Festivals of India


Fairs and festivals of India

HOLI : (March)

Holi is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India. Holi is celebrated by young and old, rich and poor and people from all the religions alike. It is the festival to welcome the spring and summer. People put colours and splash water on each other and have fun. Sweets are prepared and people play with water and colours till late in the afternoon. It starts on the evening of purnima(Full moon day) and lasts for a night and a day. The first evening is known as Holika dahan and the following day as Holi. In Holika dahan, people gather and perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire. The next day is celebrated as Holi- the festival of colours. Water guns are used by the childrens to play and colour each other. Holi enhances the romance of this season with its splurge of colours.

KRISHNA JANMASHTAMI : (August/September)

Krishna Janmashtami is an Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna. Eighth day of the black half in the month of Shravan is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu. Legend says that the Lord was born in the midnight and it was raining heavily then. People all around the country celebrate this festival with equal fervour. They fast the whole day and rejoice the birth in the middle of the night by breaking the fast. Songs and dances are performed all around the temples of India and children make a small display of the birth scene of Lord Krishna. People celebrate Janmashtami by fasting, singing, praying together and preparing special foods.


Ramnavami is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Ram.The ninth day of the first month in the Hindu calendar is celebrated as the day of birth of the Hindu God, incarnation of Vishnu and the hero of the epic Ramayana, Lord Ram. The festival is celebrated all over the country with people fasting and worshipping the Lord for the whole day. Ramnavami is also celebrated as the Vasant Navratra and the celebration starts from the first lunar day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra and lasts up to Ramnavami. On Ashthami or the eighth day, Durga is worshipped. Both Ram and Durga symbolize the victory of good over the evil. This festival occurs in the month of march and april every year.

NAVARATRI: (September/October)

Navarathri is a nine night festival celebrated in autumn every year. By the end of September and in the beginning of October comes the ten day and nine nights' festivities called the Navarathri. The festival falls in the month of September and October every year. This festival is celebrated for nine continuous days. This festival is celebrated differently all over India. These nine nights the people worship the Shakti and her forms. Temples are decorated and deities are worshiped. Some people also keep fast for nine days and some refrain from having non vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks. The festival is celebrated all around the country although in different ways and is termed differently; the basic reason remains the same. Actually India celebrates two Navaratris. This one is known as the Sharadiya or the Akalbodhan. Legend says that Goddess of Shakti is to be worshiped during the Vasant Navaratri. But Ram wanted to worship the Goddess at this time, a wrong time of the year, before his war with Ravan. So he invoked the Goddess and worshiped her. Since then this Navaratri has become more famous. More so as Ram won over the demon king Ravan on the tenth day.

DUSSHERA: (September/October)

Dusshera is a major festival which is celebrated at the end of Navaratri.The grand finale to the nine day festivities of Navaratri is the Dusshera. It is said that Lord Ram of Ayodhya won over the demon King Ravan on day. This is also considered as the last day of exile of the Pandavas in the epic of Mahabharat. It is celebrated all over India as one of the most pious days according to the Hindu religion. In most parts of the country Dussehra is celebrated in honour of Lord Ram. Huge effigies of the demon King Ravan and his son and brother are made and then burnt. People wear new clothes and rejoice and make sweets and distribute them.

DIWALI: (October/November)

Diwali is India’s biggest and most important festival of the year. The most famous and also the most awaited festival of the Indians falling in late October and early November is the festival of lights, Diwali or Deepavali. This festival of lights means triumph of the good over the evil. It falls in late October or early November every year and is celebrated by all with great enthusiasm. The story People specially buy new clothes, renovate or colour their houses. A variety of dishes, sweet and spicy, both are made. People burn crackers and hang lanterns in front of their doors. India celebrate the story of Lord Ram’s return to Ayodhya after 14years after he defeated devil king Ravana of Lanka. That was the time during Diwali. It is also said that Krishna also killed Narak, the demon on this day. The Goddess of wealth is worshiped on this day. This festival falls on the darkest night of the year(Amavasya); therefore in numerous lamps are lit all around India to wipe out the darkness. The sisters worship Gods and pray for their brothers' well being on this day. A celebration of lights, sweets and colors is what Diwali is all about.

