Ashadi Ekadashi Pandharpur
Also known as Shayani Ekadashi, this holy day is of especial significant among the Vaishnav clan in India. Considered to be one of the most famous pilgrims in India, this 700 year old tradition consists of a padyatra (journey on foot) where over 1 million pilgrims journey for 21 days to the Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur, Maharashtra.
Celebrated on the first day of the Vaisakh month which falls between April and May, it represents a time to welcome Spring and signifies the end of the harvest season for the rabi crop in India. Celebrated with extreme enthusiasm especially in Amritsar located in the agriculture dominant state of Punjab, farmers all over thank Mother Nature and God for a bountiful year and pray for a prosperous year ahead.
Considered to be the main festival of Assam, this festival is essentially celebrated three times in a year. the Bohaag is celebrated in the middle of April, while Kaati celebrated in October and Maagh in January. This ancient festival is celebrates the new year and the start of seeding time, the completion of sowing and transplanting and eventually the end of the harvesting year.
More famously known as the Camel Festival, this vibrant and psychedelic festival is organized every January by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan. This festival celebrates the ship of the desert, the Camel which has been for generations been a critical mode of transportation for the people of this region.
Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Celebrated on the full moon night in the Vaisaka month according to the Hindu calendar, this festival revolves around worshipping an idol of Lord Buddha founder of the oldest religion in the world. While this festival is celebrated in many South Asian countries, in India, it is celebrated with utmost pomp in Khushinagar, Sarnath and most importantly Sarnath.
Chapchar Kut Aizawal
Usually celebrated on the second Friday of March, this festival celebrates the arrival of Spring. Over a period of 3 days the town of Aizwal in Mizoram explodes with joy well represented by beatings of the gongs and rifle parade which is the feather in the cap of the festival. Thousands of tourists arrive to watch hundreds of beautiful local girls and energetic men adorned in colorful attire perform dances with bamboo sticks. The Cheraw Dance represents the start of the festival.
Chennai Dance and Music Festival
Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu
A celebration of South Indian classical art forms, the Chennai Dance and Music festival is held every year in December going up to the middle of January. Held over multiple locations all over the city, attending some of their events gives guests an exquisite insight into the diversity and depth of music and dance in this region.
Christmas in Goa is much like how it is in Europe. With many of the locals visiting family, this is an excellent time of the year to beat the crowds and have a quite celebration of your own. That said, Goa also offers it fair share of fun and frolic in and around its famous churches.
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Starting February 25th, every year the city Hyderabad hosts a memorable 5-day Deccan Festival. Complete with soulful ghazal nights, mushairas, and qawali’s this festival is reminiscent of the Nizam way of life that goes back 100s of years.
The Desert Festival is a three-day extravaganza of colour, music and festivity, held at the golden city of Jaisalmer.
Diwali, colloquially renowned as the “festival of lights” is celebrated in the month of Kartika. Its origins lie in the epic Ramayana – the people of Ayodhya lit diya’s (earthen lamps) on a dark new moon night to welcome their prince Rama after fourteen years of ‘vanvas’ (van-living, vas-woods).
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
If there is one place that celebrates Diwali like no other, it is Varanasi – The Holy City of India. Approximately observed 18 days after the victory of Lord Rama over the Ravana, Diwali spans over five days, each of which has a different significance. The first day is Dhanteras, followed by Choti Diwali, Badi Diwali, Govardhan Pooja (and New Year) while the last day is Bhai Dooj.
Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal
Towering idols of goddess Durga preside over beautifully created pandals depicting different legends of the fierce goddess in honour of whom this festival is celebrated. Five days of pomp, colour, crazy processions and community prayers (puja’s) coalesce to celebrate the killing of the buffalo demon Mahisasura by the goddess – the victory of good over evil.
Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Dussehra celebrates the victory of good over evil and is observed on the 10th day of the rising moon in the month of Ashvina. While the rest of the nation’s Hindu’s rejoice the defeat of the demon king Ravana by their beloved prince Ram, in the Kullu Valley it is also commemorated as the anniversary of situating the idol of Lord Raghunath in the 17th century, by the then King Jagat Singh as a mark of penance.
The state festival of Karnataka, Dussehra or Dasara is celebrated gloriously in the historical city of Mysore. The 10 day festival of Navratri celebrates the renowned Hindu goddesses and culminates on Vijayadashmi, the tenth and final day when large effigies of the ten-headed Ravana are burnt and firecrackers light up the sky. Also commemorating the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahisasura, this yearly carnival proudly proclaims the triumph of truth over vice.
