indian festivals

 

Introduction

What are Indian Festivals all about? Perhaps it’s about celebrations? Food? Friends? Family? Religion? Well, it is a little bit of everything. Typically it tends to be for religious reasons, but a festival can be defined as a gathering, a gathering meant to celebrate something of significance. 

I am sure you seek to understand more about  Indian festivals and their significance. To me, these festivals are a representation of the artistic, linguistic, and culturally rich people of India. 

The great craftsmanship can be depicted through the various idols that have been handcrafted. The cultural representation of feelings through dance and music. The Sanskrit mantras to honor the gods. Each aspect of these festivals has something unique to offer. 

When people think of Indian Festivals, they immediately think of the festival of lights; Diwali. Or they think of Holi, the festival of colors. But there is so much more than that. Some festivals are well known to the world as well as various other festivals that people celebrate.

I hope that you are reading this article for something more than the festivals of India essay, that you need to submit for school or college.

I say that because there are many festivals that even Indian’s themselves do not know a lot about and should learn about. 

In this article, we are going to explore these various Indian Festivals to help shape an idea about India and its rich cultural heritage. 

But What makes Indian Festivals Unique?

Festivals are not unique to India. There are festivals celebrated around the world. There are cultures across all continents that express themselves through the music and dance unique to their people, during their various festivals.

But Indian culture and heritage aren’t things to be reckoned with. India is home to one of the oldest civilizations known to man. The values and beliefs of the Indian people aren’t often seen throughout the rest of the world and are reflected through the festivals of India. 

If there is one thing India is known for, its spirituality. India is known to worship many gods and goddesses, hence the need for various idols and festivals to honor these gods and goddesses. 

It is this blend of heritage, culture, values, and spirituality that makes Indian Festivals unique. 

Below we have created some lists so that you can navigate through with ease!

The 12 Most Popular Indian Festivals

The 12 most popular Indian festivals that both Indians as well as foreigners have likely heard of and likely wish to experience it more often. 

Starting with the most popular ones:

Diwali

Diwali

When is it Celebrated?

This Indian festival is based on the lunar calendar. It is celebrated 15 days into the most auspicious month of Karthik.

This means Diwali usually falls in either October or November. 

About

We all know about the festival of lights. But do we know why it is celebrated? You must have heard of the famous Ramayanam? 

This auspicious festival is celebrated as a result of the great Ramayanam. Diwali is celebrated on the occasion of Lord Rama’s return to Ayodhya after Ravana’s defeat. 

But South India celebrates it as the fall of Narakasura. 

Celebrations

The celebrations commence as people go out to buy metals that are believed to keep evil spirits away. 

Then on Day 2 and Day 3 people begin with puja and offerings gods then bust into a festive mood with fireworks and Diyas. 

On Day 4 things begin to cool down and Govardhana puja is performed before Day 5. After which this great Indian festival comes to end after a celebration between siblings known as Bhai Dooj. 

Holi

holi

When is it celebrated?

Holi commences on the evening of the Poornima: the full moon night. This event falls in March and ends it ends the next day. 

About

Holi is the festival celebrating the arrival of spring. Many consider this a festival to meet others, play and enjoy, to forgive and forget, and to mend broken relationships. 

What do the celebrations include?

The celebrations usually start the night before where people come together to pray in front of a bonfire that all the evil gets destroyed and to spread love and happiness to one and all. The next day, they smear the paint and colors of Holi. Pichkaris are used to shoot color water at passers-by and celebrate with utmost satisfaction

 

Ganesh Chaturthi

When is it Celebrated?

This festival is celebrated in August. 

About

Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival celebrated by Hindus as a heartwarming gesture to welcome Lord Ganesha with his mother Goddess Durga from the Kailash mountains their home. This is a festival of eleven days that involve community togetherness.

This festival apart from having spiritual importance also has a historical background concerning India’s battle for its independence, Bal Gangadhar Tilak started this festival at community levels as to gather people so they in the crowd could plan for their plots against the British with their fellow freedom fighters.

What do the celebrations include?

People at the community level celebrate with an idol installation with a very heartwarming gesture. After the 11th day, the idol is immersed in a river with spiritual importance or in the seas as to bid the god as he leaves for his home.

Onam

When is it celebrated?

Celebrated in August or September depending on the date of the 22nd nakshatra of the Malayalam calendar. These dates change every year but this year it is from the 30th of Agust all through till the 2nd of September. 

About

The harvest festival of Kerala. Legend says King Mahabali’s spirit visits Kerala on Onam to keep an eye on his citizens. The story that took shape over the years tells us that King Mahabali was banished from Earth after the Gods grew jealous of the connection with his people. 

What do the celebrations include?

Onam goes on for 10 days. The first day is devoted to designing the Pookalam is just a flower carpet. The celebrations of Onam escalate each day. On Day 2, the Pookalam is dressed with another layer of flowers. On Day 3, people buy new clothes. The competitions begin on Day 4.

