Festivals in India You Should Plan Your Trip Around
India is known as the Country of Festivals. This in itself showcases the glory of celebrations in the country. When it comes to festivals in India, all hostility is forgotten, and the joyous occasions dawn on people. Different castes and creeds come together during this time to be a part of the cheer.
Each trip to India has an unforgettable influence on the traveller, but adding a festival to the spread would create memories that would be cherished forever. Moreover, each of the festivals in India brings along a bundle of joy with them. Celebrations of Indian festivals have their own unique extravaganzas, each with soaring levels of zeal throughout the country.
Below listed are some of the festivals that we think you shouldn’t miss when planning to visit India.
Diwali in India
The festival of lights illuminates not only the streets and homes of the Indians but also the lives of all who witness it. The early winters bring Diwali, a five-day occasion that people across the country celebrate, to worship Goddess Lakshmi (the Indian deity of wealth).
The festivities include delicious preparations, crafting ‘Rangolis’, and vivid fireworks. ‘Rangolis’ are mandalas, painted on the ground. These are traditionally made using coloured salts.
Diwali signifies the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after he defeated the evil King Ravana. Celebrations of Diwali in India are spectacular and should not be missed! Also, because, you get a great taste of culture and religion too.
We recommend visiting the cities of Jaipur and Mumbai to experience all of what the festival has to offer, and more!
Diya (Photo Credit – Bhupendra Singh from Pixabay)
A cheerful occasion where people come together to celebrate. Holi is known for its vibrancy and cheerfulness. As with every Indian festival, Holi too has its significance. Once again, it marks the triumph of good over evil, Holi is based on the story of Prahalad.
The month of March hosts this joyous occasion. It is commenced by the burning of ‘Holika’ (a demon king’s sister), in a ceremonial fire. The next morning, however, is the day that brings friends and family together. Holi in India is celebrated by playing with colours and smearing it on dear ones.
The levels of brotherhood know no bounds when it comes to Holi in India. For the best Holi experience, we recommend visiting the urban cities. Mumbai, for a fun and quirky experience and cities in Rajasthan, like Jaipur or Udaipur, for a more cultural, traditional and royally festive experience.
For a wild, intense experience, the cities of Mathura or Pushkar can also be visited. But beware, the celebration in these towns tend to get harsh and aggressive, so it’s not an activity we recommend for women.
Holi (Photo Credit – Murtaza Ali from Pixabay)
Dussehra is a festival in India that is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over the evil demon King Ravana. An extremely interesting event, Dussehra is celebrated by the burning of models of Ravana. These statues, around 15 meters tall, are burnt to the ground, and various plays called ‘Ram-Leela’ are performed on the streets.
These are recitals of the story of Lord Rama, and how he overcame various obstacles in his life. Many different cities host spectacular shows, but some of the most invigorating displays of Dussehra in India are in the cities of Delhi and Varanasi. Filled with tradition and excitement, and one can truly live the experience in a Dussehra celebration.
Dussehra (Photo Credit – Tanuj Handa from Pixabay)
Durga Puja is one of the most hypnotising religious festivals one can experience. Based majorly in West Bengal, Durga Puja is celebrated in honour of the victory of Goddess Durga over a demon called ‘Mahishasura’. Festive air circles the city as the 10 days of Durga Puja inch closer.
Preparations for the festivities are endless, as people flood malls and streets to buy new clothes and other trinkets for themselves and their families. Once the festival commences, the people move around the city to worship the different idols and revel in the unique beauty that each place has to offer.
These idols are kept in places called ‘pandals’. Each one is ornately decorated with innovative concepts put together by the hosts. A key city to visit during this festival is Kolkata. The old capital of the country has its own charm, and the buzz during the festive season is unmatched by any other in the world.
One must stay until the end, as the last day is one of the most intriguing. Consequently, people bid farewell to their dear goddess as she is immersed in the waters of the holy river Ganges. Only to return the following year and bring back the enthusiasm of the upcoming festival with her.
Durga Puja (Photo Credit – Abhishek Shirali)
Ganesh Chaturthi is the pride of the Indians. Everyone comes together to celebrate the birthday of their dear and beloved Lord Ganesha (The Elephant God). It is celebrated in the early autumn season, just as the rains come to close. To visit during the festival would be culturally enriching and is something one must not miss.
With merrymaking and laughter, dance and music at its peak, the festival is truly a time to enjoy yourself. Lasting 10 days, the celebration, along with the devotion is a sight worth witnessing. The Ganesha idols are placed in ‘Pandals’. People from all across the country travel to catch sight of the breath-taking idols.
