Festivals in India have always been about celebrating our cultural ethnicity, paying tribute to nature as we enjoy our vibrant diversity that makes India so special.
So while most fairs and festivals have been linked to a particular deity, the celebration spreads across the length and breadth of this country.
1. Pushkar Ka Mela – The Pushkar festival infuses life into the deserts of Rajasthan. Traditionally a place for trading live stock and camels, this annual event exhibits the vibrant culture of Rajasthan.
Held every November in the holy town of Pushkar, the festival sees an influx of tourists, not so much to trade in cattle but more so to watch the ancient trade fair. The best part is the camel race, meant to check the agility and strength of this desert animal. Other attractions include horse dance, bridal contests and even a longest moustache contest….
So head there to get a flavour of the rich past, where magical lamps seem so real.
2. Dusshera –Dusshera falls between September and October months. Famously known as 'Vijayadashmi, it is the time when little toddlers take their first step into writing. The main attraction is the 'Ramlila' a public staging of the epic Ramayana which starts a number of days before, so that the killing of Ravana takes place at this very day. The best place to be in is Mysore; where the city comes alive in large floats and brightly lit colours adorning the magnificent Mysore palace.
3. Diditara, diditarat, dithi, thaka thai thai tho…. Rhythmic humming by row men marks the beginning of the famed snake boat race along Kerala’s picturesque waters. It exemplifies the uniqueness of Onam. Come August-September, Onam pays reverence to the famed mythological King Mahabali. Legend has it that the King, known for his fairness comes to visit the state for ten days every year. Onam is a celebration of this visit, when the people exhibit their joy and happiness.
Among many attractions the largest crowd puller is the famed snake boat race. It is the best time to visit Kerala – to see the state come alive in music, dance, elephant processions, street plays, grand elephants and of course the unique boat race.
4. DIWALI –Diwali or Deepawali as it is known is a festival of lights – a symbolic representation of the victory of good over evil. Diwali usually falls in the end of October to early November. This time is marked with new beginnings and a Lakshmi Puja. People buy new clothes, gift each other sweets and chocolates; while the nights come alive in the garland of lamps and fire crackers. Visit Delhi it see its full splendor or head to Jaipur where the five-day festival is marked in colourful displays in the local market.
5. CHRISTMAS – The jolly Santa spreading good will marks the beginning of a week-long of fun culminating into the New Year. Sure it may not match to the snowy winters found in the west, but Christmas here is not limited to Catholics alone. So you have the beautifully adorned Churches, local carols and hay cribs. And if that is not enough, head into the homes, where little Santas dance around in bright colours amidst happy families’ hyming jolly old songs. In places like Goa and the north eastern states the streets are decorated in bright lights as hotels and restaurants dress up to the Christmassy mood…
6. Kite Festival – What a sight it would be to look up the sky…into a maze of Kites? During Makar Sankranti the skies of Ahmedabad in Gujarat is set ablaze with a riot of kite -birds… At the International Kite Festival people from across the world show-off their kite making skills. Held usually on the 14th of January; it marks the beginning of the summer season.
7. GANESH CHATURTI – Popularized during the pre-Independence era to bring all Indians together, Ganesh Chaturti still holds the crown of being one of India’s most celebrated events. It falls in July / August every year.
Large idols of Lord Ganesha depicting various scenes from mythological era to modern day events adorn cities like Mumbai, in midst of dances, prayers and the mouth watering modhaks. Homes across Western India have smaller idols of the same god. On the final day the idols are left into the river with hope of a good year ahead.
8. Goa Carnival –As unique as this tiny coastal state, the Goa Carnival is a street festival of parades, large caricatures as little children, young girls and traditional tribes come together to display their art. Large floats parade the street along with giant drums and impromptu charades.
The festival introduced by King Momo marks the beginning of Lent period of penance and sacrifice. Carnival falls usually in February.
9. HOLI – A festival of colour, Holi is a time when the whole nations erupts in joy, throw colours at each other and revel in making a mess… Usually celebrated in March, people pray to God for good harvests. But what makes Holi unique, is the vibrating beating of the drums, drunken dances, and uncanny joy. People play card games, make merry and participate in other traditional games often looked down upon.
Places like Varanasi offer a traditional Holi, and don’t miss the bhang – a unique intoxicating drink so much a part of the Holi.
10. Brahmaputra Beach Festival –Unique in culture and its ethnicity, north eastern part of India have some interesting festivities. The Brahmaputra Beach Festival in Assam is one such unique event. Held in January or February each year, the 2-day event combines culture with adventure. So we have traditional dances like Bihu, food crafts and cultural exhibitions, blended beautifully with sports such as paragliding, boat cruises, rafting, beach volleyball and canoeing.
Unique in its approach and sacred in its thought festivals in India symbolise the victory of good over evil. Truly it is the best way to relax and rejuvenate; both body and soul…
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