My childhood memories of Diwali are laced with my Mom frying chaklis and Gujias, my Aaji (Grandma) rolling ladoos, dad putting up lights and we trying to “declutter” our room and waiting eagerly to burst crackers.
Holi brings with it colors, Ganesh Chaturthi brings with it clay idols, Onam brings with it the beautiful Shankupushpam floral Rangoli. Boisterous festivities like these cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world.
If you want to be part of this festive India then in this blog post read about 15 most popular festivals in India for an unforgettable experience.
Colorful fireworks forming flowers in the sky, synchronized drum beats from the processions on the streets, people gathering in harmony to worship and ending the day with scrumptious delicacies make a festive India which leaves lasting impressions.
If this is your first trip to India you will find these posts helpful:-
- When is the best time to Visit India?
- 30 Breathtakingly Beautiful Destinations in India that you should not miss visiting!
- 15 Most Popular Festivals in India (with 2019 dates).
- Visiting India? Here’s What should tourists wear in India?
- Should you tip in India? Read when, whom & how much to tip.
- 13 tried and tested Safety Tips for Train Travel in India
- Curious about Indian Culture? Learn how to drape a perfect Saree – Step By Step Tutorial.
Here is a list of 15 Indian festivals that truly encapsulate the spirit of the country and celebrate its culture.
- Diwali– This festival of light celebrates the victory of good over evil.
- Holi– Also known as the festival of colours, it signifies the victory of superior over immoral.
- Ganesh Chaturthi– The festival of unity, it celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha.
- Durga Puja– The most important festival for Bengalis that is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Durga.
- Janmashtami– This festival celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
- Bihu– The celebration of the Assamese New Year is a collection of three different festivals celebrated together.
- Eid-Ul-Fitr– The festival of breaking fasts is celebrated by Muslims to signify the end of Ramadan.
- Onam– Celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, this festival originates in the state of Kerala.
- Goa Carnival– The festival of carnival or Mardi Gras is held every year in the Indian state of Goa.
- Kumbh Mela– Traditionally four Melas in different cities of India are considered to be Kumbh Melas, it is a Hindu pilgrimage.
- Pushkar Festival– Better known as the Pushkar Camel Fair, this is one of India’s largest camel, horse and cattle fairs.
- Hemis Festival– Organised by the Hemis Gompa, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries, this festival is celebrated widely over the Ladakh region.
- Horbill Festival– The festival of festivals is celebrated in the state of Nagaland every year.
- Nyokum Yullo Festival of Nyishi Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh
- Suraj Kund Crafts Festival in Haryana
The stories and beliefs about how this festival originated and its significance might change as one moves from one state to another in the country, but at the core, it is a celebration of the victory of good over evil.
Traditionally known as Deepavali, the name is coined from the words the ‘avali’ (row) of ‘deepa’ (clay lamps) that are lit outside houses to bring light and protect the family from the darkness.
The festival of Diwali is celebrated over five auspicious days and each day is special in its own way.
As part of the festival people deep clean their houses for a new beginning, shop for gold or kitchen utensils, decorate their homes with diyas and create stunning rangoli designs.
- The first day of Diwali known as Dhan Teras and the festivities start with great enthusiasm. It is considered as one of the most auspicious days of the year and most people mark its significance by buying gold, silver, precious stones or kitchen utensils.
- In most parts of the country, the second day is known as Choti Diwali and families spend this day together exchanging gifts and sweets and wishing for a prosperous year.
- On the third day, people offer their prayers to the Goddess Lakshmi with the Lakshmi Puja, which is followed by homemade delicacies and fireworks.
- The sky fills up with illumination as fireworks create colorful bursts of light in the sky all over the city.
- The fourth day of Diwali is the beginning of the new year and relatives visit each other with sweets and gifts.
- As the festivities come to an end, the fifth day celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters and is called Bhai Dooj in most places.
A festival that brings people together in joy and pomp, Diwali is no longer restricted to only Hindus and has been gladly accepted as a festival for all. It is celebrated with the same enthusiasm by everyone and acts as a way to bring family and friends together.
One of my fondest memories of Diwali that I probably share with all those who celebrate the festival as children in India is stocking up on all the different kinds of fireworks and lighting them together outside the house soon after the Lakshmi Puja.
