Villagers of Raithal in Uttarkashi district, have started preparations for the annual Butter Festival. This year the unique festival, hosted in the high altitude meadow of Dayara Bugyal, will take place on 3 September. Raithal village youths have launched an online campaign on social media to create awareness about this unusual festival. They have formed a 'Friends of Nature' group and are committed to make the festival an enchanting tourism event.
The Butter Festival, locally known as 'Anduri', offers the visitors a rare opportunity to play Holi with butter, milk and buttermilk on the lush green high altitude meadow. It is possibly the only festival of its kind in the world. Traditionally the festival was celebrated in mid-August, but as heavy rainfall take place during that period the local people have decided to alter the date for ensuring participation of tourists.
It is a once in-a-lifetime experience to play Holi with milk products at an altitude of 3,048 metres, with the lush green meadow forming a backdrop. Pankaj Kushwal, a member of Friends of Nature group says, "We were forced to shift the traditional date as in August heavy rainfall damages road. In the past, tourists often had to return without attending the festival due to roadblocks. The villagers have approved the shift and we have started celebrating it in September from last year."
Anduri Utsav is held every year to thank Lord Krishna for protecting the cattle from evil forces while they were grazing in the open meadows of Dayara. It is also celebrated to mark the occasion of Lord Krishna's lifting the Govardhan Pravat to crush the ego of Indra (the rain god). The festival is associated with the practice of villagers moving to higher altitudes during summer. For four long months, Raithal villagers move with their cattle to high altitudes for pasture.
When winter approaches and it's time for them to leave the grasslands, the villagers celebrate Anduri to express their gratitude to the Mother Earth. People of the villages around Raithal travel to Dayara carrying home-made butter and buttermilk. They smear butter and throw butter milk on each other to celebrate this unique festival of Uttarakhand Himalayas.