God may be one, but there are a whole lot of different forms of God that are worshipped in India. Almost every culture in India has its own forms of God which they worship with fervent delight. There are almost as many festivals in India as there are number of Gods. And each festival is more colorful than the other. This makes visiting a festival one of the best things to do in India. While every festival in India is worth participating in, there are some you just cannot miss. Here are 10 of the most lively and colorful festivals of India that you would just love being a part of.
Colourful festivals in India
1. Holi – a riot of colors. Every year, between the months of February and March, the streets of India come alive with a riot of colors. Holi, like most other festivals of India, is celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil. The festival also marks the onset of spring season. In most parts of India, the celebration of the festival starts almost a week in advance. You should look on the streets for water balloons and color, as you may be targeted anywhere and everywhere. It is a fun festival which brings together people of all ages. For the best Holi experience in India, head to Mathura which witnesses week long celebrations. Holi is truly the epitome of colourful festivals in India!
2. Diwali – a festival of lights. When talking of the best festivals of India, you just cannot leave Diwali out. Diwali is to India what Christmas is to the Western world. The festival takes place somewhere in the months of October and November, 20 days after Dussehra. You can see houses decked up in colorful lights, people exchanging gifts, and every family having their own firecracker show as well. In fact, the firecracker show is a matter of pride among families. According to Hindu mythology, the festival marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after he defeated the evil Ravana. If you haven’t been part of a Diwali festival in India ever, you are really missing out on a lot.
3. Dussehra – triumph of good over evil. Precluding the festival of Diwali is Dussehra. The festival, much like Holi, is celebrated to mark the triumph over evil. It is celebrated to mark the win of Lord Rama over Ravana. Effigies of Ravana are burnt across all the parts of the country with fire crackers. While Dussehra in Mysore stands out for its decorated palaces and a grand scale, if you are looking for a more traditional experience, head to the Ramleela Maidan in Delhi. The festival is attended by the top politicos, including the President of India, and there is the yummy food of Old Delhi to savor too closeby.
4. Ganesh Chaturthi – almost like a Rio carnival. Every year, sometime in the months of September and October, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in large parts of the country, with Mumbai being the epicenter. The festival is almost like a carnival in Rio, minus the bikini clad babes. Scores of people take to the streets with a beautifully decked up idol of Lord Ganesha for immersion in a river. The procession is accompanied with drum beats and people having a gala time. You just can’t stop yourself from dancing during this festival.
5. Krishna Janamashtmi – celebrating the birth of a rockstar. Lord Krishna is probably the coolest of all God forms in Hindu mythology. Celebrating the birth of this rockstar God is the festival of Krishna Janamashtmi. The festival falls sometime in the month of August. While the festival is celebrated across the country, probably the most fun celebrations take part in Mumbai. A huge pot filled with butter, milk and money is suspended from wires high above the ground and participants are expected to break it by forming a human ladder. The team that breaks the pot takes home the winnings. Of course, there is dance and some crazy music played all along.
6. Onam – a cultural experience. It is not just the northern or the western part of India that witnesses some of the most exciting festivals of India. The tranquil setting of Kerala comes to life every year in the months of August and September during the Onam festival. If you are planning a Kerala tour, try and plan it to coincide with the festival. Onam is a 10 day long festival whih sees colorful fairs, awesome dance competitions, and exhilarating snake boat races being organized through large parts of Kerala. Throughout the festival, there is a feeling of bonhomie and happiness. While there are many ways to plan a Kerala tour, planning it to coincide with Onam is probably the most colorful one.
7. Pushkar fair – a congregation of animals. This isn’t really a festival in traditional sense of the way. However, you just cannot rule it out when talking of the best festivals of India. In the month of November, the state of Rajasthan plays host to Pushkar fair. It is a five day long festival which sees animals being traded, primarily elephants and camels. It is the largest congregation of animals in Asia, and you can some beautifully decked up animals during the festival. There are some crazy competitions taking place on the sidelines too, such as a competition for the longest moustache.
8. Navratri – dance, dance, dance. The nine days prior to the festival of Dussehra are celebrated as Navratri. During the nine days, nine different forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. This 9 day long festival sees several beautiful banquets being set up across the country. There is gourmet food to be had at these banquets and some amazing music to dance too. Often, people find the love of their life during this festival, as you get a chance to play Dandiya with a member of the opposite sex. Of course, you can always play all by yourself if you cannot find a partner. The idea is to have fun all along.
9. Baisakhi (or Vaisakhi) – celebrating harvest. Baisakhi is celebrated in Punjab in India and the festival marks the beginning of the harvest season. You can see beautifully decked up dancers dancing to traditionally Punjabi beats. The dhol beats are just awesome and you can almost feel them pumping in your veins. Baisakhi is a nice time to let your hair down and just go with the flow.
10. Raksha Bandhan – a day of promise. It may not be a gazetted holiday according to the Government of India, but the beautiful tradition makes it an important festival of India. On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a satin thread (rakhi) on the wrists of their brothers, and in turn, brothers promise to protect them for the rest of their lives. It is a festival that celebrates the bonding between brothers and sisters. Of course, there are some awesome sweets to be had on this day, as is the case with most other festivals in the country.
About the guest writer
Divij Pasrija is an adventurer, a budding photographer and a writer. He has been to various trekking trails and many offbeat destinations in India. His passion is to explore all the offbeat destinations.