Festivals in India You Should Plan Your Trip Around
To be known as the Country of Festivals 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 to be a part of the cheer that is spread. 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 bring along a bundle of joy with them. Celebrations of India 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.
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, and 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! You get a great taste of culture and religion too. We recommend visiting the cities Jaipur and Mumbai to experience all of what the festival has to offer, and more!
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 the joyous occasion, and the festival 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.
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.
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 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.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the pride of the Indians as they come together to celebrate the birthday of their dear and beloved Lord Ganesha (The Elephant God). Ganesh Chaturthi 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’ and 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!
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 with 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 all who visit leave with memories to be cherished forever.
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. Held in the Ziro Valley close to Arunachal Pradesh, the music festival in India, is an escape from a typical concert held in a city. Attendees stay in tents 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 north-east of India has always been partial to Rock music, and as such, the Ziro music festival features various local bands that play rock music. However, other genres are played 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!
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’. Visitors can watch as these interesting events unfold. Morover, there are many tourist walks organised, and also other chic shows such as laser light displays and beautiful light and thematic gates. One can travel to the event by air, or by train, to Allahabad, and then make a road trip further. The ‘Hindu’ culture is really brought out by 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, and the picturesque sights are not something to be missed.
Known as the harvest festival, Baisakhi in India, celebrates the birthday of the Sikh leader, Guru Gobind Singh. This northern festival is celebrated in reverence 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 organised where customary handicrafts are sold, and ‘Langars’ are organised, where free food is distributed to others. 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.
A rich tour of the culture of Hemis, is only one of the many things one can attain by attending this festival. The 2-day event is started off with ornate decorations of the Hemis monastery, as the ceremony takes place here. The locals gather around in the courtyard, dressed in their best, as beautiful handicrafts and traditional tunes are displayed to everyone. The masked dances and vibrant costumes are a must-see, and the rituals of the festival are really magnificent and packed with traditions. The true heritage of the locality is revealed during the festival that takes place in Hemis, 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.
These are some of the festivals that we recommend to travel during, each offering a unique experience of its own. The celebrations are sights to see and the cultural integrity is absolutely extraordinary! If you need help in planning a trip around any of these festivals in India, you can always reach out to us. And we’ll help you customise your vacation!