The Minjar Fair is held in Himachal Pradesh with great pomp and fanfare. Tourists throng the Chamba region at Himachal Pradesh during the Minjar Fair. It is a fiesta that brings into notice the rich cultural heritage of India. Numerous legends are associated with the Minjar Fair in Himachal Pradesh.
Celebrated in the honour of the victory of the Raja of Chamba over the ruler of Kangra, famous Minjar fair is organized in August. It is believed that people greeted their victorious king with sherfs of paddy and maize. People pray for a good harvest by thanking God and asking his blessings for a good yield.
Minjar fair is the most popular of all the fairs of Chamba but its origin is lost in the hoary past. According to the old traditions of the Chamba there are several stories prevalent regarding the origin of the Minjar fair.
When the Raja returned to Chamba after his victory over the Raja of Kangra, he was welcomed at the Nalhora Bridge, the gateway of Chamba by his subjects with maize or paddy flowers. Earlier there was a tradition that when the Raja of Chamba used to come back from the battle field after a victory he was offered some gifts by his people. But this time the Raja was offered maize flowers by his people who were working in the fields when the Raja came back from Bhattiyat side (the place which was on the way to his palace).
In these small states of the hills the mutual fights of the Rajas were very common and so were the celebrations. This rejoicing of the people by the offering Minjar flowers became a regular feature of celebration with the passage of the time. Rajas were jealous of each other and always used to remain at war. As the state income was not much, it was inevitable for the Rajas to charge various feudal levies.
The Raja carried maize flowers gifted by his people to his palace as something sacred instead of throwing them in the way. It is unfortunate that the actual dates of the above war between Raja Sahila Varman and the Raja of Kangra are not available, but this war was found economically beneficial as the Raja of Chamba got a huge amount from this war. To commemorate his victory at his capital, the Raja Sahila Varman ordered for festivities which most probably coincided with the fair as tentacles of maize grown during these days.
According to another legend, in the ancient period river Ravi flowed through the middle of Chaugan. On one side of the river was Champavati temple and on the other side was Hari Rai temple. A saint with divine powers who lived near Champavati temple used to swim across the river every day to pay his obeisance to Lord Hari Rai temple.
Since the flow of the Ravi River was very high it was difficult to cross it.The saint asked the people to assemble at the temple of Champavati with the assistance of some Brahmins from Banaras, the saint performed a yajna for seven days.
The saint lit the holy fire of yajna. The Brahmins prepared a magical cord of seven different colours amidst chanting of mantras.This magical cord became a symbol Minjar. The legend goes on to say that after seven days of yajna, the river changed its course of water. It is believed that the so called Minjar cord and the remains of the yajna were immersed into the river Ravi.
From this day onwards this yajna became the occasion of celebration every year in the form of Minjar fair.The legend may not be of any historical importance but still draws attention because of its association with river (water) and Minjar. Since then the Minjar is made in silken and golden threads in five or seven cords.
According to another legend, the Minjar Temple derives its name from the tale of the old woman who wished to meet the king of Chamba but she was so poor that she could not bring a nice gift for the king.
But she brought a Maize Flower called Minjar for the benevolent king and from here the name Minjar Fair emerged. The king was so delighted with the old woman that he declared that day to be feted as Minjar Fair.