The Uttarakhand Association of New Zealand celebrated the traditional Harela festival of the widely observed in the Uttarakhand state in India at Curry Leaf restaurant in Kumeu on Sunday, July 22.

The festival is celebrated to welcome the new harvest and the union of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati.

The tradition of Harela celebration starts with sowing the seeds of five or seven different types of grains such as maize, mustard, gram, barley, wheat, rice and soybean mixed in a pot called ‘chauk’.

This pot is then kept inside a dark room and sprinkled with water every day. During this festival, the idols of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati are prepared for worshipping by the women in the community. Unknown to many, Harela is also celebrated in Nepal as one of their many festivals.

“The Harela festival celebration here will encourage all the Uttarakhandis in New Zealand to develop a deeper understanding of the traditions of Uttrakhand state,” Lala Bhatt from UANZ told The Indian Weekender.

“The whole idea is to celebrate the festival every year and encourage people to celebrate it at home as well,” Anju Joshi from UANZ said.

“Next year we will also encourage people to plant saplings in Auckland as Harela as it is also considered an eco-friendly festival,” UANZ member Reema Pant enthusiastically added.

The Uttarakhand Government officially declared Harela as an important State festival of Uttarakhand state. The government is also encouraging people to plant saplings at the onset of the monsoon in India.