India, being a land of diversity and rich cultural heritage has many unique festivals. Several regional gala events exist in many states, provinces and villages. One such colourful festival of the beautiful hill-station Mussoorie, in Uttarakhand is Gheeya Sankranthi.
With a lot of pomp and splendour, people of Uttarakhand take pleasure in worshipping nature, participating in fairs and relishing the uniqueness of their regional identity during this festival.
Based on Georgian Calendar, Gheeya Sankranthi falls in the middle of August, every year. The exact date is the first day of Bhadon month according to Nanakshahi calendar (Punjabi calendar).
Gheeya Sankranthi is also called as Olgia. It is celebrated when the harvest is in full glory, vegetables are in abundance, land is full of lush greenery and the milch animals (cows and goats) are highly productive.
Festivities and traditions of Olgia
Olgia is a festival which fosters relationships between men belonging to a family. In olden times, sons-in-law and nephews of a family, on this day, would honour their fathers-in-law and maternal uncles with gifts. Even today, in many homes, this ritual is observed.
However, in the modern times, farmers offer gifts to owners of their agricultural land and the owners also honour the farmers. Some of the peculiar gifts which are traditionally exchanged are Binai (oral harp), datkhocha (metallic tooth pick), calipers, axes, ghee and vegetables. Ghee has a special place in ‘Gheeya Sankranti’. Everyone applies Ghee on their foreheads and the main sweet made on this day, is roti (chapattis) stuffed with black gram dal which is relished with ghee.
Olgia is truly a festival of land, harvest and fertility of soil. It is a tribute to Mother Earth for providing livelihood to us and for blessing us with food. A visit to Mussoorie or any other rural destination of Uttarakhand is the best way to enjoy the true flavour of this wonderful festival.