India: Fairs & Festivals

1. Uttarayan, the Festival of Kites. The International Kite Festival, lso known as Uttarayana is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Indi and is celebrated on Makar Sankranti every year, Makar Sankranti, or Maghi as it is commonly called, being the day that the sun transitions into Makara (Capricorn). It marks the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of longer days. One of the very few festivals in India that follows the solar cycle instead of the lunar cycle, Makar Sankranti and therefore Uttarayana, falls on the fourteenth of January every year. The festival welcomes everyone to take part, irrespective of their religion, gender or nationality, Uttarayan is celebrated mainly throughout Gujarat, but also in cities in Telangana and Rajasthan. The main event, which is the International Kite Festival, is hosted in Ahmedabad and attracts participants and spectators from all over the globe. Ahmedabad is often called the Kite capital of Gujarat. One of the best places to enjoy Uttarayan is by the Sabarmati Riverfront. With a capacity of over five hundred thousand, the area remains flooded with vibrantly coloured kites and smiling faces from as early as 5:00 in the morning. Another popular location is the Ahmedabad Police Station, where you can lay down and enjoy the lovely view. Most visitors come from around India, but there are plenty of international tourists as well, especially from countries like Japan, China, Malaysia, the UK, and France. Approximately eight to ten million people participate in the festival every year. 2. Telangana International Kite Festival. The Telangana International Kite Festival is a relatively newer kite festival that is as beautiful as the one in Ahmedabad. It started in 2016 and takes place every year on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of January at the Parade Grounds in Hyderabad. Last year it hosted twenty-seven kite clubs and saw a footfall of over fifty thousand. Apart from simple kite flying, it includes fun, interactive workshops on kite making and many more cultural activities. The best part, entry is free for all. One of the most popular events is the night-time kite flying event that takes place on the first and second night. The third night brings with it an incredible closing ceremony with a plethora of cultural activities including music and dance. The Telangana Kite Festival should be on your shortlist if you are looking for a short, fun-filled holiday. Throughout the festival week, markets are flooded with kite sellers. Patang Bazaar is probably the most famous of these markets. It remains operative 24x7 during the festival weeks and is always crowded with sellers selling all sorts of high-quality kites and buyers buying in bulk. Patang Bazaar is loud and chaotic, but despite the thick crowd, it remains incredibly beautiful. It's easy to lose one's self among the narrow winding roads packed with stall after stall of colorful kites with intricate designs. Prices can range from INR 5 to INR 5000 and even more, depend on the size and quality of the kite. Most of these kites are handmade with bamboo shoots and thin paper. All sorts of colorful, shiny toys accompany the kites. The ambience is just like that of the carnival. For an authentic taste of India, you must visit Patang Bazaar.
The Kumbh Mela is considered to be one of the most important religious events in India. The origin of the festival lie in the ancient belief in the conflict between the gods and the demons over the possession of the “Amrit Kumbh”, a pitcher filled with nectar. This fair is celebrated in 4 places – Haridwar Allahabad Nasik Ujjain People, from all over the world, come to participate in this religious event, drawn by their curiosity about the exotic traditions and the religious mysticism of India. A large number of sadhus gather on the banks of the Ganges to take a dip in the holy river and people bath at the ‘Sangam in Allahabad’, 'Har ke Pauri' Ghat at Haridwar on this auspicious occasion. The noise puzzles all description, the shout and cries of ash-smeared sadhus come together with the neighing of horses, the trumpeting of elephants, the grunts of camels, the bellowing of bulls, and as if these are not enough, there are gongs and drums beating, trumpets blaring, condi shells blowing and bells ringing.
The Sonepur Fair is held on Karthik Purnima (the full moon day) in the month of November in Sonepur (Bihar), on the banks of river Ganga. It lasts for a fortnight and the cattle are decorated for the occasion. It is Asia's largest cattle fair where anything can be bought right from elephants to camels, buffaloes, goats and all sorts of four-legged creatures. The fair becomes a virtual explosion of colors, music, dances, magic shows, cattle, merchants and handicrafts as people from all over the world congregate to participate in this huge event. It has all the fun and hue of a popular fair, which has religious connotations as well and is enjoyed with a lot of jest and fanfare by all.
There are in all 24 Ekadashis observed by Hindus during the year. Vaikunth Ekadashi is observed in November and is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Ekadashi. People fast and pray to the goddess. In Maharashtra, pilgrims march in a procession, singing bhajans or devotional songs and assemble at the Vithal Temple in Pandharpur.
This celebration in honor of the goddess, the mother of the world, begins on the first day of Ashvin, and goes on for nine days. The goddess is the personification of Power, or “Shakti”. She is known by many names: “Kali”, “Laxmi”, “Sarasvati”, “Chandi-ka”, “Durga”, “Bhavani”, “Ambika”, “Ashtabhuja” (eight hands). Her main task is to punish the wicked. She is engaged in war, and weapons are in her hands. She sits on a lion. Her weapons are the “shul” (pike), “chakra” (wheel), “parshu” (axe) and “talvar” (sword). Kali is known as “Mahisha-surmardini”, the slayer of the demon Mahishasur. The fight against the demon begins on the first day until he is defeated on the ninth day.
Nagula Chavithi is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh on the fourth day after Deepawali, which falls on a New Moon day. On this day serpents are worshipped with great devotion and religious fervor. On this day women and children observe fast and worship snake god. Dressed in their festive best, they offer milk at the snake hills. On this day there is a great demand for snake hills. Some complete the ritual at home placing a picture or idol of a snake. Nagula Chavithi is celebrated twice a year during the months of Karthika and Sravanam. 'Nagula' means of the snakes and 'Chavithi' is the fourth day after every New Moon or Full Moon day.
This lovely and gigantic fair falls on the last day (Full Moon Day) of the Hindu month of Kartik (Oct – Nov) near the sacred lake of Pushkar. This beautiful lake surrounded by bathing ghats, has its religious significance, rooted in a myth. The fair is primarily dedicated to Lord Brahma, the creator and one of the holy trinity. The colorfully dressed people enhance the exuberant mood of the fair. The fair is the biggest camel market. Thousands of pilgrims gather here, to take a dip in the holy lake. Puppet shows are the other major crowd - pullers.
Gurpurab or Guru Nanak Jayanti is the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak who founded the Sikh faith. For two days and nights preceding the festival the Granth Saheb (Scriptures) is read. On the day of the festival, the Granth Saheb is taken out in a grand procession. The celebrations at Amritsar are the most impressive. Prayer meeting and processions are carried out particularly in Punjab. Sikh conduct 'langer' {distribution of food} in the Gurudwara.
The festival of Batkama in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh is the most aesthetic occasion. It is basically, a festival of flowers. Celebrated for nine days, The festival during Durga Navratri. Flowers are arranged on a square wooden plank or a square bamboo frame with the size of frames in a conical shape to form an apex on top. This little floral mountain represents and is worshiped as Goddess Batkama.
Kerala's most important festival is celebrated in the honor of the ancient asura king Mahabali. The occasion also heralds the harvest season. The decorating of houses with carpets of flowers, a sumptuous lunch and songs in praise of the golden reign of Mahabali, mark the ten day long festivities. A major attraction of the Onam celebrations is the famed snake boat races along the backwaters at Champakulam, Aranmula and Kottayam.
This day is dedicated to the Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of all good beginnings and success. Held annually, this festival is a ten day long event. The images of Lord Ganesha are installed and worshiped and on the last day these are taken in processions to be immersed in flowing water. The seafront at Mumbai, packed with people, is a spectacular sight.
The serene mountains of the Chamoli district of Garhwal reverberates with a flurry of festive activity during the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra, a royal pilgrimage through the precipitous mountains, that has been in vogue since time immemorial. It is an important religious event mired in deep rooted religious tradition, folklore and mythology. The Yatra is associated with the legend of Nanda Devi, a Goddess held in reverence by the local inhabitants of the region.
Bishnupur in West Bengal is a land of snakes and Jhapan is celebrated to honour the serpent deity, Manasa Devi. This festival is dedicated to Goddesses Manasa, the daughter of Lord Shiva. She is believed to be the divine leader of the fertility cult of snake worship. More popularly, it is celebrated as a festival of snakes. The biggest attraction of this festival is the deadly cobra. Jhapan Mela is celebrated all over the Western part of the Bengal.
