Minjar Fair, Chamba
A fair commencing from the last Sunday of July, lasting for seven days, namely the Minjar Fair is a splendid carnival held in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. Known to be a real fun fiesta, the fair comes as a welcome break to the locals and tourists both who throng the region during the fair. Celebrated with a marked enthusiasm, the fair comes as a cultural binding force as it totally rejuvenates the ethnic spirit of the people of this region.
Deriving its name from the maize flower, the Minjar Fair finds a lot of legends and folklores attached to it. It is believed that an old lady wanted to meet the contemporary king of Chamba. Too poor to buy a nice gift for the king, the lady took a maize flower along and presented it to the king. The king was so greatly moved by the simplicity of the lady that he declared the day to be feted as maize day or Minjar day. Since then, the day began to be celebrated with great pomp and show. Those festivities yet take place in the form of Minjar fair at Chamba. The small township of Chamba has become a major tourist attraction because of this fair only as many tourists flock the region to partake in this cultural extravaganza.
Another legend says that the fair takes its name from the colorful cord prepared by the Brahmins from Benaras. The story dates back to the times when river Ravi used to flow between two renowned temples of Chamba namely the Champawati Temple and Hari Rai Temple. People visiting any of these temples needed to cross this fierce river in order to reach the other. Upon regular requests from his subjects, the king of the region asked a saint to solve the problem.
The saint in turn ordered the king to assemble at Champawati Temple with his subjects. A fire sacrifice or 'Yajna' was performed there for seven days. The Brahmins who were invited from Benaras prepared a cord of various colors known as Minjar.
To everyone's utter surprise, the river changed its course soon after the yajna was over, making the Hari Rai Temple accessible to people. This miracle was believed to be brought about by Minjar- the cord spun by the Brahmins. The king thus declared the day to be celebrated as the Minjar day and since then Minjar Fair is held every year at Chamba to commemorate this divine event. It is customary to wear silk costumes during the fair interwoven with a stalk of Minjar. People offer prayers to the God at Laxmi Narayan Temple and celebrate throughout the week. They also send sweets, fruits and money to friends and relatives along with a stalk of Maize which symbolizes their astute faith in God and also indicates their expectation of a good harvest.
The decorated idol of Raghuvir Verman, a local deity is worshipped during the fair and is taken in an impressive procession along with other gods and goddesses for immersion. A grand puja follows the immersion ceremony. A royal flag is taken back home as a mark of reminiscence of the fair.