Bihu is the most celebrated festival of Assam. It is a festival that transcends all religious and class barriers bringing people together in a free and uninhabited manner.
The festival is celebrated with much pomp and fervour during different periods of the year.
These are the festivals of food that mark the three stages of cultivation i.e. beginning of the agricultural season, completion of transplantation and end of the harvesting season.
Bihu is secular in concept because it is associated with agricultural.
Three forms of Bihu are celebrated in Asom Bohag Bihu celebrated in the middle of April, which marks the New Year (In Asomese calendar) at the advent of seeding time.
Kati Bihu, celebrated in the middle of October, which marks the completion of sowing and transplanting of paddies.
Magh Bihu, celebrated in the middle of January, which marks the end of the harvesting period. Magh Bihu, also known as Bhogali Bihu, celebrated in mid-January, originates from the word ‘Bhog’ and signifies eating and enjoyment.
It is a harvest festival and marks the end of harvesting season. Buffallo fights are a major attraction.
Religion accounts for a large variety of festivals. Vaishnavites observe the birth and death anniversaries of prominent.
Vaishnava saints through day-long singing of hymns and staging of Bhaonas (theatrical performances in traditional style).
Ambubachi in Kamakhya shrine, Shivaratri Mela at Umananda and other places near Shiva temples, Durga Puja, Diwali, Dol-Jatra, Id, Christmas, Ashokastami Mela, Rash Mela, Parasuram Mela are other religious festivals. Regional Festival of other states
A year in Manipur represents a cycle of festivities. Hardly a month passes by without a festival, which to the Manipuris is a symbol of their social, cultural and religious aspirations.
Important festivals of the State are : Lai Haraoba, Rasa Leela, Cheiraoba, Ningol Chak-Kouba, Rath-Jatra, Id-ul-Fitr, Imoinu Iratpa, Gaan-Ngai, Lui-Ngai-Ni, Id-ul-Zuha, Yaoshang (Holi), Durga Puja, Mera Houchongba, Diwali, Kut, Christmas, etc.
Ras Lila (Oct./Nov.) Graceful dancers of Manipur, intact scenes from the life of Krishna. It has great significance for the majority of the Asomese, who are Vaishnavites.
A five-day-long religious festival of the Khasis ‘Ka Pamblang Nongkrem’ popularly known as ‘Nongkrem dance’ is annually held at Smit village, 11 km from Shillong.
‘Shad Sukmynsiem’, another important festival of the Khasis is held at Shillong during the second week of April.
‘Behdeinkhlam’, the most important and colourful festival of the jaintias is celebrated annually at Jowai in Jaintia Hills in July. ‘Wangala festival’ is observed for a week to honour Saljong (Sungod) of the Garos during October – November.
Mizos are basically agriculture oriented. All their activities centre around jhum cultivation and their festivals are linked with such agricultural operations.
Kut is the Mizo term for festival. Among the various cultural festivals, only three viz. Chapchar Kut-, Mim Kut & Thalfavang Kut are observed today.
Music and dances are an intrinsic part of Naga life. Folk songs and ballads eulogizing bravery, beauty, love, generosity, etc., are transmitted from generation to generation. Likewise dancing is an important part of every festive occasion.
Feasting, singing, dancing and merrymaking invariably accompany festivals. Some of the important festivals are Sekrenyi, Moatsu, Tokhu Emong and Tuluni.
Sikkim’s population comprises the three principal ethnic communities of the Bhutias, Lepchas and the Nepalese. Maghey Sankranti, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja and Chaite Dassai/Ram Navami Dassai, Tyohar, Sonam Losoong, Namsoog, Tendong Lho Rum Faat (Worship of Mt. Tendong), Losar (Tibetan New Year) are the major festivals.
The other festivals include Sakewa (Rai), Sonam Lochar (Gurung), Barahimzong (Mangar), etc.
(i) Tourism Festival at Vanghmun,
(ii) Unokuti Tourism Festival,
(iii) Neermahal Tourism Festival,
(iv) Pilak Tourism Festival.
Cultural Religious Festivals:
(i) Makar Sankranti at Thirthamukh and Unokoti,
(iii) Ashokashtami at Unokoti, Brahmakunda (Mohanpur),
(iv) Bengali New Year,
(v) Garia, Dhamail, Biju and Hozagiri Festival,
(vi) Boat Race and Manasa Mangal Festival,
(vii) Ker and Kharchi Festival,
(ix) Durga Puja,
(xi) Christmas at Jampui Hills,
(xii) Budha Purnima,
(xiii) Rabindra-Najrul-Sukanta Utsav,
(xiv) Street Drama Festival,
(xv) Chongpreng Utsav,
(xvi) Khumpui Festival,
(xvii) Wah Festival,
(xviii) Folk Cultural Festival (Loka Utsav),
(xix) Murasing Festival,
(xx) Sanghati Festival,
(xxi) Baisakhi Festival (Sabroom), etc., are celebrated annually.
