The locals of a village near Jubbarhatti, nearly 20 kilometres from the capital of Himachal Pradesh, have organised a traditional festival to spread the message of environment conservation and to promote traditional and cultural values.
The two-day festival started here on Wednesday and is called "Naukhi Daali Ka Mela" (the festival of a unique branch). As part of the festival, the villagers offer prayers to an olive tree, which is a rare variety in the region. Locals believe that Lord Shiva resides in this tree.
"This is a 120-year-old traditional mela. It started after a priest had a dream of Narsingha Bhagwan (an avatar of Lord Shiva) telling him to establish a temple here at the 'Naukhi Daali' tree and organise an annual mela in his name one month from Diwali and Dooj," fair organiser Saligram Sharma told ANI on Wednesday.
The locals also appeal to those coming to the fair to protect trees to contribute to the environment.
The festival begins with the villagers performing prayers and the 'thoda', a traditional sport of bow and arrow. The fair is a blend of religious beliefs of the people and their love for the environment and the centuries-old sport of bow and arrow.
"The game of bow and arrow is very old. We have not let this tradition die out. We have also urged the people who have come to the festival to teach their children about the game," Sharma said.
The locals also perform traditional dances and sing local songs addressing the deity.
People from over 30 villages in Shimla and Solan districts gathered to take part in the festival. The organisers believe that it is important to preserve these traditional festivals.
"We have been organising this fair for many years than I can remember now. A few years ago, the mela was stopped for some reason. But we have restarted it now. This festival also sends out the message that we should preserve the environment," Om Prakash Sharma, priest of a local temple said.
The youngsters of the village also want to promote this centuries-old tradition and especially the sport of 'thoda'.
"The dance, traditional musical instruments, and the 'thoda' are the main attractions at this festival for people. We want to preserve these significant symbols of our culture," Ashok Kumar, a local youth said.
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