When is Diwali in 2019– 27 October
Festival Tip– Safety and precautionary measures are very important for the best experience when it comes to Diwali celebrations because of the dangerous nature of all the inflammable involved. Another tip is to definitely take advantage of all the snacks and delicacies that are specially prepared during the five days and enjoy it.
How to celebrate– Celebrate this festival with family and friends to best enjoy its spirit and participate in the practices that are involved.
Where to celebrate– While Indian generally celebrate the festival at home, at least once in your lifetime you must experience how the city of Varanasi celebrates Diwali. The eternal city on the banks of the river Ganga sets afloat thousands of lit ‘diyas’ on the water which makes for a mesmerizing view as the sky becomes darker.
Editor’s Note: My childhood memories of Diwali are laced with my Mom frying chaklis and Gujias, my Aaji (Grandma) rolling ladoos, dad putting up lights and we trying to “declutter” our room and waiting eagerly to burst crackers. Traveling to India during Diwali? Here’s Everything you need to Know.
“Diwali is, without doubt, India’s answer to America’s Christmas, where the religious aspect takes a backseat and secular shopping comes to the fore”.Mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik
The festival of love and colours, Holi is one day in the year when people forget their resentments and bad feelings to come together and join in the revelries together.
This festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, fertility, a good harvest and the beginning of spring. It is on the Full Moon Day in the month of Falgun and lasts for one day and a night.
The first evening is called Holika Dahan or Choti Holi depending on the part of the country where you are. People gather to perform rituals in front of a bonfire, meant to signify the destruction of any evil in them in the same way that Holika the sister of the evil Hiranyakashipu was destroyed.
The next morning is when Rangwali Holi begins and youngsters and adults alike flock to smear different hues and vibrant colours on each other.
As children, we would spend the entire day dancing and throwing colour at each other, and if we were unlucky there would be traces of the colour on our skin when we went to school the next day but that again, was its own kind of fun.
It is a festival filled with joy as people with big smiles dance, sing and play with the colours without discriminating against anyone on the basis of any factors. Anyone and everyone is fair game as the frolic starts and no one gets away easily.
Families and friends visit each other to share delicacies and drinks, sometimes infused with bhaang, during the customary practices.
When is Holi in 2019– 20 March 2019 to 21 March 2019
When is Holi in 2020– 9 March 2019 to 10 March 2019
Festival Tip– A major tip while celebrating this festival is to ensure the use of eco-friendly and safe colours to avoid any allergic reactions that may interrupt your enjoyment.
How to celebrate– The best way to truly be a part of all the frolic is to understand and participate in each ritual that is performed.
Where to celebrate– While cities like Mathura and Vrindavan are renowned for their enthusiastic and beautiful renditions of the festival, Barsana in Uttar Pradesh takes a completely unique turn with the Lathmar Holi. Mathura is where Lord Krishna was born and Vrindavan is where he spent most of his childhood, so they are the best place for a taste of the traditional festivities.
- Varanasi has a historical, Spiritual, and academic connect. Here are 11 Top Things to do & Places to Visit in Varanasi, India.
- Golden temple is located in the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab in India. It is also known as Darbar Sahib or Harmandir Sahib. It is among the holiest places for Sikhs. Read my 2600 words detailed post: India’s Golden Temple in Amritsar: The Only Guide You Need
- Bhang on! An Awesome Guide on having Bhang in Varanasi, India.
3. Ganesh Chaturthi
The ten day festival celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha and begins with the installation of clay idols of the god in homes.
Lokmanya Tilak in a bid to propagate unity and bring the people of Maharashtra together started Sarvajanik Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations during the freedom struggle in India.
The festival includes the reading of the Vedic scriptures, offering prayers and modaks to the Lord and at the end of the ten days the idols are then immersed in a water body.
Ganesha is celebrated as the Lord of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles.
While for most people, memories of Ganesh Chaturthi revolve around the processions during the immersion of the idol, for me my favourite memory has to be accompanying my family as we brought the idol home on the first day and the first aarti.
In Mumbai itself 1,50,000 idols are immersed every year along with processions of people dancing to the rhythms of dhols and drums.
The immersion of the idols signifies the return of Lord Ganesha to Parvati and Shiva in the snow covered Mount Kailash to return the next year.
The festival is celebrated with pomp and enthusiasm by people belonging to all communities.
Preparations for the festivities begin months in advance with the making of the clay idols, installation of the pandals and practicing the synchronised beats of the music everyone associates with Ganesh Chaturthi.