Mela Hemis Gompa (Hemis monastery) It is a festival associated with Hemis Gompa, the oldest, richest and the biggest Buddhist monastery in Ladakh.
The festival of Hemis Gompa brings families of Ladakhis close together as they begin arriving from all over the valley. Their ornate festival clothing reveals a Tibetan, rather than Indian heritage.
This two-day festival depicts a dance-homage to the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava.
The festival is the largest and best of the Tibetan Buddhist gompa festivals in Ladakh. The lamas themselves offer contradictory explanations as to the meanings of the dances.
Is a festival that is celebrated in Kashmir in the month of ‘Posh’, which falls around December or January?
According to Hindu mythology, Kashmir was the abode of Yakshas or semi divine beings. On the festival day, people prepare khichri (cooked rice with pulse and ghee) and invite the ‘yaksha’ to eat it. It is believed that during the night the yaksha comes and tastes the Khichri.
Apart from the above, on the tenth day of the bright fortnight Assuj is celebrated as the day of victory of Rama over Raaana.
Shivratri festival is also celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir. Four Muslim festivals celebrated in the State are Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Zuha, Id-e-Milad-un-Nabi and Meraj Alam. Muharram is also observed.
In Spituk monastry in Leh, enormous statues of Goddess Kali are exhibited, once in the year. On the occasion of the annual festival, this falls in January.
Other festivals celebrated are Lohri marking a climax of winter. Sankranti is observed in Ramban and adjoining villages. Mela Pat observed in Bhadarwah in the month of August.
Literally means ‘Worship of Sal’. Sarhul is the worship of nature. This is a festival of flowers, when the Sal flowers are brought to the Sarna, the place of worship and the pahon (the village headman) propitiates all Gods.
The festival is observed by Mundas, Oraon and Santhal tribal communities, inhabiting in the regions of Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar.
The Santhals call it Baha and celebrated it in February-March while the Oraons celebrate in the month of March-April.
Hadia or Diang, a wine made of stale rice is the ‘Prasad’ of this festival. Oraons perform their traditional Sarhul Dance, during the festival. Sarhul lasts for several days.
Karam Festival (Aug./Sept.):
It is celebrated for the prosperity of the village. The Karam sapling is brought from the jungle by a bachelor, and planted in the village.
This is followed by singing, dancing and taking of rice beer. Celebrated by Kols of Jharkhand and Bhumiyas of Mayurbhanj, Odisha.
Kerala is the home of many colourful festivals. Most of them have a religious fervor inspired by Hindu Mythology.
Onam is the most typical of Kerala festivals, which coincides with the harvest season. It is now celebrated on astronomical New Year Day.
Navaratri is celebrated as Saraswati Puja in Kerala. Maha Shivarathri is celebrated on the banks of Periyar River as a spectacular festival, which is compared to Kumbhamela.
The 41-day festival, which coincides with Makaravilakku in Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple, attracts lakhs of people from India and abroad.
The Vallamkali or boat race is typical of Kerala. All the boat festivals have a religious origin except Nehru Trophy Boat race conducted in the Punnamada Lake.
Thrissur celebrates Pooram festival in April – May every year with an impressive procession of caparisoned elephants and display of unparalleled pyro-techniques. Main Christian festivals are Christmas and Easter.
Maramon Convention held every year on the Pumba riverbed is the biggest gathering of Christians in Asia.
The Muslims celebrate Milade Shareef, Ramzan fasting, Id-ul-Fitr and Bakrid. However, the following festivals must be remembered:
It is the most important festival of Kerala, celebrated in the Malayalam month of ‘Chingam’ to commemorate the happy days of the rule of Asura king Mahabali.
It is believed that the benevolent ruler visits the region on this day. The Kaikottikkali dance and Aranmulai snake boat race are among its spectacular features.
Poonam Festival (March/April):
It is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Vada Kunathan temple at Trichur, where thousands of people assemble on the day.
An elephant procession and a beautiful display of pyro-techniques are impotant features of the festival.
A number of festivals are celebrated in Madhya Pradesh. An important tribal festival is Bhagoriya marked by traditional gaiety and enthusiasm.
Shivaratri is celebrated in Khajuraho, Bhojpur, Pachmarhi and Ujjain and has its own local flavor, while Ramnavami festival at Chitrakoot and Orchha has a unique sense of devotion imbued with tradition.
Festivals of Orchha, Malwa, Pachmarhi bring to the fore, repertoire of culture and art of the people. Tansen Music Festival, Gwalior, Ustad Allauddin Khan.