Nag Panchami is observed on the 5th day of the bright half of Shravan (July-August). On this day nag, cobras and snakes are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers, lamps and even sacrifice. The image of Nag deities made of silver; stone, wood are first bathed with water and milk, and then worshipped with the reciting of the mantras.
Raksha Bhandan is celebrated on the full-moon day in the month of Sravana (July-August). The festival of Raksha Bandhan symbolizes love, affection and the feeling of brotherhood. On this day, sisters tie an amulet, the Rakhi, around the right wrist of their brothers praying for their long life and happiness. Raksha means protection, and in some places in medieval India, where women felt unsafe, they tied Rakhi round the wrists of men they could count upon, regarding them as brothers. The tradition of tying a thread or "rakhi" around the wrist to convey different feelings has been coming down through the ages since the Vedic times.
The Bonalu festival is a major welcome for the people of the Telangana region. This festival is and old tradition and is celebrated with undiminished ebullience and religious ardency. This one-month long festival witnesses musical treats and ritualistic worship. The word "Bonalu" has been derived from "Bhojanalu" meaning food, which is offered to the Goddess. The prayers are offered to the village deities Yellamma, Mahankali, Maisamma, Pochamma, Gundamma. It is also an annual thanksgiving by the people to the Goddess for fulfillment of their vows.
This Rajasthani festival is celebrated by the women, on the third day of the moonlit fortnight of Shravan, in memory of Goddess Parvati’s departure to her husband’s home. Besides Rajasthan this festival is also celebrated in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. In the morning Puja is performed. Later, in the evening Young ladies and girls dressed up in lehengas and chunaris to perform dandia dances.
A big fair is held at Hemis Gompa about 50 kilometers from Leh, to celebrate the birthday of Padmasambhava, the founder of Lamaism. The ritual dances by masked dancers are the main attraction, as are the main attraction, as are the local handicrafts.
This spectacular chariot festival is held at the famous Jagannath Temple at Puri. Images of Lord Jagannath - the Lord of the Universe, his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra are taken out in procession in three immense chariots. The procession or Rath Yatra draws huge crowds from all over the country.
The Dhungri Forest festival is celebrated at the Hadimba or Dhungiri temple in Manali. This four story wooden temple is located in the middle of a forest called the Dhungiri Van Vihar. The Goddess is worshipped by the local women, who arrive in their colorful dresses to perform the ritual dance before her in order to appease her. Legend states that the king who commissioned the temple was so highly satisfied with the results that he cut off the craftsman's right hand to prevent him from duplicating it elsewhere.
This 10 day festival takes place at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, to celebrate the mythical marriage between Siva and Meenakshi. The Meenakshi temple is one of the most spectacular excessive displays of architecture on earth. The temple has nine towering gopurams and thousands of pillars, covered from top to bottom with some 30 million colorful carvings and gypsum images of gods, demons and animals.
The dramatic festival of Karaga begins from the Dharmaraja temple in Bangalore. A devotee is chosen and a Karaga or a clay pot is placed on his head. The pot represents Shakti, the mother-goddess of archaic strength. The devotee has to balance the pot as he has a staff and a sword that occupy his hands.
Held on first 'Baisakh'- the 13th April - Baisakhi is one of Himachal's most important festival. Rooted in the rural agrarian tradition, it bids a final farewell to winter. The Sikhs celebrate this as a collective birthday, filling the atmosphere with gaiety, music, dancing and good cheer. This festival is an opportunity in villages to enjoy with sheer abandon because they know that a season of hard work follows soon after which is the time for harvesting corn and other grains.
Buddha Purnima, the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, is celebrated by Buddhists all over India. But it is very popular in Sarnath and Bodhgaya. The Buddhists offer prayers in their temples on this day. The Buddha was born on a full moon day in the month of Vaisakh in 563 B.C. He achieved enlightenment as well as Nirvana on the same date.
This festival reflects the tradition and culture of the Sindhis. It is celebrated as the birthday of Asht Dev. Hi is believed to be the community God of the Sindhis. His birthday falls on the second tithi (occasion) of Chaitra (the first month of the year according to the Hindu calendar). This day is considered to be very auspicious and is rejoiced with much pomp and splendor.
It is celebrated as the Tamil New Year's Day. At Tiruvadamarudur near Kumbakonam a big car festival is held.
Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon's orbit. It is believed that Lord Brahma started creation on this day. Ugadi is the Telugu New Year's Day. On this day mantras are chanted and predictions made for the New Year.
Gudi Padva is widely celebrated in Maharashtra. The day is very auspicious for the people of Maharashtra. It is generally believed that any venture started on this day gives nothing but success.
This festival is the New Year's Day of the Bengalis. It welcomes the New year with early morning processions, songs and dance. Beautiful designs called Alpana are made on the floor by the house-wife.
Nau Roz is Kashmir's New Year's Day. On this day, there is a general festivity and rejoicing throughout the state.
Vishu is the New Year's Day for the Keralites. The New Year is supposed to bring better knowledge and understanding between all humans. The festival is celebrated with much joyous and happy minds and forgetting all the differences.
Ramnavmi celebrates the birth of Rama, a human incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ayodhya and Pondicherry, the places which are said to have witnessed the events of Ramayana, are the main centers for this festival. Temples are decorated and prayers are offered. Chariot processions of Ram, Seeta and Lakshman are taken out from the temples with great zest.
Mahavir Jayanti marks the festival of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. It commemorates the birth of Mahavira. It is mainly celebrated by Jains with great zeal and enthusiasm. They visit sacred sites and worship Teerthankaras on this day. The festival is celebrated on a large scale in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Nagaur bustles with life during its annual cattle fair which is one of the largest in the country. Exciting games and camel races are part of the festivities. Owners of cattles from all over Rajasthan come and camp around the outskirts of Nagaur while they buy and sell animals. This fair is also famous for the various sports events that are organized in it, Tug-of-war, camel races and cockfights. At nightfall, folk music and songs bring out a magnificent musical touch to the quiet ambience of the desert.
The desert festival celebrated in the golden city of Jaisalmer has an aura of its own. The festival becomes lively with legions of puppeteers, acrobats, and folk dancers add splashes of color. Camel races are of great significance and camel polo is a big attraction. The turban-tying competitions and the best-dressed Rajput contests add to this three day long festival.
Teppam is widely celebrated every year in Tamil Nadu from mid-January to mid-February during the full moon month which in Tamil is known as Thai. Fantastically dressed and bejeweled images of the goddess Meenakshi and her consort undaresvara are floated on rafts. All along the shore, the devotees chant hymns as a bevy of bands beat drums in tempo with their chants.
The most important local festival in Rajasthan, Gangaur celebrations last for eighteen days. It is dedicated to Gauri, a manifestation of goddess Parvati. The festival is celebrated by girls and married women throughout Rajasthan. The images of Gauri are ornamented and offerings are made. This is also an auspicious day for young people to select their life partners. Colorful processions with the town band playing, horses and elaborate palanquins make it a fascinating spectacle.
All over the country, Shivratri is observed as the night, when Lord Shiva danced the 'Tandav' - his cosmic dance. Fasts and prayers mark the day and devotees throng the temples. The major Shaivite temples at Varanasi, Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh) and Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu) are noted for their special celebrations.
The ceremonial welcomes spring when people, colorfully attired, especially in bright shades of yellow, dance, sing and make merry. In West Bengal, 'Saraswati' - the goddess of learning is worshiped. The festival is celebrated with great fervor in the university town of Santiniketan.
The Tyagaraja festival is celebrated in the memory of Tyagaraja. Tyagaraja, a South Indian composer and saint was born in 1767. He has composed a number of Telugu songs in praise of Lord Rama. Many young poets and musicians are inspired by this man's amazing work. Every year, South Indian musicians assemble at Thiruvaiyaru - 13 kms from Tanjore, to sing in his praise. People, young and old, sing in perfect harmony. The melody is such that one cannot remain untouched by its sheer devotion and divine resonance.
