Himachal Pradesh is not just a most popular tourist attraction, but also a land of multiple cultures. One of the important festivals of people in Himachal Pradesh is Chaitti. The name is synonymous with the Hindu month that declares arrival of new-year, the Chaitra month. Chaitti is celebrated in Himachal Pradesh as the New Year day.
Chaitti is the New Year of the Hindu Calendar, which is considered very auspicious all over country. This is a famous festival across all states and celebrated as New Year in different names and in different ways.
According to Hindu calendar, Chaitra is the first month of the year. The first day after the new moon day, i.e the first day of the bright half of the month marks the Chaitti festival. This is the first festival celebrated to welcome the dawn of the New Year.
Chaitti- Himachal New Year 2016
In 2016, Chaitti falls on 8th April, the same day when most of the north India will welcome Vikram Samvat Nav Varsh, the Hindu new year.
Himachal Pradesh witnesses a riot of colors, celebrations and the cheerful festivity mood nestled with spiritual aspects. The day is very auspicious to start new ventures.
People in Himachal celebrate the New Year by offering prayers to the gods and goddesses, hear the stories of Puranas, visit temples and worship the prime deities in their region and offer special honor to goddess Durga.
Chaitti is also called as Chaitra Sankranti in Himachal. In addition to Chaitti, Nav Ratri and Ralli Pooja are two other important festivals celebrated in the month of Chaitra. The day on which Chaitti is celebrated marks the first day of Nav Ratri, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
Rituals of Chaitti
Just like any auspicious festival, all members in the family take bath, wear new dress and worship the goddess Durga before sunrise.
Barley Seeds and Coconut
The major ritual of Chaitti is placing a new plant in any corner of the house that faces east.
- A new mud pot is covered with soil.
- Barley seeds are sown in the soil and a coconut is placed on the pot.
- This pot is placed in a corner, facing the east direction.
Coconut symbolize the Goddess Bhagwati, a form of Goddess Durga.
This is a part of Chaitti ritual as well the Nav Ratri ritual.
For 9 days, the pot is worshipped as goddess and the elderly member and the youngest member in the family water the plant.
On 10th day, the barley shoots are distributed to the villagers. The barley shoots are called Riholi. The shoots of barley are considered blessings from the Goddess Durga, which symbolizes fertility, abundance, and happiness in the family.
It is believed that this specific ritual protects the devotees from the ill effects and also bestows the devotees with good health.
This is a major part of Chaitti. This is a special Pooja performed by unmarried women in Himachal Pradesh. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati (Durga) are the main deities worshipped in Himachal Pradesh. Young women pray to Goddess Durga and request the goddess to bless them with a husband like God Shiva.
Small statues of the god and goddess, Shiv and Parvati are made by the unmarried women. They offer prayers to the statues for the whole month, which commences on the New Year (Chaitti) and ends on the first day of Baisakhi month (the second month of the Hindu Calendar).
The women who offer Pooja collect water from the pond to fill the metal pots. This water is used to bathe the statues. After one month of daily Pooja, the wedding between Shiv and Parvati is solemnized.
The first day of the Baishaki is celebrated grandly by carrying the statues in a procession. It is immersed in the river, which indicates that the goddess leave her motherland and moves to her husband’s home.
A lavish feast is cooked in the homes where young women perform the Pooja and offer to the neighbors.
It is believed that women who perform this Pooja from the day of Chaitti until the end of the month will get married soon to a man of her dreams.
Songs from Dom Community
Dom is one of the popular groups that live in North India and some parts of South India. Until a few centuries, it was only the members of this community who celebrated the Hindu New year.
Although the facets of the festival and celebration changed a lot, people from this community hold great importance in Chaitti celebration.
Members from this community visit the homes of the people in Himachal. They make a visit, door to door. The members sing a song known as ‘Dhoru’ where they tell all names of the month. This is the major ritual performed by Dom community.
People who hear this song from the community at their doorstep consider this as a good sign for the New Year.
Chaitti Festival Fairs
Since Chaitti marks the celebration of Nav Ratri, associated with Goddess Durga, fairs are organized across all major temples of Durga. These fairs last only for nine days, starting from Chaitti and ends on Ram Navami.
The stalls set in the fairs sell articles made with bamboo, woolen clothes, handicrafts and special local produces, that are exclusively available in Himachal. Besides, many shops sell glass items, household items, ornaments and other things exclusively meant for women!
Devotees from nearby towns and cities pay a visit to the temples where Goddess Durga presides as main deity and enjoy these fairs.
Chaitti and Functions of Children
Chaitti is considered very auspicious day to perform rituals associated with children. For instance, many children are taken to temples for the following rituals on Chaitti. Or after completion of specific ritual at home, the child is taken to temple for blessings from the goddess.
- Ear piercing ceremony
- Sacred thread ceremony
- Shaving the head for the first time etc.
The Chaitti festival of Himachal Pradesh is nestled with the dawn of new year, which means new beginnings, new harvest time, celebration of goddess Durga, rituals, prayers and joy!