Nanda devi Festival
The Naina Devi temple is situated atop Naina hillock in Nainital. Thousands of pilgrims gather here every year around September to worship Goddess Parvati.Legend is that Sati, another name of goddess Parvati and wife of Lord Shiva, jumped into the sacrificial bonfire. To mourn the death of his beloved wife, Lord Shiva carried the body across the country. Parts of her body fell at various places which became sacred worship places for the Hindus. The temple here is said to have been built on the precise spot where Sati’s eyes had fallen.The picturesque blue green Naini lake located near the temple is said to be the eyes of Sati.Though the temple is named after Naina Devi (another name for Sati), the biggest social occasion here is the festival held in honour of Nanda Devi, the patron goddess of Kumaon hills and a local princess Sunanda Devi. The original Naina Devi temple was destroyed in a landslide in 1880 and then rebuilt. Nanda Devi Mela is a fair of great religious and cultural significance.
“As far as I know, it is an ancient festival. People come from afar from Delhi, Lucknow including all corners of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand. Devotees from remote villages and faraway towns came here this year,” said the chief priest of the temple.
Traditional dance and singing programmes mark the celebrations during the eight days. Every year artistes from various mountainous areas come here to participate in the dance festival
The festival is celebrated in September all around Kumaon with fairs and processions, with Almora, Nainital, Dandidhara, Munsyari, Ranikhet and Nauti being the major centers. In Nainital, this festival is held in the Naina Devi Temple complex, and devotees from around the town and nearby villages throng the site to partake in the celebrations. At this time of the year the temple comes alive with colorful decorations – with the incessant chanting of hymns and the fragrance of burning incense adding to its divine atmosphere.