When is Ganesh Chaturthi in 2019– 2 September
Festival Tip– The true feeling of the celebrations is during the processions with the idols as you enjoy the fervour and breathtaking experience of being amongst thousands of people with the beats of the drums to keep up with.
How to celebrate– Be ready to eat some great food, especially modaks which happen to be the favourite of Lord Ganesha, dance to loud music and feel your head bow with respect as the large idols are immersed into the waves of the sea only for all the celebrations to take place again the next year.
Where to celebrate– While this Indian popular festival is celebrated in several states across India the atmosphere in the cities of Mumbai and Pune during these ten days is worth experiencing. The sheer joy and jubilation of the festivities is visible as the processions are seen passing through the streets with some of the biggest idols in the country.
One of my first memories of Mumbai is looking up at the mighty Gateway of India, guarding the city against the vast expanse of the Arabian Sea beyond it, and being in awe of it. If visiting Maharashtra is on your mind, you will find the following posts helpful.
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- Tale of tragic love, treachery, and rumors of ghosts. Advice, tips, and things to know before you go to Shaniwar Wada in Pune, India.
- Srivardhan Beach in Konkan area is not only Maharashtra’s but India’s best-kept secrets.
4. Durga Puja
For me, Durga Puja has always been the festival I look forward to the most. And while the new clothes and the food may have been incentives, the atmosphere and the feeling of looking up at the beautiful idols is what I remember missing most about the festival at the end of the fifth day.
Durga Puja is a Hindu celebration of the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil Mahishasura. The festival honors the powerful female force.
The start of the festival sees the installation of elaborately decorated idols of the Goddess and her four children- Saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganapati, and Karthik, in homes and associations that organize the celebrations.
The festival is five days long and there are different rituals and activities every day. The community organized pujas also have entertainment and activities to both make the celebrations more enjoyable and promote social interaction and harmony.
Similar to Ganesh Chaturthi, at the end of the five days, the idols are immersed in water bodies to signify their return home till the next year.
Durga Puja is celebrated with great zeal throughout the country and nowadays in several places out of the country, too. From fasting in the morning before offering Pushpanjali and eating Bhog after, to wearing new clothes and enjoying traditional Bengal cuisine, Durga Puja is a festival filled with frolic.
Another ritual that the women in the family enjoy every year is the Sindoor Khela which happens on the last day of the festivities.
When is Durga Puja in 2019– 4 October to 8 October
Festival Tip– Durga Puja is meant to be spent with family and friends as we celebrate the victory of good over evil. It is a festival that strongly upholds the values of unity and family.
How to celebrate- Durga Puja is celebrated by fasting, regular aartis, offering prayers and Prasad, eating the Maha Bhog, wearing new clothes and being with family and friends enjoying the five days to its fullest.
Where to celebrate– This Indian popular festival may be celebrated in almost all parts of the world today to some extent but the real fun is in spending the five days in Kolkata. The people on the streets walking from one pandal to the next, the breathtaking idols and the revelry are all stunning.
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Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu, has always been one of the most beloved gods in Hindu mythology and Gokulashtami is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates his birth.
Some of the most attractive and important parts of this festival are the dance-drama enactments of Krishna’s life and experiences, devotional singing through midnight when Krishna is believed to have been born, fasting and night vigils.
Many Krishna temples also organize recitations of the Bhagavad Gita and the Purana.
Some of the best decorations for Janmashtami that I have seen over the years is in the Isckon temples. The lights and the music are both truly mesmerizing.
In Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated as Dahi Handi. Keeping in theme with the legend that Baby Krishna would break the earthen pots of yogurt and steal from them, this tradition is especially popular in cities like Pune and Mumbai.
This is reenacted by groups of people as pots of Dahi (Curd) are hung up on high strings and they form human pyramids to try and break them.
Similarly, different traditions have been adopted in different parts of the country depending on the folk and mythological tales prevalent there.
When is Janmashtami in 2019– 24 August
Festival Tip– Taking precautionary steps to ensure your safety is important especially if you are part of celebrations in places like Maharashtra and the South where the festivities can get a little too enthusiastic.
How to celebrate– The celebrations and traditions may vary depending on the place where you are but some things that you must not miss are the Rasa Lila performances and the communal festivities that are filled with joy and enthusiasm.
