India is a magical land surprising everyone with different cultural traditions. From the snow capped mountains of the north to the scorching tropical land of the south, the country showcases to the travelers an array of unpredictable climates, cultures, cuisines, traditions and life styles. Every region you are crossing in India will never imitate another, as the vast country has bounty of differences in all aspects.
Despite all these differences one can spot in India, Spirituality is the strongest thread connecting things together. The ancient, still vibrant religious history of this magic land can be experienced in the sacred centers dotted across the country and get an insight into the multi varying traditions followed. And none the less significant, the festivals. Festivals are the devotional form of celebrations in all parts of India, invariably in all seasons. The festivals can be right from huge processions with gorgeous arrangements or a simple pooja at home or a religious ritual in front of a village deity, connecting everyone to the world of religion and spirituality.
Get to know about the most popular festivals of India here, the icons of Indian traditions and Culture passed through generations.
Chennai Music Festival
The annual musical retreat for the music lovers across the globe is Chennai Music Festival. The month long festival includes musical performances by veterans in the field and thousands of music fans flying to Chennai from different countries to attend the concerts scheduled throughout the month. Getting a slot to showcase their musical talents in various community halls and Sabhas is considered to be a pride among the musicians. The religious beliefs and culture deep rooted in the traditions of India are highlighted through these musical festivities.
Where : Chennai, Tamilnadu
When : December 15, 2019 – January 1, 2020
Galdan Namchot – Leh Ladakh
The annual festival to welcome the new year as well as to commemorate the death and parinirvana of the Buddhist scholar Je Tsonghapa is Galdan Namchot, celebrated at Ladakh where Buddhism has its very deep roots. The monasteries and the schools in the entire region is lit up as a part of this festival besides the religious discourses and special rituals to welcome the Ladakhi new year. Butter lamps are most prominent in the rituals. Traditional dishes of Ladakh like Butter Tea and Momo are exchanged with friends and families. A ceremonial scarf Khatak is presented as a ritual of Galdan Namchot, making the festival unique one.
Upcoming dates: 21st December, 2019
A week long extravaganza welcoming the New Year celebrated in the global tourist destination Cochin is Cochin Carnival. God’s own country, Kerala attracts lakhs of tourists every year from different countries. Cochin Carnival is officially inaugurated with hoisting of flag at the Vasco Da Gama Square with Kochi Fort being decorated with white paper symbolising peace.The festival traces from Portuguese colonial times. The highlighting event of the festival is the procession on the New Year’s day with decorated elephants at the front. The procession involves performances blended with the traditions of Portuguese, Punjabi, Gujarati, Dutch, Arab and Malayali, truly a visual retreat. Series of competitions like beach boxing, beach volleyball, kayaking and marathon entertain the visitors to the core..
Where : Cochin, Kerala
Upcoming Dates: December 25, 2019 – January 1, 2020
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
The four week long annual dance extravaganza in Mahabalipuram, popular as a global tourist destination in Tamil Nadu, draws lakhs of tourists from across the world. The regional performances of Bharathanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi are the highlights of this festival. Eminent Gurus, artistes, dancers and troupes assemble to celebrate the art forms with a perfect backdrop of the rock carvings embedded with centuries’ old history.
Where: Mahabalipuram, Tamilnadu
Upcoming Dates: December 21, 2019 – January 19, 2020
Vaikunta Ekadasi – Door To Paradise
Vaikunta Ekadasi,also called “Door to Paradise” is celebrated during December – January every year in all the temples following Sri Vaishnavism. Though this is a commonly known festival, Srirangam in Tamilnadu is known to be most popular for this occasion. Basically the rituals and celebrations for Vaikunta Ekadasi are carried out in an exhaustive manner for a period of twenty two days. Pagal Pathu is one prominent event of this festival, lasting for ten days when the verses from the 6th century Vaishnavite canon Nalayira Dhivya Prabhandham will be recited by the clans of those who carried out the rituals in the early centuries.
Further to the ten day celebrations of the Pagal Pathu, Lord Renganathaswamy dressed up very gorgeously, comes out of the Door to Paradise called “Paramapadha Vaasal” witnessed by lakhs of devotees. This ceremonious ritual will normally be before dawn at around 4 am. You can see lakhs of devotees assembled in the temple premises from the previous night itself to be a part of the morning festival. Following the day of Vaikunta Ekadasi, there is yet another series of celebrations called Ira Pathu. For the subsequent ten days starting from Vaikunta Ekadasi, again the verses from Naalayira Dhivya Prabhandham will be recited with amazing dance performances by a clan of people called Arayars and the ritual is called as Arayar Sevai.
