17-01-2018, 1202 hours, Kamru, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, India:
I seem to have timed my visit to Sangla at an opportune time (unknowingly!) Last weekend was Makar Sankranti or ‘Sazzo’ as it is called in these parts. It was a big day for the people of the Kamru and Sangla villages since both the deities (namely Badri Vishal ji or Badrinath ji and Kalam Singh Raje) were taken to the temple inside Kamru Fort where they will reside for the next 2-3 months. The villagers woke up around 0230 hours in the morning to prepare halwa and puri (polay). A lamp was also lit (after preparing the prasad) and it was then kept along with the halwa, puri and ‘Moodi’ (consisting of cereal and dry fruits) near the temple in every house. People also prepared various other items such as pumpkin, Chilta (roti made of barley), Paithang (dal made of local dried peas), Tispolay (deep fried barley shaped somewhat like a jalebi) and local potatoes roasted in fire to name a few.
Then, in the morning, people gathered at the temple where the idols are split up and placed inside different boxes which are carried on the backs by a few people while some lead playing local instruments and holding various ornamental Staffs in hand. Others followed the procession as it moved towards the fort which is 200-300 mts away from the temple. The idols were then taken inside the fort as people collected some ghee and ‘Chulli oil’ or apricot oil for the ‘Faguli or Phaguli’ festival which will be held in February or March depending upon the Vikrami calendar.
The ladies then started singing and dancing in a semi- circle joined by the men and youngsters of the village rejoicing at the occasion. After the festivities, everybody departed to their respective homes to have food with their families.
In the evening the people again came together at the temple (Santhang) where they danced and rejoiced. The festivities will continue for the next 8 days where everybody gathers in the temple in the evening to celebrate. These festivities are an integral part of the people’s life here and help in forming and strengthening the bonds which unite them as a whole community.