The competitions include Vallamkali or boat race, dance, and Pookalam. This goes on until the 9th day when the families get prepped for the exciting meal, the Onasadhya on the 10th day. The last day, of course, is called Thiru Onam and the infamous Onasadhya that the citizens treat themselves to has almost 24-28 dishes served in one sitting.

Dussehra

When is it Celebrated?

Dussehra or the VijayDashami is celebrated the next day after the Navratri festival. It is usually observed in September or October.  According to the Hindu Calendar, this Indian festival is celebrated on the 10th day of Ashwin Month.

About

The festival is celebrated in the victory of Lord Ram, for winning the battle with Ravan. Ravan was the Demon Ruler, who kidnaped Ram’s beloved wife Sita. This is seen as the victory of good upon evil. It positively sends the message in society to follow the footsteps of the great ruler of Ayodhya.

 What do the celebrations include?

The highlight of the festival is Ravan Dahan or Burning the Figurine of the Ravan, the king of Lanka. Ravan Dahan is the end of the Raamleela, the theatrical play of Ram’s life, where the Noble King kills the Demon and return home after fourteen years of exile. People held ceremonies and yagnas in their household and praise Lord Ram, and try to learn his methods and apply them in real life.

Ratha Yatra

 

When is it Celebrated?

Ratha Yatra is celebrated in July in most parts of north India, especially Orissa and West Bengal. 

About

It is Called the chariot festival, which includes a long public procession. It is Said once Lord Krishna (eighth incarnation of Vishnu) was suffering from high fever along with his brother and sister, Balarama and Subhardhra respectively, as they poured down water on to themselves for 108 times. 

After one week of fever, they decide to change a bit of surrounding, so they went to see their Aunt. Though there are lots of more popular Legend about the celebration of the festival, today it is seen as Lord Krishna, with his sibling come out of the temple doors in the public to listen to their grievances and bless them.

What do the celebrations include?

The celebration is a 10-day long one, where the deities’ idols are taken out the temple in a chariot and a public procession is followed by. The chariot and roads are cleaned by the inherited king, who welcomes the gods and the goddess and seeks blessings for all his countrymen. Millions of people assemble at Jaganath Puri Temple to witness is the humongous procession.

Makar Sankranthi

When is it Celebrated?

Makar Sankranthi is celebrated on the first day of the Magha month and usually falls in January in the Georgian Calendar, in the lunar calendar, and marks the start of a new calendar. It is the first day of a new year of the Hindu Calendar.

About

This festival is on the winter solstice which promises longer and warmer month. This is not a religious festival, but a cultural and regional Indian festival. It is a festival of farmers as it signifies the harvest season for them. In various parts of India. This same day is celebrated in several different names and rituals.

What do the celebrations include?

The celebration is all about enjoying the day have fun. Family members wear new clothes, pray for a prosperous year ahead, and spent time together. Sweets are eaten and distributed among families and friends. Kite- flying is one of the important and most fun events of the day. In several places, bonfires and public fairs (Magh Melas) are organized for all the locals.

Raksha Bandhan 

Raksha Bandhan

When is it celebrated?

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the last day of the Hindu month of Shraavana and that usually falls in August.

About

It is celebrated to show love for siblings. A sister ties a Rakhi or an amulet for her brother symbolizing that she will protect him and cherish their love and the brother in turn gives her a gift which also states the same.

What do the celebrations include?

The main event during this festival Rakhis and gifts are exchanged to assure lifelong safety and protection to each of the siblings from each other.

Eid Ul Fitr

reading quran

A celebration of unity, health, thanksgiving, and sheer delight, Eid Ul Fitr is a globally joyous occasion for Muslims of all sects. It is one of the most important Islamic festivals marking the end of month-long ‘ibadat’ or prayers and worship of the almighty God and thanks to him for his abundant mercy.

When is it Celebrated?

Eid is celebrated after Ramadan, on the first of Shawwal, the10th month of the year. For many Muslims, the sighting of the moon reveals the arrival of Eid, while others abide by the calendar. As such there might be a difference of 1-2 days between Islamic sects. 

About

To truly understand what Eid is, we need to understand Ramadan’s significance. Ramadan is a month where Muslims strictly observe true submission to Allah. During this month, Muslims fast for 30 days, frequent the mosque thrice a day and dedicate prayers to Allah. By stringent fasting and prayers, Muslims believe in inculcating values like self-control, discipline, and charity. 

It is believed that during this time Prophet Muhammad made his journey from Madinah to Mecca which is why this day is celebrated as Eid. It is also believed that it was during Ramadan that the Holy Quran was first revealed to the Prophet. Eid marks the end of a month of strict self-control and fasting and it’s signified as a day to give thanks to Allah for the strength and will-power to observe day-long fasts. 

Whatever part of the world you’re in, Eid is about bringing people together. All Muslims celebrate this festival with the utmost spirit of giving and forgiving, putting aside differences, and coming together on behalf of one true God.

What do the celebrations include?

Muslims throughout the globe wake up early to observe the Eid namaz after which they can be seen hugging each other as a way of wishing. Close family and friends exchange gifts. The young often get a small sum in cash called ‘Eidi’ from their adults, it is thought of as their right. The house is cleaned and made presentable for guests. People visit their family & friends to celebrate with them. 