Fall into a trance as you view a procession of caparisoned elephants, camels and horses parade through the decorated streets of Jaipur, a day before the fun-filled festival of Holi. Sporting vibrant attire, traditional jewellery from head to toe, these artfully painted elephants vie to win the best Elephant award. Mahouts sprinkle gulaal from atop these beasts as folk dancers announce the arrival of this charming brigade.
The twin-day celebration of ancient rock-cut art, traditional dance forms, authentic Indian food and breathtaking sculptures set on an island off the shore of Mumbai attracts enthusiasts since 1989. Usually held in February on the historic Elephanta Island, the Elephanta festival was initially organised to enlighten the younger generation about India’s rich heritage and help preserve it.
A unique festival celebrating Indian classical music and folk dance, the Ellora festival is held in awe-inspiring surroundings of the globally recognised Ellora caves each chiselled by hand, every March. Its current venue is the glorious 17th century Soneri Mahal which is an architectural gem. Walk through the effervescent markets and haggle with local artisans to purchase beautifully created art and craft as the delicious smell of traditional food wafts through the air.
Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Renowned as the ‘City of Festivals,’ the ancient town of Madurai celebrates the pulsating Float Festival on the full moon night in the Tamilian month of Thai. A grand procession begins at the Meenakshi Temple as enormous ornamental effigies of Goddess Meenakshi and her consort (incarnations of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva), are paraded through the streets on iconic floats done up with luxuriant blossoms and shimmering diyas.
Mumbai’s trademark festival, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated by welcoming Ganpati at home, visiting numerous pandals, eating delicious modaks, performing the customary Aarti (prayer) and rejoicing the birth of the elephant-headed god.
Falling on the tenth day of the month of Jayestha in the Hindu calendar, Ganga Dussehra is celebrated with great splendour in the towns that line the Holy River Ganges. Haridwar, the holy city goes all out in celebrating this propitious day by performing several rites and rituals that are preceded by a bath in the holy waters. Lord Shiva and King Bhagirath are also worshipped on this day.
The scent of different blossoms flows in the air, forming a sweet floral perfume that doesn't fail to serenade one and all. Walk into a flowery realm as you enter the Garden Festival in Delhi, and let the magic of the colours and the patterns of native Indian and exotic flowers transform you into fairyland.
Good Friday and Easter
Kochi (Cochin), Kerala
Enjoy the colour and theatrics of India’s festive spectacle as thousands of devotees throng to churches to offer prayers and take part in services to commemorate the tragic day on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Stay on to see Cochin’s celebrity moods as Good Friday nears and once again people pray in remembrance of God rising from the dead and ascending the ladder to heaven.
Guru Gobind Singhs Birth Day
The Golden Temple lights up like never before once a year on the birth anniversary of the last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Amidst the spectacular reflection of this architectural marvel in the black lake, a huge Nagar Kirtan (procession) begins to commemorate the teacher and offer prayers for prosperity.
Guru Purab is traditionally a special day in the lives of Sikhs as it commemorates the birth, inauguration, martyrdom or death of one of their ten religious Guru’s (teachers). The festivities draw hundreds and thousands of faithful devotees from India and around the world to perhaps the most famous place of worship for the Sikhs – the Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Renowned as Vijaya Utsav, the Hampi Festival is held at the famous World Heritage Site Hampi each year, attracting throngs of Indians and foreigners. The lanes are dotted with men donning the attire of the military era of Vijayanagar rule while bejewelled elephants, horses and a breathtaking backdrop complete the picture.
Leh, Jammu and Kashmir
Celebrated for over two days to celebrate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava – the founder of Tantric Buddhism in Tibet, the Hemis Festival is held at the three century old grand monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling. Proximate to Leh, this majestic monastery hosts this festival every June/July.
Holi - Festival of Colours
Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
If there’s one place that gets into the spirit of Holi even before it arrives it’s the city of Lord Krishna – Vrindavan. Festivities start here a week in advance and the spirit of fun drenches the air. Legend says that King Hiranyakashyap, wanting to burn his son alive asked his sister Holika for assistance. Prince Prahlad sat in his aunt’s lap surrounded by flames, which surprisingly killed her despite a boon and he escaped unscathed. It is believed that his prayers to Krishna saved him.
