When you arrive in India, you’ll realise that there will be a festival almost every month. Usually, these are based on religious and cultural beliefs and sometimes, even to mark the onset or culmination of the harvesting season. Most of these festivals don’t have a fixed date. Their date is known by studying the movement of stars and planets.
Here, festivals are celebrated with so much pomp and grandeur that the excitement is infectious. During the festival period, no one’s caste, class or creed is considered. Everyone becomes a part of the ongoing fervour. It’s a truly delightful feeling to experience a festival in India. So for you, I’m going to list down five amazing festivals of India that you cannot miss.
Diwali, or Deepavali as some people like to call it, has to be the grandest and large-scale festival of the country. It’s a Hindu festival, but people of all religion celebrate it. To witness the celebration at its best, you have to visit the Northern countries like Rajasthan and Delhi.
According to popular legend, when Lord Ram, along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman, returned to Ayodhya (his hometown) after 14 years of exile, the villagers welcomed him with diyas (small clay lamps). There was a huge celebration, and every corner of Ayodhya was lit up.
As time went by, it began to be celebrated every year, and it was called Deepavali or the “Festival of Lights”. Diwali is usually observed in the month of November. It is believed that all the houses have to be clean and people should wear new clothes on this day. They should go to a temple in the morning because it’s an auspicious day: the day when Lord Ram returned to his subjects. Hindus believe that Diwali signifies the victory of light over darkness.
By the evening, all the streets and houses are completely lit up with diyas, candles and even small led bulbs. It is a sight to behold. Besides that, bursting crackers on Diwali is almost like a ritual now. But recently, the Government banned this considering the amount of pollution it causes. But nevertheless, people still burst it. Distributing sweets and meeting distant relatives are also common practices on this day.
Holi is a famous festival not only in India but abroad as well. It is the festival of colours. That’s why foreigners love it.
Legend says that on this day, Prince Prahlad killed the evil Holika. Thus, every year to celebrate his victory over Holika, effigies of her are burnt on pyres, and the entire country becomes colourful.
The festival goes on for two days. This has to be the most exciting festival, honestly. Children and adults await this day and small packets filled with colours are sold everywhere. On the day of the festival, a grand celebration takes place. Everyone gets out on the roads and colonies and put colours on each other’s faces. Children fill balloons with water and throw them on people from the balconies of their houses.
North India is very famous for a large-scale celebration of Holi. But to get the essence of it, you should visit Vrindavan and Mathura on that day because this festival started from here. It is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. All the temples and streets are decorated while colours are splashed everywhere.
Enjoy Holi in India.
Dussehra is again one of the most amazing festivals of India. It has also gained a good amount of popularity abroad, though the celebration takes place in its essence in India only.
This was the day when Lord Ram killed Ravan. Therefore, on Dussehra, large structures are made of Ravan and his two brothers. These are then burnt, and a large crowd gathers to witness this event. It is believed to signify the victory of good over evil.
The burning usually takes place at night. You have to visit the Northern states to witness some of the most incredible and tallest structures of Ravan, some even rising to the height of 195 feet. The celebration takes place in full form in states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and definitely, Rajasthan.
Many Islamic communities are living in India, and naturally, Eid-Ul-Fitr is celebrated with equal grandeur as the Hindu festivals.
The festival is observed after the holy month of Ramadan. The reason behind the celebration is purely religious. It is believed to bring happiness and prosperity to everyone and to receive the blessings of Almighty Allah. People wear white clothes on this day and distribute sweets.
It is also the most humble and generous festival in India because Muslims believe in giving food to the poor and the less fortunate on this day. Barring all the negative Islamic hatred in the world, Eid-Ul-Fitr reflects the true meaning and purpose of Islam: peace and happiness.
5. Ganesh Chaturthi
If you want to witness the craze and belief associated with this festival, head over to Mumbai on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi.
This festival lasts for 11 days and marks the birth of Lord Ganesh. Podiums are constructed on the streets, and massive statues of the Lord are mounted on it with decorations and flowers adorning the podium and the streets.
On the 11th day, all the statues are carried in a procession. The procession is celebrated with so much vigour and excitement that it’s hard not to be a part of it. A large crowd becomes a part of the procession, and people dance, sing and burst crackers. The statues are then taken to respectful water bodies to submerge them.
This festival is amazing to witness and to be a part of. The Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai which is dedicated to Lord Ganesh is also visited by thousands of devotees daily during the period of Ganesh Chaturthi. To read more about it, check out The Most Majestic Temples of India.