Date : May 14 - 16, 2011
Venue : Hadimba Temple at Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Hadimba Temple in Manali, also known as Dhungri, is one of the most important temples in the region. This four-story wooden temple, supposed to be more than 500 years old, is located in the middle of a forest called the Dhungri Van Vihar. Hence, the name.
The temple, constructed in 1533, is dedicated to the demoness Hadimba. According to the Mahabharata, in their wanderings during their exile, Bhima, along with his family, had reached the territory of the demon Hadimb, who ruled these areas. Bhima fell in love with the king’s sister, Hadimba, and was forced to kill Hadimb in order to marry her. They lived together in the valley for about a year after which Bhima left Hadimba to go back to his mother and brothers.
Hadimba had a boy-child by Bhima who became a great warrior. Until the child, called Ghototkach, came of ruling age, Hadimba ruled the land wisely and righteously. When her warrior-son took over the mantle of king, she retired to the hills of the Dhungri forests for a life of austerity, meditation and prayer.
Hadimba was not forgotten by her people, even in her retirement. At the culmination of her tapas, the period of her life dedicated solely to spiritual growth, she acquired supernatural powers and began to be worshipped by her subjects. Soon they constructed a temple in pagoda style in her honour and she became Devi Hadimba – Goddess Hadimba. The temple enshrines not an idol but a foot-print of the goddess.
That was just the beginning of her evolution into a figure who was revered and worshipped by thousands in and around the region. Hadimba became the patron-deity of the Rajas of Kulu and the Tilak ceremony of every Raja of Kulu had to be carried out only with the permission of the goddess. After worshipping her, the royals used to sacrifice buffaloes to Hadimba.
The mela to celebrate Hadimba’s birthday is held from May 14 to16, in the forests. During the festival, there is much merry-making, music and dance among the devotees who intoxicate themselves with rice beer.
The annual fair held on the first of Savan commemorates the birthday of Raja Bahadur Singh - Bahadur Singh Re Jatar - who built the temple. The fair, which also celebrates the completion of the transplantation of paddy, is known as Saroohni.
There is another colourful, indigenous ceremony associated with the temple. Many of the lesser, local deities -Kartikswami of Simsa, Chhandal Rishi of Parsha, Shrishti Narayan of Aleo, Shriganh of Jagatsukh, Vishnu of Shajla, Maladevi of Sial and Sankh Narayan of Nasogi - are brought in procession by their followers to Dhungri. On the fourth day after, the fair shifts to the temple of Manu in the village Manali.