A lot of delicacies are made during this auspicious occasion like sheer Khurma and Sewaiyaan. On this day, Muslim households boast a luscious spread of food in celebration. In some places, this festival lasts for three whole days. 

Christmas

christmas

When is it celebrated?

Celebrated on the 25th of December.

About

Dedicated to honoring the birth of Jesus.

What do the celebrations include?

The main attractions during Christmas are the well lit Christmas trees, the crib, and the star hanging from houses. the story of Santa Claus delivering gifts to little ones will always be the most joyous thing about Christmas. Most families choose to welcome December 25th by offering prayer and thereby breaking the 25 days optional lent that starts from December 1st.

 

Durga Puja

When is it celebrated?

It is celebrated in October or November, marking the start of the autumn season. It is celebrated on the first nine days of the month of Ashwin. 

About

Durga Puja is a huge festival in the state of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, and Jharkhand. It is said that Goddess Durga fought the demon Mahisasur, the shape-shifting buffalo demon, rigorously for 10 days. The festival is celebrated as the victory of good over evil and glorifies the power of a woman. Durga is a goddess of power, and her 10 hands signify the responsibilities and strength of a lady.

What do the celebrations include?

Durga Puja, typically in Bengal, It starts from the Mahaalya Day, which is one day before the commencement of Durga Puja. It is conventionally seen as the day when the eyes of the goddess’s idol are painted to invoke the divine and where you go you can hear Durga Vandhana or praises of Durga on loudspeakers. 

The Kalash Sthapana or placing of the holy pot is done in the first four days. The last five days are for the devotees to visit different Puja pandals, offer their prayer. Pushpanjali and Bhog distribution is also an auspicious part of the rituals. These last five days are the most fun days, where everyone visit places, wear new clothes, the houses and streets are lightened up. If you ever plan to visit Kolkata you can’t miss the Durga celebration. The Pandal Hoping is worth the time and effort.

Chatt Puja 

When is it celebrated?

The celebration starts on the 6th day of the Shashti month and continues for 4 days.

About

Chatt Puja is celebrated as one of the environmental-friendly Indian festivals. This festival is celebrated four days after Diwali, it’s celebrated pay to homage to Sun God and his companion Dawn and Dusk, popularly known as  Usha and Pratyusha.  

What do the celebrations include?

The celebration includes the family to gathers together, a senior member of the family keeps a fast for the welfare of the family and their children. The four days are called Kaadu Khai, Khurana, Sandhya Aarghya, and Dusra Aarghya. It includes the preparation of prasad like kheer, Fruits and thekua, holy dip in the river, and praying. It is the jubilant North Indian Festival, and it is seen as the reunion of the family and friends and spent some quality time together.

Regional Festivals 

India is home to not only these top 10 world-famous festivals but also to a whole range of lesser-known regional festivals, which we have split into 10 North Indian festivals and 10 South Indian Festivals. Each of which with its uniqueness and wonder. 

North Indian Festivals

North India and South India have always been culturally unique although they are part of the same country. So it is no surprise that North Indian Festivals have their uniqueness. 

Here we go, with a carefully compiled list of North Indian Festivals: 

Kumbh Mela

When is it Celebrated?

Kumbh Mela or the holy festival for the holy-dip is celebrated in four unique places over the span of twelve years. The four places are situated on the banks of the holy rivers, namely at  Prayagraj on the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and Saraswati (the holy mythical river); at Haridwar on the banks of Ganges, at Ujjain on Shipra, and finally in Nashik Godavari’s banks. The dates are decided according to the Hindu-solar-lunar-calendar, considering the positions of the sun, moon & Jupiter. 

About

‘Kumbh’ literally means a pot, this pot is associated with the Amrit (or nectar of immortality) Pot which came out as the product of “Sagar Manthan” or ‘the churning of the ocean’. It is believed whosoever, irrespective of class, gender, creed, or caste, takes a dip in the river will be forgiven of all their penances. The last 2013 Kumbh Mela at PrayagRaj witnessed a crowd of over 60 million people.

What do the celebrations include?

Not only common folk of India, but the crowd consists of Sadhus (or the Sages) who make their way from the Himalayas to come here for this holy festival, then the Hermits or the saints leave their isolation, and along with numerous other priests and preacher see their way to this holy festival. It has majorly 3 components, the bathe, and the procession, the celebration, and the ‘Darshan’ or witnessing the event.

Pushkar Mela

When is it Celebrated?

Pushkar Mela is celebrated at the Pushkar district of Rajasthan from late October to the start of November, or we can say according to Hindu calenders it starts in the month of Kartik and concludes on Kartik Purnima.

About

Pushkar Mela, or popularly known as Pushkar Camel Festival, is India’s largest cattle fair. It is celebrated annually in the holy Pilgrimage season by the Pushkar lake. It has gained the popular attention of both international and indigenous tourists.

What do the celebrations include?

