Shimla: Almost a month
after the rest of India celebrated Diwali, some interior areas of
Himachal Pradesh are set to usher in the festival Friday,
slaughtering hundreds of animals in celebration, in keeping with
The mythical reason for the delayed Diwali, say locals, is that
the news of Lord Ram's victorious return to Ayodhya reached late
in these parts, Prem Parshad Pandit, member-secretary of the state
temples committee, told IANS.
The festival, locally known as Buddhi Diwali (or old Diwali), is
mainly celebrated in Ani and Nirmand in Kullu district, Shillai in
Sirmaur district, and Chopal in Shimla district.
The celebrations are spread from three days to a week, depending
on local traditions and custom. Festivities start on the first 'amavasya',
or new moon of the lunar half, after the regular Diwali.
People dance and sing folklore related to the epic Mahabharata
through the night in front of bonfires, amid the beating of drums
and playing of trumpets to appease the gods. They carry out
processions with the flame of the bonfire.
It's also associated with the Mahabharata battle which is said to
have started on the first day of Buddhi Diwali.
In Kullu district, the festival is celebrated to commemorate the
killing of the demons, Dano and Asur, who resided there in the
form of snakes. Hundreds of goats, sheep and buffaloes are
As per tradition, villagers take animals to a nearby temple where
the sacrificial ceremony is performed on 'amavasya'. The severed
heads are offered to the deities and the meat is taken home for
cooking. The feast is shared by villagers.
Pandit said there are certain local customs that the government
"The sacrificing of animals to appease gods has been followed for
decades. The government is educating the people to do away with
it. In some areas, people have stopped it, but it's more or less a
symbolic exercise," he added.
Octogenarian Leela Devi, a villager in Shillai area of Sirmaur,
said: "The animal sacrifice ensures protection of our crops and
livestock from natural calamities. We rear animals specially for
She said the feast prepared from the slaughtered animals is served
among the entire community. "Even the leftover meat is stored for
consumption during winter. Actually, the celebrations mark the
onset of a harsh winter."
The festival also has a brighter side. The locals clean their
houses, purchase utensils, bangles and clothes and cook special
However, animal protection groups have demanded that the practice
of animal killing be stopped.
A centuries-old Buddhist shrine, the Key monastery in Spiti Valley
in Lahaul and Spiti district, last year appealed to people to stop
slaughtering animals and be more humane to other species.
The monastery has even warned locals, mostly Buddhists, that if
they are caught slaughtering animals, including wild ones, or
drinking liquor, a fine of Rs.20,000 would be imposed on them.