Minjar Mela, Chamba
Chamba is a unique land in itself. Be it the mighty Ravi flowing silently by the edges of the town or the clutter of Chowgan, the town is sure to enchant you with its mystique cultural vibrancy. In this holy land is celebrated the much acclaimed fair of Minjar which has now been granted the status of an international fair.
The history of Minjar Mela lies in the roots of this ancient town which incidentally completed its thousand years of existence recently. This fair is therefore celebrated as a commemoration of victory of King of Chamba over Trigarta or Kangra as it is known. This incident happened in the year 935 AD and when the king returned victorious, the king was greeted with maize and paddy sherfs. This symbolized peace and happiness and thereafter the fair is celebrated every year in the month of August. The festivities in Minjar continue for a week and in which traditional offerings including one rupee coin, some seasonal fruit and a Minjar is offered to the deity. This Minjar is made from paddy sherfs and has golden silk wrapped in red cloth.
Old rituals- The traditional way in which Minjar fair was celebrated in earlier times has now changed, some for the fear of law and some owing to the new generation not adhering to old rituals. In earlier days, a buffalo was sacrificed on the edges of Ravi. If the buffalo drowned in the river, it was considered a good sign. If it swam back to safety, this was also considered a safe omen but if it swam back to the same location from where it was offered to deity, it was considered a bad omen.
An interesting story goes out with the history of Minjar fair. It is said that in the earlier days, the Ravi River used to flow near the present Hari rai temple. The raja Sahil Verman requested a sage to offer prayers to the deity to change the course of river so that devotees could offer prayer regularly in the temple. The sage prayed for a week and also weaved a long cord which was made from paddy shoots. This was the original Minjar and the course of the river changed thereafter.
Minjar Fair is celebrated at a time when paddy and maize shoots come out from the soil. To this day also, old people who visit Minjar fair carry the traditional symbol of Minjar with them. This Minjar consists of corncob which is essentially made from silk.
The idol of Lord Raghuvir is brought to the Chowgan on the first day of Minjar fair. This idol is brought in chariot which is pulled by ropes. The whole atmosphere bears a festive look since the idol is accompanied by over 200 local deities. The festivities continue for over a week with musical performances by local artists being a crowd puller.
On the final day of Minjar fair a procession from Chandi Palace to Ravi river is taken out and offerings are made on the river banks.