The land of Uttarakhand is known for numerous fairs and festivals. All the festivals celebrated here have an immense deal of ceremonial grace and magnificence. Both the festivals of Phool Dei and Olgia/ Ghee Sankranti have a relation with nature and people pray for abundant crops and general well being of their families. People sing, dance and prepare special ceremonial dishes to please gods and their palates.
Phool Dei is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra or in mid March (according to Gregorian calendar). On this day young girls carry out most of the rituals and they are the most eager participants. In some places though, this festival is like a carnival and the celebrations goes on throughout the month. This festival shows the advent of spring. Dei, a special ceremonial pudding made of Jaggery, white flour and curd is offered to the visitors. On Phool Dei young girls go to every house in their villages with plates full of rice, jaggery, coconut, green leaves and flowers.
They put forward their good wishes for the prosperity of the household and are given blessings and presents like sweets, fresh jaggery and money in return. In a few places even today they sprinkle auspicious flowers and rice on the doorsteps and sing:
Phool Dei, Chamma Dei
Deno Dwar, Bhur Bhakar
Vo Dei Sei Namashkar, Puje Dwar
Olgia / Ghee Sankranti
This festival is celebrated on the first day of the Bhado month of the Hindu lunar calendar. It is throughout this point in time that the yield is abundant and green and vegetables grow in profusion. It is regarded as a very significant festival of the farming community, celebrating this festival with much pageantry and showiness. A variety of agricultural tools are swapped on this day.
People put ghee (clarified butter) on their foreheads and eat special chapattis stuffed with ghee and ‘Urad Dal’ (a type of lentil). This festival is also celebrated by the people of Tripura who believe that walnuts become sweeter after this festival. In olden times the sons-in-law and nephews would give presents to fathers-in-law and maternal uncles respectively but these days this ritual is seldom followed.