Where to celebrate– Since Lord Krishna was born and spent most of his childhood in Mathura and Vrindavan the festival is celebrated with particular extravagance in these places. But each state and region of the country has found its unique way of making this festival memorable and enjoyable.
The word ‘Bihu’ cannot be translated literally into English. But maybe this is because it doesn’t need to be. Bihu is a feeling one has to experience to understand and appreciate.
Hailing from the beautiful state of Assam in the North Eastern part of the country, this is a celebration of the Assamese New Year.
There are three Bihus celebrated by the Assamese, Rongali or Bohag (the festival of happiness), Kongali or Kati Bihu (the festival of scarcity) and Bhogali or Magh Bihu (the festival of feasting).
Originally celebrated mainly by farmers, they marked special occasions in the lives of farmers and today it has become a form of identity for the population.
Rongali Bihu marks the Assamese New Year and celebrates the beginning of spring in the month of April, while Bhogali Bihu is all about food and feasting.
The Kongali Bihu, on the other hand, is the more somber of the three that signifies the tough times of scarcity of supplies in the life cycle of a farmer.
Any Bihu celebration is considered to be incomplete without the Bihu folk songs and the traditional attire. People dress up in traditional clothes, colorful mekhala chaddors in the case of women, and perform the Bihu Naach.
When is Bihu in 2019– 15 April 2019 to 21 April 2019
When is Bihu in 2020– 14 April 2020 to 20 April 2020
Festival Tip– Bihu does not come once a year and actually happens three times a year so it is important to understand the significance of each celebration before participating in them.
How to celebrate– Celebrating Bihu should include learning about the unique culture and tradition of Assam, taste the delicacies that you can get only in Assam and experience the distinctive rituals while being in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Where to celebrate– Guwahati, the capital of the state of Assam serves as a great base if you want to experience the Indian popular Bihu celebrations. From there it becomes possible to then explore and participate in the local festivities.
Heading to North East of India? Exploring Guwahati – the Gateway to North East India. Sandwiched between the Brahmaputra river and the Shillong plateau, Guwahati is said to be the “Gateway” of the North East Region. Whether you are heading to see the One-Horned Rhinos of Kaziranga in Assam or the Tattooed Tribes of Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh, Guwahati is your major connecting city!
After the Islamic holy month of fasting, Ramadan, comes to an end Eid-ul-fitr marks the occasion and Muslims are not permitted to fast anymore. It marks the end of 29 to 30 days of fasting from dawn to sunset.
The celebrations on this day start with going to the mosque and praying the Farz Namaz. Some of the special things that are done on this day include visiting friends and family, wearing new clothes, feasting and gift giving.
It is also the day when many traditional sweet dishes are prepared to exchange during social gatherings.
On this day as an act of charity, most Muslims give money to the poor and needy before they perform their Eid prayers.
The festivities usually last for three days. The festival is also considered to be the perfect time to forgive those who had wronged against you. Many different dishes are also prepared as part of the feast that celebrates the end of the month of fasting.
My favourite memory of celebrating this festival as a child would be the plates of food and sheer khurma that the aunty from next door would give us as we celebrated the festival together.
When is Eid-ul-fitr in 2019– 4 June to 5 June
Festival Tip– Apart from offering prayers and enjoying the sumptuous food, this festival should be taken as an opportunity to adopt the principles of charity and forgiveness that are important themes in the festivities.
How to celebrate– The day can be celebrated by offering prayers, meeting family and friends, donning new clothes, giving gifts and wholeheartedly embracing the principles of the Islamic religion by putting them into practice.
Where to celebrate– A great place to celebrate Eid-ul-fitr is Jama Masjid in Delhi. On the eve of the festival, the heritage site becomes the biggest attraction of the capital and the sight is beautiful!
The experience of celebrating Eid in Old Delhi cannot be compared to anything else as the Jama Masjid gets packed with devotees.
Delhi, the capital of India before and after independence, has perhaps seen more of history than any other town in India. Delhi is Royal, Historical, Loud & Yet Endearing.
Apart from being the capital of India, New Delhi is a sprawling metro city widely renowned for its fashion and food. Here is a curated list of some of the best markets to shop in Delhi for clothing, antiques, furniture, and accessories.
Originated from the state of Kerala, Onam is today celebrated throughout the country marking the end of the monsoon and bringing in the harvest season.
