HP prepares for 'dark' Diwali

 A month after the festival of lights, the Buddhi Diwali or dark Diwali that involves dancing around bonfires and animal sacrifices will be celebrated in parts of interior Himachal Pradesh from December 13.

Ani and Nirmand in Kullu district and Shillai in Sirmaur district, as also Chopal in Shimla district, have been associated with the unique festival for centuries.

The celebrations start on amavasya — the darkest night of a lunar month — and last for up to a week.

The Buddhi Diwali is celebrated one month after the actual festival as locals believe the news of Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya — which Diwali commemorates — reached them late, said Prem Parshad Pandit, member-secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Temples’ Committee.

The people dance and sing folklore related to the Mahabharata epic through the night in front of bonfires, amid the beating of drums and playing of trumpets, and consign the devil to the flames.

Processions are also taken out with flames lit from the bonfire in the village. Hundreds of goats and sheep are sacrificed to appease gods. In Kullu district, the festival is celebrated to commemorate the killing of demons Dano and Asur who resided there in the form of snakes.

The locals especially rear livestock throughout the year for the sacrifice to ensure round-the-year prosperity and protection of their crops from natural calamities.

“The tradition of celebrating Buddhi Diwali is also linked to the onset of harsh winter and end of the agriculture season,” said Baldev Chauhan, president of the Sirmaur Kalyan Manch.

Chanda Devi, a resident of Renuka area said the meat stored during the festival is consumed during the harsh winter months when outdoor activities stop.

In October, the court, acting on a petition, had sought public’s opinion on the practice.
“We are of the opinion that before any orders are passed, an opportunity must be given to all persons who want to oppose or support the petition," the court said, listing the matter for December 14.

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