Belur and Halebid, Karnataka
The beautiful Hoysala Temples form the perfect setting as traditional dancers take to the stage and perform a cultural extravaganza, mesmerising onlookers. The hamlets of Belur and Halebid come alive with the reverberation of melody, jingle of the dancer’s moves and glitter of lamps in the months of March and April.
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
One of the prominent Muslim festivals in India, Id-ul-Fitr – the celebration superseding the holy month of Ramadan is observed with great frolic and merriment in Srinagar, the summer capital of J&K. As the predominant population practises Islam, you are in for a treat if you happen to be in Srinagar on Id-ul-Fitr day.
Id-ul-Zuha - Bakr-Id
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Celebrated by pious Muslims across the length and breadth of the county, Id-ul-Zaha, popularly known as Bakr Id in India is an important sacrificial festival. On this day the Muslims sacrifice goats (Bakr in Urdu) and in some cases cows to commemorate and somewhat replicate the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim.
15th August is a sacred day for all Indians, in India and abroad. It was on this day in 1947 that their forefathers finally made the British retreat out of their motherland. Each year, billions of Indian’s see the live broadcast of the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy unfurl the tricolour at the majestic Red Fort in the nation’s capital, Delhi.
International Flower Festival
An annual event attracting global individuals, the International Flower Festival in Gangtok showcases an extraordinary variety of blooms that outshine the spectacular food and entertainment that complements them.
International Mango Festival
The double-day festival celebrating the king of tropical fruits – the mango, held in Delhi annually is a melting point for mango fanatics. Indian summers are incomplete without lusciously devouring mangoes either plain or as an important constituent of various recipes.
International Yoga Week
Experience the magic of Yoga amidst charming surrounds of Rishikesh comprising the picturesque Himalayas and the flowing waters of the Holy Ganges. The International Yoga Week at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, the birthplace of Yoga invites first-timers and repeat visitors into the serenading lap of the mountains to an international event like no other.
Island Tourism Festival
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
The Island Tourism Festival at Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the azure waters of the Bay of Bengal is an annual cultural event aiming to promote tourism at this undulating archipelago. The major events of this ten day festival are held at the capital Port Blair, while some festivities are scattered across the picturesque islets.
Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
Janmasthami is a popular Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. According to Indian Mythology, he was born at midnight in a jail cell on the eight day of Bhado month. As his father Vasudeva carried him to safety in a basket atop his head, a thunderstorm raged overhead.
Ka Pomblang Nongkrem
The most celebrated and intricate festival of the Khasi tribe that resides in North-east India, the Ka Pomblang Nongkrem spans over five days of elaborate festivities, sacrifices and performances. Held yearly in November, it is observed at the capital of the Khyrem Syiemship, Smit, on Shillong’s outskirts.
Kerala Village Fair
Indigenously known as Gramam, the Kerala Village Fair comprehensively brings out the ethnicity of Kerala. The concept of this carnival is the replication of a traditional Keralaitte Village to feed the curiosity of visitors and give them an authentic vision of the southern state. For ten days, a model hamlet is recreated on Kovalam beach, complete with upper-class houses (Nalukettu), village teashops (Chayakada) and artisan homesteads (Kamalagramam).
Khajuraho Dance Festival
Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
A weeklong extravaganza – The Khajuraho Dance Festival is organised each year by the Madhya Pradesh government in this famous temple town. Renowned for their assumingly erotic sculptures, these temples form a spectacular backdrop for classical dance performances. When the harshness of the bitter winter ceases to welcome a vibrant spring; the town of Khajuraho perceives a change in atmosphere so great that everyone is out to celebrate.
Konark Dance Festival
The Konark Dance Festival is held annually in December in the renowned world heritage site and magnificent temple of the Sun God in Konark. Get mesmerised as a host of premiere classical dancers descend upon an open-air auditorium with the breathtaking Sun Temple as a backdrop and perform a splendid cultural extravaganza. With perfect traditional music reverberating in the air, the vibrantly outfitted dances take the stage and introduce the nuances of Indian classical dance to the eager crowd.