Music Festival of Maihar, Kalidas Samaroh, Ujjain and Festival of Dances at Khajuraho are some of the well-known art festivals of Madhya Pradesh.
An annual Narmada Festival has been started from this year at Bedhaghat in Jabalpur, famous for its marble rocks.
A Shivpuri Festival has been started from this year at Shivpuri. However, the following festival must be remembered:
Khajuraho spring to life twice a year, once to celebrate Shivratri (Feb./March), when devotees gather at the Matangeshwar temple and then again at the annual festival of classical Indian dance (for a week, sometime in March), when famous dancers from all over the country gather here to perform against the backdrop of the Vishwanath temple.
Khajuraho Dance Festival is comparatively a newly launched dance festival and was first organized in the year 2002, with international status under the Government of India programme categories; this seven-day extravaganza is a unique treat for connoisseurs from all over the world.
It marks the culmination of winter. It is celebrated on the last day of Paush, and beginning of Magha (around January 12 and 13), when the sun changes its course.
Community bonfires are lit in evening, around which, people gather, throw sweets, crisp, rice and crisp, rice and popcorn into the flames and sing popular folk songs and exchange greetings.
When the sun changes its course. It is associated with the worship of the sun and fire and is observed by all communities with different names, as Lohri is an exclusively Punjabi festival. The questions like, when it began and why is lost in the mists of antiquity.
The day after Diwali women apply a paste of saffron and rice on their brother’s forehead as mark of protection from evil (Also refer to Bhai Dooj mentioned above).
Besides festivals of Dussehra, Diwali, Holi, other important festivals/fairs/melas are Maghi Mela at Muktsar, Rural Sports at Kila Raipur, Basant at Patiala, Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, Baisakhi at Talwandi Saboo, Urs at Rauza Sharif at Sirhind, Chhappar Mela at Chhappar, Skeikh Farid Agam Purb at Faridkot, Ram Tirath at village Ram Tirath, Shaheedi Jor Mela at Sirhind, Harballah Sangeet Sammelan at Jalandhar and Baba Sodal at Jalandhar.
In addition to above Fairs and Festivals, three heritage festivals at Amritsar, Patiala, Kapurthala are also celebrated every year and are very popular among the tourists.
Sair-e-Gulfaroshan or Phool Walon Ki Sair This festival of flowers is celebrated in Aug./Sept. by all communities espcially by Hindus and Muslims at Mehrauli near Delhi.
Large plam leaf fans decorated with flowers and pendants are taken out in a procession with fire dancers at the head.
Therefore, it is also called Pankha (fan) festival. The procession starts from Shamusi Talab and the participants go to Dargah of Kwaja Bakhtiar Kaki Sahib and then to Jog Maya Temple. Festival is a good example of communal peace and harmony.
Jagannath Puja and the Ratha Yatra-(June/July):
The festival is held in honor of the deity Jagannath, believed to be the incarnation of Vishnu Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra are placed on colossal chariots, which are pulled by hundreds of devotees from all parts of India. RathYatra is celebrated in the month of June/July by the Hindus.
Rath means chariot, Yatra dt means a pilgrimage or procession. This festival is celebrated in many parts of India but is said to have originated in Jagannath Puri in Odisha.
Special ceremonies and rituals are performed in the temples of Puri during this festival.
The spring festival of Gangaur is held in honour of Gauri, the Goddess of abundance.
Young girls adorned in their best clothes and pray for a spouse of their choice. The married ladies pray for the welfare of their husbands.
This spring festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal all over Rajasthan. Celebrations in Jaipur and Udaipur have their own charm and attraction.
The festival begins almost a fortnight before the actual day. Girls worship the goddess throughout the preceding fortnight.
Colorful images of Gauri are taken out in procession accompanied by the town band. Thousands of people from the countryside come to take part in the procession of the image from village-to-village.
Another unique thing about this festival is that on this occasion, tribal men and women have an opportunity to meet and interact freely and during this time, they select partners and marry by eloping.
Pushkar Mela (Oct./Nov.):
A fair is held by the sacred lake at Pushkar, near Ajmer. The tank is believed to have been created by Bramha.
Pushkar prides itself on being the site of the only temple of the Hindu God of Creation, Brahma. Camel and Horse shows are also held. Most people associate the Pushkar Fair with world’s largest camel fair. But it is much more than that.
Navaratri although observed throughout India, it has special appeal in Gujarat. Every evening during the nine days women folks perform a garba dance.
Rajasthan is a land of festivals and fairs, besides the national festivals of Holi, Deepawali, Vijayadashmi, Christmas, etc., birth anniversaries of gods and goddesses, saintly figures, folk heroes and heroines are celebrated.
