The Pori festival is an exceedingly lively and popular festival celebrated across the whole of Himachal Pradesh, particularly in the Lahaul and Spiti region. Pori takes place from July to August annually, just after spring and during the monsoon, and lasts for many days. The festival is mainly observed by rural folk and commemorates four essential aspects – the bountiful season; the commencement of sacred events; the everlasting camaraderie between Himachal’s discrete rural communities; and Lord Trilokinath – the venerable local deity.
The Pori festival invariably involves a grand fair where innumerable men, women, and children gather to dance, sing, play games, perform street plays, and commune with one another. Truly – during this period – the entire region becomes a potpourri of vibrant outfits, colorful accessories, folk music, and infectious merriment.
After the festivities, more solemn rituals take over with the teeming devotees fervently praying to Lord Trilokinath at local temples. The rites also involve an idol of the deity being showered and cleansed in milk and curds. Then, the devotees form local bands performing religious tunes and hymns devoted to Lord Trilokinath. The bands utilize an array of instruments to heighten the mood - from drums to conch shells and from cymbals to bugles. Later, a sizeable unified procession is led out on to the streets complete with a horse-drawn carriage, carrying the deity’s idol, leading the way. Onlookers and passers-by bow before the horse and pay their respects to Lord Trilokinath. Next, the procession winds its way to the home of the particular province’s most respected patriarch. Here the horse is nourished, bathed, and made to rest. After the horse is refreshed, the provincial patriarch rides the horse out on to the streets with his followers in tow. Together, they purchase apparel, provisions, and sweets and disseminate the same to the poor and needy.
The lighting of the ceremonial butter lamp is also an integral part of the Pori festival. In this, a butter lamp is lit at the commencement of the festival and sustained by continually adding butter till the festival’s end. This round-the-clock butter incandescence is believed to bestow immense fortune and good wishes. Finally, upon the festival’s completion, the ultimate rites are performed and colourful slivers of cloth are distributed – seen as blessings of Lord Trilokinath himself.