The people from the Kumaon region of the state of Uttarakhand and in some parts of Himachal Pradesh celebrate a Hindu festival named Harela every year. The festival is celebrated thrice every year: while the first Harela of the year is celebrated during Chaitra Navrati, the second one is during Sharad Navratri in the month of Ashwin. The third one is Shravan Harela, which is being celebrated on July 16 this year.
The Shravan Harela, celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Shravan, marks the onset of the rainy season (Monsoon). In literal terms, Harela means "Day of Green". People from agriculture background consider it to be an auspicious day, as it is the day when they begin the sowing cycle in their fields. The festival is celebrated with prayers for good harvest and prosperity.
It is known by different names in different regions. While in Kangra, Shimla, and Sirmour regions of Himachal Pradesh, it is known as Hariyali or Rihyali, the Jubbal and Kinnaur areas of HP call it Dakhrain. To celebrate the festival for good harvest, people worship the village deity and dance to mark the auspicious day.
According to popular belief, the day marks the religious celebration of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s wedding. The village communities make clay idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. These are known as Dikare or Dikars.
To mark the celebration of Harela this year, people in Uttarakhand are requested by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to plant a sapling each. This year, the focus will be on the inclusion of medicinal plants in the plantation as an effort to take up the fight against COVID-19.