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Minjar Fair Chamba


History says that Chamba was established by Raja Sahil Varman on the banks of River Ravi in 920 AD. In 923 AD, the Raja defeated the ruler of Trigartha ( Kangra) and to celebrate that hard-won victory, the Minjar Fair Chamba has come to be held every year.

Another local folklore tale would have us believe that in the 10th century, River Ravi flowed right across Chamba town. Tow temples, Champawati and the Hari temple were located on either bank and the priest at one temple would swim across the river every morning to worship at the other temple, which the king and the people could not do so.

The Raja (King) pleaded with the holy men to device a way that one could visit both the temples easily. The sages held a holy prayer (yajna) for a week, in which a long cord (Minjar) of seven colors was used. On completion of the yajna, the river changed course and both the temples came on the same riverbank, making it easy for everyone to visit them.
Minjar Fair Chamba

Every year, the fair is opened with the hoisting of the Minjar flag in the historical fields of Chowgan. The celebrations last for seven days, starting from the second Sunday of Shravan (July-August). At the onset of the fair, silk tassels are distributed that men and women hone on their dresses. These silk tassels, known as Minjar, are symbolic of maize and paddy shoots, crops that are widely grown in the region.

The main festival is held at the “Chowgan”, open common ground in the town that at one time was pasturelands. The entire stretch from Chowgan uphill till the Dogra Bazar is conjoined into a bustling market. Cultural programs laden with traditional songs and dances held during the festival attracts hoards of tourists and locals.

On a concluding day, a procession of deities, accompanied by dancing troupes, drum beaters and police and home guards march from the Akhand Chandi Mahal is held. Procession of God and Goddesses ( Devta and Devi's) idols with that of Raja Raghubir Verman, richly adorned in silk and jewels are taken out of the places in palanquins with the Shahi Flag, symbolic of Chamba royalty accompanying the roadshow.

On reaching the river bank offering of coconut, a rupee, and seasonal fruits. All tied to a red cloth before the Minjars are thrown into the river. Prayers offered at the Lakshmi Narian temple conclude the festival ceremonies.

Interestingly, till 1943, a buffalo was pushed into the river to propitiate it. It the buffalo drowned, the sacrifice was said to have been accepted. If it swam across the river, it meant that the sins of the people have been transferred to the other side.

Chamba can be reached by road 120km from Pathankot, the nearest railhead and from Shimal 378km and 56km from Dalhousie. It is a day’s long journey by private or public road transport.

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