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Harela is a Hindu festival celebrated annually on July 16 in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand — a festival of peace, prosperity, greenery, and environmental protection. It coincides with the religious celebration of the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Harela marks the onset of the rainy season (monsoon) and is considered favorable by farmers as it is the beginning of the sowing cycle in their fields. People in the Kumaon region associate greenery with prosperity. So, on Harela, people are encouraged to plant saplings to maintain vegetation on the earth.

History of Harela

At the festival of Harela, which is mostly observed in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand and some areas of Himachal Pradesh, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are honored. Harela, which means “Day of Green,” represents the new harvest brought on by the rainy season. It takes place in the Shravan month of the Hindu calendar. In many locations, Harela is known by various names. It is observed as Mol-Sankranti or Rai-Sagrān in some areas of Garhwal, Uttarakhand. It is referred to as Hariyali/Rihyali in the Himachal Pradesh regions of Kangra, Shimla, and Sirmour, and as Dakhrain in Jubbal and Kinnaur.

The head of every family sows five to seven types of seeds in bowls made of leaves or hill bamboo baskets 10 days before the festival and waters them every day. One day before Harela, people make clay statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, known as Dikare or Dikars, and worship them. On the day of Harela, the shoots of those sown seeds start appearing. People then celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and seek their blessings for the following harvest season. And they prepare for the sowing of the seeds.

In Garhwal and Himachal Pradesh, people take their village deity to open ground for collective prayers and celebrations. In Garhwal, there is a tradition in which an individual, a family, or a community plants saplings on Harela. And Harela is meant to connect people with nature as well as the environment. Since environmental protection has been in the culture of Uttarakhand, planting saplings annually on Harela is a significant step towards protecting the environment. It’s also a way to celebrate what nature has provided for the people.

Harela timeline

9000 B.C.
Indian Agriculture

Indian agriculture begins in northwest India with the early cultivation of plants.

1500—500 B.C.
Vedic Period

The Vedic culture develops in India, resulting in the emergence of Hinduism.

2nd Century B.C.
Shaivism

The Kunindas practice an early form of Shaivism.

7th Century A.D.
Kumaon Kingdom

The Kumaon Kingdom is established.

Harela FAQs

What is the harvest festival of Uttarakhand?

Phool Dei is the harvest festival of Uttarakhand, celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Chaitra (March — April).

What is the culture of Uttarakhand?

Folk dance, music, and festivals are a big part of Uttarakhand culture.

What is the Uttarakhand state flower?

The Saussurea Obvallata is the state flower of Uttarakhand.

How to Observe Harela

  1. Plant saplings

    Participate in planting saplings to celebrate Harela. By doing so, you contribute to protecting the environment.

  2. Give money to kids

    Harela is a happy day not only for adults but also for kids. Give some money to your kids, nieces, or nephews to celebrate Harela, as they’re probably expecting it to fill their pockets.

  3. Plant some seeds

    If you live outside Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh but are interested in Harela, you can also celebrate it. Plant some seeds as a symbol of environmental protection.

5 Facts About Uttarakhand You Need To Know

  1. It’s home to two world heritage sites

    There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Uttarakhand: Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park.

  2. It houses India’s oldest national park

    The Jim Corbett National Park was the first national park in India, in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand.

  3. Its second official language is Sanskrit

    Uttarakhand was the first Indian state to have Sanskrit as its second official language.

  4. Yoga Capital of the World

    Rishikesh is a city in the Dehradun district of Uttarakhand known as the “Yoga Capital of the World.”

  5. It’s the origin of Ganga and Yamuna

    The Ganga and Yamuna, two of India’s most revered rivers, originate from Uttarakhand.

Why Harela is Important

  1. To protect the environment

    Nature is essential for people. Harela is celebrated not only to worship the gods but also to plant so that we can maintain the earth’s vegetation. It’s worth celebrating.

  2. To pray

    For believers, a god is one in whom they put their trust and hope. Harela is an example of when people put their hope in the gods, praying for a good harvest and prosperity.

  3. To connect with nature

    We all need some time to connect with nature, especially after our busy schedules. Planting can be relaxing and relieving.

Harela dates

YearDateDay
2023July 16Sunday
2024July 16Tuesday
2025July 16Wednesday
2026July 16Thursday
2027July 16Friday

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