Where : Srirangam & Across India
Upcoming Date: January 6, 2020
Arudhra Dharshan – Emarald Nataraja
Situated as a very small hamlet in the South Indian state Tamilnadu, Uthirakosamangai houses a 3000 years old temple with Lord Shiva as the presiding deity manifested as Lord Nataraja. The temple is named as Mangalanathar Temple. The place is believed to derive its name from the incident when Lord Shiva taught the Vedic secrets to Goddess Parvati.The huge idol of Lord Nataraja is made up of a monolithic emerald stone and due to the radiating properties of Emarald, the statue is smeared with sandal paste throughout the year. Lakhs of devotees flock this small village on the day of Thiruvadhirai in the Tamil month Margazhi. It is an excellent moment to see the emerald idol without the sandal paste worshipped with decorations and lamps. There are few other smaller sub shrines in this temple as old as the sanctum. Built during the Pandya dynasty, the temple remains to raise questions to the historians and researchers about the presence of such a huge single emerald stone in drought driven area like Ramanathapuram district.
Where: Uthirakosamangai , Tamil Nadu
Upcoming Date: January 10, 2020
Thyagaraja Aaradhana – Musical Tribute
Series of music concerts rendered as a tribute to one of the greatest music trinity Thyagaraja at Thiruvaiyaru, a small town which is at 13kms from Tanjore, called as Thyagaraja Aaradhana. The grand music festival is conducted usually around first week of January. Hundreds of renowned musicians render the five songs called as “Pancharathna Krithis” composed by the Vetaran. It will be a divine experience to enjoy the concerts at His Samaadhi (Tomb) premises. Though the concerts will be there on all the five days, the main rituals and celebrations will be on the concluding day.
Where: Tiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu
Upcoming Date: January 15, 2020
LOHRI Festival, PUNJAB
The annual festival welcoming the new season celebrated mainly in the North Indian states of Punjab and Haryana is Lohri. It is after a good harvest and as a tribute to the yield, the festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of a more flourishing season ahead. People wear the best of their costumes, prepare traditional Punjabi cuisines and exchange them with friends and families. The fields are set fire and across several places bonfires are lit. It is enthralling to witness men and women dance around the bonfire, sing the traditional Punjabi songs. Lohri brings in joy to move on to the season ahead.
Where: Punjab & Haryana
When: 13th January, 2020
PONGAL – MAKARA SANKARANTHI
The four day festival thanking the Sun God for an abundant harvest is called as Pongal. Its other names are Makara Snakaranthi,Utharayana and Maghi. Pongal is celebrated by the ethnic Tamils and also across all states. The people of Indian origin in almost all countries are celebrating this festival in a grand manner.
The festival marks the travel of the Sun towards the equinox for a period of six months. Makara Sankaranthi marks the journey of the Sun called Utharayanam. According to Gregorian Calendar, Pongal is celebrated between 14th to 16th January of every year. This falls in the tenth Tamil month called Thai. The philosophical knot behind this festival is that the mankind need to keep on moving, letting behind the older theories and adopt newer advancement for a prosperous life. Socially, this festival enables the farmers to get ready for the next cultivating season.
Where: Pongal, Tamil Nadu : Makar Sankaranthi in other states
Upcoming Date: January 15th, 2020
JALLIKATTU – EMBRACING THE BULL
Jallikattu is the typical Tamil festival falling on the second day of Pongal (January). During this day the cows, bulls and buffalos are given a complete wash, beautified with garlands, and are worshipped in the morning, the most welcoming event of this day is bull race in the late afternoons don’t ever miss a chance to enjoy this nail biting race.
Alanganallur in Madurai district of Tamil nadu is popular among the global travellers for Jallikattu festival. Witnessing the bulls rushing out of the gate, called Vaadi Vasal and the young men trying to calm them down is a breath taking experience. Though serious injuries and casualties occur every year, people are keen to celebrate Jallikkattu,as this festival is synonymous to their bravery and courage and also to show their love and care to those domestic animals. The winners of this event are awarded with huge sums and even jewels. There has been evidences that Jallikattu has been celebrated since ancient name Eru Thazhuvudhal, meaning Embracing the Bull.
