Come March and the streets of Tanakpur, a sleepy town of eastern Terai region of Kumaon region, comes alive. Large groups of devotees shouting slogans of ‘Purnagiri Mata’ start gathering during the first fortnight of March and continue the trek to Annapurna hills, on the side of Kali river, to seek the blessings of Goddess Purnagiri.
The Purnagiri temple is 20 km from Tanakpur and is atop a hill at a height of 3,000 feet.
The Purnagiri mela begins on March 15 and continues till April 15 during the “Chaitra Navratras”. It is one of the biggest fairs of Kumaon region and the 16-km-long path between Tanakpur and Tunnas overflows with pilgrims from western UP, Haryana and Delhi.
After 1980, the fair got government attention and a metalled road up to Bharav temple was constructed, drinking water was made available at the mela spot and stairs erected up to the main temple. After these infrastructure facilities were added, the number of pilgrims have crossed the one-million mark.
The mela is jointly organised by zila panchayat, Champawat, and the district administration.
Earlier, the devotees used to have “darshan” of the goddess from 200m below the temple as it was situated on a sharp peak. But now, it has been connected by stairs.
In old days, the devotees used to reach the sanctum sanctorum by gripping the long grass there called “Babila”.
They would tie it aspiring the fulfilment of their wishes and after their wishes are fulfilled, they untie the knots.
The tradition continues but people nowadays tie a cotton cloth on a railing.
After having the darshan of Mata people visit the Siddhanth Temple in Brahmdev mandi a Nepali town adjacent to Tanakpur or in Mahendra Nagar Nepali city adjacent to the Banbasa.