India has a rich heritage and a vibrant culture – thanks to thousands of years of booming civilisations. No other country offers as much diversity in landscapes, religions, culture and festivals as India. No matter the time of the year, be rest assured that there is always a festival celebration happening in some corner of India. If you are a serious photographer or a casual traveller, festivals are something you don’t want to miss out on! Now, let’s dive into it, shall we?
January – Rann Utsav at the Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
What better way to kick-start the new year than visiting the Great Rann of Kutch during Rann Utsav? Almost a 4-month long festival (Nov 1st to 20th Feb), Rann Utsav is just one of its kind. Evidently, with Gujarati handicrafts, outdoor activities and varieties of cultural performances, it is hard to pass up on. Especially, in the glowing white sand of Rann on a full moon night. It is truly an experience of a lifetime.
February – Konark dance festival at Konark, Orissa(19th – 23rd)
Located on the banks of Bay of Bengal, Konark Temple is a well-known World Heritage site dedicated to the Sun God. Apart from the intricate carvings and the elaborate design of the Konark temple, Konark Dance Festival takes the spotlight in February each year. Due to performances of classical dances like Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Kathak and Chau dance at the Natyamandir. The dance performances in the backdrop of the sun temples thus make this festival in February a no-brainer for the culturally enthusiastic ones.
March – Holi in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh ( 8th – 13th )
Flushed in festive spirit in the month of March, the holy city of Vrindavan is a delight to watch. In celebrations of one of the most vibrant and fun festivals of India – the festival of colours. People from all communities converge to celebrate this festival – irrespective of caste, gender or race. North India celebrates Holi in a grand scale – although, Holi celebrations in Vrindavan and Mathura is just other-worldly. If you are looking for something unconventional, may be you could check out “Phoolon waali Holi” (Holi with flowers) in Vrindavan.
April – Easter Sunday in Panaji, Goa( 16th )
Who doesn’t love Easter baskets brimmed with a variety of chocolates and colourfully decorated eggs? Enter Easter Sunday. An auspicious day for the Christians – it marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ upon his death on Good Friday. Consequently, the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji attracts the largest crowd and is the principal focus of festivities in Goa. After the mass, crowds line up on the roadside to witness the procession carrying the wooden cross.
May – International Flower Festival in Gangtok, Sikkim ( 1st to 31st )
Don’t you just need an excuse to escape to the lofty mountains and the beautiful lakes of Sikkim? The international flower festival in Gangtok just happens to be one of them. The natural topography and climate make Sikkim ideal for sundry of flora to flourish naturally. Ergo, many species of rhododendron, orchids, gladioli, cacti, roses, ferns and alpine plants are displayed during the show. Also, Yak safari is a crowd favourite during the Flower Festival.
June – Idul-Fitr in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (26th)
Celebrated fervently by millions of Muslims, Id festival and the month long fasting prior to that – known as Ramzan. There are usually lines of street food with varieties of meat to gorge upon during this time in the Muslim dominated areas. Cities such as Lucknow, Delhi and Hyderabad see joyous celebrations and fanfare during Id.
July – Hemis festival in Jammu and Kashmir ( 3rd – 4th )
The desolated desert landscape of Leh Ladakh needs no introduction. The road trips to Leh from Delhi or Manali is just as breathtaking as Leh. To top it off, Hemis festival in July is just icing on the cake. It is hosted every year in Hemis Gompa – the largest and richest Buddhist monastery in Leh. During the festival, the locals deck up in traditional attire with cummerbunds, vibrant headgears and loads of jewellery. However, the most mysterious form of celebration is the mystic mask dances (Chams performance) accompanied by musical drums, long horns and cymbals. Apparently, this 2-day festival is remembered as the birth of Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism.
August – Nehru Trophy Boat race in Kerala ( 13th )
A boat race in God’s own country is something that will surely put you in awe. It is a significant part of the culture and tradition of Kerala. Evidently, Nehru Trophy boat race held in Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha attracts viewers from far off corners of the world. Watching the snake boat races amidst lush greenery is just a pure spectacle. One of the most well-esteemed boat races in India.
September – Ziro Music Festival in Arunachal Pradesh (21st – 24th)
In the mood to listen to some top-class Indie bands and folk music while gazing at the vast expanse of the mystic Himalayan range? Well, look no further. Ziro music festival offers just that. It takes place in the picturesque valley of Ziro in the state of Arunachal Pradesh each year, in one of the remote corners of India. Yet, it attracts visitors from all over the world.
Tips for visitors – Make sure you have appropriate permits to access the area – the Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Indians and Protected Area Permit for foreigners.
October – Diwali in Punjab( 16th – 21st )
Indians celebrate Diwali every year uniting various communities and regions. The festival of lights is one of the most brilliantly lit Indian festivals with legions of lights illuminating millions of households. Historically, it marks the home coming of Lord Ram from exile back to his kingdom. A grand puja of Goddess Laxmi ensues in the evening and end the day with bursting crackers. Ideally, it is best witnessed in UP, Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi.
November – Pushkar festival in Rajasthan(28th Oct-4th Nov)
Rajasthan is one of those culturally rich states in India with umpteen number forts and palaces. Pushkar fair is widely popular as a testimony to the vivid sights, moods and aromas of Rajasthan. Pushkar Fair, in all likelihood, is a mega event of Rajasthan in which thousands of camel owners visit the city to participate in a medley of events. In addition, camels adorned lovingly in colourful garbs, jewellery and silver bells, are one of the great attractions of the fair. A variety of musicians, dancers, acrobats, magicians, snake charmers and food stalls are also present to delight the onlookers. Consequently, temple dancing, folk and classical music, arts and crafts bazaars are some of the festival highlights. Maybe, you can check out the Camel Beauty contest too. Additionally, an International Hot Air Balloon Festival is also organised during the fair.
December – Hornbill Festival in Nagaland( 1st-7th )
Ever wondered how the indigenous warrior tribes in the far Eastern state of Nagaland live their life? Well, here’s your opportunity to find out. Locally known as The festival of festivals, Hornbill festival is one of the most cherished and the largest celebrations in Nagaland. And plentiful displays of handicrafts, handloom, multi-cuisine, local food stalls and a rich amount of rice beer definitely makes it worth your time. Evidently, evenings are lighted by the thrilling Hornbill National Rock Concert in which bands from all over the country and abroad participate. Also, Naga chilly eating competition and pork eating festival attracts a huge crowd and evokes much fanfare and excitement.
So, what are your favourite festivals in India? And, which of these festivals are you going to attend this year? Let me know in the comments below ↓↓