India | Uttaranchal

Chaittol Fair

Chaittol is a major fair celebrated in the rural belts of Pithoragarh District in Uttaranchal. It is observed on the eight and ninth day of the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April). This fair is dedicated to a local deity called Deval Samet. Preceding this fair is special ritual called Bhitola (also called Bhetna), in which a brother gifts his sister with a present or a token amount.

On the auspicious occasion of Chaittol, a person is chosen for being the human medium to be possessed by the deity. This possessed person is given the status of the deity and carried on a ‘dola’ (palanquin) in a procession. Other items carried in the procession include a ‘nissan’ (religious symbol), golden ‘janevo’ (holy thread), ‘morpankh’ (peacock feathers), tails of the ‘chanwar gay’ (holy cow), silver ‘dhagula’ (bracelets), ‘chunni’(a length of cloth), traditional costumes and a length of rope. The rope is meant for balancing the palanquin while traversing through the hilly terrains.

The person possessed by the deity is believed to have the ability to exorcise evil spirits using his brush, which is made using the hairs from the tail of a cow. In the trance state he dances in the Tandava Nritya style, which is a vigorous dance form attributed to Lord Shiva.

Accompanying the religious rites are various merry-making activities. The people attending the fair assemble for singing and dancing together to the beats of folk drums. This entertainment activity is known as ‘khel’ in the local slang.

Updated on 27th May, 2015
District: Pithoragarh


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