India holds religious celebrations year-round, along with numerous fairs and cultural festivals. Dates of some celebrations are determined by the lunar calendar .If you are planning to travel to India, the below list would give an idea of the festivals that you could enjoy during the Travel dates.
30 Most Popular Festivals of India
DEC. – The Shekhavati Festival celebrates the frescoes on the local havelis (mansions), as well as other local arts, traditional music and dance, and cuisine from this Rajasthan region. At the Shilp Darshan Mela near Udaipur, master craftsmen show how they create award-winning handicrafts, and dancers and musicians perform.
JAN. Republic Day, the 26th, commemorates the adoption of India’s constitution with a big parade in Delhi and celebrations elsewhere. Kerala’s four-day Great Elephant March features caparisoned elephants, snake-boat races, and cultural events in various locales. The two-day Camel Festival in Bikaner (Rajasthan) celebrates the ship of the desert with parades, races, and dancing. Makar Sankranti has people engaging in kite duels from rooftops in Ahmedabad. In Tamil Nadu, Pongal, a colorful three-day festival at the close of the harvest season gives thanks to the rain god, the sun god, and the cow with bonfires, games, dancing, and cows bedecked with garlands.
JAN to FEB – During Gangasagar Mela, the festival of the Ganges River, pilgrims from all over India celebrate the most important natural element in their mythology. Na-gaur (Rajasthan) holds enormous cattle fair complete with camel races and cultural programs. The five-day Desert Fair, Jaisalmer’s gala, includes traditional Rajasthani music and dance, handicrafts, camel caravans, camel races, and turban-tying events.
FEB – For the three-day Elephant Festival of Music and Dance, artists perform nightly on a platform near these Maharashtra caves. The Surajkund Crafts Mela draws crowds to a village near Delhi to watch traditional dances, puppeteers, magicians, and acrobats and to shop for crafts made by artisans from every state. On Losar, the Buddhist New Year, costumed lamas (monks) perform dances at monasteries in Sikkim.
FEB to MAR. On the eve of Holi, the festival of spring, Hindus nation-wide light a bonfire and send a female demon up in flames, demonstrating the destruction of evil; the next day, children throw colored water on each other and you. On Id-ul-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that concludes the month-long Ramadan fast, the devout give alms to the poor, offer prayers, and feast and rejoice. The Kumbh Mela, a celebration of immortality, is India’s largest religious festival and a stunning spectacle of bathers in the Ganges. Held every three years in Allahabad, Haridwar, Nasik, or Ujjain, it comes to Allahabad in February 2001. The two-week Taj Mahotsav spotlights Agra’s heritage through handicrafts and cultural events.
MAR – India’s best per-formers entertain in the moonlight, with historic Kailasa Temple as a backdrop, for the three-day Ellora Festival of Classical Music and Dance. India’s best dancer’s present classical works at the Khajuraho Dance Festival held in part on an outdoor stage against the temples. Pachyderms have their day in Jaipur when the Elephant Festival sets off processions, races, and even elephant polo.
MAR – APR – Carnival—the Mardi Gras held just before Lent—hits Goa as a big party with masked dancers, floats, and good eating. The Gangaur Festival of Jaipur and Udaipur honors the goddess Parvati with processions of young girls and images of the goddess and, in Udaipur, fire-works, dancing, and a procession of boats on Lake Pichola.
APR- Honoring Lord Jagannath, Bhubaneswar’s 21-day Chandan Yatra features processions in which images of deities are carried to sacred tanks and rowed around in decorated boats.
APR – MAY – At Puram, a major temple festival in Trichur (Kerala), elephants sporting gold-plated mail carry Brahmins with ceremonial umbrellas and the temple deity, Vadakkunathan (Shiva), in a procession to the beat of temple drums. The spectacular 10-day Chitra Festival celebrates the marriage of goddess Meenakshi to Lord Shiva at Madurai’s Meenakshi Temple.
Summers and Monsoon Period
MAY- Buddhists celebrate Buddha Jayanti—the birthday, enlightenment, and death of Sakyamunni (Historic Buddha)—with rituals and chants at monasteries. Special celebrations are held in Sikkim and other major pilgrim-age centers, such as Sarnath and Bodhgaya. On Muharram, Shiite Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Hussain, who died in the battle of Karbala. Participants’ intense self-flagellation may disturb the squeamish. On Bakrid or Id-ul-Zuha, celebrating the sacrifice of Harrat Ibrahim (Abraham), Muslims solemnly sacrifice one animal per family (or group of families) and conclude with a feast and joyous celebration.
JUNE TO JULY – Puri’s seven-day Roth Yatra, honoring Lord Krishna, is Orissa’s most sacred festival and draws big crowds. The two-day Hemis Festival at Ladakh’s largest monastery commemorates the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava with masked lamas performing ritual chaams (dances) and haunting music.
JULY TO AUG – In Jaipur, women and girls observe Teej, the arrival of the monsoon, dedicating their festivities to the goddess Parvati.
AUG – Independence Day, on the 15th, commemorates India’s independence from British rule in 1947.
AUG TO SEPT – Ganesha Chaturthi, a 10-day festival celebrated in Bombay and Pune, marks the birthday of the Hindus’ elephant-headed god; clay images of Ganesh are paraded through streets and installed on plat-forms. Onam celebrates Kerala’s harvest season with dancing, singing, and exotic snake-boat races in Alleppey, Aranmula, and Kottayam. Pang Lhabsol offers thanks to Mt. Kanchenjunga, Sikkim’s guardian deity, and hon-ors Yabdu, the great warrior who protects the mountain.
SEPT TO OCT – Calcutta turns into one big party for Dussehra, or Durga Puja, a 10-day festival honoring the Hindu goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Sarasvati. Farther south, Mysore hosts concerts and cultural events in Durbar Hall, and the maharaja himself comes out in full regalia, complete with some palace treasures, for the traditional procession.
OCT –On Gandhi Jayanti, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (the 2nd), pilgrims visit the Raj Ghat, where Gandhi was cremated. Jaipur’s Marwar Festival brings to life myth and folklore in Marwari culture, music, and dance.
OCT TO NOV- Diwali, the festival of lights, is India’s most important Hindu festival, celebrating the day the Hindu God Rama (Vishnu) ended a 14-year exile, as well as the start of the New Year. Hindus worship Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; oil lamps flicker in most homes symbolizing the victory of truth (light) over ignorance (darkness); cities crackle with the explosion of fireworks; and Bengalis worship Kali, the black goddess of destruction.
NOV- For the five-day Konark Dance Festival, Odissi (classical Orissan dances) are performed at the Sun Temple and a craft fair is held. Nomads assemble with their camels and gaily fes-tooned cattle for Ra-jasthan’s carnivalesque Pushkar Festival.
Nov to Dec – The International Seafood Festival at Miramar Beach, near Panaji (Goa), offers three to five days of good food, music, and Indian, Western, and local folk dances.
For more information on 30 Most Popular Festivals of India contact Swan Tours, One of the leading travel agents in India.