Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh: While commerce is redefining festivals all over India these days with companies pumping in huge amount of money to sell their products and services wrapped as festival utilities in one way or the other, there are certain exceptions like Khogla and Halda that have not lost to the glitter of mega events like Diwali. To unravel the mystery of Khogla and Halda here itself, we can say that these two festivals are variants of Diwali and Holi respectively preserved in the remoteness of the places they are celebrated in – Lahaul and Spiti.
While Khogla is celebrated in Pattan valley, Halda in observed in other valleys of Lahaul in the second and third week of January. The date for Khogla is fixed by a Lama while in Pattan valley it is celebrated to Magh Poornima coinciding with full moon.
During Holda, pencil cedar branches are cut into strips and are tied together into bundles to make a torch called Halda quite similar to Hola in upper regions of Shimla district. In the evening Halda at each house are lit and brought together at one centre place. This is repeated four to five times, each time in honour of different deities. When the ceremony is over, the villagers return to their houses. The Haldas are prepared and lit in the same manner and collected at one place where they burn to lashes. But there is slight difference. Along with honouring the deities, the people of Gahar valley curse the Ranas of clans hostile to their own. The people of Keylong curse the Ranas of Goushal and Kardang threatening to “bite their hearts”. (With inputs from himachal.nic.in)