Pongal is one of the most wonderful and harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. India being an agriculture country, where 70% of population of India live in villages and depends on agriculture. Therefore most the big events of fair and festivals are related to cultivation. The festival alike Pongal are celebrated in all over India with different name, identity and rituals. The southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka celebrate it with a four-day festival namely Pongal/Makar Sankranti. Also called Uttarayan in the Northern states, it marks the beginning of the sun’s transition into the zodiac of Capricorn (the Sanskrit words Makar means Capricorn and Sankranti means transition). This transition is the symbol of a fresh new beginning after the harvest is over and thus calls for a celebration and thanksgiving. A festival such as Pongal, is the perfect time for families and friends to get together in joyous celebration. Naturally, this is also when you get to prepare and share delectable sweets and savouries that hold traditional significance. The harvest festival of Pongal has its very own festive cuisine. And yes, children love to gorge on sweets and chew sugarcane strips all day. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Eid al-Adha in India: 1. Madurai, Tamil Nadu: Often referred to as ‘Thoonga Nagaram’, meaning the city that never sleeps, Madurai is famous for the magnificent and most beautiful Meenakshi Amman temple, jasmine flowers (which are also exported), Jallikattu (the traditional sport played during Pongal) and various local delicacies. Madurai is closely connected to the nearby villages and this is where a traditional festival such as Pongal can be experienced in its true sense. On the main day, at sunrise, farmers with their families offer a portion of the harvest to the Sun god and thank him. The celebration includes making of colourful rangolis, and preparing the sweet dish sakkarai pongal, made of rice and jaggery in mud pots. The whole house is painted, and mango leaves are hung at the main door to herald the festivities. There are special poojas for the cattle to thank them. The Thirumalai Nayakar Palace, Gandhi Museum, Thiruppuramkundram temple are other main attractions in this temple city. 2. Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu: The town of Thanjavur/Tanjore is famous for the Brihadeeshwara Temple (also called Big Temple) and the Tanjore paintings. But what make the town more beautiful are the lush green paddy fields all around and it is also the highest rice producing region in Tamil Nadu. One can witness the old rituals still alive at the special pooja for many cows on Mattu Pongal day at Brihadeshwara temple. The local communities also conduct rangoli competitions making the streets look vibrant. There is something unique about the Big Temple. The main gopuram is constructed in a way that its shadow never falls on the ground (how amazing!). The Tanjore Palace, located close to the temple, houses a museum and is a must visit for children.
During this festival sermons are delivered in mosques by learned men, focusing on the life and noble deeds of the Prophet who was born on the twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Awwal, the third month of the Muslim year. The word 'barah' stands for the twelve days of the Prophet's sickness. In some parts of the country, a ceremony known as 'sandal' rite is performed over the symbolic footprints of the Prophet engraved in stone.
Muharram is the opening month of the Hijra year. The 10th day of this month (May) is honored by the Muslims of Kerala. Muharram marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Mohammed. Muharram – is an extraordinary occurrence which denotes the blessed day of Ashura. Muharram is one of the four ordained months of the year and is recognized as the divine month after Ramadan. The word ‘Muharram’ indicates prohibited and immoral. According to the Islamic record, the holy day customarily comes on the 10th day of the month of Muharram and this day is recognized as the day of grief which is fundamentally obeyed by the Shia Muslims. It is assumed that Imam Hussain Ibn Ali aka Imam Hussain Ali, was the third Imam of the Shia population. He was even the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was killed on this day. And that’s the principal cause why the entire Shia Muslim Association whips themselves with sharp objects on their heads, chest, and back on Muharram. Fasting is an important ritual of this day.
Bakrid is celebrated with ritualistic fervor particularly in Andhara Pradesh. Bakrid is an important festival of Muslims falling in the last month of Islamic Calendar. The significance of the festival is the commemoration of the ordeals of Prophet Ibrahim. Eid al-Adha is the second most significant festival celebrated by the Muslim community across the world. It is also the time when the Hajj pilgrimage officially begins for the devout Muslims. The festival commemorates the event when Prophet Ibrahim’s faith was tested by the Almighty, and a goat was sacrificed in place of his own son. For this reason, goat sacrifice is an important part of this festival and so is cooking mutton curries. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Eid al-Adha in India: 1. Srinagar: Srinagar is one place where the Eid al-Adha festivities are observed with much vigour. The residents buy new clothes and gifts, offer prayers at the Hazratbal Dargah and the historical Eidgah, visit Regal Chowk, Lal Chowk and Goni Market for shopping and eating. Clearly, this is a public holiday in the city, and citizens make the most of it. 2. New Delhi: Delhi, more so, Old Delhi, is a hub of Eid celebrations for several reasons. One, the Jama Masjid is located in this part of the city, and two, the most authentic restaurants selling Mughlai recipes dot the bylanes of Old Delhi around the mosque. Being a prominent capital of the erstwhile Mughal Empire, Delhi scores brownie points when it comes to holding the best Eid al-Adha celebrations in India. 3. Lucknow: The City of Nawabs has an unbeatable reputation for the obvious reasons for holding unique Eid ul-Adha celebrations. City’s devouts offer the namaz at Asifi Masjid and Aishbagh Eidgah before hitting the dining spots in Lucknow for relishing the festive mutton meat and other delicacies. 4. Hyderabad: In the land of Nizams, Eid ul-Adha celebrations are held on a large scale. Hyderabad, being a city rooted in tradition, does not disappoint when it comes to holding Eid celebrations with pomp. Secunderabad, Masab Tank and Madannapet remain abuzz with festive cheer. On the other hand, most of the city’s residents visit the Charminar to hold prayer gatherings. 5. Mumbai: The Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai is the go-to place to offer prayers on Bakrid or Eid al-Adha. Even the Minara Masjid witnesses devouts thronging to the mosque to pray. When it comes to relishing the festive food on this holy day, Mohammad Ali Road is the best place to find mouth-watering treats. 6. Kolkata: Areas in Kolkata having Muslim stronghold exude the best Eid vibes. Both Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are duly celebrated in Kolkata. Since mutton is a much loved delicacy here, Kolkata’s popular eating spots cook up rich mutton curries to feed the hungry diners.
India is a land of several religions and people are liberated enough to celebrate their festivals and fairs as per their traditions and rituals with much fervor and enthusiasm. Id-ul-Fitr or Ramzan Id marks the end of Ramzan, the month during which the Muslims fast every day. Ramzan means the 'festival of breaking the fast'. Fitr is derived from the word 'fatar' meaning 'breaking'. Ramzan Id is celebrated on a day when the new moon appears. Prayers are offered in mosques and Idgahs and elaborate festivities are held. The festival is celebrated by the Muslims with great fanfare. After the holy month of Ramadan comes to an end, Indian Muslims become all excited to celebrate their biggest festival recognized as Eid-ul-Fitr or mostly Eid. The festival is famous for celebrating love and togetherness between friends and relatives. The festivity brings the occasion to devour and enjoy lip smacking sevaiyaan and biryani after breaking the long fast. Eid is celebrated at the end of Ramadan – a month to pray and commemorate the lesions and sacrifices of Prophet Muhammad. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Id-ul-Fitr in India: 1. Taj Mahal Mosque, Agra: The massive property of the historic Taj Mahal invites huge number of Muslims every year on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr. Agra is well known for the grand Taj Mahal. Thousands of Muslims assemble in front of the red sandstone mosque and offer prayer on Eid-ul-Fitr morning. Entry to Taj Mahal is free for entire day and this day is perfect to observe the Islamic culture in full glory as people are seen dressed up nicely and exchanging words. Once the prayers are done, people hug each other and wish Eid Mubaraq The entire area near Taj Mahal turns into a sparkling fair and becomes one of the great places for Eid celebration in India. 2. Jama Masjid, Delhi: Jama Masjid is the first place to offer namaz in India for signifying the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan. Jama Masjid is a popular heritage site that becomes the biggest attraction of the capital on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr. It is among the most popular places for celebrating Eid in India. This time, you can see the mosque packed with devotees. If they can’t find the space inside the mosque, then they relax on the stairs and the street outside. Old Delhi can be seen stuffed with the vibrant crowd that seem very enthusiastic about their festival and look awesome in their colorful attire. The entire Old Delhi seems to be indulging into the galore of the festival. 3. Chaar Minar, Hyderabad: Chaar Minar is a historic monument of not just Hyderabad but entire India as well. It becomes a hub of activity during the sacred month of Ramadan that beautifully concludes on the day of Id-ul-Fitr. People from different corners of the city offer prayers and after the prayers, they come here for having fun. People from all age group come here dressed in their finest clothes and reach to the market place for exchanging Eid wishes. The day before Eid in Chaar Minar sees great shopping in the area. Char Minar is definitely an awesome place for celebrating Eid in India. 4. Haji Ali, Mumbai: Haji Ali is an amazing example of Islamic architecture and one of best locations for Eid celebration in India. It is standing proudly on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Comprised of white domes and minarets, the place is visited by people without any religious discrimination and faith. It is situa ted close to the coast of Mumbai on high rocks surrounded by the sea. This sacred place is visited by a lot of devotees and visitors. Some visit the place for their religious faith and some are allured by the visual beauty of the place. It is said that whoever prays here is never disappointed. A huge number of people visit Haji Ali on the holy occasion of Eid keeping a long awaited wish in their hearts. The special place and eve of Eid become more special with a visit to Haji Ali on Eid-ul-Fitr. 5. Masjid-E-Khadria, Bangalore: This is an amazing built mosque in Bangalore located close to the Bangalore Cantt Railway Station. The holy place is sited inside Quddus Saheb Eidgah – a place where Haj camp is constructed every year. The mosque witnesses a huge number of footfalls on the occasion of Eid. People come here to perform Namaz. Nearby the mosque, several fun facilities are available that’s the reason; it becomes one of the popular places for celebrating Eid in India. 6. Mecca Masjid, Hyderabad: Also referred as Makkah Masjid, Mecca Mosque is one of the biggest heritage buildings of old city of Hyderabad. The main hall of the mosque is 75 feet high, 220 feet wide and 180 feet long. It can accommodate 10,000 worshipers in just one go. On the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, the mosque becomes a hub of activity and prayers. People gather to exchange wishes and share delicious sheer khurma. 7. Hazratbal, Srinagar: Huge number of people joins Eid prayers at Hazratbal, which houses the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad. Located on the banks of Dal Lake, its peaceful setting is the perfect place to offer the prayers. On the eve of Eid, Srinagar wears a festive look and the streets are filled with people shopping for this beautiful festival. It is a heart-warming sight, full of hustle bustle and yet with a feeling of absolute calm and universal peace.
