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Festivals of India

The Indian calendar is a long procession of festivals. If you can find yourself in the right place at the right time, it is possible to go through your visit with a festival each day. The harvest festivals of  the south, the immersion of Ganesh in Bombay, the Car Festival of Puri, Snake Boat races in Kerala, Republic Day in Delhi... every region, every  religion has something to celebrate. Below is a selection of the major ones.


Makar Sankranti -It's a time of great festivities throughout the nation with people taking a dip in the holy rivers and  seas. In Gujarat particularly, it is the time to witness and  extravaganza of Kite flying in what has become an International Kite  Festival.

Pongal   - mainly held in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. A 3-days  colourful Tamil harvest festival.

Republic Day - held on  26th January every year, this is a National holiday that commemorates the establishment of the Indian Republic in 1950. It's a grand military  parade and procession of colourful floats, dancers and so on.

VasantPanchami -  celebrated on a National level mainly in the Eastern region, it is a  Hindu festival dedicated to
Saraswati the Goddess of Learning. It  is marked by people wearing yellow coloured clothes.


Shivaratri - is celebrated on a National  level. It marks the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. It's a day of fasting for devout Hindus. Special  celebrations are held in Shiva temples throughout the country like  Chidambaram, Kalahasti, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Bombay.

Holi  - celebrated mainly in North India, this is a very popular festival of colours. It marks the advent of Spring. Lively and much throwing of  coloured water and powders marks this 2-day festival. This festival is also associated with legends of Lord Krishna.

Mardi  Gras - is a 3-day festival held in Goa. The main feature is the Carnival and the gaiety associated with it.

Ram  Navami -  celebrated at a National level, marks the birth of
Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the hero of the epic Ramayana. It's a 9-day festival of fasting and is marked by plays and folk  theaters.

Mahavira Jayanti - is a  National level festival that marks the birth of Mahavira the 24th
tirthankar (apostle) of the Jains and the founder of Jainism.

Good Friday / Easter - is celebrated at a National level.

Kumbha  Mela - the oldest and most important of the Hindu festivals. It takes place every  three years, at one of the four great holy cities - Nasik (Maharashtra),   Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh), Prayag or Allahabad and Haridwar (both in Uttar Pradesh). It is attended by millions of pilgrims who take a holy dip in the holy rivers.

APRIL         / MAY

Baisakhi - celebrated mostly in North India, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, this marks the Hindu Solar New Year.

Pooram  - celebrated in Trichur, in the State of Kerala, it marks the New Moon. The main feature of the festival is the spectacular sight of large number of elephants carrying ceremonial umbrellas going round the temple  and the midnight fireworks display.

Id-ul-Zuha - or Bakr-id is a Muslim festival  celebrated on a National level. It commemorates the martyrdom of Abraham  and is marked by the sacrifice of lambs.
d-ul-Fitr  - is a Muslim festival that marks the end of the month of Ramzan, a month long period of fasting.

Meenakshi  Kalyanam -  celebrated in Madurai, this festival marks the marriage of goddess
Meenakshi   (another name of goddess Parvati) with Lord Shiva. It is a colourful 10-day temple festival wherein the deities borne by colossal   chariot are taken out on a procession.

Urs  - celebrated at Ajmer in the State of Rajasthan is a 6-days religious  cultural and commercial extravaganza dedicated to a Sufi saint at the
Dargah Sharif.


Rath Yatra - celebrated mainly at Puri in the State of Orissa, is one of the greatest temple festivals in the  honour of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), a form of Vishnu. Three colossal chariots are drawn from the Jagannath temple by thousands of pilgrims. Similar festivals, on a smaller scale, take place at Ramnagar (near Varanasi), Serampore (near Calcutta) and Jagannathpur  near Ranchi).


Teej - celebrated in North India  particularly in Rajasthan, marks the onset of the monsoon. In Jaipur,   processions of elephants, camels, dancers etc are taken out. It is a colourful festival especially for women.

Raksha  Bandhan - is celebrated mostly in North and West India. It's a legendary reenactment of sisters tying colourful '
rakhis' (bracelets or talisman) on  their brother's wrists.

Amarnath  Yatra - is a Hindu pilgrimage journey that takes one to the Amarnath Cave in the  Lidder Valley of Kashmir at full moon. Pilgrims visit the place where  Lord Shiva explained the secret of salvation to his consort Parvati.

Independence Day -  celebrated on 15th August every year marks the day when India got her   Independence. It's marked by celebrations throughout the country. In  Delhi  the Prime Minister delivers his annual address to the nation at the  historic Red Fort.

Janmashtami - celebrated   nation wide marks the birth of Lord Krishna. It is a day of fasting, temple celebrations, plays and folk theatres and colourful floats  depicting the life and times of Lord Krishna.

Onam  - is a harvest festival of the State of Kerala. The main feature being  the spectacular snake boat races.

Ganesh  Chaturthi -  celebrated mainly in the states Maharashtra and Orissa, is dedicated to the elephant-headed God
Ganesh. Giant models of the deity are taken out in a procession and immersed in the sea or rivers. It is a  colourful festival and worth visiting on the Day of Immersion at Mumbai.


Dussehra - is a nation wide 10-day festival that is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country.    In the north and particularly in Delhi it is marked by plays known as Ram  Lila that recalls the life of Rama and the episodes of the Ramayana.  On the 10th day effigies of Ravana the king of Lanka are burnt amidst fireworks. In Kullu in the State of Himachal Pradesh, the festival is marked by a colourful fair. In Bengal and many parts of    Eastern India it is known as Durga Puja and on the 10th day idols of Goddess Durga are immersed in the  sea or the rivers.
In South India it is celebrated as
Navaratri (festival of 9-nights). Dolls in various forms of gods and goddesses are arranged in built-up step called golupadi. Women of all ages are invited for the pooja and small return gifts are given.
Durga Pooja - Durga, the warrior Goddess is worshipped in colourful Puja pandals and the  images are taken out in grand procession to the sea or rivers where they  are immersed amidst chanting and singing.

Diwali  - is a nation wide festival that comes after 20 days of Dussehra. It is one of the most lively and colourful festivals in India. In some parts of the country, it marks the start of the Hindu New Year. In Eastern  India, the goddess
Kali is particularly worshipped; elsewhere, it is Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity,  who is venerated. Everywhere there are magnificent illuminations and  fireworks.


Pushkar Mela - is an  annual Cattle Fair held at Pushkar in the State of Rajasthan. It's a  colourful fair attended by people from miles around. Camel races,  acrobatics and folkdance and music are some of its highlights.


Christmas - is a nation wide celebrated festival. It is most exuberantly celebrated in Goa, Bombay and South   India.

Note  - besides the above festivals there are hundreds of festivals and fairs, which are of regional significance, celebrated with equal pomp and  colour.
















































































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