This festival is celebrated over 10 days and brings the people together in traditional celebration that reflects the culture of Kerala.
According to popular legend, this festival was celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Asura King Mahabali from Patala.
After being exiled to the world underneath, King Mahabali was granted one boon for all his good deeds, which was that he would be allowed to visit his kingdom once annually.
Even though culturally this festival is most relevant to Hindu mythology it is celebrated by everyone with equal enthusiasm.
The grand occasion promotes unity and eliminates any differences or disparities. The Christians in Kerala also celebrate this festival with great zeal.
The Onam Sadya, a nine-course meal which consists of 11-13 dishes served on a banana leaf is one of the most important aspects of the Onam celebrations.
When is Onam in 2019– 1 September to 13 September
Festival Tip– Try to be a part of all the different rituals and activities that are organised during the ten day celebrations.
How to celebrate– Tripunithura Athachamayam is the first day of the celebrations and includes a street parade, exhibitions of differed art forms and dances, Pookalam is a form of celebrating this festival where flower arrangements are made to adorn entrances to homes and temples, the grand tiger dance, the snake boat race- Vallamkali and enjoying the wholesome Onam Sadya.
Where to celebrate– Throughout the year the reasons to visit Kerala are abundant, one major reason being the beauty of the state, but visiting Kerala during Onam is an experience like no other!
9. Goa Carnival
For tourists, one of the best time to visit Goa is in the month of March so they can witness the spirit of the Goans and participate in the Goa carnival.
It is the largest carnival in India and even Asia. Both locals and tourists look forward to this colorful and extravagant four-day festival. The carnival has been celebrated since the 18th century when the Portuguese introduced it in Goa.
It comprises of four days of eating, dancing and having fun!
The Goa Tourism Board promotes the carnival, too, because it has become a major tourist attraction.
For me seeing the Goa carnival at a young age is a novelty that is yet to wear off. The exuberance and extravagance of the parades stay with all those who see it for the rest of their life.
The carnival begins with a massive parade led by King Momo who is accompanied by dancers, musicians, people dressed as fortune tellers, vendors, acrobats, jesters and clowns as they make their way down the main street of Panaji, Mapusa, Margao, and Vasco.
The one-act folk plays known as Khell or Fell is the carnival’s specialty and is held during the carnival in Chandor where actors go about the village singing. You can participate in the Red and Black dance to have a taste of Goan music and dancing!
It involves dressing in your best red and black clothes and doning your masks before dancing the night away to traditional and upbeat music.
When is the Goa Carnival in 2019– 2 March 2019 to 5 March 2019
When is Goa Carnival in 2020– 22 February 2020 to 25 February 2020
Festival Tip– During the period of the carnival, Goa sees its biggest influx of tourists. This may cause accommodation problems and spikes in fares. Keeping this in mind a good thing to do is book rooms in advance.
How to celebrate– Apart from being a part of the all the colourful processions and dances, you can also enjoy the colourful floats, participate in sports competitions and taste authentic Goan delicacies.
Where to celebrate– The carnival consists of processions in several places around Goa and each place has its on specialities when it comes to the festivities, food and decorations.
The Museum of Goa (MOG) in Pilerne, North Goa is an Eclectic Museum of Art. Click to read more on the Museum of Goa timings, entry fee and explore Goa’s history through the lens of Contemporary Art.
10. Kumbh Mela
The banks of the sacred and holy rivers are crowded with people as they try to take a bath in the water during the Kumbh Mela celebrations.
Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage Traditionally four fairs are widely recognized as Kumbh Melas as people flock to the rivers in these places- the Ganga at Haridwar, the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna, and the invisible Saraswati at Allahabad (Prayagraj) the Godavari at Nashik and the Shipra at Ujjain.
It is believed that bathing in these waters helps to cleanse a person of all their sins.
The exact dates determined by the Vikram Samvat, the Kumbh Mela is held at any given place every 12 years.
There is a difference of around 3 years between the Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik and the fairs in Nashik and Ujjain are held in the same year or one year apart.
The festival is the largest peaceful gathering in the world and is said to have the best management.
Some of the activities at the festival apart for the ritual bathing include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of men, women and the poor and religious assemblies.
When is Kumbh Mela in 2019– 15 January 2019 to 4 March 2019
When is the next Kumbh Mela– 2021 in Haridwar (Dates TBA)
Festival Tip– Make sure that you are present to witness the Shahi Snan which takes place on certain auspicious days and keep in mind that the sheer number of people makes the tourist experience during the Kumbh Mela daunting.
