The true experience of rich cultural heritage of India can be made by joining the most vibrant festivals of India. Despite of its great diversity in religions, customs and lifestyle found in every corner, festivity and love for party is quite common in India. You can coincide your Indian holidays with some of most vibrant fairs and festivals of India. The spectacular Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan is the largest cattle fair in the world, India’s most amazing festival of colours ‘Holi’ has always amazed and attracted the travellers from every corner of the world. One can see the lamp decorated houses and streets and hear the sound of amazing firework during Diwali or participate in great snake boat race festival of Kerala. We have showcased only a few important festivals of India here since the list of fairs and festivals of India is too long to describe. We invite you to come on a tour to India and coincide it with one of the Indian festivals to make your holiday in India an everlasting experience.
The festival of colour Holi is celebrated all over India turning cities and towns into a riot of colour, fun and frolic. Holi is meant to symbolize the victory of good over evil, the importance of love and of happiness. On this festival, the families, friends, relatives, neighbours get together to throw powder bombs, fire water pistols and splash coloured water as they run through the streets. Group of people, sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak. People offer gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other traditional delicacies. Chilled drinks, including adult drinks based on local intoxicating herbs, is also part of the Holi festivity. It also has a religious purpose, symbolically signified by the legend of Holika. The night before Holi, bonfires are lit, in a ceremony known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Little Holi. People gather near fires, sing and dance.The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil.
Diwali is the prime festival for Hindus, celebrated with great passion and delight in all over the world during the month of October – November. During this occasion Goddess Lakshmi is welcomed to bring prosperity and happiness for which people decorate their home and workplace with lights, rangolis, light clay lamps (diyas) filled with oil and other decorative stuff.
It is believed that the Lord Ram returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after the 14 years of exile in forest, after defeating the demon Ravana. So, Diwali symbolises the victory of good over evil. The festival brings 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 home are decorated but whole markets are lighten up and decorated best and the government foots the electricity bill. read more +
Pushkar is famous for its Brahma Temple, dedicated to Lord Brahma - the creator of the Universe according to Hindu mythology. Another major reason which attracts visitors towards Pushkar is Pushkar Cattle Fair, which is one of Asia’s largest cattle fairs, held’s every year during October – November, with the only aim to trade camels, cows, horses, goats and sheep. During this festival entire Pushkar comes alive, with cultural and musical events, thrilling camel safari ride on sand dunes of Thar Desert and a stay in the traditional camps making you feel like a local. Once the trading of cattle gets completed, they are then cattles are decked up with beautiful clothes and dazzling ornaments for public displays. The caretakers, do not leave any stone un turn to in making their camels look dynamic and eye catching as the one looking the best wins the prize You can also see the local men and women dressed up traditionally with the vibrant colourful clothes and big jewellery. Rajasthani men with the long moustaches are one of the other attractions.
The Camel festival is organised by the state’s Tourism Department during January every year at deserted town of Bikaner. Camels are the ship of desert, on this event; the camels are decorated in typical Rajasthani attires, colorful bridles and saddles so beautifully that their charm and grace catch the attention of viewers. On the first day, the camel show is held, where the owners of the camels are show off their Camels decorations and jewellery. Once can witness the spectacular views of camel races, camel dances, displaying amazing footwork, to the direction of their riders. Camels are the life lines of the Bikaner and called ships of the desert. Once can be see camels pulling heavy loads on carts in this region. Visitors are entertained by Rajasthani local traditional dancers, and the glittering fireworks. This fair combines the color, music and rhythm. read more +
This lively festival of Jaisalmer held’s every year in month of January end or February at Sam sand dunes, which is located 42 kms from Jaisalmer. The sand dunes come alive with the dazzling colors, vibrant music, herd of camels, locals dressed in colourful fancy dresses specially men with the colourful big turbans and long moustaches, which is one of the attraction to the foreign people. The celebration showcases Rajasthani folk songs and dance to promote Jaisalmer culture and traditions. These three days of festival glorifies the rich culture of the region. Camel races and polo matches, turban tying competitions, menwith long moustache, acrobats, snake charmers puppeteers, acrobats, and jugglers, Gair and Fire dancers, and folk artists in their vibrant and colorful costumes, capture your heart. A trip to the Sam sand dunes marks the grand finale, where you will enjoy camel rides and brilliant performance by the folk artist under the full moon against the backdrop of picturesque dunes. read more +
The Elephant Festival is one of the most popular and celebrated every year at Jaipur Polo Ground, on the day before the festivals of Holi. Elephant is an important part of the Indian society, as the elephant-headed God, Ganesha, believed to be the remover of obstacles and foremost to all the gods, and is devotedly worshipped all over India. During this festival, elephants are nicely groomed and clothed with chunky elephant jewellery, their bodies are painted with traditional Indian motifs, gold embroidered velvet rugs grace their Richly embellished head-plates adorn the Elephants foreheads. The mahouts (caretaker of the elephant) are also dressed up in their brocade jackets and bright coloured turbans. The elephants enter the ground with their mahouts, thumping to the sound of nagadas and loud blows of bankiya, a musical instrument. Elephant polo, elephant tug-of-war, and an elephant beauty contest held between Elephant and 19 men and women are the special features of this grand festival. There are live performances of dancers and musicians too. This festival is enjoyed by a huge number of crowds including the visitors from different parts of India as well as abroad. At the Elephant festival the best decorated Elephant and its Mahout are prized. read more +
Ganesh Chaturthi is dedicated to Lord Ganesh (son of Shiv), the elephant -headed god of all good beginnings and success and is celebrated with great devotion all over India, during the month of September The festival celebrated as the birth day of Lord Ganesh for 10-days. People all over the country, bring the idols of lord Ganesh at their homes and offer prayers in home and temple. On the 11th day, the idol is taken through the streets with dances, music performances, to be immersed in a river or the sea which signifies see off the Lord in his journey towards his abode and taking away misfortunes of all man.
