Halda Festival is celebrated in the Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh to usher in the New Year. The festival falls in the month of January and stretches on for a period of two days. It is dedicated to 'Shashikar Apa', the Goddess of Wealth in the Lamaistic Pantheon. The date of the actual celebration is decided by the Lamas. They also choose the site where members from every household collect lit cedar twigs to form a bonfire. Usually, Lahaul is covered with snow during this time of the year.
Some of the major attractions of the Halda Festival are family
gatherings, dancing and heady cocktails. The festival is considered to
be an occasion of private celebration and spending time with the family.
It is more popular in the valleys along Rivers Chandra and Bhaga. The
bonfire, which consists of few branches from every family, signifies the
unity of the community. After being lit, it is dispersed to the bonfires
at homes and community areas as good luck, happiness and hope.