Dhungri Mela: Manali Hadimba Temple Festival Photos

  • 01 of 09

    Path to Hadimba Temple

    Path to Hadimba Temple
    ••• Path to Hadimba Temple in Dhungiri forest near Manali, in Himachal Pradesh. Sharell Cook.


    Every May in Manali, in Himachal Pradesh, a large festival takes place at the Hadimba Temple in Dhungri forest in celebration of the Goddess Hadimba's birthday. The temple, a four-tiered pagoda, was built in 1553 and has a facade of wood carvings. It's one of the most important temples in the area and the festival attracts people from all over the region.

    Each village has its own gods and goddesses, and these are dressed up by the villagers and carried in procession to the festival to join in the celebrations. Beats of traditional music fill the air and accompany the procession.

    At the temple, local artists also perform the Kulu Natti folk dance. The festival involves much singing and dancing, which continues on for days as the gods make their way around various temples in Manali. It provides an interesting glimpse of local culture.

    Hadimba Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Hadimba. She was the wife of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas brothers from the great Hindu epic the Mahabha...MORErata. Crowds of people come to Hadimba Temple to pay respect to the Goddess, who is being celebrated at the festival.

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  • 02 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Audience

    Hadimba temple audience.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    The colorful audience from all over the region waits eagerly for the celebrations to begin in the arena where the festivities will happen.

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  • 03 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Snacks

    Hadimba festival snacks.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    The festival environment is like that of a carnival, with food vendors and amusement rides. Here is one vendor selling snacks.

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  • 04 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Gods

    Hadimba temple gods.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    The Gods sit in their specially carved wooden raths (chariots) swathed in fancy silk and garlands. Amid a sea of people, the Gods will soon be unveiled and paraded around.

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  • 05 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Gods Unveiled

    Gods and goddessees at Hadimba temple.
    ••• Gods and goddessees at the mela. Sharell Cook.

    The Gods, now uncovered, are waiting to be paraded around. They're lined up in full splendor with their silver face masks glinting. The raths are quite heavy and their high center of gravity causes them to wobble from side to side as they're carried. Despite this, the carriers apparently don't get tired because the Gods' powers are believed to propel the raths forward.

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  • 06 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Parade

    Hadimba temple festival parade.
    ••• Gods being paraded around at the Hadimba Temple Festival. Sharell Cook.

    The Gods are erratically carried around, accompanied by the noisy trumpeting of the musicians. The raths lurch wildly, sometimes heading straight into the crowd and chasing people. It's an energetic and chaotic scene.

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  • 07 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Musicians

    Hadimba temple musicians.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    Musicians sit around in a circle and play for the dancing of the Kullu Natti folk dance.

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  • 08 of 09

    Hadimba Temple Festival Dance

    Hadimba temple festival dance.
    ••• Sharell Cook.

    Local artists perform the Kullu Natti folk dance. The dancers of the Kullu Natti link arms and sway to rhythmic beats of a band. They all wear traditional, swirling tunics and decorated caps.

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  • 09 of 09

    More Dancing of the Kullu Natti

    More dancing at Hadimba temple.
    ••• Another group of artists dancing the Kulu Natti. Sharell Cook.

    The Kullu Natti folk dance can continue on for hours with groups of dancers performing it.