Mussoorie : 9 August, 2015

Bagwaali is a festival celebrated in Garhwal division in the memory of warriors. It is also called Divali of Garhwal. It is celebrated in Jaunpur, Buda Kedar, Rawain, Dharasu, Dunda, Uttarkashi, Badkot, and the Sem Mukhem region one month after Divali.
There are different reasons for celebrating Bagwaali a month after Divali, says Surendar Pundir, an expert on Jaunpur culture and traditions. In Jaunpur, the festival is celebrated after farmers are free from harvesting and other agriculture chores. Bagwaali is also celebrated in the memory of Pandavas of Mahabharat epic 15 days after Divali.

According to a popular belief, Kunti, mother of Bheem, pleased with a Nagin (known as Sangchurni) asked her to seek a boon. Sangchurni asked Kunti to hand over Bheem to her. Kunti, left with no option, had to give Bheem to Sangchurni, who gobbles him up without difficulty and leaves for forest. However, Bheem returns unhurt within 15 days and since then villagers of the region celebrate the occasion (Bheem's homecoming) as Bagwaali. Another belief is related with Madho Singh Bhandari, who led Tehri Garhwal armies into Tibet around 1,600 AD.

Madho Singh Bhandari was a popular army chieftain of Garhwal and once he returned from the battlefield a month after Divali. The people of Garhwal, who admired him, did not celebrate Divali until he returned. When he came back, the villagers celebrated Divali as Bagwaali. The other reason for celebrating the festival is that Madho Singh sacrificed his son to the local deity, an incarnation of Goddess Durga, for getting water to flow through the tunnel, which he had built, from the Chandrabhaga river to his Maletha village, near Srinagar, in Pauri Garhwal.
Courtesy: The Tribune

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