Celebrating life with countless festivals of India
Festivals have been a part of India's tradition.Know more on the various festivals and their specialties.
I have grown up, lived and worked in many cities. When I think of all those cities, the first images to cross my mind are related to some or the other festival attended there. The massive pandals during Durga Puja in Kolkata, the food, the aarti ; Eid in Lucknow with iftar parties, biryani and kebabs; the Janmashtami in Mumbai with Govinda tolis and their dahi- handi act.
The cities took on a different flavour and came alive to an altogether different rhythm during these festivals.
Some festivals truly make it worth your while to plan a trip to their parent towns. Try planning a vacation around one of my pick of the lot in India — and there are plenty in this country.
WHAT: Punjabi New Year.
WHY: All of Punjab resounds with the beats of drums and the sound of traditional songs, colourful clothes, great food, music, and dance. Looking for celebration? No one does Balle Balle better than the cheery Punjabis.
WHEN: April 13.
WHERE : All over Punjab. Check out Talwandi Sabo in Bhatinda.
EID- UL- FITR
WHAT: The Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan fast.
WHY: Families get together to break their long fast with a vast array of delicacies. It’s a time of celebration and everyone’s out in their best clothes. In places like Lucknow, the culinary side of the celebrations is to die for.
WHEN: First day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar.
WHERE : Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, to see it at its best.
KUMBH AND ARDH KUMBH MELA
WHAT: India’s largest Hindu fairs.
WHY: The colours of religion are at their wildest, chaotic best at the Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering in the world. Held every three years by rotation in four holy places where the nectar of the gods, or amrit , is said to have spilt — Prayag, Hardwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Ardh Kumbh is held every 6th year between Kumbhs.
People take a dip into the confluence of the holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.
WHERE : Prayag, Uttar Pradesh.
WHAT: Assam’s ‘ national’ festival WHY: While there are three Bihu festivals celebrated each year, Bohaag Bihu is the grandest. It marks the beginning of the harvest season and is a time for merriment.
People across the state celebrate by dancing, singing and feasting. On the last day, bulls and cows are bathed in turmeric.
WHEN: In April.
WHERE : All over Assam.
CHHATH PUJA :
WHAT: Hindu festival for Sun God WHY: Over the course of four days, worshippers fast for nearly 36 hours at a stretch and offer prayers to the rising and setting sun on the banks of the Ganga. Streets are cleaned as worshippers walk barefoot for miles to the river banks.
WHEN: Twenty days after Diwali.
WHERE : All over Bihar; The best are the ghat s at Patna and Deo.
WHAT: The biggest festival of Bengalis.
WHY: Kolkata goes wild with devotion over the festival dedicated to the 10- armed goddess. The city is full of displays of light and pandal s for four days. Though religious, the festival has a Mardi Gras spirit about it with bright lights, new clothes and great food.
WHEN: September- October.
WHERE : All over Kolkata.
WHAT: An annual show of exotic varieties of flowers, orchids and other plants native to Sikkim.
WHY: Sikkim has an astonishing variety of foliage and this tourist festival, held during the peak flowering season, shows orchids of unfamiliar shapes and sizes, gladioli, roses, and alpine plants and ferns. A festival of local cuisine runs alongside.
WHEN: April- May.
WHERE : Gangtok, Sikkim.
WHAT: An annual tourist festival that brings together all 16 major tribes of Nagaland.
WHY: For a week, there are cultural performances, with dances and displays that show off Naga traditions, culture and costumes at their finest.
WHEN: December 1 to 7.
WHERE : Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, Nagaland.
WHAT: Kerala’s ancient sport.
WHY: The boat races ( vallamkali in Malayalam) in Kerala are an institution. The elongated boats, stretching from 100- 150 feet, hold as many as 100 rowers and are known for their precision and synchronisation. Each boat is owned by a village and worshipped.
There are various races around the harvest festival of Onam.
WHEN: Usually around Onam, some are also held in December.
WHERE : Across Kerala.
MY MUST- DO Pushkar Fair
The country’s largest cattle fair is held every November in Rajasthan.
So why should you want to head to a cattle fair? Because you get to be a part of one of the biggest, craziest carnival, jamboori ever! There are cultural shows, pehalwan akhara s, donkeys that pick your future, magicians that chop up girls and, you get to pick the best puppets and antiques, go on a camel safari, and mingle with the locals and learn about their culture.
If you’re not up for crowds, take a midnight stroll, sit by the ghat s ( there are 52 of them!) watching votive lamps afloat, eat malpua s and buy some hand- embroidered fabric. Puskhar also has one of the rare Brahma temples.
Stay at the Royal Camps set up by Welcom Heritage, done by the team of Maharaja of Jodhpur on concepts borrowed from the royal safari and shikar hunting camps of a bygone age.
Get Updates!Subscribe to the Scholars club email newsletter to receive updates, freebies and exclusives:
==>Help us to keep SCHOLARS CLUB running?