Important fairs are Teej, Gangaur (Jaipur), annual Urs of Ajmer Sharif and Galiakot, tribal Kumbh of Beneshwar (Dungarpur), Mahaveer fair at Shrimahavirji in Sawai Madhopur, Ramdeora (Jaisalmer), Janbheslwari fair (Mukam-Bikaner), Kartik Poornima and Cattle Fair (Pushkar-Ajmer) and Shyamji fair (Sikar), etc.
Andhra Pradesh /Tamil Nadu
It is the most important harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. This day festival is the biggest event of the year for the Tamils. First day is celebrated as a family festival, second is dedicated to the Sun when Pongal (rice cooked in milk) is offered by women to the god.
Third day is dedicated to worship and veneration of cattle with ingredients provided by the freshly gathered harvest, community meals are held at night.
Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated by the farmers in January to worship the sun, the earth and the cattle as thanks giving for a bounteous harvest. Pongal is followed by the Jallikattu-Bull fight, Tamil Nadu style in some parts of southern Tamil Nadu.
Alanganallur in Tamil Nadu is internationally famous for Jallikattu-Bull fight. Chithirai Festival Madurai Madurai brings a spectacular re-enactment of the marriage of the Pandiyan princess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswarar. Adipperukku is a festival celebrated on the 18th day of Tamil month, Adi, on the banks of rivers. It marks the commencement of new farming operations.
A truly secular festival, where devotees flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali. One of the descendants of the Saint is chosen as a Peer or spiritual leader and is honoured with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival, the Saint’s tomb is annointed with sandalwood and later the holy sandal paste is distributed to everyone.
Velankanni Festival :
Wondrous legends surround the church, the most famous being that of the ship wrecked Portuguese sailors, who in the 16th century, vowed to build a great shrine for the Virgin Mary, for saving their lives in a terrible storm.
The Velankanni festival attracts thousands, clad in orange robes to the sacred spot, where the ship landed. Equally famous are the Virgin Mary’s miraculous healing powers, earning for the church the name ‘Lourdes of the East’.
Navarathiri festival, literally, this means the festival of ‘nine nights’ taking unique and different forms in different states of India-All to propitiate the Goddess Sakthi, for power, wealth and knowledge. Music Festival, In December Chennai celebrates her priceless heritage of music and dance to present a galaxy of star artists, old and new.
Vithoba Festival is celebrated in veneration to Vithoba (the Vishnu incarnate). It is celebrated thrice (April-June-Nov a year) at the Pandharpur temple on the side of Bhima river.
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Ganesh (Ganesha), the god of wisdom and prosperity on the fourth day of the moons bright fortnight, or period from new moon in the lunar month of Bhadrapada. The festival is celebrated with special enthusiasm in Maharashtra, where it lasts for more than 10 days.
The world famous Kumbh Mela/Ardh Kumbh Mela is held at Hardwar at every twelfth/sixth year interval. Other prominent fairs/festivals are : Devidhura Mela (Champawat), Purnagiri Mela (Champawat), Nanda Devi Mela (Almora), Gauchar Mela (Chamoli), Baisakhi (Uttarkashi), Magha Mela (Uttarkashi), Uttaraini Mela (Bageshwar), Vishu Mela (Jaunsar Bhabar), Peeran-Kaliyar (Roorkee), and Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra held every twelfth year.
Uttar Pradesh :
The biggest congregation, perhaps of the world, Kumbha Mela is held at Allahabad, every twelfth year and Ardhkumbh Mela every sixth year. Magh Mela is also held at Allahabad in January, when the people come in large number to have a dip in the holy Sangam.
Among other fairs is the fortnight long Jhoola fair of Mathura, Vrindavan and Ayodhya, when dolls are placed in gold and silver jhoolas or cradles. A dip in the Ganga on Kartik Poornamasi is supposed to be the holiest and there are big congregations at Garhmukteshwar, Soran, Rajghat, Kakora, Bithur, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Ayodhya. A famous cattle fair is held at Bateswar in Agra district.
Dewa in Barabanki district has became famous because of the Muslim saint Waris Ali Shah. Besides, important festivals of the Hindus, Muslims, etc., are widely celebrated in the state.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli :
Normally all festivals of Hindus, Muslims and Christians are celebrated in the territory, while tribals celebrate their own festivals. Diwaso is celebrated by Dhodia and Varli tribes and Raksha Bandhan is celebrated by Dhodia tribe. Other festivals include Bhawada amonget Varlist, Koli tribes and Khali Puja by all tribes after harvesting of crops and Gram Devi before harvesting of crops.
Fairs/Festivals of NCT of Delhi Being a cosmopolitan city, all major festivals of India are celebrated here. Moreover, some tourism festivals have become regular annual events of Delhi. Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation organises Roshnara Festival, Shalimar Festival, Qutab Festival, Winter Carnival, Garden Tourism Festival, Jahan-e-Khusrao.