Festivals of India
Festivals of India being a culturally diverse and fervent society, celebrates various holidays and festivals. There are three national holidays in India: Independence Day (India), Republic Day (India) and Gandhi Jayanti. States and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popular religious Indian festival include the Indian Hindu festivals of Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, India Holi festival, Dussehra, Islamic festivals of Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Mawlid an-Nabī and Christian festivals of Christmas and days of observances such as Good Friday are observed throughout the country.
Muharram, the starting of the Islamic India New Year is observed by many sects of Islam. In addition, the Sikh festivals such as Guru Nanak Jayanti, the Christian festivals such as Christmas, India Good Friday and Jain festivals like Mahavir Jayanti, Paryushan are celebrated in certain areas where these religions have a significant following.The annual holidays are widely observed by state and local governments; however, they may alter the dates of observance or add or subtract holidays according to local custom.
- Sankranti / Pongal : Tamil harvest festival.
- Republic Day : establishment of Republic 1950.26th January. Grand Military Parade and Processionof dancers etc. Delhi.
- Vasant Panchami : Hindu – dedicated to Saraswatithe beautiful Goddess of Learning. Women wear yellowsaris.
- Floating Festival : Birthday of local 17th centuryruler; elaborately illuminated barge carrying decoratedtemple deities at the Mariamman Teppakulam Pool arnidchanting hymns.
- Shivaratri : Solemn worship ofHindu deity, Lord Shiva. Fasting and chanting. Specialcelebrations at Chidambarum, Kalahasti, Khajuraho,Varanasi and Bombay.
- Holi : Mainly northern, popularlycalled the festival of colors. Advent of Spring. Livelyand much throwing of coloured water and powders. PublicHoliday. Mardi Gras:Mainly three days during lent.Unique celebrations at this carnival.
- Ramnavami : Birth of Rama, incarnationof Vishnu. No processions. Plays and folk theaters.
- Mahavir Jayanti : National: Jainfestival; birth of Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara.
Easter: Good Friday / Easter Sunday National.
- Kumbh Mela : The oldest and most important of theHindu festivals. It takes place every three years,at one of the four great .holy cities; Nasik in Maharashtra,Ujjain (MP), Prayag (Allahabad) and Hardwar (bothin UP). It is attended by millions of pilgrims whotake a holy dip in the sacred Ganges River.
- Baisakhi : Northern India, WestBengal and Tamil Nadu; Hindu Solar New Year. Bhangradancing. Women wear yellow saris.
- Pooram : New Moon. Spectactularsight of large number of elephants carrying ceremonialumbrellas going round the temple; midnight fireworksdisplay.
- Id-Ul-Zuha (Bakrid) : The mostcelebrated Islamic festival in India, commemoratingthe sacrifice of Abraham.
- Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramzan Id) : Muslim,National: Celebration to mark the end of the monthof Ramadan.
- Meenakshi Kalyanam: Madurai. Marriageof Meenakshi with Lord Shiva. Colourful temple festival.Deities borne by colossal chariot. Ten day festival.
- Fair :Urs Ajmer Sharif. Ajmer,6 days. Religious cultural and commercial extravaganzadedicated to the Sufi. Music; no procession.
- Rath Yatra : Mainly Orissa. Greatesttemple festival in honour of Lord Jagannath (Lordof the Universe). Three colossal chariots drawn fromPuri temple by thousands of pilgrims. Similar festivals,on a smaller scale, take place at Ramnagar (nr Varanasi),Serampore (nr Calcutta) and Jagannathpur (nr Ranchi).
- Teej : Procession of the GoddessParvati to welcome monsoon; elephants, camels, dancersetc. Women wear green saris. Colourful.
- Raksha Bandhan : Northern andWestern India. Legendary reenactment, girls tie rakhisor talismen to men’s wrists. Colourful build up.
- Naag Panchami : Mainly Jodphur,Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Dedicated to the greenthousand-headed mythical serpent called Sesha. Theday is also observed in many other parts of Westernand Eastern India.
Amarnath Yatra : Lidder Valley, Kashmir at full moon.Pilgrims visit the place where Lord Shiva explainedthe secret of salvation to his consort Parvati.
- Independence Day : Prime Minister delivers address from Delhi’s Red Fort.
- Janmastami : National, particularly Agra, Bombay and Mathura; Lord Krishna’s birthday.
- Onam: Kerala’s Harvest Festival; spectacular snake boat races in many parts of Kerala.
- Ganesh Chaturthi : Mainly Pune, Orissa, Bombay, Madras, dedicated to elephant-headed God Ganesh. Giant models of the deity processed and immersed in water. Colourful, and a particularly worth visiting on the Day of Immersion at Bombay.
- Dussehra : The most popular festivalin the country, celebrated in different ways in differentparts of the country. In the north and particularlyin Delhi (where it is known as Ram Lila), plays andmusic recall the life of Rama; in Kulu, the festivalis also very colourful celebrated. In Bengal and manyparts of Eastern India it is known as Durga Puja,and in the South as Navaratri.
- Fair, Himachal Pradesh: Kulu Valleyto coincide with Dussehra (10 days).
- Gandhi Jayanti : Mahatmas Gandhi’sbirthday. No processions.
- Diwali National : One of the mostlively andcolourful festivals in India. In some parts,it marks the start of the Hindu New Year. In EasternIndia, the goddess Kali is particularly worshipped;elsewhere, it is Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity,who is venerated. Everywhere there are magnificentilluminations and fireworks.
Gurpurab : Mainly in northern India. Anniversariesof ten gurus, spiritual teachers or preceptors ofSikhism. No procession.
- Muharram : Muslim. Commemorationof Imam Hussain’s martyrdom. Tiger dancers leadprocessions of colourful replicas of martyr’stomb. Colourful, particularly at Lucknow.
- Bihar: Largest cattle fair in the world; 1 monthSonepur, Patna; on banks of the Ganges.
- Pushkar Mela : Pushkar, near Ajmer,Rajasthan. Important and colourful. Camel and cattlefair, attended by Rajputs from miles around. Camelraces and acrobatics etc.
- Christmas Day : Most exuberantlycelebrated in Goa, Bombay and Tamil Nadu