Goa Carnival - A Musical Extravaganza
Goa carnival is an eagerly awaited occasion where one forgets his worries and simply plunges into happiness and joy-making for three whole days. The carival takes place in February, every year. Carnival in Goa is round-the-clock 3-day festival of color, song and music, where young and old everyone sings, laughs and dances on the tunes of music. The streets are crowded for three days with a carnival of colors, a carnival of fun and a carnival of joy for the people of Goa as well as the tourists who make it a point to plan their Goa tour during that time. Colourful processions and lavish floats parade the streets. Singing, dancing and masked people mark the hilarious and colourful Goan celebration. The popular cradle songs and nursery rhymes with colourful attires worn make the atmosphere as well streets more cheerful. read more +
Famous Khajuraho dance festival is held at western group of temples in month of February. Through this festival many young dancers are provided with the opportunity to show the dance forms and richness of Indian Classical Dances in front of national and foreign visitors. Along with the dance festival, art & craft work is also displayed by the local craftsmen.
Pooram is celebrated in Thrissur at Vadakkumnathan temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, in month of April. It is the most colourful of all the festivals of Kerala. The festival includes a magnificent spectacle of fireworks which held’s next day morning, an umbrella display competition and a splendid elephant procession. The elephants are decorated at their best during this occasion, the best elephants are sent to Thrissur to participate in the Pooram festival from all over the country. It is a 36 hours continuous Pooram, attracting a huge mass of people from different places including international tourists.
Dussehra also called “Vijaya Dashami” symbolizes victory of good over evil. In North India, this day marks the victory of Lord Rama over demon-king Ravana and rescued his abducted wife - Sita. This celebration starts from Navratri and ends with the tenth day festival of “Dussehra. Huge effigies of Ravana, his giant brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnath are placed in vast open grounds with the fireworks and crackers placed inside the effigies and are burnt. Numbers of fairs are organized throughout northern India. The people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of truth and goodness.
The famous 'Hemis' festival is celebrated on the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava on the courtyard of Hemis Gompa which is the biggest and richest Buddhist monastery in the Ladakh region. This festival is rich in colours and one can see the famous Buddhist culture and adventure here. During this occasion, the Lamas, perform dances and sacred plays with the brightly painted masks and vibrant costumes along with the drums and long horns, this festival illustrates good prevailing over evil.Local people are seen dressed up in their finest traditional garb for the occasion. Fair is also organised during this festival, where number of stalls and shops sells a variety of souvenirs and handicrafts. read more +
Nagaur, is a small town located in between Bikaner and Jodhpur of Rajasthan, mainly significant for the rustic rural charm and colorful life seen on the way. Nagaur fair is one of the largest eight days cattle fair in the country, held annually between late January and early February. The fair is organized by the Animal Husbandry Department and the Rajasthan Tourism Department also participates in it. The owners of the animals from all over Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana come and camp around the outskirts of Nagaur during cattle fair to take part in trading of livestock. The livestock includes not just cows but also, handsome marwari horses, Shearing sheep, bumpy camels and goats. They are decorated beautifully by their owners who look absolutely dramatic dressed in their colourful attires. The small town of Nagaur comes alive with bustling activities read more +
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, as he was so impressed with the boat race. It is conducted on Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha, on the second Saturday of August every year. The boats are well decorated with colourful trimmings and umbrellas during the race.
Taj Mahotsav is organised by the UP tourism every year at Shilpgram near Taj Mahal for 10days, where the famous artists, musicians, dancers and chefs put their best foot forward to make you experience fantastic. One can experience the India’s rich art, craft and heritage culture along with the folk music, classical dance performances, camel/elephant ride, games and exotic traditional food etc.
Rath Yatra is a major Hindu festival and one of the most awaited Hindu festivals related with Lord Jagannath (avatar of Lord Vishnu) held at Puri, India. It attracts more than one million pilgrims every year, not only from India but also from the different parts of the world. The 3 deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra are worshipped within the temple, on this festival. They are taken to the streets of Puri so that everyone can have the fortune to see them, as the non Indians are not allowed the temple. The 3 deities have 3 different wooden chariots, which are constructed newly every year. The festival begins with the invoking ceremony in the morning and the chariot pulling on the roads of Puri in afternoon is the most exciting part of the festival, when they are taken to the Gundicha Temple. This festival is a represents an equality and integration, between different religions and cultures.
The Hampi festival is organised by the Government of Karnataka held’s in the first week of November. During this festival the Hampi comes alive with dance, music, drama, fireworks. This festival showcases the cultural richness of the magnificent ruined city of Hampi, which was once the capital of the powerful Vijayanagar Empire.
The Sun temple in Konark is renowned as a world heritage site and famous for festival of classical dance and music which is held annually in month of December. This festival is together organised by Orissa Tourism and Odissi Research Centre to promote the Indian Classical dances like Oissi, Bharat Natyam, Manipuri, Kathak and to showcase the depth of culture in form of dance to the rest of the world. The elegant gestures, sensuous body language and expressive faces are for all to see.
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