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Silence Prevails in Manali Hamlets to Appease Gods

She said even they stopped using the spade to clean the cow dung in cowsheds during the period of silence. "We will start pruning of apple trees after the 'devtas' (gods) return to the earth," she added

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New Year Destinations
Manali, Himachal Pradesh (Wikimedia Commans)

By Vishal Gulati

The sounds of silence in tiny picturesque hamlets currently marooned in a thick blanket of snow overlooking this Himachal Pradesh tourist resort can be heard loud and clear.

The deafening silence, which begins every year on Makar Sankranti (January 14) and continues till the end of the ‘Magh’ month, will be greeting the visitors. This time the silence will end on February 25.

The belief behind observing the 42-day silence is that the gods have returned to the heavens and are in deep meditation. Noise from the earth would disturb them. And if they get angry on being disturbed, it will bring misfortune for the people in the area, their crops and livestock.

“We have been following the practice of silence during the month of ‘Magh’ for centuries. During this period we stop listening to music, watching television and performing household chores and even agricultural work,” Shyam Thakur, a resident of Goshal village located on the outskirts of Manali in Kullu district, some 250 km from state capital Shimla, told IANS.

Even the villagers don’t allow visitors to make noise, he said, adding “we have inherited this practice of silence from our ancestors”.

Even mobiles and landline telephones are kept on silent mode.

A centuries old temple rebuilt in typical hill architecture dedicated to Gautam Rishi and Ved Vyas, as also serpent deity Kanchan Nag, located in Goshal village, four km from upper Manali, is also closed to the public every year on Makar Sankranti.

Legend has it that Gautam Rishi, the chief deity, had meditated where the temple is now located.

Gautam Rishi’s temple will be reopened when the deities return from their sojourn. During this period, no religious ceremony is performed in the temple.

As per tradition, the locals start their routine activities only when the deities return to the temple.

Silence prevails in Manali hamlets to appease gods, Pixabay

“On the first day of Magh, the deities returned to the heaven. Now they will return to the earth on ‘Fagli’ (February 25). During their sojourn, any activity on the earth will disturb them and earn their wrath,” temple priest Chaman Lal told IANS.

He said the temple was closed after spreading mud on the floor. It is believed that when the temple is reopened, and when a flower surfaces on the mud, it symbolises happiness for the villagers.

If charcoal appears, it indicates that the village is in store for a fire-related tragedy. Grain indicates a good harvest.

“A prediction will be announced when the temple is re-opened,” the priest said.

As per tradition, the locals start their routine activities only when the deities are back in the temple.

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The other villages where this tradition is followed include Solang, which is known for its ski slopes, Kothi, Burua, Majhach and Palchan.

But during silence, it is the social culture that blooms in these nine villages in the Ujhi Valley.

“By sitting in small groups, we devote most of our time in stitching clothes and knitting woollens,” local resident Chandani Thakur said.

She said even they stopped using the spade to clean the cow dung in cowsheds during the period of silence. “We will start pruning of apple trees after the ‘devtas’ (gods) return to the earth,” she added.

The picturesque Kullu valley is famous for demigods and ancient Shamanistic traditions that govern the lives of the ethnic communities. They are the 534 gods and goddesses of the Kullu valley who are said to be “alive”, says “A Reference Book on Kullu Devtas”, compiled by the local administration. (IANS)

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Himachal, the most wanted place to visit for New Year

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Himachal, the most wanted place to visit for New Year
Himachal, the most wanted place to visit for New Year. wikimedia commons

Shimla/Manali, December 30, 2017: Tens of thousands of holidaymakers started gathering across resorts in Himachal Pradesh on Saturday to bid goodbye to 2017. Mellow sunshine and no snowfall will greet them at most of the tourist destinations till next week though.

The most sought-after destinations were Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Kasauli, Chail, Dharamsala, Palampur, Dalhousie and Manali and the revellers have to be prepared to sleep out in cars overnight if they did not get hotel bookings in advance.

Most of the hotels have been sold out in advance, members of the hospitality industry warned.

“Our properties in Shimla, Chail, Kasauli, Dharamsala and Manali have been almost sold out for the last two days of this year.

“Overall, the response of the tourists is good,” Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) General Manager Vijay Sharma told IANS.

He said most of the guests have been enquiring about the possibility of snowfall on the New Year’s Eve.

Over 50,000 tourists were expected to visit the state to ring in New Year, tourism industry experts said.

The popular tourist town of Narkanda, some 65 km from Shimla, saw season’s first spell of snow in December but it melted within a few days.

Shimla, known for the imperial grandeur of buildings that were once institutions of power when it was the summer capital of British India, is yet to receive any snowfall.

Shimla’s meteorological office Director Manmohan Singh said the weather would largely remain dry with long sunny days in the state till January 4.

“The prominent hill stations have not experienced snow almost a fortnight now,” Singh told IANS.

The mountain peaks viewed from Shimla’s historic Ridge, Dharamsala and Palampur towns were wrapped in a thick white blanket of snow.

Manali is a magnet for holidaymakers these days owing to plentiful snow in its nearby hills.

“Nearby hills of Manali have been attracting the tourists owing to good accumulation of snow,” a Manali-based travel agent M.C. Thakur said.

Aanchal Khurana, a tourist from Delhi, said: “I prefer to travel to Shimla, especially during these days when the plains are foggy and chilly and the hills are basking in the sun.”

Himachal Pradesh has no tourist accommodations in far-off areas. Rural home-stays that started in 2008 were driving tourists to the interiors and that were the best option to stay.

At present, 807 home-stay units have been registered in the state. Out of these, 233 were in the Kullu-Manali region. Shimla district has 211 units, followed by Kangra 111.

The state’s economy is highly dependent on tourism, besides hydroelectric power and horticulture.

The state attracted 18.45 million tourists in 2016, which is 2.7 times its population, says the state’s Economic Survey 2016-17.

According to the report, the state has 2,604 hotels with a bed capacity of 70,869 registered with the tourism department. In addition, there are 787 home-stay units with a provision of 2,137 rooms. (IANS)