Minjar Mela: Chamba’s Festival of the Maize Stalk
Himachal Pradesh is truly the ‘abode of snow’. With lush green valleys, fruit-laden orchards and snow-capped mountains, it is a spectacle to behold. The Chamba valley, in the heart of the state, is particularly stunning and is home to the Minjar festival.
The Minjar festival derives its name from the maize flower and starts from the last Sunday of July and lasts for seven days.
Let’s take a look at the unique aspects of this festival.
History: One of the associated legends has it that a poor lady wanted to meet the king of Chamba. Not being able to afford an appropriate gift for the king, the lady presented him with the maize flower. Greatly impressed by her simplicity, the king declared that henceforth the day would be celebrated as Minjar.
Another story that is popular is that the festival is held in commemoration of the victory of Chamba over Kangra. The king’s subjects welcomed him with stalks of maize. The king was deeply touched by this gesture and declared the day to be celebrated as the Minjar festival.
Presiding Deity: Raghuvir Verman, a local deity, is worshiped during this fair. A grand procession takes place in his honor where gods and goddesses are carried to the Chougan in ‘palkis’. A royal flag, known as ‘Shahi Flag’ is taken back home. People offer their prayers at the Laxmi Narayan Temple.
Celebrations by the people: This festival falls in the month of Shravan of the Hindu calendar. People turn up in their silken fineries. As an ode to the festival, a stalk of maize is attached to the attires. The maize stalk is a symbol of prosperity and well-being. During the seven days of festivities, many cultural programs are organized known as ‘Kunjari Malhar’. People exchange fruits, sweets, and money with their friends and family.
Minjar Fair: The fair held during the festival is a major attraction for both the locals and tourists alike. Traders from far and wide congregate here to sell their wares.
The culmination of the festival: At the end of seven days, the idol of Radhuvir Verman is carried in a huge procession and immersed in the Ravi River. People throw coconuts, coins and a maize stalk tied to a red cloth into the river. After this ceremony, gods and goddesses who had taken part in the procession earlier are taken back to the Akhand Chandi Palace.
Just like this festival, India is replete with many festivals and occasions. So, if you are planning to visit Himachal Pradesh this monsoon, this festival is not to be missed.