The La Darcha fair is a trade fair observed in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The fair is named after a mountainous village where traders, many from Tibet, have gathered for many decades to purvey their products and livestock.
The fair’s immense early success is directly attributable to the time-honoured cultural and commercial bonds between Himachalis and Tibetans. The 1962 China conflict, however, resulted in a cessation of the fair until it was revived in the 1980s. After its revival, the La Darcha fair quickly re-acquired its initial flair attracting thousands of regional traders, local inhabitants, and tourists. The sheer number of traders and participants recently compelled the fair’s organizers to relocate the venue to Kaza town, Lahaul and Spiti’s sub-provincial headquarters.
The La Darcha fair takes place during the third week of August every year and lasts for a fortnight. The fair fundamentally involves traders selling their wares and bartering their goods after hectic but genial haggling and negotiations. The goods encompass a gargantuan variety of items including traditional crafts, plastic goods, metalwork, jewellery, apparel and related accessories, utensils, furniture, dry fruits, grains, and even livestock – often yaks and pure-bred horses from Chumurthi (in Spiti). The goods also include several items produced by local inhabitants, who diligently utilize the harsh winter months to fashion excellent handmade crafts.
Besides the intense trading, there are many other attractions as well – horse races, traditional songs and dances (especially the ‘Chham’ and ‘Buchan’ from Spiti), archery competitions, special Buddhist sermons, large community meals – everything to keep the participants engaged and mirthful. The La Darcha truly transforms Kaza into a town bursting with fun, festivity, and – of course – fervour of the trading kind.