Uttarakhand's Celebrated Hiljatra Dance to Feature in Republic Day Parade

    Prem Prakash Upadhyay
    January9/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Uttarakhand’s Vibrant Tapestry: Hiljatra Dance at Republic Day Parade Showcases Cultural Richness

    Hiljatra mask dance

    Pithoragarh (The Hawk): The vibrant and cultural tapestry of Uttarakhand will once again be on display at the Republic Day parade on January 26, with the inclusion of the renowned Hiljatra mask dance from Pithoragarh. This follows the successful presentation of the Chhaliya dance at last year's parade. An eight-member team from the Bhava Raga Taal Natya Academy in Pithoragarh has arrived in Delhi to prepare for the event, led by director Kailash Kumar and featuring notable artists such as Simran Digari, Preeti Rawat, Tanuja Goswami, Aarti Gadiya, Sapna, Priya, Sheetal, and Kumkum Arya.

    Hiljatra, symbolizing faith, belief, and adventure, is a key folk festival in Kumaon. Centered around 'Lakhiya Bhoot', a representation of Veerbhadra, an incarnation of Lord Shiva, the dance is a highlight in many Pithoragarh villages. Celebrated in the rainy season, the festival's name, meaning 'festival of mud', links to its traditional timing. The masks, once gifted by the Nepalese king, add to the dance's allure.

    This folk dance features an array of characters, from fishermen smoking hookah pipes to various types of bulls, deer, and musicians playing traditional instruments like drums, hudka, majira, khartal, and bells. Dancers adorn khukuris at their waists and perform alongside women artists, creating a mesmerizing display. The mock paddy planting and portrayal of agricultural life in the mountains add depth to this agricultural festival.

    In an age where cultural detachment is common, the people of Sorghati, Pithoragarh's commitment to their heritage stands out, offering inspiration nationwide. The women's team will showcase the Hiljatra dance in collaboration with the Central Sangeet Natak Academy, New Delhi, and the North Central Cultural Center, Prayagraj. The excitement among the artists is palpable as they prepare to bring this unique aspect of their culture to a national audience.

    —Input from Prem Prakash Upadhyay natural, Pithoragarh