This Christian festival marks the memory of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Just as it is celebrated around the world, Good Friday is observed in India too in April every year. All Christians attend Mass held in the churches on this day. Following Good Friday comes Easter Sunday, which is also celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy. Easter marks a huge moment in the story of Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a time of celebration, the moment where his powers were validated, as was the faith of those who believed in him and his teachings. It is, in fact, the very foundation of the Christian faith. Easter is broadly considered a festival of renewing hope and life, which is why it is surprising to see that it is not celebrated as widely as Christmas. Despite the presence of a sizeable Christian community, Easter celebrations in India are a relatively small affair. Nevertheless, the beautiful festival is celebrated with much heart and cheer in some places. Here is a look at five places in India where you can witness Easter celebrations in its truest form: 1. Goa: Goa has a rich Christian culture, with several churches, new and old, that serve a massive community. As you can expect, Easter is a big deal in the beach paradise, with mass and processions organized in every single church. The Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Goa is where the biggest celebration takes place, though, with people crowding the church and its premises, listening to mass and the inspiring sermon. Once the mass is over, the cross is revealed for veneration by the congregation. The cross is then carried by the church’s clergy through the streets of the Goan town, with a crowd in tow and somber music sung to mourn Jesus’ suffering. The procession is a re-enactment of Jesus Christ’s walk to Golgotha for his crucifixion, and it takes place along Panjim’s streets before ending at the church. It is a humbling sight that can fill your heart with sobriety and wonder. 2. Mumbai: Mumbai typically has more low-key celebrations. Its churches hold mass and prayers to commemorate Easter. This then makes for a great time to visit Mumbai’s iconic churches and offer your prayers. Mount Mary Basilica, or the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount in Bandra is a popular church with a rich history behind it. Bandra also has St Andrew’s Church in Bandstand, while Afghan Church in Colaba and St Thomas Cathedral in Fort make for equally breathtaking visits. If you are more interested in the culinary delights associated with Easter, many of Mumbai’s restaurants, cafes and hotels will offer traditional and unconventional Easter feasts. Malls and other locations will also host Easter parties and other events. 3. Aizawl: Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram, has a huge Christian community, with Solomon’s Church, Presbyterian Church and Baptist Church being one of the several that serves the city. It plays host to extensive Easter celebrations, starting with sunrise mass and prayers at every church. In 2016, Salvation Army band parties played the holy hymn “He’s Arisen” across the city on the morning of Easter Sunday. Churches also hold special prayers and worship on that day, and you can find special food items made at several cafes and restaurants across the city. The Seven Sister states of Northeast India have a sizeable Christian populace, and you can find many places in these states celebrating Easter, like Kohima in Nagaland, Tura in Meghalaya and several places in Tripura, Assam and Manipal. 4. Kochi: The districts of Thrissur, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam in Kerala celebrate Easter in the most, with Christians thronging to their community churches for offering prayers. Churches conduct services to commemorate the end of Lent and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Easter, you can find a celebrative mood in the city of Kochi and its churches. If you want to catch the morning mass and prayer, you can visit any of Kochi’s famous churches, like Malayattoor Church, St. Alphonsa’s Church and Vallarpadam Church. The streets of Kochi will also be celebrating the rise of Jesus Christ and his ascendance into heaven. Shops will offer Easter goodies and bunnies, while restaurants will offer special Eastern Sunday meals of their own. 5. Vishakapatnam: The port city of Vishakapatnam, or Vizag as it is popularly called, comes alive to celebrate the miracle of Easter. The Anglo-Indian community in this city celebrates Jesus Christ’s return and the renewal of life and its many blessings with dance, music and some really, really tasty food. Community hotspots like Soldierpet and Gyanapuram are particularly good places to visit in this festival, with their festive decorations. Most households will cook their own special grand Easter feasts for the day to celebrate the end of Lent, and you can visit the Sacred Heart Church in Soldierpet, Infant Jesus Church in Seethammadara or St Joseph’s Church in Convent Junction to offer your prayers with the rest of the community. Kids engage in distributing Easter egg, and an annual Easter Ball is held where community folk come together to sing, dance and celebrate the occasion. And by dance, we mean really dance, like the waltz, jive and foxtrot.
