A holiday to India is like an explosion on the senses, alive with noise, smells, colour and charm, and not to mention world-renowned festivals. Why not try and include one on your Indian tailor-made holiday? Here’s a guide to some of our favourite religious and cultural festivals:
Onam festival in Kerala takes place on 13th September 2016 and 4th September 2017. The festival marks the beginning of the month of Chingam, first month of Malayalam Calendar. Locals decorate the area outside the front of their house with intricately designed flower arrangements, called pookalams. One of the highlights of the festival is the snake boat race. With around 100 rowers per boat, the races get extremely competitive! As with most Indian festivals, food is an important factor. Many elaborate dishes are served as part of the Onam feast and these can be tried at some of the larger hotels.
Taking place from 9th October 2016, Durge Puja is a celebration of the Mother Goddess. Kolkata (Calcutta) is the main place to witness the festivities which sees statues of the Goddess Durga elaborately dressed and installed in homes, then paraded through the town before being immersed in the river on the final day of the celebrations. The streets of Kolkata come alive with dance, cultural performances and feasts during the celebrations.
Rajasthan International Folk Festival
Rajasthan International Folk Festival in Jodhpur takes place between 13th- 17th October 2016. The four-night festival has interactive educational events, staged performances and late night jam sessions to give you an insight into Indian folk culture. Evenings will be spent enjoying traditional music within the scenic gardens and terraces of Mehrangarh Fort.
Diwali or the Festival of Lights is the biggest and brightest of all Hindu festivals. Taking place in October, some say that the festival is held to illuminate the way home for Lord Rama after 14 years in exile. Others say the lamps, torches and fireworks are used to light the night sky as a celebration of his return. Diwali also marks the end of the harvest season. The best places to visit during this time are Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi and Jaipur.
Pushkar Camel Fair
Also taking place in November is the Pushkar Camel Fair. Coinciding with the Kartik Purnima festival based around the full moon, the fair attracts up to 300,000 people who come to celebrate their camels as well as bathe in the holy waters of the lake. Camels, cattle and horses are still traded in their thousands; the fair is also home to countless craft stands, folk singers and dancers.
Holi Festival of Colours takes place on 24th March 2016 and 13th March 2017. It is one of India’s most chaotic, colourful and fun festivals involving huge amounts of paint powder being thrown all over the town and each other in street parties. The festival takes place the day after the full moon and celebrates a good spring harvest. Be prepared to be covered in paint!
Janmashtami, also known as Govinda, celebrates Lord Krishna’s birthday around 25th August 2016. The festival highlight takes place on the second day, when groups of young men climb on top of each other, creating a human pyramid in their efforts to reach and smash a clay pot. The pot is filled with curd - Lord Krisha’s favourite food, and one that he was often caught stealing. Housewives hang the pots up high to keep the curd away from him. The best place to enjoy Govinda is Mumbai.
Ganesh Chaturthi is the festival that honours India’s beloved elephant-headed god, Ganesh. This elaborate festival will be held on 5th September 2016 although preparations for the 10 day event start well in advance as images of Ganesh are made by local communities throughout the year. During the festival these images are paraded through the streets while locals sing and dance, before being submerged in the sea. Mumbai has some of the country’s largest processions and is therefore the best place to witness the celebrations.
Start planning your Explore tailormade holiday to an Indian festival by filling in our enquiry form or calling our experts on 01252 883 184.