Each one has an appealing, creative idea with abundant decoration and ranging sizes. Some of the idols are as tall as 5-storey buildings, whereas others could be merely 15 inches in height. One of the most glorious cities to visit is Mumbai, with a huge diversity of idols, whereas the tallest idol in India resides in Hyderabad.
As with the Durga Puja, the immersion of the idols in water is a sight to see! Ganesh Chaturthi in India is definitely a festival you shouldn’t miss!
Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai (Photo Credit – Chabilleasy Mawa Unsplash)
Pushkar Camel festival
An exciting new aspect to a centuries-old trading fair is what made the Pushkar camel festival so invigorating! Set in a small village amidst the vast state of Rajasthan, the fair takes place in November. Occurring on a special day of the full moon, the festival is crucial for traders, and entertaining for travellers.
Traditionally, this event was to invite different camel and cattle breeders to trade their flock. However, the event has now evolved to become one of the most attracting and important festivals to visit in Rajasthan. Although it is meant for merchants to participate in business trades, the festival is always full of eager tourists.
As such, there are also many different forms of entertainment for them. There are puppet shows and dance shows, musical concerts and snake charmers all present in the fair. There are also competitions for the camels, such as fancy dress and camel dance competitions. Each event has something new to offer, and you will leave with memories to be cherished forever.
Camel race at the Pushkar Mela (Photo Credit – Jason Rufus)
Ziro Music Festival
The Ziro Music Festival is a one-of-a-kind music event for which people come together from all around the world. It is a good escape from the typical concert that is held in the city. This is held in the Ziro Valley close to Arunachal Pradesh.
Attendees stay intent is to take in the full experience; enjoying the fresh air and clear skies, while experiencing something unique and different at the concert. You can buy food and supplies from vendors at the festival. Generally held in late September, the music festival attracts large amounts of crowds and also some very talented artists.
People attending can bring their own tents or use the ones provided by the organisers. The Northeast of India has always been partial to Rock music, and as such, the Ziro Music Festival features various local bands that play rock music. For the non rock fans, don’t be disappointed as they play other genres too!
Travellers may choose to travel by road or by air, and the closest airport is Guwahati. However, it is necessary to make a small road trip to get there. Rest assured that if you choose to go, you will have a blast!
Zero Music Festivals (Photo Credit – Arun Katiyar)
The Kumbh Mela in India is an exotic display of the Indian culture, in its purest form. Featuring a religious procession and spiritual walks, the Kumbh Mela is an eccentric event that takes place in Ujjain, a town in Madhya Pradesh. Countless Indian ‘Sadhus’(saints) participate in the processions, as they make their way towards the river Ganges to ‘wash away their sins’.
During this time, many tourist walks organised. You will also find other chic shows such as laser light displays and beautiful light and thematic gates. Accordingly, visitors can watch as these interesting events unfold. One can travel to the event by air, or by train to Allahabad, and then make a road trip further.
The ‘Hindu’ culture is the highlight of this event. It generally takes place in the months of January to March and lasts for around 2 months. The Kumbh Mela is the largest religious gathering in the entire world. Moreover, this is a treat for photographers as they are able to capture all the picturesque sights.
Kumbh Mela (Photo Credit – Ninara)
Known as the harvest festival, Baisakhi in India celebrates the birthday of the Sikh leader, Guru Gobind Singh. The reason for this celebration is in respect to the good harvest of the year.
However, the most interesting part of the celebration is the lively festivities, where the citizens come together in open fields, and sing and dance the night away. The traditional outfits worn are mesmerising. There are also Baisakhi fairs and Langars organised. If you are interested in customary handicrafts then the fairs are the place to go and if you would like to taste some delicious food (which is free) then Langar it is.
Amritsar is a beautiful city where these festivities take place in the grandest of ways. One can arrive by air, rail or road to enjoy these fiestas.
Sikhs (Photo Credit – Marco Ghitti)
A rich tour of the culture of Hemis is only one of the many things one can attain by attending this 2-day festival. It is started off with ornate decorations of the Hemis monastery. This is because the ceremony takes place here.
It is time to celebrate and you will find all the locals gathering around in the courtyard, dressed in their best. You will also find beautiful handicrafts and traditional tunes played all around you. The masked dances and vibrant costumes are a must-see, and the rituals of the festival are really magnificent and packed with traditions.
The Hemis festival reveals the true heritage of the locality, and one can get there via air or road. The nearest airport is the Leh Airport, and one can make a short road trip from there.
We strongly recommend that you should travel during these festivals. Because each festival offers a unique experience of its own. The celebrations are sights to see and cultural integrity is absolutely extraordinary!
If you need help to Plan Your Trip around any of these festivals in India, you can always reach out to us. And we’ll help you customise your vacation!
Hemis Festival (Photo Credit – Artem Beliaikin Unsplash)
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