Where villagers hurl abuses to ward off evil spirits!

Kullu (Himachal Pradesh), Jan 1: It’s a festival of hurling choicest abuses at each other.

Old-timers say it’s a centuries old tradition that helps keep evil spirits at bay.

The Diyali festival was celebrated Tuesday night in Naggar village, known for Russian painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich’s estate and 25 km from this town, where the locals participated.

“More than 2,000 villagers took out processions in the village last night with flames lit on pine and deodar twigs,” local Sushil Sharma said.

According to tradition, the festival, which marks invoking gods amid the beating of drums and blowing of trumpets, is celebrated on the night of new moon ‘amavasya’ (moonless night of the dark fortnight of a lunar month) in the Poush month (Dec 16 to Jan 13).

It’s mainly celebrated in villages located in the picturesque Kullu Valley that are normally marooned in snow in winter.

As per the tradition, the first torch is lit at the Jagti Pat temple, located in Naggar village, the erstwhile capital of the Kullu rulers. From there, the locals take the flame lit on twigs to their village and home for lighting.

“The locals take out processions through the villages, carrying a man on a pole with sheep horns adorning his head. During the procession, they sing abusive phrases. The abuses help warding off evil spirits,” said octogenarian Dule Ram.

The womenfolk are barred to participate in the procession.

After the culmination of the procession at the Jagti Pat temple, the temple priest read out the forecast of the year ahead.

“Like Diwali, houses are cleaned and ‘puja’ is performed to mark Diyali festival. It also marks merrymaking and singing folksongs,” Ram added.

The flames lit on pine and deodar twigs would continue to light their houses for next two-three days, locals said.

The festival also sees purchase of utensils and clothes and cooking of special dishes.

IANS