By: Swaran Deepak Raina
Chamba: The centuries-old Sui fair held in Chamba town may now also turn out to be a political hotspot for women politicians in the state following the recent legislation for 33% quota for the fair sex; after all it is an exclusive all-women cultural event.
During the fair, women folk from the area gather at the Sunaina Devi temple, also called the Sui Mata temple, to celebrate the spirit of sacrifice. The temple is dedicated to Rani Sunaina, queen of Raja Sahil Verman of Chamba. The temple has been constructed at a place where she had sacrificed herself to bring water to Chamba town. Folk history of the place states that Chamba state was established by Raja Sahil Verman more than 1,000 years ago, but there was shortage of drinking water in the area. The raja was very upset about this and one night he saw a dream in which his deity said a sacrifice from the raja’s family could solve the problem. He got up early in the morning and called his ministers to discuss the matter with them. Rani Sunaina too came to know about it and decided that it had to be her.
So a day was selected by the ‘kul guru’ of the Raja and the rani started her journey towards Ravi river in a palki in her bridal dress to give up her life. When she reached the shores, she had a final look at Chamba town and ordered the crowd of women following her to hold a fair in her memory every year, and thus the tradition has been carried from one generation to other.
Earlier the raja’s family used to organise the fair, but now the town MC has taken over. A small girl from the Verman family is dressed up as a queen and is treated so for three days. Women from the area come in their traditional dresses and dance and sing songs known as Ghurei in memory of the queen during the three days. The festival ended today.