The occasion of dance, fun and reverences, the Fagali festival was celebrated in cultural and religious fervor and gaiety in many hard areas of Himachal Pradesh especially in trans Giri areas of Sirmaur, Banjar, Bhuntar and Ani of Kullu and Kinnaur district on the advent of Hindu Fagun month of Feb 12 and 13.
The people of each villages gather at their respective shrines of Gods and Goddesses in mid of village and begin the special ‘Mandallai’ (specially attired dancer) dance wearing wooden mask, grass flower crowns, long white cotton attire, falling yellow flowers nuggets on the forehead (called Mandali) in the courtyard of the temple.
The festival started with arrival of dancing Mandallai, who come from different villages every year waiving small sticks in the hand. The new comer and guests were blessed by the Mandallai after offering them special wheat seedlings plumes on their caps, marking public reception with special welcome note. The festival also marks as the source of fun and entertainment as people could vent-out any thing in public against each others and even husband and wife could openly accuse and abuse each others.
Local Forest Guard Manoj Kumar hails from the Banjar told Himvani that the festival is known for its notoriety as one was allowed to speak any thing or offend others and people also make fun and laugh in the move. The dance continues till over night amid the beat of local drum and Harnshinga special trumpets. People also worship the God and Goddesses and free food is served to public in the shrine.
People belonging to Ropa, Dharan, Gushani and Bancha villages at their main shrine at Ropa on the intervening night of Feb 12 and 13 and celebrated the Fagali. The festival falls about week after the Basant Panchami end of cold wave however it was observed on the announcement of ‘Shaman’ in each village and some time it was celebrated on different days at different places of the State.
The festival is also called “Phag” in Kinnaur and Rampur district. Local dishes were served while no sacrificing of animal took place on the festivals however people were offered free food in the temple to the devotees however only men stay over night in the temple while females return after the dusk of the day.