BAKRI ID or ID UL ZUHA : (August/September)

Although the Muslim festivals follow their own calendar, the Bakri Id as it is popularly known . It is also called the festival of sacrifice.It celebrates the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim, who willingly agreed to kill his son at the behest of God. To celebrate the event, Muslims sacrifice one animal per family or group of families. There are prayers in mosques, feasting, and rejoicing. New clothes are worn and visits and greetings are exchanged.

RAMZAN ID: (June/July)

This festival celebrated by the Muslims varies in dates. Sometimes it may fall in summer while sometime in winter. It is believed that God conveyed the message of Koran to Hazarat Mohammed through Gabriel in the days of Ramzan. This is an important holiday celebrated by muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramzan. Its is known as the Islamic holy month of fasting. The whole month of Ramzan is sacred. All through this month the devout Muslims keep strict fast during the day. After sunset, Namaz is offered and then the fast is broken. It begins with the new moon and terminates with next new moon. The last day is known as the Id - ul- fitr. This day is celebrated by the people. People wear new clothes, prepare sweets and greet each other.

CHRISTMAS: (25th December)

The only religious festival falling in the last month of the solar calendar is Christmas. It is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India. The festival is the celebration of the birth off Jesus Christ to Virgin Mary. The Christian community of India celebrates this festival with all the glitter and glamour. Churches are lighted up, bakery shops and houses are decorated. People buy new clothes and eat goodies. It is celebrated among billions of people around the world. Carols are sung and Santa Clause entertains children. Mass and sermons are held in the Church and whole air is filled up with festivity which in some places lingers till the New Year dawns.


January is the coldest month in India with a pleasant climate in the southern parts of India. A number of important cultural festivals take place in the month of January every year. South India hosts many festivals during this pleasant climate. The first and the unique festival is that of the Elephant March. Elephants are considered as the trademark of Kerala. While caparisoned elephants go out in procession, boat races on the backwaters and cultural events lend colour to the festivities. The festival takes place in some of Kerala's major towns - Trichur, Alleppey and Thiruvananthapuram. The great elephant march begins on the ground of Trichur and ends at the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthpuram. It is a 3 day festival. In this festival, the elephants are beautifully decorated and ornamented.

BIKANER FESTIVAL: (January/February)

This event is celebrated for animals, which survive in severe desert conditions. Rajasthan pays tribute to the local animal, the ship of the desert in the month of January.The camels are decorated beautifully, which itself give a colorful spectacle against the background of Junagarh fort. In Bikaner the camels are bedecked and taken up in processions and even a few competitions are held like camel races, fur cutting design, camel acrobatics and also camel beauty pageants. The festival, known as the Bikaner festival draws huge crowds. The Rajasthani traditional folk dance performance along with music and the charming fire dance add more glamour to the festival.

THE GOA CARNIVAL: (February/March)

The Goa carnival is the most awaited event in Goa. The exuberant Goa Carnival is the most famous annual feature of Goa which has been celebrated since the 18th century. Held in mid- February, just before Lent, the event is a time for feasting and drinking with lively processions, floats, the strumming of guitars and graceful dances for five days, non-stop. Other than music, dance and other entertainment, the carnival in Goa also features short plays depicting the tradition and culture of Goa in a unique way.The great finale is with the famous Red-and-Black dance held by the Clube Nacional in Panaji.

DURGA PUJA: (September/October)

When the whole country celebrates Navaratri, the last four days are celebrated in West Bengal as Durga Puja. Beautiful Clay models of the Goddess killing the demon Mahishasura are made and installed in huge pandals. Durga's four children Ganesh, Kartikeya, Lakshmi and Sarawati are installed beside her. For all the four days the Goddess is worshipped with all the rituals. Legend says that Mahishasura, the demon received a boon form Brahma of immortality. No one but a woman could kill him. Durga puja is believed to be the greatest festival of the Bengali people. It is particularly popular in West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura. Durga puja is a ten day event and many events are performed during the last four days. The Gods then created Durga bestowing upon her their divine powers; she ultimately killed the demon and saved the land. The four days celebrated in West Bengal are the days of the war between the Goddess and the demon, in which ultimately good triumphs over evil. The pandals are greatly decorated and people throng to see the decoration in the night. Cultural programmes are organized and the festive spirit continues till the immersion of the idols.

