Experience the 10 Best Festivals in India21/05/2019
Attending India’s best festivals will unite you with an array of colourful traditions and culture of this most diverse of countries.
India is known for its festival culture and every festival is celebrated with elaborate celebrations, food, customs and grandeur where entire families get together in celebrating the occasion.
The festivals in India are just as numerous as the religious activities. The coming together of people from different regions to celebrate at festivals is a show of India’s unity in diversity. If you are presented with the opportunity, grab it with both hands because there will be no better way of experiencing Indian culture.
Although festivals are held throughout the year, the winter months are quite distinctive to witness some of the main festivals. One feature of festivals in India is that many do not have a fixed date as the date depends on the lunar cycle, so it keeps changing year after year. Here we’ve listed some of the better-known festivals for you to consider.
1 – Lohri – Harvest Festival:
This is a really great colourful festival celebrated with great pomp, dance and music on (or around) the 13th January. It is the harvest festival of Punjab and also the beginning of Winter Solstice, which means the shortest day and longest night. Lohri is featured with a bonfire where the whole family, and sometimes a whole neighbourhood, get together to celebrate the festive spirit with music and dance showing the rich traditions of Punjab.
2 – Diwali – Festival Of Lights:
Diwali is a major festival of India celebrating the victory of good over evil. The meaning of the word Diwali is ‘lighted lamps’, so it is rightfully called the Festival of Lights – celebrated by lighting small ‘diyas’ (oil lamps) and candles and burning fireworks and crackers. All this is done to celebrate the returning of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. In present times all cities in India are brightly lit with dazzling lights with Diwali parties being organised for two weeks before the main festival day.
Diwali is as big a festival in India as Christmas is for the West. The festive celebration continues for days with families getting together exchanging gifts. Prayers and rituals mark the festive spirit with children enjoying the special sweets and fireworks.
3 – Holi – Festival Of Colours:
Considered THE much-awaited festival of India. Locals as well as foreigners take part, by throwing coloured powder and coloured water on each other. Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in March with the commencement of the spring season. Though the festival is celebrated all over the country there are special celebrations held in Mathura and Vrindavan, the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Holi should be celebrated with friends and family with natural plant based and non-synthetic colours, otherwise it can get very rowdy playing with people drinking ‘bhang,’ an edible preparation of cannabis originating from the Indian subcontinent used in food and drink.
4 – Ganesh Chaturthi:
This festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Ganesh, the elephant headed God, and happens during September, depending on the cycle of the moon. The deities of Ganesh are made and installed in homes and temples where festivities along with prayers continue for ten days. Anant Chaturdasi is on the 11th day, when the deity is taken in the form of a procession with singing and dancing and then immersed in the sea.
Mumbai is the best city to view the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi at the Siddhivinayak Temple and the Visarjan (immersion) is truly a spectacle to see.
5 – Durga Puja:
The best place to celebrate Durga Puja is Kolkata in West Bengal where it is celebrated with a lot of pomp and showmanship. This festival honours Goddess Durga, who is supposed to be the feminine divine energy or force. Extensively decorated stages are created where besides singing and music people admire the artwork. In fact, Kolkata becomes more of an art gallery showcasing Bengali culture. It is usually held between mid-August and September and on the last day of the festivities the statues of Goddess Durga are immersed in the River Ganga.
6 – Goa Carnival:
This carnival is celebrated with continuous festivities for 72 hours. The festival features singing, dancing, guitar strumming, feasting and acrobatic and fire performances. People of all communities, castes and creed enjoy the spectacle together as it’s one of the best winter festivals of Goa celebrated in every Goan home.
7 – Baisakhi Harvest Festival:
Sikhs and some sects of Hindus celebrate Baisakhi or Vaisakhi. The Sikh community celebrates this harvest festival especially in the Punjab region. For Sikhs, this festival celebrates the new harvest and also the birth of Khalsa. Baisakhi is generally celebrated either on the 13th or 14th April. People usually go to Amritsar to visit The Golden Temple. The folk dance of ‘bhangra’ is also performed by the people, as a mark of their joy and happiness.
8 – Onam Festival:
This colourful festival is celebrated by the people of Kerala in South India and marks the public holiday of four days for its celebration. It falls in the time period between August and September and is celebrated as the homecoming of the mythical king Mahabali.
People wear new traditional dresses and eat the traditional food of rice poured on banana leaves along with four different types of dishes. They celebrate this occasion by decorating a pyramid of beautiful flowers and pray for their good health and wealth. On this day people of Kerala also participate in an enormous boat riding competition.
9 – Pongal Harvest Festival:
This is another harvest festival that is also called Makar Sankranti. Every year it is celebrated on the 14th January in southern India with great enthusiasm. On this occasion, people pray to the Sun God and thank Him for the good harvest that he has given. People decorate their houses with beautiful flowers, banana leaves and mango leaves. They draw different patterns with coloured paint on the floor in order to endow an aesthetic appeal to the festival and welcoming God’s grace. On this occasion too, people visit their neighbours, exchange gifts and pray to the Sun God for a further good harvest.
10 – Raksha Bandhan Festival:
Translated as The Bond of Protection, this festival marks the celebration of the bond between a brother and sister. Observed by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, the festival is celebrated widely across the country. This day is marked by a ritual of tying a sacred thread on to the wrists of the brothers by the sisters, asking them for the promise of protecting them throughout their lives. This is a symbolic gesture of the strong bond between a brother and sister.