Christmas is celebrated in India with great fervor. A festival that is celebrated by over a billion people worldwide, Christmas is one of the biggest festivals celebrated around the world on 25th of December every year. All the major Indian cities wear a festive look. Shops and bazaars are decorated for the occasion and offer attractive bargains. Carol singing, get-togethers and the exchanging of gifts enhance the Christmas spirit. Christmas parties launch off celebrations for the New Year, thus retaining the festive mood for at least a week. A festival that celebrates the life, sacrifices and teaching of Jesus Christ, Christmas is as much about Santa Claus, lights, decorations, Christmas trees as it is about Jesus Christ. Christmas In India is celebrated with equal zest and fervor as in other parts of the world yet has given it its own flavor. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Christmas in India: 1. Goa: Known for its excellent beaches and legendary nightlife, perhaps Goa is the best place to celebrate Christmas in India. With its Portuguese legacy and Catholic population Christmas here is celebrated with a gripping fervor. The churches and homes are decorated with beautiful lights and poinsettia flowers while children sing Christmas carol late into the night. People of all ages line up at the churches to take part in midnight mass. The Christmas in Goa is very famous which also attracts thousands of tourists from different part of the country and abroad to its shore who come to witness this festival in all its colors. 2. Shillong: This amazing north-eastern city in Meghalaya has a considerable population of Christians who celebrate the birth anniversary of Christ with some pomp and glory, which makes it picturesque place to celebrate Christmas in north-east India. The streets, the churches and the homes are decorated with beautiful lights and one can easily feel the excitement in the air. The midnight mass sees huge crowds pour in to the churches of the city with bands playing soulful gospel music. The beauty of the region, its food and the general excitement for Christmas makes being here a memorable experience. 3. Puducherry: Is a fascinating little union territory just off the Tamil Nadu coast. The “Little France” as it is known in those parts of the country is gifted with some wonderful architecture, beautiful beaches and delightful French cuisine. Having a French lineage there are a lots of Christians here who celebrate Christmas with great zeal following all the traditional rituals and merry-making. The churches, especially the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart of Jesus are stunningly decorated and they are some of most beautifully decorated churches during Christmas celebration in India, offering midnight mass which sees the whole town gather at these churches. Celebrating Christmas here is a great choice as one can relax at the beach, enjoy the stunning marine life and experience the festivities at their best. 4. Kerala: One can have a complete experience while having a holiday in Kerala during Christmas. The state has a very strong Christian population with countless churches across the state. The famous holiday is celebrated with great vigor across the state as people decorate their houses, the churches and the street with lightings and other materials. The churches whether big or small remain open throughout the night and thousands of people gather at churches across the state to sing midnight mass. Besides being part of the festivities one can do so much from visiting the backwaters of Kerala to its lovely beaches, from shopping for spices to exploring the Western Ghats. It’s truly the best time to visit Kerala. 5. Mumbai: Mumbai is synonymous with a fast-paced life yet the city, which has a rich colonial past and has been the receiving point of many immigrants, is pretty famous for its Christmas celebration in India. The western suburb of Bandra is a place to see in Mumbai during Christmas. It is known for its Catholic population and the Hill Road is stunningly decorated with flowers and lighting during the Christmas time. One can also spot decorated Christmas trees on the pavement of the Hill Road which the local families put up in spirit of the festival. The churches in the city are also beautifully lit up and decorated with people from all religious backgrounds seen enjoying with their friends and family. 6. Kolkata: A colonial stronghold back in the day, Kolkata has a very strange relationship with Christmas. Even though there aren’t many Christians in the city leaving out the Anglo-Indian community, Kolkata is a place in India where Christmas celebration is like its own festival. The churches are decorated, the streets are lit up and people of all ages go out for shopping. For many though Christmas means the delicious cakes and the bakeries in town are usually overflowing with customers during Christmas. 7. Bangalore: Bangalore has a rich cultural past and an alluring Christian legacy. It has numerous beautiful churches, especially in the central part of the town. Many of them, built by Europeans, have British or French influences and their own unique traditions for Christmas celebration in India. The prominent ones are St Patrick’s Church on Brigade Road and The All Saints Church on Hosur. Come December and the town is decked up in festivities. Famous for it culinary delights, the city is spoilt of choices. One can head to Koshy’s for their plum cake, smileys and ginger tea, Thomsons Bakery, an old timer’s favourite, Caperberry for a delectable four-course turkey dinner just stroll along the famous eateries of MG road. Christmas celebration in Bangalore is a charming experience and is sure to leave you in the most joyous of moods. 8. Sikkim: The state of Sikkim has a small Christian population and although a predominantly Hindu state Christmas is a cause to celebrate for the indigenous population. The celebrations add more color to this otherwise vibrant and small northeastern state of India. Sikkim has always been a preferred choice for travelers and tourists with its lofty Himalayan peaks capped in snow and pristine waters that emerge through its rivulets. It is therefore very aptly referred to as the best winter destinations to visit. In December and January, the state will be freezing under the encompassing veil of snow which enhances the beauty of the land. Every household in the land is lit up with stars and decorated trees, and the air smells delightful with roast meat and baked cakes. Restaurants and pubs stay open until late night with festivities going around in great excitement all around. This is one of the best time for honeymooners to visit Sikkim with the festive excitement and romantic aura the place provides. 9. Manali: The state of Manali has been experiencing an increase in its number of visitors every year especially during the months of Christmas. In the highways of Manali, a beeline of vehicles can be seen slowly making its way to the ethereal beauty of Manali. With the city encompassed in layers of snow tourists from various places and nearby areas make way to Manali to celebrate White Christmas. The festivities continue to well after the New year with erected snowmen cover the landscape of Manali. Santa clauses stand at the entrances of hotels and restaurants inviting festival goers for a bite of Christmas special induced with a mix of Himachal cuisine and also hands out goodies. To add a blend of local taste to the festival mood, the visitors are entertained with the Himachal Kullu folk music. The heavy snowing in the region gives it an additional romantic grandeur bringing smiles on the faces of recently married couples. They sit entwined enjoying a sip of hot chocolate at the comfort of their hotels while listening to soft carol music. On the outside bonfires are lit, and people sit around singing and enjoying the chill and watching children projectile snowballs on each other. In spite of the chilling winter, the festivities going all around bring a certain level of cheer and warmth. 10. Chennai: When it comes to the south Christmas is still a cause to celebrate, and the city of Chennai promises for a spirited celebration and stands true to its word. Chennai is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and has great prominence in Christian history with one of his disciples being allegedly killed here. The state also has many prominent churches including the Velankanni church which attracts more than six thousand visitors every Christmas season. What the state does not have in snow it makes up for it in other options to make your Christmas something of an epic experience. The city located on the Coromandel belt has the perfect mix of Christmas partying and spirituality in close quarters. During the evenings the festivities enter to a whole new dimension with clubs hotels and pubs hosting wild parties and enticing Christmas flavors with a tinge of Tamil cuisine. On the streets, small groups of people visit neighboring houses with music heralding the birth of Christ. A person clad in the attire of Santa Claus hands out goodies. Moving away from the bustle of the city the beaches also host a number of elegant Christmas parties. In a nutshell, Chennai is one of the best places to celebrate Christmas if you are not into snow and White Christmas. 11. Dadra and Nagar Haveli: The union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, unfortunately, do not register as a potential Christmas location but has real potential to become a major haven for the same. A visit to the place in December will show you how magnificently Christmas is celebrated in this union territory. The exciting part of its celebrations is that there is a mix of tribal celebration to it which is very intriguing. There are also few beautiful churches which are beautifully decorated, and one can attend the holy mass services in the evening which are held in great festive spirit and fervor.
Janmashtami, the birth of lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion and éclat on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon, in the whole of north India. Raslila, a tableaux depicting scenes from Krishna's life especially the love for Radha, is performed. In the evening, bhajans are sung, which end at midnight, the auspicious moment when lord Krishna was born. Thereafter, arti is done, prasad distributed and flowers showered on the idol. Janmashtami, one of the most vibrant Hindu festivals is celebrated all over India in honor of the birth of one of the most loved deities – Lord Krishna. Here are a few destinations you must travel to during the time of Janmashtami and feel the magic of it. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Janmashtami in India: 1. Vrindavan & Mathura: The holy town of Vrindavan is where Krishna spent his childhood and his teenage years. Situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, Vrindavan is where Krishna performed the famous Rasleelas with his Gopis. The celebrations start 10 days prior to the day of Birth in Vrindavan. Rasleelas and plays on the life of Krishna and even scenes from the epic Mahabharata of which Lord Krishna was an indispensable part, are performed by professional artists on the occasion of Janmashtami. Also, there are over 4000 temples in Vrindavan of which Ranganathji Temple, ISCKON Temple, Radharaman Temple are the main temples where people flock for the ceremonies and ritualistic events that take place throughout the day of Janmashtami; especially the ‘Abhishek‘ which is the grand sacred bath of Lord Krishna before the ceremonies begin. A majority of the devotees and tourists come to see these famous performances before heading to Mathura. With thousands of temples in the city of Mathura, celebrations start over a month before the day of birth. Two most important aspects of the Janmashtami festival celebrated here are Jhulanotsav and Ghatas. Jhulanotsov is the ritual where people put out swings in the courtyard of their houses and temples decorated with flowers and rangolis to welcome Lord Krishna to their dwellings and to symbolize the cradling of the infant Krishna. Ghatas are another unique feature of the celebrations here at Mathura, where all the temples in the city are decorated with the color of the chosen theme including the clothes of the Idol Krishna as well. This tradition is followed for an entire month! Also Jankis are made, which are clay model figures that depict various stages of Krishna’s life. They are showcased all over the city of Mathura. 2. Dwarka: Also known as the golden city of India, Dwarka is particularly famous for its massive and fabulous Janamashtmi festival. Devotees from all over India throng the city of Dwarka during Janamashtami. The celebration of Janmashtami in the main Dwarkadhish temple is very famous and it follows the daily routine or ‘Nitya Kram’ of Lord Krishna. The rituals here are performed by Aboti brahmins, who have been performing the same for the past many centuries. Rows of lights are lit everywhere, kirtans and bhajans are sung, sermons are delivered and Krishna is worshipped in his infant form all over this city. 3. Mumbai: Known as Gokulashtami, this is the best time of the year to visit and marvel the festivities in the versatile city of Mumbai. Devotees remember how the Lord was very fond of butter and used to go to great lengths to obtain butter. In honour of the beloved Lord, Dahi-handis filled with curd, puffed rice and milk are strung high up above the streets. Groups of enthusiastic youngsters form human pyramids to reach up to these and break them open – the way Lord Krishna and his friends would, after sneaking into the houses of gopis to steal butter. People throng in great numbers to see these human pyramids and their attempts at breaking the pot of butter. One of the biggest Dahi Handi competitions takes place at the Jamboree Maidan on G M Bhosle Marg in Worli. Bollywood celebrities often make appearances and perform there. 4. Jammu: Janmashtami is one of the most popular festivals in Jammu wherein the festivities begin at midnight, with the birth of Lord Krishna. This is marked by aarti and blowing of the Conch (shankh). Kite Flying is an important part of celebrations as well. An array of designer kites soar the skyline in Jammu on Shri Krishna Janmashthami. From dawn to dusk, people of all ages fly kites rejoicing in the spirit of the day. The blue sky is enlivened by colourful and pictorial kites. Playing music while kite-flying is a common sight in Jammu. Crowded rooftops, fun-loving rivalry to outdo each other, and delicious feast are the hall-marks of the festival.