RATH YATRA: (June/July)

Jaggannath Puri is one of the four sacred pilgrimages of India. The Rath yatra that takes place here every June-July is the most famous religious occasion. The three deities Lord Jaggannath, Balbhadra, his brother and Subhadra, his sister are taken in a chariot procession to their summer temple for a week. It attracts over a million Hindu pilgrims who come every year. The three deities have a ritual boat ride after a refreshing bath in fragrant sandalwood scented water. This is followed by Snana Yatra, literally the festival of bathing in which the main images are bathed ceremoniously. The deities then retire to their garden home and after eight days, they return to the main temple riding their magnificent chariots, drawn by devotees. Hundreds of thousands gather from all over the country to witness this festival. Once in a year, the deities are brought out on to the main streets of puri and travel 3 km to shri Gundicha temple in chariots. New chariots are made each year. During the festival Puri turns into a sea of People. The idols made of wood are buried in the temple complex and new ones are made every twelve years. All can participate in this festival and actually touch the deity to take the blessings.

GANESH CHATURTHI: (August/September)

Ganesh chaturthi is a ten day hindu festival which falls in the month of August or September. Lord Ganesh, the patron deity of Maharashtra, is the God of wisdom. The festival is an eleven day festivity is the largest of its kind celebrated in India, with worshiping of idols and their immersion for ten continuous days. The festival ends on the tenth day after start, wherein the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in nearby water body such as a river or ocean. Dedicated to Elephant god Ganesh or Ganapati the festival celebrates the birth of the God. The whole of Maharashtra is in festive mood during this time. Idols are brought home and worshiped for ten days and immersed on the last day with people shouting, Ganapati Bappa Morya, pudhchya warshi Lawakar ya. The Marathis also have the community celebration when huge Pandals are put up and huge idols of the Lord are installed for ten days and worshiped. Immersion too is a huge procession and the Marathis bid a tearful farewell to the God and wait for the next year to come. For ten days various cultural programmes are arranged like music concerts, orchestra, plays and skits. Some social activities are also undertaken like blood donation, scholarships for the needy or donation to the people suffering from any kind of natural calamity. In between these ten days, Gauri, Ganapati’s mother too arrives. She too is worshipped and prayed for three days and later immersed.

ONAM: (August/September)

Onam is aHindu festival with origins in the state of kerala in India. Onam is one of the most popular regional festivals of Kerala. It is celebrated by all Keralites regardless of their caste or religion. People rejoice the return of King Mahabali, the kind demon king who once ruled the land.The festival is celebrated every year for ten days which comes in the Malayalam month of Chingam (end of August and start of September) and is celebrated with pomp and joy. This festival is also a harvest festival. People decorate their homes with fresh flower mats known as 'Pookalam' to welcome the King Mahabali. They wear new dresses; go to the temples to worship God and perform traditional dances such as Thiruvathirakali and Thumbi Tullal. There is a grand lunch called 'Sadya' on the Thiruonam, the tenth day of Onam, which is considered very important and absolutely essential. These ten days are meant for feasting, indulging in boat racing, music and dancing to welcome their king. Delicious homely food served on banana leaves and the sweet Payasam are the most common delicacies of Onam. There are processions of decorated elephants, fireworks and Kathakali dancers. Many cultural and sport events and carnivals are also organized during this festival. Onam is a major festival for Malayali people in and around Kerala.

KUMBH MELA: (January-March)

Kumbh Mela is the world’s largest religious gathering, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred or holy river.It is held every third year at one of four places by rotation: Haridwar, Allahabad (Prayag), Nasik and Ujjain. Allahabad Kumbh Mela is the most auspicious of all the four places and will only be celebrated again in 12 years time. Legend has it that the devas (gods) once lost their strength. In order to regain it, they agreed with the asuras (demons) to churn the primordial ocean of milk for amrit (the nectar of immortality). This was to be shared equally between them. However, a fight broke out, which went on for 12 human years. During the battle, the celestial bird, Garuda, flew away with the Kumbh that held the nectar. Drops of nectar are believed to have fallen in the places that the Kumbh Mela is now held — Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain. PUSHKAR MELA: (November) Pushkar is in centre-east part of Rajasthan, on the western side of Aravalli mountains. The pushkar fair falls in the month of October or November.Thousands of people go to the banks of the Pushkar Lake where the fair takes place. Men trade their livestock, which includes camels, horses, cows, sheep and goats. Rural families shop at the handicraft stalls full of bracelets, clothes, textiles and fabrics.Experience the camel race, where some camels will develop a mind of their own and head in every other direction but the finish line. You will be amazed by the speed and grace of these awkward looking animals as they fly over the sand.

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