Indian Fairs and Festivals

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Fairs & Festivals of India

India has a festival more or less every day of the year. So why not mingle your trip to match with one of them and see places you may not have measured before.

Desert Festival

What:-Camel Safari at Sam Sand Dunes
When:- January - February
Where:- Jaisalmer
Why:- For 3 days this otherwise sterile land is full of colour, music and celebration. The famed Gair and Fire dancers swing to traditional music, alongside exhibits of the memorable past and rich culture. A turban tying competition and a Mr. Desert challenge are held. The grand ending is an excursion to the sand dunes at Sam where visitors get pleasure from camel rides, folk dances and musician’s performing arts on the sand.

Baisakhi Festival / Vishu Festival

What:- Festival of the Sikh Brotherhood
When:- April
Where:- Punjab, Assam, Kerala & North India
Why:- Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood). The holy book of the Sikhs, Granth Sahib, is taken in a convoy, led by the Panj Pyaras (5 senior sikhs) who are emblematic of their leaders. This is followed by feasting and enjoyment. In Kerala the festival is called Vishu. Displays of grain, gold, new clothes, flowers, fruit and money to ensure a prosperous and healthy new year ahead.

Makar Sankranti Festival

What:- A festivity of spring during the ‘ascent’ of the sun to the north of Uttrayana. Sankrati is a Sanskrit word meaning the end of an event.
When:- January
Where:- Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh
Why:- For earth inhabitants, activities of the sun are big news. The Indian solar calendar is based on them. In mid-January the sun pierces into Makar Rashi or House of Capricorn – which is the 10th sign of the zodiac. At this time the sun begins its Uttarayun, a journey towards the northern hemisphere. The first day of the journey is called Makar Sanskranti and on this day people throng to the holy rivers to enjoy a sacred dips. This day is packed with happiness, kindness and friendship and sesame ladoos and sugar drops are dispersed as a symbol of the need to be liberal and kind to everyone.

Holi Festival

What:- Hindu Festival
When:- March
Where:- All North India
Why:- It is an indication of the conclusion of winter and the commencement of spring. The night before the full moon, crowds get together and light huge bonfires to burn the dried leaves and branches of the winter. People flings coloured water and powders (Gulal and Kumkum) at each other while singing and dancing. In Anandpur Sahib, Sikhs rejoice a special festival Hola Mohalla on the day after Holi with a display of ancient martial arts and mock combat.

Dussehra Festival

What:- Hindu festival
When:- June
Where:- Throughout India
Why:- One of India’s most important Hindu festivals celebrated with a lot of joy all over India. It marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king, Rayana, and the victory of good over evil. On the tenth day, ‘Vijayadasmi’ day, massive effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnath are placed in huge open spaces. Rama and his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana appear and shoot arrows of fire at these effigies which are full of explosive substances. The result is a deafening blast.

Hemis Festival

What:- Dances at the famous Ladakh monastery
When:- June
Where:- Ladakh
Why:- For 2 days from the 10th day of the 6th month of the Ladakhi calendar, the Hemis monastery turns into a large stage where monks and tourists gather together for the well-known masked dances to celebrate the birth of Guru Padmasambhava. Artists wear intricated, bizarre costumes and masks similar to legendary animals and illustrating the tempers of the gods. Celebrations starts with sounds of trumpets, cymbals, drums and small bells and classically slow dance actions tell the story of the age-old fight between good and evil. Hemis is one of the largest monasteries of Ladakh and most likely the richest. It is located on the left bank of the river Indus in an imaginative valley about 40 km from Leh. It is whispered that Hemis was built in the 17th century by Stagtshang Raspa under the support of King Sengge Namgyal and since then it has become a leading centre of Drugpa Buddhism. Almost 4000 metres above the monastery is a cave used as a place for those wanting to perform long, arduous penances.

Rath Yatra Festival

What: Chariot festival
When:- June-July
Where:- Orissa
Why:- The word Juggernaut springs from Lord Jagannatha, the presiding divinity of the state of Orissa, India. Lord Jagannatha, (Vishnu) supremacy comes from his wonderful temple at Puri, flanked by his sister, Subhadra and younger brother, Balabhadra. During June and July all three deities are taken in a grand, pageant in specifically made huge chariots called Rathas. The Puri Rath Yatra is perhaps the most famous ride that any god can take in India and is world famous for the crowds that it attracts. Passionate devotees nearly lose their lives in the milling crowds and under the huge wheels, while trying to touch the sacred rope that is used to pull the chariots.

Onam Festival

What:- A harvest festival
When:- August/September
Where:- Kerala
Why:- This harvest festival greets the spirit of the devout king Mahabali from external exile and to pledge him that his people are happy and wish him well. Elephants are included in a demonstration and righteous women are heralded with boat races.

Diwali Festival Also Known As: Deepawali Festival, Deepavali Festival, Divali Festival, Dewali Festival

What:- Festival Of Lights from the Sanskrit word Deepavali : Deepa means light and Avali means a row. This 5-day Hindu holiday is the most broadly celebrated and most colourful of all Indian festivals. Homes are filled with oil lamps (Deep) left to burn all night.
When:- 15th day of Ashwin (October/November).
Where:- All over India
Why:- In Northern India Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile. Sikhs celebrate Diwali, for the reason that their sixth Guru, Guru Hargobindji returns from a great victory. In Southern India it is celebrated for God Krishna killing the wicked king Narakasura. In eastern India Diwali celebrates the demolition of Bakasura by the Goddess Kali, the goddess of strength.

Konark Festival

What:- Annual Dance festival
When:- December
Where:- Konark, Orissa
Why:- The festival was started in a proposal to support Indian classical dance and held at Konark Temple where this beautiful dance form has been cultivated since ancient times.