One other highlight of my recent trip to Himachal was the Dusheera mela in Kullu. Rustic and steeped in tradition, it was fantastically intriguing. Way back in mid 1600, the then Raja of Kullu brought back an idol of Ram from Ayodhya and established the Raghunathji temple in Kullu. From then on, every year on the dusheera day, the hundred odd villages in and around Kullu participate in the mela where they bring their village deity and assemble in the central ‘maidan’ to pay their respect to Raghunathji. What follows is a procession of all the deities led by Lord Raghunathji. All the village deities ‘sign’ attendance at Raghunathji temple before ‘they’ are allowed to take part in the parade. For the next one week all the deities are kept under ‘house arrest’ in a designated part of the ‘maidan’ before they are allowed to travel back to their native villages. Of course in the course of the week there are brawls among the villages as to whose deity is more ‘powerful’. Then the deities fight it out to establish supremacy. The police 'bandobast' was tight. Incidentally, HP has the highest percentage of hindus according to the last Census and ofcourse the current BJP govenment encourages participation.
We met travellers from near and far who had come to view the parade. A family from Tel Aviv with a tiny tot in tow, an old couple from Scotland, several families who had driven down from Delhi and a bunch of youngsters who were filming the festivities for Discovery.