The thrilling battlefield of the Pandava and Kaurava cousins from the Mahabharata comes alive in November/December to pay homage to the supreme book of the Hindus – the Gita. It is on this ground that Lord Krishna explained his teachings to Arjuna, via a celestial song, now famous as the Shrimad Bhagwat Gita. Celebrated to commemorate the birth of this Holy book, the Kurukshetra Festival sees much fervour and exhilaration.
The Festival of Lohri
Celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs, the festival of Lohri signifies the onset of winter and usually occurs on the 13th day of January. Mainly observed in the North Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, during Lohri, bonfines are lit to celebrate the success of the winter (rabi) crops and to thank god for fertility and prosperity.
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
The ancient city of Awadh has lived a glorious past and today, even though its nomenclature has changed, the regal spirit lives on in its inhabitants. Lucknow, previously known as Awadh celebrates the Lucknow Festival with great splendour and extravagance to capture and showcase its immortal elegance to the world at large.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Believed to be the city of Lord Shiva, Varanasi celebrates Mahashivratri with immense devotion and dedication. Legend says that it is celebrated in honour of the destroyer Shiva who ironically swallowed poison to save the cosmos from destruction. Falling in the Phalguna month’s dark fortnight, Mahashivratri sees a grand procession of the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati, starting at the Mahamrityunjaya Temple, through the decorated streets of Varanasi to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavir, the founding father of Jainism is celebrated religiously across Jains in India. On this pious day, processions dot the streets of Vaishali, the birthplace of Vardhaman Mahavir and splendid chariots carry idols of the 24th and last Tirthankara (God) of the Jains.
Mamallapuram Dance Festival
Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
The Mamallapuram Dance Festival, near the city of Mahabalipuram is one engaging festival. The festivities are held every year during January/February and attract plentiful visitors to this 7th century Pallava port. Renowned for its distinct Pallava inspired architecture of breathtaking rock-cut temples, sculptures, caves and more, this beachfront location sees proficient dancers tie up their ghunghroos and dance to the traditional tunes in various native dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Kathakali among others.
Held on two consecutive days during the full moon of Sharad Poornima, the Marwar Festival celebrates Rajasthan’s gallant heroes. The perfect slice of Rajasthan’s bygone royal era and its preserved cultural wealth, the Marwar festival praises the heroes and martyrs of medieval India. The tales of Rajput’s fighting with all their might and valour to protect their motherland – are ingrained in the minds of viewers through a colourful extravaganza.
Celebrated to greet the onset of spring, Mewar Festival is one of Udaipur’s signature festivals which keep the tourists rolling in. This festival coincides with Gangaur and therefore this time is perfect for viewing the religious and cultural predicaments of this romantic city.
Modhera Dance Festival at Sun Temple Modhera
Colloquially known as the Uttarardh Mahotsavor Modhera Utsavis, the Modhera Dance Festival is one of Gujarat’s best celebrations of culture, bringing together traditional dances, food, art and music. Psychedelic tones of reds, yellows and greens enlighten the crevices and alcoves of the 11th century Sun Temple built by the Solanki’s of Modhera, showcasing its divine and intrinsic beauty to the world.
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
This Islamic festival is a ten day long mourning period, commemorating the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammed in the Karbala battle. Hyderabad in engulfed with grief, as loudspeakers blare marsiye (elegies) and nohay (sorrowful poems) from countless ashurkhanas, centres where Shia Muslims gather to mourn.
Nagaur Cattle Fair
North India is famous for its spectacular cattle fairs, with almost every village having distinct cattle fairs. But perhaps, the most vibrant and popular one of them all is the annual event that takes place in Nagaur, usually from January 30th until February 2nd. One of India’s largest Livestock Fairs, the Nagaur exposition sees eight days of lavishly decorated bullocks, camels, cows and horses lined up for sale. Spices and other native items add variety to the merchandise, while sports connoisseurs will revel in the assortment of traditional entertainment contests.
National Kite Festival
A sea of multicoloured, dazzling and spectacularly shaped kites submerge the skies of India on 14th January. The National Kite Festival is given a new meaning in the erstwhile capital of Gujarat. Ahemdabadi’s gather on rooftops to celebrate their favourite festival – Uttrayan, as they pick up their manjas, bandage their fingers and make the kites soar high in the sky. The electric atmosphere intensifies as the battle begins and expert kite-fliers vie against each other to cut off the others strings.
Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
The Natyanjali Dance Festival of Chidambaram is an extremely anticipated event for dance aficionados across the country. This Tamilian temple sees a congregation of classical dancers descend upon it to give spectacular performances in a dance form that has mesmerised generations. Bharatnatyam, the immortal Indian dance form retells stories and folk legends that educate and enamour the crowd.
Nine uninterrupted nights of dancing to the garba, with dandiyas, and gyrating to the beats of traditional music and latest Bollywood chartbusters, is what signifies Navratri today. But this festival is wider than just dressing up in indigenously crafted, vibrant, bejewelled outfits and dancing the night away. The pivotal point is to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
As the second Saturday of August arrives, Punnamda Lake transforms from an oasis of calm into a sea of enthusiasts with lakhs of people thronging to the waterfront to watch the annual Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Named after the first Prime Minister of Independent India, this boat race near Alleppey sees fierce racers descend on the tranquil waters to battle it out and win the prestigious event. A victorious village celebrates it triumph for several months.
Nishagandhi Dance Festival
The magical Nishagandhi Dance Festival attracts tourists from all across the oceans to the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, where the fragrant gardens of Nishagandhi reside. An aura of music and dance is cast bi-yearly in the spectacular open-air theatre in Kannakunnu palace’s large grounds where artisans from diverging states come together to perform to their hearts content.
Gods Own County – Kerala sure knows how to celebrate in style. The signature festival of India’s southernmost state, Onam heralds the onset of the season of harvest, a reason enough to thank the lord and rejoice. This ten day festival is celebrated in great gusto; everyone from children to the aged dress up in newly bought clothes and adorns themselves in heavy jewellery.
Pattadakkal Dance Festival
Organised each January by the Government of Karnataka, the Pattadakkal Dance Festival is held in the village of Pattadukkalu, on the banks of the River Malaprabha. This hamlet once served as the second capital to the Chalukyan kings and this is probably why it has a rich and diverse history which can be glimpsed at in its architecture and art. Paying homage to the ten stunning Shiva temples in the village, this dance festival sees spectacular performances from renowned dancers from across India.
Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu
Pongal, Tamil Nadu’s harvest festival, is Chennai’s favourite celebration. Observed for four days in mid-January, this extravaganza sees the preparation of a delicious sweetmeat called Pongal – a mixture of rice and jiggery. Each household draws Kolam and people dress up in their finest attire to visit temples, where the sounds of bells, conches, clarinets and drums fill the air.
As November approaches, the town of Pushkar is abuzz with unusual activity. Forming a part of India’s finest travel archives, the Pushkar Fair is an impressive spectacle, calling more than four million spectators within its folds. Showcasing approximately 11000 camels, cattle and horses, this traditional exposition is a once in a lifetime chance to witness Rajasthan in all its elements.
Rajgir Dance Festival
The primeval capital of Magadha, Rajgir is even today a celebrated city, due to the manifestation that is the Rajgir Dance Festival. The Government of Bihar hosts the Rajgir Mahotsava – an annual cultural revelation of traditional dance and music, where the who’s who of the fraternity spellbind viewers with their performances.
Legend says that Rakshabandhan originated when Rani Karnavati, the widowed Queen of Chittor, sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun, seeking his protection to defend her kingdom from Bahadur Shah. Traditionally, sisters visit their brother’s houses on Rakshabandhan day and tie a sacred thread (Rakhi) around their wrists and seek protection from them, while praying for his long and prosperous life. The brothers in turn, treat their sisters to a scrumptious meal, offer eternal protection and shower them with gifts.
Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh
Ramnavmi, the birth celebration of Lord Rama sees great pomp and fervour amongst Hindu’s worldwide. Born to the King and Queen of Ayodhya – Dashrath and Kaushalya, on the ninth day (navmi) of Chaitra, Lord Rama was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
This spectacular chariot festival celebrated for eight days at the famous Jagannath Temple in Puri. Images of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra aPuri, the Temple-town of Orissa is colloquially known as Jagannath Puri due to its presiding deity – Lord Jagannath (an avatar of Lord Vishnu). It is believed that he, along with his sister Shubhadra and brother Balabhadra takes a vacation, annually in mid-summer, from his temple to his palace gardens in the countryside. nd brother Balbhadra are taken out in a procession in three immense chariots.
A spectacle showcasing India’s military prowess, cultural delights and social heritage takes Delhi by storm, annually on 26th January. Beginning at Rashtrapati Bhawan and stretching along the brilliantly decorated Rajpath, the Republic day Parade wows millions of visitors who brave the bitter chill and rains of Delhi.
