Euphoria in the Festivals of India

Get into these euphoric festivals of India and find delight in the nation’s rich culture.

Diversity inevitably exists in India, one of the world’s largest countries by land area. Despite the vast regions, elated locals continue to come together and observe their euphoric festivals. Here are some of these colourful celebrations you can take part in for your next holiday.
 

Diwali or Deepavali (The Festival of Lights)

Across different parts of India, mostly in Northern India

While Diwali is a huge celebration in Hindu communities around the world, major cities in northern India arguably hold the brightest. It’s a glorious tribute for the homecoming of Lord Rama, which represents the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. During the Festival of Lights, millions of houses, temples, and buildings throughout the country are illuminated by diyas, small lamps.

In the holy city of Varanasi, pilgrims by the thousands flock the Ganges River in their best attire to worship, gaze at the fireworks display, and immerse in the incredible atmosphere. The belief is when the full moon waxes, gods and goddesses will then walk the earth and take a dip in the river.

When to visit: 27 to 31 October 2019

Diwali or Deepavali, also called ‘The Festival of Lights,’ symbolises the joyous triumph of good over evil.

 

Hornbill Festival

Kisama Heritage Village, Kohima in Nagaland

The multi-ethnic tribes of Nagaland in Northeast India gather each year for the Hornbill Festival. It’s the significant time when tribes people head down to Kisama Heritage Village to demonstrate their spirit of unity in diversity. It’s also a collective reverence to the hornbill, a bird enshrined in Naga’s cultural ethos.

In the Festival of Festivals that has been celebrated since 2000, traditional music and dances along with extravagant performances capture the attention of local and foreigner visitors. Lasting for ten thrilling days, Hornbill Festival also features indigenous games, food feasts, and fashion and floral displays to entertain the crowd.

When to visit: 1 to 10 December 2019

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A tribal performance at the Hornbill Festival (photo courtesy of Nagaland Tourism)

 

Makar Sankranti

Across the different regions of India

As the first huge celebration of the year, Makar Sankranti ushers in an auspicious time, the beginning of harvest season in Hindu culture. The festival itself has various names across the different regions in India, some of which are Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Vishu in Kerala, Lohri in Punjab, among several others. Moreover, traditions vary from one location to another. Kite flying has long been associated with the festival in Gujarat that the activity has taken form into the International Kite Flying Festival.

There are many places in India which are quite popular for holy bathing on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti such as Haridwar, Allahabad, Ganga Sagar (West Bengal), and Varanasi among others.

When to visit: 14 January 2020

Thousands of people taking a Holy Dip into the water to celebrate Makar Sankranti

 

Losar

Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir

In the Tibetan language, Losar means new year, which resonates the turning of a new leaf, a better outlook in life. Tibetan Buddhists, particularly in Ladakh, illuminate their shrines with bright ornaments. Monasteries turn lively with monks and locals singing and dancing, staging jovial performances for visitors. Elaborate masks, staples of the festival, enchant the crowd with a depiction of great battles and historic events.

While Losar lasts typically for 15 days, the first three are the most important. On the first day, monasteries are filled with colourful offerings to Goddess Palden Lhamo. The monks chant rhythmic prayers that evoke tranquillity. A gathering in the Hall of Excellence marks the second day, also known as the King’s Losar. And finally, the third day sees the monks and locals gather in a harmonious celebration.

When to visit: 24 to 26 February 2020

Tibetan Buddhists performing at the temple for the Losar Festival

 

Holi (The Festival of Colours)

Across different parts of India, mostly in Northern India

A popular celebration in reverence to Krishna, Holi or Festival of Colours tells the tale of the young deity visiting the village of Radha. He playfully puts colours on his friends while they get even at Krishna hitting him with sticks all in the spirit of fun.

The great enthusiasm for this ancient festival is widespread in India and around the world, but many describe the celebration in Mathura as simply the best. A sea of eye-popping colours happens as festivalgoers are covered in gulal, coloured powder. The weeklong celebration takes place in major Krishna temples that include Banke Bihari, Nandgaon, Gokul and Barsana.

When to visit: 10 March 2020

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Holi festival attendees covered in gulal or colored ritual powder (photo courtesy of Uttar Pradesh Tourism)

 

Find out more festivals in India and its myriad of attractions on its official website, visit incredibleindia.org.

*This article was published in collaboration with India Tourism. Schedules above may change without prior notice.

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