The Fulaich (or Phulaich) festival is observed in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated every September coinciding with the 16th day of Bhadrapada, the traditional Hindu calendar month. Fulaich, which is also known in the local Himachali language as Ookayand and Ukyam, is a significantly vibrant, eventful, and cheerful festival lasting for several days.
The festival celebrates the bountiful and blooming Kinnaur valley at that time of the year leading the festival to be dubbed as ‘The Festival of Flowers’. Therefore Fulaich usually commences with the Kinnaur inhabitants ascending to the hilly areas and gathering traditional Ladra flowers. Fulaich also seeks to acknowledge the continued blessings of local deities and people’s venerated ancestors, due to which ceremonial food and drink are liberally offered to the deities and the needy. Then the inhabitants assemble at the ritualistic “Dhangaspa” family abode to garland and pay their respects to their loved ones. Folk music and instruments are also played honouring all the venerated entities.
Typically, after the family offerings, people congregate in massive numbers in public squares and in the streets for the “Fulaich fair”. The highlight of this fair is a people’s procession occurring on the 20th of the Hindu month. Here, scores of people carry religious idols made of precious stones and invite the benedictions of passers-by. Other notable events of the Fulaich fair include folk dances, especially around ceremonial trees; an open-air theatrical performance involving menfolk sporting weapons and mimicking famous battle scenes; and a special “returning” ceremony on the 20th day in which all idols and deities are brought back to their respective shrines.
Fulaich is indeed a prominent festival and fair attended by thousands of local inhabitants and tourists alike.