How to celebrate– Ritual bathing followed by participating in the various activities and exploring the different stalls and exhibitions in the mela. But the most enjoyable aspect of the Kumbh Mela is simply soaking in the atmosphere that prevails and the religious fervour in the air.
Where to celebrate– The Kumbh Mela is held in Nashik, Haridwar, Ujjain and Prayagraj. The exact dates are determined by the Vikram Samvat.
11. Pushkar Festival
It is one of the most attractive festivals in Rajasthan as the desert is covered with camels and it provides a colourful opportunity to the people to learn more about the local culture.
Started for the utilitarian purpose of attracting buyers to buy camels and cattle the festival has become an extravagant celebration over the years.
The Pushkar Camel Festival also known as the Kartik Mela is an annual multi-day fair that is held in Pushkar.
The fair starts with the month of Karthik in the Hindu calendar and ends on Karthik Purnima, the full moon.
It is one of India’s largest camel, horse and cattle fairs apart from it is an important season of Hindu pilgrimage to the Pushkar lake. This makes for a great tourist attraction at this time of the year because of the lower temperatures and the abundance of colourful cultural themes.
Several cultural contests and competitions are held that are not only enjoyable for the participants but also for the spectators.
Many rural families set up their own stalls of handicrafts, textiles, fabrics, and jewelry that make the perfect keepsakes to take back home while keeping the tradition alive.
The festival starts with a camel race which is accompanied by music and songs, followed by the exhibitions and stalls.
The festival sees its peek crowd in the last five days as there is an influx of Hindu pilgrims who come to attend the fair, offer their prayers in the temple and take a dip in the sacred waters of the Pushkar lake.
When is Pushkar Festival in 2019– 30 October to 9 November
Festival Tip– The influx of people into the small town may lead to problems with regards to accommodations, therefore, a solution to this problem would be to book a place beforehand.
How to celebrate– Apart from witnessing the festivities on the ground a great option of experiencing the Pushkar Fair is from the sky! Many tour companies provide packages to take in the spectacular views from a hot air balloon.
Where to celebrate– The livestock fair and cultural fete is organized in the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan on the banks of Pushkar Lake.
This Indian Popular festival is infact very popular with foreigners as well.
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12. Hemis Festival
One of the most popular festivals from the serene Leh Ladakh region, the Hemis Festival is held every year in early June to honour Padmasambhava.
The monastery was re-established by Sengge Namgyal, the Ladakhi king. The festival is in honour of Lord Padmasambhava who is believed to have been born on the 10th day of the fifth month of the Monkey year, just as Buddha Shakyamuni predicted it.
It is believed that his life mission is the betterment of the spiritual condition of all living beings It is also believed that the observance of the sacred rituals of this festival gives spiritual well being and good health.
It is a two-day celebration that marks the birth anniversary of Lord Padmasambhava and signifies the victory of good over evil. The festival is conducted in the rectangular courtyard in front of the monastery gates.
There is a raised dias in this courtyard that has a richly cushioned seat with ceremonial items like cups full of holy water, uncooked rice, tormas made of dough, butter and incense sticks.
A number of musicians are present in the courtyard and they play traditional music using a wide variety instruments.
The ceremonies begin with an early morning ritual where to the beat of the music a portrait of Rygyalsras Rinpoche is ceremoniously put on display for everyone to visit.
A part of the festivities that you must not miss is the Mask Dance of Ladakh that is performed.
The view and stunning beauty of the place took my breath away and added to the serenity of the festival.
When is Hemis Festival in 2019– 11 July to 12 July
Festival Tip– Visit the fair where you can buy Tibetan souvenirs and see the locals dressed in their traditional attires which is truly a beautiful sight!
How to celebrate– Enjoy the masked dance and seek blessings from the portrait of Rinpoche. This popular Indian festival provides a peek into the culture that is distinctive to this region of the country.
Where to celebrate– The festival is conducted by the Hemis monastery, a Himalayan Buddhist gompa in Hemis, Ladakh.
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- 10 tips for trekking with children – The more you go on regular hikes or treks, the more the chances of your children bonding with nature! It doesn’t matter where you are located!