Chandigarh’s famous Rose Garden plays host to the ultimate Indian Rose Festival, albeit with a different theme each February. For three aromatic days, the Zakir Hussein Rose Garden displays countless types of roses in its gigantic lawns.
Sindhu Darshan Festival
Leh, Jammu and Kashmir
The majestic Indus River which saw one of the oldest civilisations spring on its banks starts from the breathtaking Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. Passing from the spectacular terrain of northern India, it swiftly makes its way to Pakistan, where finally it sublimes into the Arabian Sea. The Indus is also known as the Sindhu, in India and is revered by Indians.
Situated on the confluence of two of India’s divine rivers –Ganges and Gandak, Sonepur is a breathtaking hamlet. Each year, during Kartik Poornima, it sees a swarm of visitors flocking to its territory to view, capture and participate in the Sonepur Mela – an ethereal extravaganza. Pertaining to cattle and commodities, it showcases the cultural diversity of the land. Asia’s largest cattle fair, it usually occurs in November.
Surajkund Crafts Mela
Surajkund, in Faridabad, on the outskirts of the National Capital Region of Delhi, unveils a connotation of hues, drum beats and traditional artistry during the first fortnight of each February. Celebrating the distinct diversity of Indian culture and traditions in true rustic style, this crafts Mela houses some of the most exquisite pieces of handlooms and handicrafts, which instantly please the eye. As you walk around viewing these magical articles, a delicious aroma romances your nostrils, making you crave the succulent food prepared for the visitors.
Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Started 24 years ago, the Taj Mahotsav – a cultural and artistic gala, invites native artisans and performers from all over India to sell their exquisite works. The breathtaking exhibits are prepared from bamboo, papier-mâché, terracotta, brass, fabric, wood and other indigenous mediums. As visitors circumnavigate the venue, they are attacked by spectacular cultural performances – the music, beats and energy makes them join in the euphoria. Gourmands are delighted with the succulent spread – both local and international fare waiting to be dug into.
A three-day cultural bonanza, the Tarnetar Mela is a rare event. During Bhadarva month, as you enter the confines of this pulsating hamlet, a tornado of romance, hues and melodies engulfs you. The USP of the fair is women seeking their prince charming; based on the legend of Draupadi’s Swayamwara. They perform mesmerising dances in traditional costumes and their marital status can be determined by the colour of their skirt (black – married, red – seeking a spouse), and even hopeful grooms leave no stone unturned in vying for brides.
Teej falls on the day when Goddess Teej (Parvati) is said to have reunited with her husband after a long parting. The festival of swings – Teej welcomes the monsoon in Rajasthan’s arid land and women clad in green swing on beautifully decorated swings.
Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu
Thai Pusam is celebrated in the Tamil month Thai. According to legend, an immortal demon Sorapadman started torturing innocent people and created havoc. He had a boon from Lord Shiva that no one other than Shiva himself could vanquish him. In order to destroy the demon, Lord Shiva created Muruga, with his remarkable third eye. Along with Goddess Parvati’s power, Lord Muruga destroyed Sorapadman.
Probably India’s most revered Islamic site, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah celebrates the Urs festival annually, in Rajab – the seventh month of the Islamic Calendar. Started in the 11th century, the Urs of Moinuddin Chishti are celebrated to commemorate his culmination with God. Muslims believe that this sacred saint spent the ultimate six days of his life secluded in a Huzra (prayer room), and hence these six days are spent in offering prayers (Shijra, Fariyad, Qu’l) and qawalis and badhavas also grace this auspicious occasion.
The most popular temple festival of Kerala – Thissur Pooram is celebrated in on Pooram (when the moon rises with the Pooram star) in the Malayalam month of Medam. It is observed in the Vadakkunathan Temple in Thissur and was originally started because the people of Thissur, due to incessant downpour reached late for the temple festival at Arattupuzha and hence were denied entry. Feeling disgruntled, along with the help of the King of Cochin, they started their own temple festival and invited other deities from across the district.
The Malayalam New Year, Vishu is celebrated with great mirth in Thiruvananthapuram. It heralds the passing of the past year and welcomes a newer, better and promising one. Held on the first day of Medam, the first month in the Malayalam calendar, Vishu is a spectacularly celebrated festival in Kerala.