Where: Tamil Nadu
When: January 16th, 2020
INTERNATIONAL KITE FESTIVAL, RAJASTHAN
UNESCO World Heritage City Jaipur in Rajasthan witnesses India’s one of the most important festivals. The International Kite Festival falls on the day of Makar Sankaranthi, that is, on 14th January and lasts till 16th January. The festival attracts participants and onlookers from all corners of the country and beyond. Inaugurated at the Jaipur Polo Ground, people get enthralled witnessing the various Kite competitions with multicolored kites making the entire region more vibrant.
Where: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: 14th – 16th January, 2020
CAMEL FESTIVAL, BIKANER
An annual festival to honour the tough animals of deserts is Bikaner camel festival. Bikaner is chosen to be the venue as it is the only camel breeding region in Rajasthan. The two days festival in January involves the exotic participation of camels adorned beautifully to perform races, dances and parades. Large number of global travellers and local residents arrive to witness the events hosted at Bikaner. Delicacies like camel milk tea and sweets attract Rajasthani food lovers. Besides, the traditional artforms of Rajasthan are also performed by the artistes adding color to the festival. The entire list of events are held with Junagarh fort as the backdrop and you have few more places to visit nearby like Bandhasar Jain temple and Karni Mata temple.
Where: Bikaner, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: 11th and 12th January, 2020
Jaipur Literature Festival
This festival will be organized at Diggi Palace, Jaipur. The main aim of this fest is to expand the horizon of literature. It is the globally known fest and describe as the greatest literary show on Earth. This fest invites all the fine writers from all over the world under one roof. So that writers can get connected to each others and share their deep thoughts.
Where : Jaipur, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: January 23 – 27, 2020
Nagaur – Mega Cattle Fair
Popularly known as the Cattle Fair of Nagaur and it is the second biggest fair in India. People gather to trade the animals and around 70,000 bullocks, camels and horses, sheep are traded at this fair. The major attraction of this fair is that the animals are lavishly decorated.
Apart from it the major attraction of this fair is the India’s largest red chilli market the mirchi ,sales of wooden items, iron-craft and camel leather accessories. This fair is also famous for its jugglers, puppeteers.
Where : Nagaur, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: January 30 – February 2, 2020
SURAJKUND CRAFT FAIR, Faridabad, Delhi
The uniquely significant crafts mela is an annual celebration in the suburbs of Delhi. The Surajkund Mela showcases the richness and diversity of the handicrafts, hand looms and cultural fabric of India, & is said to one of the largest crafts fair in the world.
Crafts from almost all the states of India will be showcased in the Mela. The fair witnesses huge number of folk artistes from national and international fora along with the cultural groups present day performances at both the Chaupals, the open-air theatres, located in the Mela premises. Audience are entertained with cultural evenings with delightful are held at the main Chaupal everyday. If you plan to be in Delhi during these dates, this Mela deserves a visit.
Where : Faridabad, Delhi
Upcoming Dates: February 1-17, 2020
Desert Festival, Rajasthan
The colourful festival is celebrated on the golden sand of Jaisalmer. One can enjoy the Live Rajasthani folk culture and the mesmerising dance performances in the Desert Festival. The traditional music, puppeteers, acrobats, camel tattoo show, camel race are the major attractions of this festival drawing tourists from all corners of the globe.
Where: Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: February 7 – 9, 2020
Udaipur World Music Festival
International music festival is a prefect treat for the music lovers. Udaipur – The city of lakes sings different tune during this festival. This festival brings all the global artists together from different 20 countries like Iran, Spain, Brazil, France, and Italy among them. The event is designed to cater to the music sensibilities of people across different ages and from all walks of life.
Where : Udaipur, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: February 7- 9, 2020
FLOAT FESTIVAL – MADURAI
A unique festival in world’s one of the oldest cities Madurai is Float festival dating back to 17th century When Nayaks ruled the region. The man made tank houses an ornate structure housing Lord Ganesh in the middle of the tank. During full moon day of the tamil month Thai, falling around mid of January to February, the idols of Goddess Meenashi and Lord Sundareswarar are taken on golden palanquins from the world renowned Meenakshi Amman temple to the banks of the tank. People throng to worship them and the idols are placed on the raft and taken to the middle of the tank. Thousands of devotees arrive at Madurai to worship the deities and towards the evening the entire region becomes colourful with lighting of hundreds of oil, electrical lamps and bursting of crackers.it is a visual retreat to witness the deities coming back to the banks amidst the flickering lights and taken back to the temple premises in golden horses. Float festival is an iconic celebration in the sleepless city.