Dussehra also known as Vijaya Dasami is celebrated as a victory of Ram over Ravana. On this day in Satya Yug, Ram (the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), killed the ten headed king of Lanka, Ravana who had abducted Rama’s wife, Sita. Dussehra is the last day of Navratri; it falls on the 10th day of the waxing moon during the Hindu month. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Dussehra in India: 1. Kolkata: The biggest festival of West Bengal, Durga Puja (or Pujo, as Bengalis say) literally transforms Kolkata into the city of joy. From hopping between elaborate pandals (each has a unique theme and tells its own story) and indulging in delectable bhogs to doing the dhunuchi dance to the fervent beats of the dhaak, Durga Puja in Kolkata is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, while Kolkata’s public Durga Pujas tend to hog all the attention, a little-known yet unique experience can be found at the traditional ‘Bonedi Bari’ pujas held in the city’s time-worn palatial mansions (like Sovabazar Raj Bari and Rani Rashmoni Bari). 2. Mysore: According to local folklore, Mysuru Dasara is celebrated with much pomp and grandeur to commemorate the event from which the city is believed to have got its name — the slaying of demon Mahisasura by Goddess Chamundeshwari (another name of Durga). As the deity is revered as a warrior goddess, the celebrations include military parades, athletic competitions and cultural performances. Other highlights of the event are the special Durbar at the spectacularly lit Mysuru palace (attended by members of the royal family, officials and the masses) and the majestic Dasara procession known as the Jumbo Savari. 3. Kullu: At the centuries-old Kullu Dussehra, spiritual fervor and ancient beliefs mingle harmoniously with the beats of dhadaks, the sonorous calls of Narsingha trumpets and the crisp Himalayan air.cOver 200 local deities and demigods from neighboring villages are brought to participate in Lord Raghunath’s rath yatra (a palanquin-chariot procession) to Dhalpur Maidan. Started by Raja Jagat Singh (the erstwhile ruler of the Kullu valley) in 1637, the Kullu Dussehra is the only festival in India where such a large number of deities are assembled at one place. What also makes this festival unique is that unlike other places, the celebrations begin on Vijayadashami, the day when the Dussehra festivities end in the rest of the country. Interestingly, instead of burning effigies of Ravan, the festival concludes its celebration with the Lankadahan ceremony or the burning of the Lanka (symbolised by dry leaves, grass and twigs) on the banks of river Beas. 4. Hyderabad: A beautiful floral festival dedicated to the Goddess Gauri, Bathukamma literally translates to ‘Mother Goddess, come alive’ in English. Celebrated across Telangana and in parts of Andhra Pradesh, the festival starts with the worship of Lord Ganesha followed by women dancing around a flower arrangement (that is made by placing seven concentric circles of wood on top of each other to resemble a temple gopuram). Coinciding with Navratri, Bathukamma starts on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and culminates on on Ashwayuja Ashtami (also known as Durgashtami). It is then followed by Boddemma, a 7-day festival that marks the ending of varsha ritu (monsoon) and the advent of sharad ritu (autumn). Interestingly, each day of Bathukamma is named after the type of food (naivedyam) that is offered to the deity on that particular day. 5. Bastar: A unique 75-day festival celebrated in the tribal heartland of Chhattisgarh, and the Bastar Dussehra is all about nature, spirituality and Devi Danteshwari (the presiding deity of Bastar). This tradition is believed to have been started by 13th century Bastar King Purushottam Dev in Bade Dongar the erstwhile capital of the Kakatiyas that lies near the present day city of Jagdalpur. Unique rituals at this age-old tribal festival includes pata jatra (worship of wood), deri gadhai (posting of the pillars, kalash staphna (urn installation), kachan gaadi (throne installation for Devi Kachan), nisha jatra (nocturnal festival), muria durbar (conference of tribal chieftains) and on the last day, ohadi (farewell to deities). 6. Chennai: Come Dussehra, and the streets of Chennai get decked up with kolus (simple tier-wise arrangement of idols of gods and goddesses on wooden padis). While the brightly-coloured tableaux usually represent the assembly of Goddess Durga during her battle with the demon Mahishasura, it also has displays with other themes such as episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Similar versions of this unusual festival are also celebrated with great enthusiasm in the neighbouring states of Karnataka (Bombe Habba) and Andhra Pradesh (Bommala Koluvu). 7. Varanasi: One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi is famous for its Ram Lila that has been performed beside the Ramnagar Fort since the early 1800s (it was started by the then Maharaja of Benaras, Udit Narayan Singh). The entire area around the fort is transformed into a stage with permanent structures being built to represent the main locations of the story like Ayodhya, Lanka, Ashok Vatika etc. As the actors (aided by music, masks and huge papier-mache figures) move from location to location while performing the epic saga, the audience moves along with them. Incredibly, the performance hardly uses mikes and loudspeakers, even when viewers number are in the thousands. 8. Madikeri: A colourful, carnival-like festival celebrated amidst the serene hills of Coorg (Kodagu), Madikeri’s Dasara has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the reign of Haaleri Kings. There are four temples dedicated to Goddess Mariamma (after whom the celebration is also called Mariamma festival), each having its own unique Karaga (a ritualistic folk dance dedicated to Draupadi) that is performed during the festival. There is nothing like jiving all night to foot-thumping music in the cool mountain air, with frequent breaks to sample spicy gobi manchurian, pandi curry and of course Coorgi coffee. However, the main amusement is the boisterous parade of 10 elaborately done up floats on which mechanical figures of gods, goddesses, demons and goblins enact dramas based on ancient plot lines. 9. Ahmedabad: A much-awaited annual event in Gujarat’s calendar, Navratri Mahotsav in Ahmedabad (or Amdavad) is celebrated with dazzling gaiety and fervor. Nine nights of bustling midnight buffets, energetic garba dances and vibrantly colored chaniya cholis, kediyus and kafni pajamas twirling to the beat of the dhol, this festive extravaganza is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors. Another reason to swing by Ahmedabad for Navratri is the iconic Gujarati aarti dance performed in honour of the mother goddess; Thousands of people dancing in circles around intricate arrangements of earthen lamps to commemorate the triumph of good over evil is a stunning sight to behold. 10. Delhi: Delhi dons a bright, festive avatar during Dussehra with hundreds of special stages set up across the city for Ram Lila musicals enacted by theatre actors. The most popular place to view the same is at Ramlila Maidan, the aptly named fairground in Old Delhi. It is believed that this particular Ram Lila musical was started by Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar nearly 170 years ago. If that is not interesting enough, the mela-like atmosphere that engulfs the capital during Dusshera sure is. Kanjak Puja (with their delicious puri-halwa-channa offerings), Navratri specials in restaurants and setting fire to the sky-high effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhakarana on the last day are other things that people look forward to. 11. Kulsekarapattinam: A rather nondescript coastal town in Tamil Nadu, Kulasekharapattinam comes alive during its 10-day Dussehra festival (also called Kulasai festival). Revolving around the Mutharamman Temple (an important pilgrimage spot in the region), the annual celebration is a melting pot of music, dance, drama and an astounding repertoire of colourful costumes. Another unusual aspect of this festival is a trance dance in which pilgrims in fancy costumes sway to the pulsating beats of thara thappattam (with fire bearing clay pots in their hands) for hours on end and far into the night. 12. Kota: Kota celebrates Dussehra with a fun-filled mela (fair) that includes cultural performances, costume plays, spectacular displays of fireworks and a plethora of stalls serving delicious festive food. The tradition of organizing a Dussehra fair (which runs for 25 days) is believed to have started in the reign of Maharaj Durjanshal Singh Hada in 1723 AD. On Vijayadashami, massive effigies of Ravan, Meghnath and Kumbhakarna are set aflame to commemorate Ram’s victory over the demon king of Lanka. This is followed by a series of kavi sammelans, mushairas and moustache competitions.
