of Kullu and Mandi fashion a large number of Devi and Shiva masks.
These masks are locally called Mohra. These highly revered masks
are restored in temples of the local deities and taken out in
processions during local fairs
and other sacred ceremonies.
On special occassions these masks are decorated with flowers
and are installed on a small chariot called 'Rath', with brilliant
cloths hanging around it. These colourful chariots of the deities
are carried by the devotees on their shoulders, followed by a
band of local musicians.
Mohras are characterized by the benign smiles on their faces,
crowned heads and third eye in the center of the forehead. Some
of the masks stand out for their classical perfection while majority
of these belong to the rural tradition.
The Mohras are generally made of copper and brass. Ashthadhatu,
an alloy of eight metals is also used in making Mohras. These
eight metals are Gold, Silver, Brass, Iron, Tin, Mercury, Copper,
and Zinc. The skills of casting, ornamenting, and engraving are
required in making Mohras.
Mohras along with the other excellent artpieces made of metals
follow a rich tradition of metal crafts in Kullu and its surrounding
provinces. The dexterous smiths of Kullu have cherished their
skill through generations. They make these masks in their traditional
smithies with a hearth and tools blackened by the smoke.
The significance of the Mohras has not diminished with the passage
of time. These are taken in procession to the festivals by local
people with same faith.
During Dussehra festival
of Kullu, around 300 deities assemble in Dhalpur Maidan to pay
their homage to Raghunath Ji, the chief deity of the Valley. During
their combined procession one can have a look of countless number
of smiling Mohras on the chariots. These chariots move harmoniously
with the tumult of divine tunes played by the local musicians
following their deities.