India is the land of vibrant colours with festivals to match. Year round the calendar is filled with festivals to celebrate culture, tradition and religion. Here are the most popular and famous festivals of India.
Probably the most popular of India’s festivals, known as the festival of colours, Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. The festival is marked by bonfires, singing and dancing on the eve of Holi. On the day, people gather to apply dry and wet colours to each other in a beautiful, rainbow mess.
Celebrated among Hindu communities, Raksha Bandhan symbolises the bond between brother and sister. During the Rakhi, sisters perform prayers and tie a sacred threat on their brother’s wrist for his wellbeing. In return, brothers vow to protect their sisters. Markets sell a variety of colourful sweets to mark the celebration.
The ten day Hindu festival celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. The colourful festival sees many hand-crafted Ganesh idols installed around the country and in homes. Pujas are performed each morning and evening and on the final day of the festival, an idol is immersed in water. Singing, dancing, theatre and free medical camps are held in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Celebrated by India’s Hindu communities, Krishna Janmashtami is the annual celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna. People fast during the day and enjoy a special meal after dusk. Festivities include visiting temples, praying, dancing and singing hymns.
For Onam, people wear traditional clothing and decorate their houses with floral designs. The festival celebrates the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. The spectacular Snake Boat Race is one of the festival’s highlights, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The festival is celebrated by the state of Kerala.
Celebrated across the country in different ways, Navrati is a nine day celebration of rejuvenating nights and energetic days, celebrating the Goddess Amba in nine different forms. People dress in colourful traditional clothing and dance. The festivities are most vibrant in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Commemorating Lord Rama’s invocation of Goddess Durga before going to war with the demon king, Ravana, Durga Puja is a ten day festival. Over the period of the festival people fast, feast and worship the goddess through song, dance and drama. Huge idols are placed in artistic pandals or canopies.
Celebrating the death of the demon king Ravana at the hands of Lord Rama, Dussehra is celebrated in different forms across India. Re-enactments of the story are held everywhere for ten days and end with the burning of huge effigies of Ravana. There are also decorated markets stalls.
Diwali is the most prominent festival on the Hindu calendar. The festival marks the return of Lord Rama and his family after exile of 14 years. Streets are decorated with lights and candles and people share sweets with friends, family and neighbours.
The Sikh festival celebrates the anniversaries of the ten Sikh Gurus. Community meals are organised, hymns are chanted in processions throughout the cities and Karah Prasad is distributed among all. Houses are often lit with lamps and candles. The festival is especially celebrated in Punjab.
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