The peasants come for not only trading their livestock but also taking part in a variety of cultural events and competitions. It portrays the vibrant colorful Rajasthani culture. Everything from the people to the camels, horses, and cattle are decorated in vivid colors. The fair includes folk dance and other competitions like ‘the longest mustache’; tug of war; ‘Matka Fodh’ or the bridal competition.

Desert Festival

When is it Celebrated?

Jaisalmer city beholds the beautiful Desert Festival every year in late winters, in the month of Magh, three days preceding the full moon.

About

Celebrated within the Thar desert’s Sam dunes. The festival represents cultural heritage. You will be bewitched by the cultural and folk dances, and hum the songs to your sleep. The thrill of experiencing the various competitions is too much to be given words.

What do the celebrations include?

It is the festival of happiness and jubilance. The fest got off the ground from a huge parade extending from Jaisalmer Fort to Shahid Poonam Stadium. Beauty is remarked in the colorful attire of the folk. The dances and songs are performed to accomplish and glorify life in the desert.

Rann Utsav

When is it Celebrated?

There is no specific date to it, but the Gujarat tourism department organizes this beautiful festival in December and it continues for 3 months. Tourists hailing from all over the world. 

About

It is mesmeric to see the White sand of Rann of Kachch painted colorful for the whole three months. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions fests of India. The fest was started to help the locals gain some popularity after the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. It was improvised by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The basic idea was to promote Tourism to help the locals of the desert earn a livelihood.

What do the celebrations include?

Rann Utsav is an annual fest that calls for various cultural and folk programs. You will find an array of traders and craftsmen selling handmade articles, hand-woven or embroidered clothes, or clay toys. The night shows include dancing and singing, amidst all the color and lights, reflecting all over the white sand. The Camel ride is also a unique feature of this Indian Festival.

Lohri

When is it Celebrated?

Lohri is celebrated on the 13th of January of every year. It is one of the most important and auspicious North Indian Festivals.

About

Lohri is majorly celebrated all over Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. Both the Punjabis and Hindus come together to mark the winter solstice and warmly welcome the coming longer days. This is the time when the northern hemisphere of the earth is inclined towards the sun, ideal for the reaping and harvesting of crops. It is observed one night before the Makar Sankranti. 

What do the celebrations include?

The celebration is usually observed in every household or society. A central bonfire is lit, and people pay homage to it by worshiping and praying to the holy fire. Then it is followed by a series of folk music and songs and energizing Bhangra dance and Gidda.

Sindhu Darshan

When is it Celebrated?

On the full night of the month of June, popularly known as Guru Purnima, we celebrate the Sindhu Darshan Festival in the district of Leh in Ladakh.

About

This festival celebrated to thank and acknowledge the value of the Sindhu river. Yes, the famous river of the very old Indus Valley Civilisation. Sindhu River has been a symbol of peace, harmony, and civilization.

What do the celebrations include?

The main part of rituals includes to take an earthen pitcher filled with from your home to the Sindhu river and immerse it in it. And a group of 50 senior Lamas proceeds with a ceremony on the bank of the River. This is not a religious festival but a communal festival, where people belong to all classes and religions of the society are most welcome. 

Phuliach Festival

When is it Celebrated?

Phuliach Festival or the Flower festival of Himachal Pradesh is held in the month of September, specifically on the 16th day of the ‘Bhadrapada’ month in the Hindu calendar.

About

Phuliach festival is locally also known as Ookayand or Ukyam festival. 

What do the celebrations include?

10 Rajputs in this flowering season go to the Kinnaur district, to pick up some rare species of flower. They spend a couple of days there. They come back on the 18th day carrying back the flowers with them so that common folk can have a look at them, and enjoy the extraordinary smell. And the following evening is celebrated singing and dancing.

Ramnavami

When is it Celebrated?

It is celebrated around the mid of March to the early Aprils as these are the times for blossoms or springs where the environment is filled with happiness and excitement and joy as if nature is also celebrating the incarnation of Lord Vishnu on earth, one who will free her from all the sorrow and pains.

About

Ramnavmi is a festival celebrated as to mark the birth of Lord Ram. Ram who was not only known for killing the demons and establishing a just kingdom but also thought us to how to conduct ourselves in a way to be a good human being and to be a useful resource to the society

It is one of the few important festivals which the Hindus celebrate with full excitement and joy

What do the celebrations include?

Ramnavmi is celebrated as the ninth day of the Chaitra Navratri which begins eight days before the latter it includes fast worshipping, ceremonies, and community feast all considered as a gesture of the happiness of the birthday of Lord Ram an ideal man, inspiration to the society and a great son, a great brother a great husband, a great friend and a kind man who even was ready to forgive whenever anyone came to his doorstep regardless of the crimes he had committed.

Magh Mela

When is it Celebrated?

On the day of Ramnavami in several places in North India especially in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab, and Haryana.

About

The celebration is basically about having fun and raising funds for charitable causes. These fairs are open for all and don’t have any entry few at many places. Most of the time they are organized by the local Hindu Community. It is always good to have a break and enjoy some time with family.

What do the celebrations include?

