Syalde Bikhauti Mela
The Syalde - Bikhauti Mela is held in a small town of Dwarahat in Kumaon. Dwarahat is at a distance of about about 64 kms from the town of Ranikhet (28 kms from Almora). This archaeologically and traditionally important town is famous for the illustrious Dronagiri temple. Dwarahat was once the capital of erstwhile Katuyari clan of Kumaon. Apart from the Dronagiri temple, clusters of more than four dozen beautifully carved and sculptured temples are scattered in Dwarahat – dedicated to Mrityunjaya, Dhwaj, Badrinath, Maniyan, and Kachri.
The fair is held every year in the month of vaisakh. The fair commences with the beginning of the Hindu New year. The fair is held in two phases. The first one is held on the last day of the month of Chaitra at the Vimandeshwar temple of Lord Shiva, located eight kilometers from Dwarahat, while the other is held on the first day of Vaisakh at Dwarahat market. The preparations for the fair begin a month in advance in many surrounding villages. Singing of traditional Jhoda songs begins at the houses of the village chiefs.
On the last night of the month of Chaitra, people from three different groups of people from adjoining area, gather at the temple complex after having traversed a fixed route in the dark, dancing, singing carrying their traditional flags. After taking the customary dip in the river, the troupes of folk dancers take over the scenario. The Vishuwat Sankranti is colloquially known as Bikhauti and hence the name of the Mela. The holy dip taken at this occasion is taken equivalent to the bath taken during the Uttarayani or Kumbh. The Mela is visited mostly by people of the Almora District.
The various traditions attached to this Mela are still intact and the cultural convergence of all folk art-forms, makes it a memorable experience for both the locals and the visitors alike.
The Mela once used to be a hub of economic activity earlier but after the highly improved transportation network having come into existence, it is predominantly a cultural event. Despite the gradual diminishing of traditional values, the Mela has successfully been able to hold on to its cultural richness.