The Kumbh Mela is considered to be one of the most important religious events in India. The origin of the festival lie in the ancient belief in the conflict between the gods and the demons over the possession of the “Amrit Kumbh”, a pitcher filled with nectar. As per the Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu spilled drops of Amrita (the drink of immortality) at four places, while transporting it in a kumbha (pot). These four places are identified as the present-day sites of the Kumbh Mela. The festival is the largest peaceful gathering in the world, and considered as the "world's largest congregation of religious pilgrims" Kumbh Mela, is celebrated four times over the course of 12 years, the site of the observance rotating between four pilgrimage places on four sacred rivers—at Haridwar on the Ganges River, at Ujjain on the Shipra, at Nashik on the Godavari, and at Prayag (modern Allahabad) at the confluence of the Ganges, the Jamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati. Bathing in these rivers is thought to cleanse a person of all their sins. The Kumbh Mela is celebrated after every 12 years. The Kumbh Melas at Haridwar and Nashik is held at a difference of around 3 years; the fairs at Nashik and Ujjain are celebrated in the same year or one year apart. The exact date is determined, following the Vikram Samvat calendar and the principles of Jyotisha, according to a combination of zodiac positions of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon. At Nashik and Ujjain, the Mela may be held while a planet is in Leo (Simha in Hindu astrology); in this case, it is also known as Simhastha. At Haridwar and Allahabad, a Maha ("Great") Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years, with an Ardha ("Half") Kumbh Mela six years later. People, from all over the world, come to participate in this religious event, drawn by their curiosity about the exotic traditions and the religious mysticism of India. Many sadhus gather on the banks of the Ganges to take a dip in the holy river and people bath at the ‘Sangam In Allahabad’, 'Har ke Pauri' Ghat at Haridwar on this auspicious occasion. The noise puzzles all description, the shout and cries of ash-smeared sadhus come together with the neighing of horses, the trumpeting of elephants, the grunts of camels, the bellowing of bulls, and as if these are not enough, there are gongs and drums beating, trumpets blaring, condi shells blowing and bells ringing.
Holi also, known as Festival of Colors, Holi is the most anticipated festivals on the Hindu calendar. 'Holi' falls on the full moon, in the month of Phalgun, which spans the end of February and the beginning of March. Holi celebration begins with lighting up of bonfire on the Holi eve. Holi is a spring celebration and the exuberant ritual of putting color. It is celebrated in almost each and every part of India. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Holi in India: 1. Mathura: The birth place of Lord Krishna and where he grew up. Temple in Mathura has some special celebrations going on for the entire week. Apart from the normal play of colors, this is one of the fewest places in the country where you will be able to witness Lathmar Holi. The Lathmar Holi, just like every year, promises to be interesting. This form of Holi is played with sticks and shields. The tradition traces its roots back to the times of Lord Krishna. According to the legends, young Lord Krishna used to crib to his mother about him being dark complexioned as compared to Radha who was fair. Krishna’s mother Yashoda suggested her son to go and playfully color Radha. Lord Krishna agreed and he went to the neighboring village of Barsana to color Radha and other Gopis. In return, the women beat him playfully with sticks. So started the tradition of Lathmar Holi. 2. Vrindaban: The Holi celebrations in Vrindavan are significant because it is the place where Lord Krishna spent his years growing up. One of the popular places to witness or take part in the famous Holi celebrations of Vrindavan is the Banke-Bihari Temple. The festival of colours here has always been played with the combination of powdered colour, known as gulal, and water. The temple priests, locally known as the Goswamis, sprinkle colours on the devotees with the help of buckets, water guns and other things. While devotional music or bhajans are played out in the background, the devotees dance to their tunes and play with the colours at the same time. 3. Shantiniketan: The Holi festival is celebrated as Basanta Utsav or Spring Festival in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. This festival was started as an annual event by famous Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in his Vishva Bharati University at Shantiniketan. The students of Vishva Bharati celebrate Basanta Utsav in very special way. Students dress up in yellow color and present some wonderful folk dances and cultural programs followed by the throwing of colors. The celebrations start a day earlier than Holi and are now considered an important part of the Bengali heritage. A huge number of tourists arrive every year at Shantiniketan to witness and participate in these celebrations. 4. Anandpur Sahib: Sikhs celebrate Holi (called as Hola Mohalla) in their own style at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab. Hola Mohalla is an annual fair celebrated a day after the Hindu festival of Holi. It was first organized by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh to celebrate Holi. Apparently, the name Hola is the masculine name of the feminine Holi. While the vibrant Holi festival boasts of sprinkling colors, Hola Mohalla takes the form of demonstrating martial skills in simulated battles. On this three-day grand festival, mock battles, exhibitions, display of weapons, etc., are held followed by kirtan, music and poetry competitions. The participants perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters with real weapons), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses and various other feats of bravery. 5. Jaipur and Udaipur: Holi is one of the major festivals celebrated in Rajasthan with great patron from royal families of Rajasthan. The celebrations stretch for two days. The first day of Holika Dahan is observed at the City Palace in Udaipur, among the most popular Tourist Places in Rajasthan. The customs of lighting the Holika Dahan is traditionally performed by the current custodian of the Mewar dynasty. The following morning, the celebrations of Holi are all out on the streets of Jaipur & Udaipur. An elephant festival kicks off the celebrations in Jaipur. Every year the Holi festival begins with a massive parade including elaborately decorated elephants, camels, horses, and folk dancing through the streets. The owners of these animals take significant pride in how they dress up the elephants or camels, and it is often a friendly competition amongst neighbors to see who can create the most lavishly decorated animal. There are also elephant polo, elephant races and tug-of-war between elephants. 6. Goa: The festival of Holi is called Shigmostav in Goa. It begins with prayers to the village gods and goddesses. It is the biggest festival for Hindus and is spread over a fortnight. The parades are held on last five days of the festival. Shigmostav is highlighted with performances of troupes in the form of parades and cultural dramas. Festivities reach the peak on the fifth day when gulal is used to colour everyone. Most of the festivities are mainly concentrated in Panjim, Vasco and Margao. The main Goa Beaches also turn colorful on the day of Holi with large number of locals & tourists gathering on the shores to play with colors. 7. Hampi: Holi is another important festival other than Hampi festival, which is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna. The festival holds significance with respect to end of winter season and the onset of summer season. Holi celebrations in Hampi were held for 2 days. People gather in the streets to splash colors and dancing to the drum beats followed by a nice dip in the river. One of the top heritage sites in India turns colorful on the eve of Holi. Hampi is one of the prime faces of Karnataka Tourism. The foreign tourists actively participate in Holi celebrations along with locals. 8. Mumbai: Holi is a major festival in Mumbai and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. There are also Holi parties arranged in the city. The celebrations include hanging a pot full of buttermilk and men clamber on top of one another and try to reach the pot. One that succeeds in breaking the pot is named Holi King of that year. Doing such things revives acts of Krishna. Physically challenged people also actively take part in this festival. Even Bollywood celebrities play with color during this festival. On this occasion people in Mumbai send sweets, gift articles to each other.