It is celebrated on the occasion of Ramnavami and continues for the whole month. The Fair is a religious one. The Ramleela theatrical act is the highlight of the show. Though they are various stalls put up that sell different commodities. There are many rides and small playful games for the children too.

Mata Murthi ka Mela

When is it Celebrated?

Everyone awaits the Mata Murthi ka Mela in September.

About

Mata Murthi ka Mela is celebrated in the praise of Mother of the Badrinath, in the Badrinath Temple.

What do the celebrations include?

This Mela incorporates many rituals and ceremonies, out of which the ‘The Holy Bathe’ or the ‘Maha-Abhishek’ is of most significance. This is followed by the reading of the Bhagavad Geeta and a long ritual, offerings, prayers, and prasad to the beloved and kind goddess.

South Indian Festivals

Now that we have taken a good look at North Indian Festivals, it is about time we check out the glorious South Indian Festivals! Don’t you think?

Then without further ado let’s dive right into the world of South Indian Festivals:

Thrissur Poornam

When is it celebrated?

This South Indian Festival is celebrated when the Pooram nakshatra of the Malayalam month overlaps with the Gregorian calendar and that is likely to happen towards the end of April.

About 

It is conducted in the Thrissur district of Kerala and is one of the largest public events that occur on an annual basis. The Vadukkamnatham Temple that is situated in the heart of the district is said to be the center and one of the most powerful temples yet. The Thrissur Pooram is essentially a competition between two temples, the Vadakkumnathan and the Paramekkavu. The Pooram goes on for 3 days during the course of which all public transports towards the area will be blocked.

What do the celebrations include?

The main celebration includes the making of the decoration for the elephants and its display on the first day. Swarms of people crowd the area and there’s much to see. Later that evening there will be fireworks that light the night sky and priests in the temple also carry out a lot of rituals to set the start of the Pooram.

The next event the day is the prestigious umbrella decorate event wherein men sitting on elephants change the colors of the decorative umbrellas they hold as a challenge to the opposite temple. 

There will be a minimum of 30 elephants at this location. It is said that a decorative umbrella once made, is never used for the Pooram again. Everything used for the Pooram will be made that year and will be brand new to the people and their liking. The morning after this, at around 4 am starts the Pagal Pooram, loosely translated meaning the morning Pooram which is again an array of different fireworks that fill the sky.

Hampi Festival

When is it Celebrated?

The Hampi Utsav or the Vijaya Utsav is usually celebrated for three days, during the first week of November. However as this is an Indian festival which is organized by state officials and does not follow any calendar,  the dates are subject to change as seen fit by the officials. 

About

Here is an Indian festival, which simply celebrates the rich culture of a place. Simply this is an understatement! The three-day-long festivities of the Hampi Utsav in Karnataka, are packed with dance and music performances, which depict the rich culture of Karnataka, set against the backdrop of beautifully lit Hampi temples and architectural marvels. Wow! Sounds breath-taking, doesn’t it?

What do the celebrations include?

Hampi Utsav is an extravagant cultural affair, with dance and music shows, puppet shows, and beautiful performances depicting the traditions and culture of the Vijayanagara Empire. Once darkness falls, you will be treated to spectacular light shows and fireworks.

The energy of the performers and events will definitely course through your veins! In fact, adventure sports such as watersports and rock climbing have recently been added to fuel the fire in you! 

Mysore Dasara

When is it Celebrated?

Mysore Dasara is a grand ten-day-long Indian festival celebrated during the lunisolar calendar month of Ashvin (September or October). This vibrant festival begins with nine nights or ‘Navaratri’, followed by ‘Vijaya Dashami’ on day ten. 

About

A festival of pomp and splendor, Mysore Dasara is the state festival of the South Indian state of Karnataka. Are you curious to know the reason behind such grand celebrations? The hint lies in the name of the city, Mysuru. A buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura, tormenting the kingdom of Mysore, was slain by goddess Chamundeshwari, on the day of Vijaya Dashami (tenth day of victory).

What do the celebrations include?

But contrary to Mysore’s peaceful image, every nook and cranny of the city comes to life for these ten days! The already beautiful Mysore Palace is made ready for the traditional ‘royal durbar’, by decking the facade with over 100,000 light bulbs! Locals and tourists throng the streets and relish the vibrancy of Mysore with its music, parades, exhibitions, food festivals, games, colorful floats, and decorations. 

The showstopper of the festival is the elephant procession or ‘Jumbo Savari’, on the Mysore streets. But wait, there’s still some more! The Jumbo Savari is followed by a mesmerizing fire-torch display, which commences the spectacular 10-day festival.  

Vishu

When is it celebrated?

It changes every year depending on the day which overlaps with the Gregorian calendar but it is likely to be in mid-April  

About

Vishu is celebrated to mark the first day of the astronomical year and the Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna are worshipped on that day. It shows the transit of the sun to the Meda Raasi. 

What do the celebrations include?

On the morning of Vishu, it is said that the first thing you see must be the idol of Lord Krishna and so the older members of the family bring their children blindfolded to the statue of Lord Krishna which is usually set and decorated with fruits and other sweets. The day before Vishu, they are all instructed to eat vegetarian food.