13. Hornbill Festival
Also known as the festival of festivals, the Hornbill Festival is celebrated held every year for 10 days from 1st to 10th December in Kohima, Nagaland, to revive and promote the richness of the culture of the Nagas and uphold their traditions.
There are many different tribes living together in Nagaland.
To promote inter-tribe interactions and sustain the culture of the Nagaland Government’s State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments started the Hornbill Festival in the year 2000.
The festival is named after the Indian Hornbill which features majorly in the folklore of most of the state’s tribes.
The festival features a variety of the state’s culture and traditions at the same location. For visitors and people new to the culture, it is a unique opportunity to witness the songs, dances, crafts, sports, foods, and practices of the Nagas and get a better understanding of the people.
The festival brings to light the Naga Morungs exhibition and there is a sale of arts and crafts, herbal medicines, flower shows and fashion shows- including the Miss Nagaland beauty contest.
The festival further highlights the uniqueness of the state and leads to cultural assimilation.
When is Hornbill Festival in 2019– 1 December to 10 December
Festival Tip– Make sure to enjoy musical concerts and performances in the evenings. This includes the Hornbill International Rock Festival which showcases local and international rock bands.
How to celebrate– Explore the stalls, exhibitions, and performances to learn about the distinctive Naga heritage.
Where to celebrate– The festival is conducted at the Naga Heritage Village of Kisama which is 12 km from Kohima in Nagaland.
These posts will help you plan your trips so that you stay safe and healthy.
Editor’s Note: To the above list I would like to add two more festivals. The
- Nyokum Yullo Festival of Nyishi Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh
- Suraj Kund Crafts Festival in Haryana
14. Nyokum Yullo Festival of Nyishi Tribe – Offbeat Arunachal Pradesh
The Nyokum Yullo Festival of the Nyishi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh will leave a city dweller traveler in awe and mesmerized at the same time.
Nyishi is one of the groups of tribe collectively known as Tani tribes. They believe that the entire human race had descended from the same ancestor Atu Nyia Tani which means the primal ancestor.
The Nyishis believe in malevolent (bad) and benevolent (good) ‘Uyus’ i.e. spirits dwelling in every patch of forest, stone, rivers, streams, waterfalls, mountains.
The main occupation of the Nyishis is agriculture. While these Uyus (Spirits) protect crops they can also cause diseases and so they have to be propitiated.
The Nyishi community performs many rituals in order to appease the ‘Uyus’.
However, ‘Nyokum’ is the most important festival as appeasing the Uyus in this festival assures happiness, good health, wealth, the vitality of domesticated animals and of course ‘a good harvest’.
When is it Celebrated? If Arunachal Pradesh tourism in on your mind and you are in the state around 23-23 February then you can catch the Nyishi Tribe festival Nyokum Yullo 2019 in different Nyishi districts.
How is it Celebrated: Click to read everything you need to know about the Nyokum Yullo Festival of Nyishi Tribe.
15. Suraj Kund Mela – Haryana
“Came for the cotton candy, left with lots of memories” – Such is the charm of Fairs and I am not talking about any fair but about SurajKund Mela which happens to be the largest crafts fair in the World.
Ever since I shifted to the Haryana State of India, visiting this annual fair has almost become like a ritual.
The vibrant colors, crafts, music and the entire deco of the Surajkund Craft Mela is a treat for anyone and everyone who loves Indian Arts, crafts and fairs.
Surajkund Mela 2019 Dates: 1st to 17th February 2019 are the dates for the 33rd Surajkund Mela 2019.
Surajkund Mela 2020 Dates: 1st to 17th February 2020 are the dates for the 34th Surajkund Mela in the year 2020.
At least 20 countries and all the 27 Indian states would be participating in the Mela. The Surajkund Mela 2019 is open to visitors from 10:30 AM to 8.30 PM.
Click here to read What Wikipedia Can’t Tell You About Suraj Kund Mela.
Diverse, grand, colorful and exuberant, the culturally-rich land of India is known for its abundance of popular festivals.
The beauty and diversity of India are further magnified by these festivals.
The festivals celebrate everything from the changes in the cycle of the sun to the different phases of the moon, victory of good over evil and the birth of the different gods and most importantly they celebrate the motto of ‘Unity in Diversity’ that India so strongly upholds.
Each festival sees the participation of everyone regardless of religion, caste or community.
Witnessing and experiencing each of these festivals is an opportunity no one should let go of.