Maund festival celebrated with fervour in Aglar Valley
MUSSOORIE/AGLAR, 28 June:
The shouts of Macchi! Macchi!(fish! fish!) heralded the fishing festival popularly called “Maund” in the Aglar Valley, 30 kms from Mussoorie as thousands gathered for the festivity. Nearly 300 kg of fish was caught in a day.
Fifteen sacks of “Timru” plant powder prepared by the villagers of Parogi was dumped in the Aglar rivulet to paralyse the fish and thousands waited for them downstream as prized catch to be taken home for a sumptuous meal. The fishing festival began from ‘Maujkot Patal ki Tal’ in which thousands of villagers from the several ‘Pattis’ participated with fervour. Earlier, a cultural programme was also presented on the occasion by women folk on the routé of the Aglar Rivulet.
Arun, aged 12 from “Got Gaon”, with his friends from the village was also on his way to the fishing festival. He said it was a festival when people danced, made merry and met old friends and relatives from various villages.
Kunwar Singh Chauhan, senior Congressman from “Senji’, who had brought some foreign guests said that this festival had a uniqueness about it, which is rooted in tribal traditions going way back to the times of Maharaja of Tehri. This was the day when the Maharaja visited the place to inaugurate the ‘Mela’ and the fishing festival. To see him in person and take the fish was a blessing. The festival falls immediately before the monsoons. Chauhan has been visiting this festival since childhood.
Govind Prasad from Laloor said that villagers from Silwar, Laloor and Panchgai, etc., have a system as part of which the Timru powder is prepared in turn. He also said that the Raja tried to stop the festival as it became a place for revenge taking among the villagers, but did not achieve success.
Ranbir of Kandi Khal displayed his prized possession, a ‘Baha’ fish, stating that it tasted best among the fish available. Bharat Negi of village Kharag Sari showed his basket stating that he was lucky to catch one kg of fish, otherwise this year due to lack of rains, the fish were fewer in the rivulet.
Mukesh of Kharag Suransu was elated to catch the longest fish called ‘Gouse” in local dialect. Shyam Singh, 75, of Jwarna village was also out for a day of fishing and said, “A day of fishing is worth a vacation at a hill station for a month.” He said that he was a child when he attended his first festival and, since then, he had never missed it even once.
Mukesh, a vendor selling sweets in the Mela area, said that the business was brisk as Pethas were selling like hot cakes.
Mussoorie Nagar Palika President OP Uniyal, who also joined in the festivities, congratulated people on such a unique festival and said that it ought to be incorporated in the tourism calendar of the state. After travelling 10 kms downstream, the fishing festival ended near the confluence of Aglar and Yamuna rivers, as many tired faces after a grueling fish hunt were seen boarding their vehicles back to their village in anticipation of another year.
It is important to note that the numbers of tourists are swelling every year to witness this fishing festival in the region, but the presence of the local population is on the decrease due to migration of the population from the villages. Another sad thing noticeable was that some villagers were using dynamite to catch the fish in utter violation of the tradition.