Ugadi

When is it Celebrated?

The South Indian festival of Ugadi is annually celebrated in the month of March or April, in the month of Chaitra, as per the Hindu lunisolar calendar.

About

Celebrated in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka, Ugadi welcomes the Hindu New Year. It is a wholesome festival, celebrated with close ones, and often includes donations to charity. Curious to know more?

What do the celebrations include?

In a typical household, the day begins with a nice massage with herbal oils and a shower. With the pleasant smell of Agarbatti wafting through the air, prayers to the Gods are offered, for a blessed New Year. Mango leaves, fresh flowers, and colorful rangolis adorn the doorways to welcome relatives, who gather together to enjoy a sumptuous feast. 

The feast consists of a special item, which will tickle all your flavor buds- sweet, salty, spicy, sour, and bitter. An explosion of flavors, the ‘pachadi’, is meant to be a symbolic reminder to overcome and accept the obstacles and blessings coming your way in the New Year. Enter a house on Ugadi, and you will be left with a feeling of warmth and satisfaction. 

Karaga

When is it Celebrated?

The Karaga festival takes place in March/April, in the Chaitra month of the Hindu Calendar. Starting from the day of the month’s first full moon, the Karaga festival goes on for eleven days.

About

The festival’s origin can be traced back to the current-day Tigala community of Karnataka, who believe that their ancestors, Veerakumars, formed an army to help Draupadi slay a demon. The Karaga festival is held in her honor, as she promised to visit the Veerakumars every year! The festival gets its name from a mysterious earthen pot called Karaga, which is carried all around the city by a chosen priest. 

What do the celebrations include?

On the festival day, throngs of devotees gather on the streets, waiting to catch a glimpse of the sacred pot. Celebrations include a procession, during which a priest chosen from the Tigla community, dressed in a woman’s attire, carries the Karaga on his head, all around the city. Some more rituals involved are the hoisting of a temple flag, beating of drums, dancing, and the splashing of turmeric water on each other. Here’s an interesting fact! If the carrier of the Karaga happens to drop the sacred pot, the priests accompanying him are free to stab him with the swords they carry! 

Mahamaham Festival

When is it Celebrated?

Mark your calendars, for every twelve years! For this is the cycle of the Mahamaham Festival of Tamil Nadu, celebrated in the month of Masi or Magha, towards the end of February or the starting of March.

About

In the quaint town of Kumbakonam is the opportunity to absolve yourself of your sins, every twelve years! The Mahamaham tank is believed to be holy, owing to the confluence of nine river Goddesses of India. On the day of the festival, the waters of the tank are believed to be blessed with purificatory powers by Lord Shiva and the nine Goddesses.

What do the celebrations include?

The Mahamaham attracts thousands of devotees from all over India, who take a dip in the holy waters of the Kumbakonam Tank. This Indian festival is a grand event, complete with dance performances, processions, and street fairs, in and around the temple complex. After all, it takes place only once every twelve years!

Chithirai Thiruvizha

When is it Celebrated?

The annual festival of Chithirai Thiruvizha is celebrated in the month of April or May, in the Tamil month of Chithirai.

About

Forget attending your best friend’s wedding, how would you like to attend the wedding of Gods? Then head over to the Meenakshi Temple, in the city of Madurai for the Indian festival of Chithirai Thiruvizha.

Two festivals, combined into one, the month-long festival celebrates Lord Alagar and Goddess Meenakshi, and the holy matrimonial of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundarreshwar. 

What do the celebrations include?

 

The chief priest of the Meenakshi Temple begins the annual festivities by hoisting the holy flag. This is followed by rituals which depict the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi, her wedding to Lord Sundarreshwar, and her brother, Lord Alagar’s delay in attending the festivities. The festival is complete with processions, chariots, and beautiful decorations!

Attuvela Mahotsavam

When is it Celebrated?

Attuvela Mahotsavam is celebrated with great vigor in the months of March or April, in the Malayalam month of Meenam. 

About

Let me paint you a picture, a beautifully lit temple replica, floating in serene waters of the Muvattupuzha River, to the tune of graceful music, accompanied by an entourage of smaller, elegantly decorated canoes.

Ah! This is the vibrant festival of Attuvela Mahotsavam, the two-day water carnival of the Elankavu Bhagavathy Temple in Kottayam, Kerala. The festival is held to welcome the Goddess of Kodungalloor, who is believed to be the sister of the Elankavu Goddess. 

What do the celebrations include?

Apart from the procession of vibrant canoes along the river, the ritual of Garudan Thookkam is also quite interesting to watch. As the name suggests, performers dressed up as Garudan, are hooked to a shaft and hung, after performing the ritual dance.  

Ooty Summer Festival 

When is it Celebrated?

Organized by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department, the Ooty Summer Festival takes place for sixteen days, in the summer months as per dates announced by the officials. 

About

Unlike typical Indian festivals, the Ooty Summer Festival is a showcase of Ooty’s tourism and culture. Celebrated for over 120 years, the summer festival boosts the tourism of Ooty and sees an influx of tourists from all over the world.