Diwali is one of most pulsating and greatest festival among the all the festivals of India, Diwali is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over India, this festival comes after 20 days of Dusshera festival on Amavasya (15th day of dark fortnight). India is known as melting pot of races and religions. Diwali is also mark as the beginning of Hindu New Year. Below are some of the best places to celebrate Diwali in India: 1. Jaipur: Much of the beauty of Diwali comes from the warm glow of lights and lamps which adorn streets, homes, and shops. One of the best places to experience this is in the "Pink City" of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, where not just buildings but whole markets are illuminated. Each year, there's a competition for the best decorated and most brilliantly lit up market, and the government foots the electricity bill. It's a dazzling display that attracts visitors from all over India. Just like Las Vegas has a "Strip", Johari Bazaar has earned the title of "The Strip" in Jaipur during Diwali. Vedic Walks offers a special Diwali walking tour. 2. Goa: In Goa, the focus of Diwali celebrations is on the destruction of demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Competitions are held in every village and city to see who can make the biggest and scariest effigy of the demon. Some are really huge! They're burned at dawn on Narakasura Chaturdashi, the day before the main day of Diwali. As gambling is also a popular activity during Diwali, you might want to try your luck at one of Goa's top casinos as well. However, make sure you book well in advance for the floating casinos, as they are very popular at this time of year. 3. Varanasi: Varanasi is a crazy place at any time of year, but it becomes even more so during Diwali with a constant stream of firecrackers and fireworks going off all night long. For the best experience, make sure you stay at one of the riverside hotels in Varanasi, so you have a fabulous view of the fireworks over the Ganges. Other highlights are the special Ganga Aarti, ghats illuminated with candles, and diyas (earthen lamps) that are floated down the river. Dev Deepavali, celebrated two weeks after Diwali on the full moon night of the Hindu month of Kartika, is an even bigger occasion. There's a procession of Hindu deities through the streets and the ghats are lined with more than a million clay lamps. It coincides with the Ganga Mahotsav cultural festival. 4. Kolkata: While most people in India worship Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, the main day of the festival is widely celebrated as Kali Puja in Kolkata and West Bengal (as well as Odisha, Tripura and Assam). Kolkata's Kali temples -- Kalighat, Belur Math and Dakshineswar -- attract a huge number of devotees. Magnificent decorated idols of fearsome Goddess Kali, the Dark Mother, are also put on display across the city for people to visit. Goddess Kali is worshiped for her ability to destroy the ego and illusions that go with it. 5. Amritsar: You may be surprised to learn that although Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple, is predominated by Sikhs. Diwali is celebrated in a grand way there too. The occasion has been incorporated into the Sikh religion and is particularly significant because it also marks the return from prison of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib, in 1619. He had been unjustly held for his beliefs, along with many other political prisoners who he helped free. What's more, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid on Diwali, in 1577. Expect to see a mesmerizing display of fireworks over the Golden Temple. The Temple complex is also draped in lights, and the edge of the lake fringed with countless oil lamps and candles, lit by devotees. 6. Gujarat: Want a quiet Diwali without noise and pollution from firecrackers? Rural Pleasure, an award winning company specializing in rural community-based tourism, will take you to a remote village in Dangs, about 270 kilometers from Vadodara (Baroda) in Gujarat. You'll get to spend Diwali in peace with local tribal residents who will welcome you into their village, prepare Diwali rangoli, show you how they use forest resources, give art demonstrations, and cook delicious organic vegetarian food for you. You'll also get to go trekking and participate in the daily activities of the tribes if you wish. It's an outstanding immersive experience. Best of all, the income generated from the tour is shared with the villagers, so you'll be helping improve their livelihood. 7. Nathdwara: The small holy town of Nathdwara, about 50 minutes drive north of Udaipur in Rajasthan, is best known among pilgrims for its 17th century Krishna temple that houses an idol of Shreenathji. However, the town is also noteworthy for its traditional Pichwai paintings, featuring scenes from Lord Krishna's life. In the week before Diwali each year, the walls of the town's buildings are whitewashed and repainted. Diwali is widely celebrated there as the important Annakuta festival falls a day after it. The idol of Shreenathji is spectacularly dressed and displayed for the occasion, and pilgrims flock to the temple to seek the lord's blessings. The temple's hundreds of cows are also decorated and displayed. In addition, the town is beautifully illuminated with lanterns. Celebrations continue the day after Diwali with a special Goverdhan Puja (worship), to commemorate of Lord Krishna’s victory over Indra the Rain God. 8. Delhi: Diwali is the most popular time of year for shoping, and special Diwali markets and fairs take place all over Delhi. Dilli Haat at INA holds a renowned Diwali Bazaar in the lead-up to the festival. If you're interested in unique or unusual handicrafts, don't miss the annual Dastkar Festival of Lights Diwali Mela. The Diwali carnival at Delhi's upmarket Sundar Nagar neighborhood has been running for more than 50 years and has rides. The Blind School holds a huge annual Diwali mela too. It takes place on Lodhi Road near the Oberoi Hotel. For all your Diwali decorating needs, head to Matka Market in south Delhi. You'll find an astonishing array of colorful clay diyas and pots there. 9. Madurai: Additionally down south, Madurai’s Meenakshi Temple can be a significant milestone for tourist-attraction throughout Diwali. The temple has been lit up as a bride and includes intricately drawn rangolis interspersed with flower decorations. This lengthy weekend entrance should also have a purchasing spree together Vengala Kadai Street and South Masi Street into your search for fabrics. Wind by dabbling at the remarkable regional restaurants of Jigarthanda, Muttaiparotta, and also the nimble Madurai-style dosas. This all-around adventure is likely to produce this little holiday joy for your soul and sight. 10. Puducherry: Pondicherry or Puducherry can be a unique destination. Even the little coastal city stays in French origins while creating its unique vibe. Back in Pondicherry Diwali or Deepavali is still amongst the first festival that is celebrated. Everybody, from all ages, celebrates the Festival of Light. Schools, colleges, and offices continue to close for a few days, and the party might smell from the atmosphere. Every shop decorated with brilliant lights, and the roads have an alternative charm altogether throughout this enchanting holiday season. Based on your trip preferences, it’d have been a fantastic idea to organize your reservations way beforehand as Diwali is among the busiest days of the season in India.
Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival. It is celebrated throughout India as a harvest festival when farmers bring home their harvest. It marks the beginning of the sun's journey from Dakshinayana to northern hemisphere (the Uttarayan) when it enters the sign of Makar (the Capricorn). Different Celebrations of Makar Sankranti Festival in India Makar Sankranti festival is observed on 14 of January every year and known by various names in India such as Lohri in north India, Bhogali Bihu by Assamese, Pongal by Tamil and Poush Sangkranti in West Bengal, Tila Sakrait in Mithila, Khichdi in Uttar Pradesh and Shishur Saenkraat in Kashmir Valley. Lohri: Lohri festival of the Punjab region observed the night before Makar Sankranti. The bonfire, Bhangra and festive foods with many Lohri songs are the major attractions. Makar Sankranti: Makar Sankranti is the Hindu festival related to Sun God and an important Indian festival known by different names as well as different ways of celebrations in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra – Til Gul Ghyaa, Aani Goad Goad Bolaa. Pongal – Tamil Nadu: Pongal is the harvest festival and also the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people. Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal are the various days of festival. Magh Bihu – Assam: Magh Bihu also known as Bhogali Bihu is the harvest festival celebrated in Assam during the Makar Sankranti. There are list of ancient games of Assam, buffalo fighting in one of them take place during it. Maghi – Punjab: Makar Sankranti is known as Maghi in Punjab, celebrated by eating sugarcane kheer juice and kichdi mixed with lentils. Uttarayan – Gujarat: The festival of Uttarayan is the biggest festival celebrated in Gujarat and the people enjoy full days of Kites on their terraces – Kay Po Chhe. Kite Festival: International Kite Festival in Gujarat during the festival of Uttarayan is as one of the biggest festival in India. Sabarmati Riverfront is the best place to enjoy International Kite Festival. Jallikattu – Running of Bulls: Jallikattu is an important village sport and integral part of the Mattu Pongal festival in the villages of Tamil Nadu. Running of the bulls used for the festival is known as Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds. Moh Juj – Buffalo Fight: Buffalo fights in Assam held on the occasion of Magh Bihu festival at Ahatguri in Morigaon district. Ahatguri is best place to see buffalo fights in Assam on the harvest festival of the state. Gangasagar Mela – West Bengal: Gangasagar Mela held at Sagar Island of Ganges delta on January 14 in West Bengal – Poush Sankranti. The Ganges delta island is known as Gangasagar and a place of Hindu pilgrimage. Makaravilakku: Makaravilakku annual festival at Sabarimala held on Makar Sankranti in Kerala. Sabarimala is an ancient temple of Ayyappan and one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world. Kambala Buffalo Race: Kambala Buffalo Race in Tulu region of Kannada and Udupi in Karnataka starts in November and lasts till March. The festival Kambala has been legalized in Karnataka and Kambala race held at Kadri, Vandaru, Pilikula, Choradi and Gulvadi village.

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