An exquisitely Traditional Fashion show in Sangla

The second day of the #SanglaSummerFestival saw the venue buzzing activity and people. The events started early since there were several competitions lined up for the day (the different schools and ‘Mahila Mandals’ in in the valley were vying for top accolades). People from all the villages in the valley had come prepared to liven up the summer festival. In earlier days, the valley comprised seven villages: #Chitkul (the last Indian village before the India-China border), #Rakcham, #Badseri, #Sangla, #Kamru, #Chansu and #Saung); however, now it is a Tehsil and also includes #Brua, #Sapni, #Baturi, #Kanai and #Kilba.

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A traditional song and performance called ‘Kayang’. Photo: Abhinav Kaushal.

The school ground had stalls selling popcorn and other tit-bits apart from regular fare. Most of the people wore the #Kinnauri cap (#Thepang) and a woollen jacket. The weather was a bit odd – hazy, with the sun beaming down (making it quite hot) but the cold winds made it bearable to stand out in the sun.

The day began with a traditional #Kinnauri dance, with participants in bridal attire, dancing elegantly to the beats. The special event for the day was a Fashion Show, wherein children from different schools were competing in traditional dresses worn during a #Kinnauri marriage. Students dressed in full #Kinnauri attire marched onto the stage one after another displaying the various garments and ornaments worn by men and women during a marriage. The girls were completely laden with jewellery to the extent that only their chin and mouth could be seen, while the rest of the face was covered with ornaments made of silver. A traditional hat rested on the head, while a woollen shawl was draped around the body and held by a silver ornament – very much like a cloak. While most of the ornaments were made of silver, gold also had some say in the matter. I sat mesmerised (like the rest of the audience) by the exquisite beauty and graceful movements.

Next up were the different traditional dances performed to old songs related to Kinnauri folklore and these were captivating as well. Meanwhile, a buffet had been setup in a corner tent, and people enjoyed the vegetarian fare with relish. Sangla cuisine includes meat and vegetables as a matter of regular diet, however, the Summer Festival fare was vegetarian.

Later I spent time exploring the various stalls at the festival. At one of the stalls, personnel from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had displayed mountaineering gear and weapons – this naturally caught my eye since I love climbing. As the day progressed the festivities continued with songs, dances and solo performances by local youth, and the day’s festivities concluded with a Nepalese dance by local school girls.

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School-children performing to a Nepalese song; Photo: Abhinav Kaushal.

The entire festival was a different experience for me, very different from the events and festivals I am used to seeing in the city of #Shimla, the capital of #HimachalPradesh. The more I travel in these mountains that are my home, the more I learn, and the more I feel blessed that we are a land of so many different peoples, and cultures and traditions … and that I get to travel and live in all these places and experience life in its different hues.

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