What do the celebrations include?

The world-renowned summer festival celebrates Ooty’s travel industry, through shows and exhibitions, such as flower shows, fruit shows, and even spice shows. They even have pontoon races scheduled on Ooty Lake!  Dance and music perfectly tie up festivities. So head on to Ooty in the summer, and enjoy a breath of fresh air and amazing beauty! 

The Unknown or Unique Festivals of India

All of the festivals of India, mentioned in this article so far are definitely unique. Each with its own kind of specialty. But the ones mentioned from here will be something even more special. Something that you definitely don’t see every day.  

Since you are as excited as I am let’s dig right in!

Thimithi

When is it Celebrated?

This extraordinary fire-walking festival is usually celebrated 10 days before Deepavali during the Tamil month of Aippasi. This may lie anytime during October or November. It is a largely Tamil festival and is celebrated in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, South India. 

About

We are all familiar with the famous tale of Draupadi from the Mahabharata. Draupadi’s public humiliation led to the great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. It is believed that after the war Draupadi had to prove her innocence by walking on a bed of burning coal. It is in commemoration of this event that Thimithi is celebrated. 

A cult that goes by the name of Draupadi Amman cult celebrates this festival by worshipping Draupadi or Draupadi Amman. They are spread across a lot of Tamil villages and consider Draupadi as their goddess. As a largely Tamilian festival, Tamilians across the globe celebrate this festival including countries like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Singapore. 

What do the celebrations include?

The highlight of this festival is devotees walking on a bed of blazing wood to prove their faith and devotion to their goddess. First, a procession is led by the priest who is then the first to walk on the fire with a pot filled with water on his head followed by others.

There are many other events that are carried out in celebration of this festival. A lot of scenes from the Mahabharata are enacted by worshippers and acting troupes. The grand marriage of Arjun and Draupadi takes place symbolically.

People offer grand prayers, bathe the deity with milk, carry milk pots on their heads, a silver chariot procession is taken out two days before Thimithi to celebrate the Pandavas victory. 

The fire pit is kept blazing from the previous night. The event runs between 4:00 – 11:00. It is believed that only a true devotee of Draupadi will come out of the fire uninjured. 

Thaipoosam

When is it Celebrated?

Yet another Tamil festival celebrated on the full month in the Tamil month Thai which comes approximately during January or February. It usually corresponds to the appearance of the Pushya star or Poosam as known in Tamil. 

About

Dedicated to Murugan, Shiva, and Parvati’s son, this is a celebration of good over evil. Parvati gave Murugan a lance to vanquish the evil of Tarakasura and his demon army.

This lance was said to be invincible. It is also said that this day is the birthday of Murugan. The festival is all about praying to God to receive Murugan’s grace so that all bad traits are destroyed. 

What do the celebrations include?

Devotees offer fruits and flowers to Lord Murugan at this auspicious Indian festival. They often dress in orange and yellow clothes which are also the colors of the flowers. Some people are known to practice self-mortification on their bodies with large piercings etc. 

They carry out processions bearing milk, fruits, and flowers in pots or pails hung from a stick or carry them on their shoulders and visit various temples. They shave their heads and carry Kavadi or the vehicle of Lord Murugan on their heads.

It is a semicircular canopy and the pilgrim who carries it has to maintain cleanliness, follow a vegetarian diet, fast, and worship regularly before the festival. Reaching the temple can take up to weeks depending on the location.

Most people carry out this pilgrimage barefoot. They believe the festival gives them mental and physical strength and clears them of karmic debt. 

Rural Olympics

When is it Celebrated?

Every winter, the rural Olympics formerly known as the Kila Raipur Sports Festival is organized in Kila Raipur in the outskirts of Ludhiana, Punjab. This festival was first started in 1933. It is a celebration of rural Indian culture.

About

It started when Inder Singh Grewal, a philanthropist, gathered farmers to test their endurance. The Indian Rural Olympics is the biggest Rural Olympics ever held in the country. It is organized at the Grewal sports stadium in Kila Raipur. Not only athletes but people ranging from students to pensioners to prisoners all come together to be a part of the unique games. Over 4000 men and women are said to be a part of this 4-day long event. It is a large tourist attraction witnessing tourists from both India and abroad.

What do the celebrations include?

The celebrations include all kinds of never-heard-of games like Akhara, Khokla Chapaki to name a few. Akharas is where locals wrestle or engage in Kushti. Kokla Chapaki is a very popular rural game. Children sit in a circle blindfolded while one person runs around behind them and drops the cloth they are holding behind someone. That person then has to try and catch the other person before they sit in the vacant place. Other games include tug of war, kabaddi, kite flying, etc. 

Karni Mata Festival

When is it Celebrated?

The Indian festival is celebrated in Rajasthan during the Navratras. It is celebrated twice, once in March for 10 days which is the grander of the two, and once during September-October. It is celebrated in Bikaner at the Karni Mata temple of Deshnoke.

