Harela is composed of two words “Har” & “Ela” where “Har”symbolizes “Lord Shiva” & “ela” symbolizes “Goddess Parvathi”
It is a folk festival celebrated on the Kark Sankranti of the Hindu calendar month of Shravan in Uttarakhand & some regions of Himachal Pradesh. In Kangra, Shimla & Sirmour it is known as Hariyali & Rihyali. Meanwhile, in Jubbal & Kinnaur it is known as Dakhrain. Moreover, similar to Navratri.Apart from Chaitra Navratri & Sharad Navratri (Ashwin Navratri), it is considered as the third Navratri.Ten days before the arrival of Shravan month people start sowing 7-9 different types of seeds in a basket or a bucket. This is followed by the cutting & distribution of the newly grown-up bales among family members. As a sign of blessings & good wishes from relatives & neighbors.
Belief and motive behind Harela:
It is highly auspicious for agriculture-based communities. Farmers pray for a good harvest & prosperity. Harela means ‘Day of Green’ and marks the beginning of the sowing cycle. Thus, symbolizing the onset of the monsoon. In Rigveda, it is mentioned to promote agriculture, afforestation & enthusiasm among people. It simply generates a feeling of expressing our gratitude to mother nature. Hence, conserving it by plantation & worshiping vegetation (harvest mainly).
In ancient times, when scientific instruments weren’t there to measure the fertility of the soil, people used this to know the fertility. People take agricultural soil in a basket and sow 7-9 different types of seeds. Within 10 days if the bales grow greener & healthier then the soil is considered to be fertile. Thus, a good yield of grains is expected to be produced.
Custom Celebration :
Ten days before Sharavan, local people take soil from farming fields. This is followed by the sowing of different types of seeds. Regularly watered and taken care of. People worship Goddess Parvathi on Dikar Pujan ”. On the next day, head of the family cut down the bales & wear them on the ears and head. Females of the family take the Harela and make it touch from feet, body, and on way to ears and head. While performing this they even enchant a traditional verse that means: be blessed, have a long life, symbolize this day again & again.
How traditional things have changed in the past years?
Folk festivals have their own importance and essence in a person’s life. But due to desertion and modernization people nowadays are giving more importance to the western fest. This is resulting in the loss of folk festivals which is a matter of concern. The new generation should be aware of their own culture & native traditions. Parents & elders of the family play a vital role in promoting native language, cuisine, traditional outfits, and folklores. At the same time, new-gen shouldn’t hesitate to adore their own native culture.