A cliche if you will - but often laced with snow - the year opens with a heady cocktail. Thousands of revellers head to celebrate the new year at Shimla, Chail, Manali and Dalhousie.
There is greater sobriety but no less joy, when Lohri or Maghi comes along in mid-January. This is the traditionary mid-winter day and also commemorates the last sowing of the Rabi crops. Community bonfires, folk songs and dancing mark the festival. In tribal Spiti, Dechhang is celebrated at the height of winter, while the Lahaul area reserves it for early April. Paonta Sahib is a major focus on Guru Gobind Singh's birthday. The town and other Gurudwaras close to it, are closely linked with the Guru's life.
On a mid night-towards the end of Paush (December-January), Phagli begins in Lahaul's Pattan valley with snow being packed in a conical basket-Mfa. This is upturned on a roof and resembles a Shivalinga. Shiva, Naga and the goddess Hadimaba are worshipped and the younger generation also mark it by venerating the village elders. Chhang and Lugari, locally brewed liquors, flow freely, and ritual dishes are eaten. Kinnaur's Sazi(or Sazo) also comes at around this time.