram, barley, maize, wheat, rice, and so on, in a wooden pot. Then the pots are left in the room near the temple where sunlight doesn’t reach and the family members sprinkle water on them daily. Then a day before the Harela festival, gudai is done and on the auspicious day of Harela festival, we reap the crop. The grains are offered to God and prayer is done for a good harvest. After the prayer, those grains are put on the head or below the ears of all the family members and then all of them sing the traditional folk song:
“Jee raye jagi raye, Dharti jas aagav,
Aakash jas chakav hai jaye, Surya jas taran,
Syave jasi buddhi ho, Doob jas faliye,
Sil pisi bhat khaye, Janthi teki jhad jaye.”
This literally translates to:
You may get greenery, may you live long and gain consciousness. Have patience like the earth, be as kind as the sky up above, be as radiant as the sun, be as witty as the jackal and grow like the grass. May you live until the time, when you’ll have to grind the cooked rice to eat it and use a stick to go to the bathroom.
At Harela festival, a festival thali is essential. The thali consists of a large platter filled with simple but scrumptious regional dishes and is a complete meal. You will find a perfect combination of sweet, sour, and salty flavors in the Harela festival delicacies. The thali mainly consists of some mouthwatering dishes like:
- Aaloo ke ghutke
- Kheer aka raita
- Sweet-sour kaddu
Harela festival 2021
Harela 2021 date is 16th July 2021. On this day, the Uttarakhand police finished the campaign of planting 1 lakh sapling which was started by the Government of Uttarakhand on 5th June 2021 i.e. on the occasion of World Environment Day.
Significance of Harela festival
Undoubtedly, human life is going through some difficult times. So, it is high time that we start taking care of the environment or else, nobody can stop the destruction that is going to fall right on our heads. It is our responsibility to step up and protect our environment to stop the crisis of life on earth. Most of all, the major climate changes taking place especially, the depletion of the ozone layer and the melting of glaciers, are all because of our activities. Life is in danger and many species of fauna and flora both on land and water are becoming extinct. And that’s why, Harela festival is one of the crucial festivals of India, as Harela celebration signifies thanking Mother Earth. Therefore, the planting of hundreds of trees across the districts of Uttarakhand by the people of different societies takes place.