If you are planning a trip to India you might want to time that trip to coincide with one of these famous Indian festivals that are well worth seeing. While some of them are not suitable for everyone we are sure you will find this list fascinating either way…
Holi is the famous Indian festival of colours. Celebrated in the spring season, Holi is the festival of colours in our lives. Marked by the striking blend of colours and water, it is one of the most famous festivals in India. It has become a symbol of Indian culture in various parts of the world.
This festivity has various aspects related to it. Besides being an envoy of spring, it is considered to spread messages of communal harmony and national integrity. People of all religions and castes colour each other with gulal on this occasion. Many interesting myths are associated with the origin of Holi. The whole nation gets coloured on the occasion of Holi with the most extensive celebration being carried out in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Durga Puja, the most important festival of West Bengal, is marked by celebrations that last for five long days. All this duration, the whole state dresses up in a fresh look with its people setting up the aura right from the beginning of the festive season known as Mahalaya. Decorating homes and buying gifts for friends and relatives are the most important activities people indulge in.
The celebration starts with Bodhon on Maha-Shashti, with the first day being devoted to the welcoming of Goddess Durga as it is considered that the goddess descends to the earth on this day. The last day of the celebrations comes to an end by immersing the idols in the nearby water channels on the evening of Dashami as it is believed that the goddess returns to her abode on this day.
At present, the cultural, as well as social importance, has raised the celebrations of Durga Puja to a great level which is now considered to be much more than a religious festival. A huge influx of tourists is observed during these five days of cultural extravaganza. It is undoubtedly one of the important festivals in India.
Diwali also termed Deepavali, is widely celebrated and the most famous Indian festival. It has its mention in the great Indian epic Ramayana and is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
The literal meaning of Diwali is a row of lights. In the evening, after offering prayers to God Ganesha and Goddess Luxmi, people lit their houses with vibrant lights and candles thus creating a striking view. This is done with an eternal faith that by doing this not only the homes but lives of the people will become bright as light. Marked with many rituals, customs and celebrations, Deepavali is a five-day long process. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, the festival takes place on the moonless night of dark half of Kartik. A highlight of the festival is the firework carried out all across the country.
Kumbh Mela or Fair is the most immense act of faith around the world. It is marked by the huge gathering of Hindus at the banks of the holy river Ganges. It is a sanctified Hindu pilgrimage and bathing period.
The customary Kumbh Mela is celebrated every 3 years, while the celebrations of Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela are carried out every six years at Haridwar and Prayag. Internationally renowned The Purna (complete) Kumbh fair takes place every twelve years at Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. After twelve ‘Purna Kumbh Melas’, or 144 years, The Maha (great) Kumbh Mela is held at Allahabad.
Pilgrims from all over the world gather at these divine places and stay in tents possessed by dutiful and religious guides and at several ashrams and hotels. With some of the bathing dates designated as royal, all the prime bathing days are marked by long parades carried out by the naga sadhus.
Eid is an Arabic word that means festivity. Muslims in India primarily celebrate two Eids – Eid ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-zuha. Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is a three-day Muslim celebration. Ramadan is the Islamic holy month of fasting during which followers of the Muslim religion observe a strict fast from dawn to sunset. Eid ul-Fitr is thus celebrated with great enthusiasm.
Bakra Eid is also known as Eid-ul-zuha and is celebrated on 10th of the month Zilhaj of the Islamic calendar. Cohorts of the Muslim religion celebrate this day to thank god for their good fortune and to share it with people of less fortune. It is a festival of generosity.
Baisakhi is a significant festival celebrated in northern India, especially in the state of Punjab. It is associated with the harvest of Rabi crop and takes place on the very first day of Vaisakh month which is usually in the months of April and May. On this day various activities are carried out all across the state of Punjab. People from various religions offer prayers at the Golden Temple, Amritsar while bhangra dances are organized as a part of a cultural treat. Besides, several colourful fairs are also organized on this occasion.
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is celebrated majorly in its northern region. It is devoted to the beautiful relationship shared by brothers and sisters. As it speaks about the undying love between two of them, Raksha Bandhan is a promise to protect this sacred bond forever. This festival is celebrated every year on a full moon day in the month of Shravana of Hindu calendar. On this occasion, sister tie rakhi or holy thread on wrist of her brother. This is followed by Tilak puja after which the brother offers a gift to his sister. Brother and sister traditionally feed one another sweets and pray for each other’s happiness.
There are several interesting fables and myths related to the origin of this festival. Observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims, rituals are not limited to those who are related by blood or family. In fact, people who share an affectionate brother-sister relationship can perform this ceremony.
Yet another important Indian festival that celebrates the most beautiful relationship on earth that of a husband and wife is Karva Chauth. Celebrated by married Hindu women (some Sikh women as well) in northern India and parts of Pakistan, Karva Chauth is a long-standing Indian ritual.
To ensure the well-being, wealth and long life of their husbands that married women observe a very difficult fast on this occasion. They neither eat food nor drink water the whole day. They get dressed up like newly wedded brides and decorating hands and feet by creating intricate designs with henna is one of the most common traditions largely followed on this occasion.
It means “the night of Shiva”. As the name indicates this festival is devoted to the Hindu Lord Shiva as he was married to Parvati on this day. The main rituals take place chiefly at night. Besides observing a strict fast on this day, people stay awake throughout the night and worship the Shivalingam by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc. All this is accompanied by hymns of the Mantra Om Namah Shivaya. Celebrations of Shivaratri are hugely carried out in the temples of the southern part of India. Various artists perform the whole night.
Indian Republic day is celebrated all over India on 26th January to commemorate the date on which the Constitution of India came into existence replacing the Government of India Act 1935 as governing document of India on 26 January 1950. It is one of the three national festivals on account of which the whole country observes a holiday, with the other two being Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti. Great passion and zeal of patriotism is mirrored by parades, March pasts and traditional dances which take place during the event.
Major celebrations are carried out in the capital of the nation – Delhi. The most popular part of this celebration is the air show wherein roaring Indian jet planes leave their marks on the sky leaving the onlookers mesmerized.