About

This is one of the most popular festivals of Rajasthan. Millions of tourists flock to the temple to be a part of these celebrations. It is dedicated to Karni Mata who is believed to be a goddess. She is said to have helped the poor and the needy. Her worshippers built an entire temple dedicated solely to her. 

It is an event rich with culture and religion. The beautiful architecture is a major tourist attraction. The deity is carved from yellow marble. It is also called the rat temple due to the presence of a huge number of rats but it is also believed that it gets its name from Karni Mata’s son who was drowned and blessed to be reborn as a rat. People believe that if they spot a white rat it is a sign of good luck. The fair begins as early as 4:00. 

What do the celebrations include?

The goddess is decorated with expensive jewelry, a crown, and garlands. A puja is performed followed by aarti. A Mela is held that sees a variety of tourists and devotees. During the puja, Bhog, and prasad is offered to the deity. 

Bhandara Festival

When is it Celebrated?

Bhandara celebrated on the Somvati Amavasya ( new Moon) in the Khanboda Temple. 

About

It is widely believed that Lord Khanboda is a descendent of Sun God, who defeated the Mani and Malla, the Cruel demons. This another Indian festival which teaches us howsoever strong is the Evil, good will ultimately win over it.

What do the celebrations include?

This festival is very similar to Holi, except for the fact that people apply turmeric over each other. Turmeric is known far and wide for its antibiotic properties, and applying it on the skin has its benefits too. It takes place in Pune, Maharashtra, in well known Jejuri temple there.

Angalamman Festival

When is it Celebrated?

It is celebrated on the day of MahaShivaratri in a small town in Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu.

About

Angalamman literally means “the Guardian god”. The legend goes like that; the goddess of Angalaparameshwari or the mother of the temple had been nurturing the world since perpetuity. The festival is a tribute to the mother for her love and care, and thanks for all she had given us.

What do the celebrations include?

The festival is infamous for bodily accessorization and painting. The common folk actually paint their faces to look like the deities. Though some go to the extent of body piercing by rings and knives to showcase their devotion to the almighty.

Hemis Festival

When is it Celebrated?

it is celebrated in the late June and early July it is a festival which is dependent on the Tibetian calendar or the Buddhist Almanac.

About

Hemis Festival is a festival celebrated in the Himalayan ranges like Ladakh, Tibet, and so on.  this festival is a Buddhist festival. It marks the birth ceremony of Lord Padmasambhava. Lord Padmasambhava is a Buddhist legend known for establishing the just rule of good over the dominating rule of evil.  while some say he was also responsible for establishing the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet.

What do the celebrations include?

this festival is a must in ones  to visit list as this festival is the ultimate showcase of the cultural beauty of Ladakh it includes the traditional dance through which they depict the story of the legend

Hornbill Festival 

When is it Celebrated?

The Naga Heritage Village held the Hornbill festival every year from the 1st of December to the 7th of December.

About

The Hornbill Festival is all about propagating and portraying the rich tribal culture of the Northeastern state, Nagaland. The festival is named after the Indian Hornbill, as its colorful stature reflects the very essence of the festival. 

What do the celebrations include?

The celebration includes the performance of tribal music, dance, and songs. You get to taste a wide range of delicacies which are only found in these highlands. There is a special emphasis is given on the traditional art forms. The local artisan and Craftsmen sell and showcase their best pieces.  

Tarnetar Mela

When is it Celebrated?

It is a three-day-long festival of Bhadarva Sud, which is around the month of August or September.

About

The Legend is traced back in the time of Mahabharat, in the event of Draupadi’s swayamvara. This is a cultural festival of Gujarat, where you can see vibrantly see the portrayal of their folk dance, music, costumes, and art.

These performances are done by the youth of the local tribes, who are in quest of spouses. But technically anyone can participate if they wish to.   

What do the celebrations include?

Raas is the most common dance form performed along with sticks that have to strike against the other dancers. Around two hundred women perform the Rasadas dance in a circular formation on the quadral beats of the drums.

Losar Festival

When is it Celebrated?

Losar is a Tibetan Buddhist festival popular in India too. The date of the festival varies according to the Tibetan calendar but usually falls in February and March.

About

Losar is very similar to the Makar Sankranti. It is marked as the First day of the Tibetan-lunar Calendar. History thus goes that the ninth king of Tibet converted the annual harvest festival into the Losar festival.

What do the celebrations include?

It is a 15day festival but the main festival is on the first three days. The first day a local alcoholic drink is prepared called changkol from a beer like drink chhaang. The second day or Gyalpo Losar is the king’s Losar. And from the third day, few traditional practices continue to occupy the attention of the folks for the rest of the days.

Conclusion

There we have it guys, we have reached the end. But there are of course many other Indian Festivals that should have made the list. We at Tourbharat will be working to provide you with more great content soon!

In this article, we have provided you a comprehensive Indian Festivals list! We have tried to cover everything from South Indian Festivals to North Indian Festivals!

From this, we hope to spread knowledge to the people of India, as well as others who are just fascinated by India and its mystic culture and traditions. 

So with that, we ask you to support us, do share this page to help spread some more knowledge to all! 

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