Where: Madurai, Tamilnadu
Upcoming Date : February 8, 2020
THAIPOOSAM – PALANI
Be a part of the Thaipoosam celebrations at Palani in Tamilnadu where Lord Muruga is worshipped by lakhs of devotees in the Tamil month of Thai. The festival Thaipoosam generally falls in the month of January.The temple atop the hill housing Lord Murugan as the presiding deity, witnesses devotees carrying bedecked wooden decks, milk pots on their heads and lances pierced in their bodies. As an offering to the God for their prayers responded, devotees undergo these rituals and surrender to His feet. The temple will be kept open throughout the day of Thaipoosam. You have the options of climbing the 700 steps to reach the temple along with the other devotees carrying their offerings or you can go up by the rope car and winch.
Where: Palani, Tamil Nadu
Upcoming Date: February 8, 2020
An annual event to offer a night long worship to Lord Shiva is Maha Shivaratri, celebrated in Shiva temples across the country. Devotees will tend have a daylong fasting and visit the temples. Chanting the names of Shiva and listening to the discourses describing His supreme powers are the regular schedules carried out. Temples witness increased numbers of devotees offering their prayers during the special poojas hosted followed by anointing the linga idols with various ingredients like sandalwood powder,honey, milk, curd, ashes and flowers. Later, the idols are decorated and worshipped with lamps. All the temples are kept opened throughout night and devotees throng to worship Him during the midnight poojas. Besides, special dance programmes are conducted in temples and popular community centres, as a tribute to the cosmic dancer, Lord Nataraja, a manifested form of Lord Shiva.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date: February 21st, 2020
NATYANJALI – TRIBUTE TO COSMIC DANCER
Participating in “Natyanjali” is considered to be very sacred by the Dancers across the country and the globe. Natyanjali is a Five Days Dance Festival conducted as a tribute to the Cosmic Dancer Lord Nataraja at Chidhambaram Temple. The epicenter of the five days festival is the 108 poses of Bharathanatyam.
The visitors can enjoy all the dance forms of India like Bharatha Natyam, Kuchupudi, Mohini Attam, Kathak, Odissi, Chhau under one roof. The annual celebration of the Natyanjali festival is aimed at offering tributes to the cosmic dancer Lord Nataraja. Though Natyanjali is celebrated in most of the places, Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu is believed to have the origin of this festival.
Where: Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu
Upcoming Dates: February 19th to 23rd, 2020
LOSAR FESTIVAL, LADAKH
How about being a part of the ancient festival Losar celebrated very prominently in the Ladakh region, an annual event scheduled normally during third week of February? Welcoming the new year is a very significant belief in Tibet region whose rituals are deeply rooted in Buddhism. Losar is celebrated wherever Buddhism is prominently followed with a strong belief that offering special prayers on the first day of the year will bring fortune throughout the year. The three days long festival brings joy everywhere with decorations, special rituals, cultural events, special discourses on preaching of Buddhism. With Losar festival, people welcome the wonderful year ahead.
Where: Ladakh Region
Upcoming Dates : February 24th – 26th, 2020
TAJ MAHOTSAV – Cultural Fiesta
The ten days long lavish extravaganza, Taj Mahotsav is celebrated near the Eastern Gate of the iconic destination of India, Taj Mahal. The vibrant platform witnesses participation of artisans across different regions and artforms showcasing their talents to the diverse form of onlookers from different parts of the country and globe. Besides, the stalls exhibit the traditional handmade artefacts to be bought as a souvenir. Camel Parades, dance performances, vocal concerts, display of regional cuisines and fun fairs are the highlights of this festival commencing with the procession of gorgeously decorated elephants and camels. It is an exciting opportunity to experience the soul stirring beauty of the white marble in mausoleum and an Eternal symbol of love, Taj Mahal for ten long days along with witnessing the exotic performances.
Where: Taj Mahal, Agra
When: February 18th – 27th, 2020
International Shivratri Fair, Mandi
Renowned international fair, held for 7 days in the town of Mandi also known as “Varanasi of the hills”. Shivaratri is great festival of convergence of Shiva and Shakti.
Around 200 mobile statues of gods and goddesses are carried on ornate palanquins by devotees from distant villages, sometimes travelling for two-three days on foot. These processions are accompanied with the playing of shehnai (Indian oboe), karnal (long wind instrument), thonkru (a large trumpet) and drums. As they pass through neighbourhoods, people rush to windows and rooftops to witness the dancing palanquins draped in red and orange cloth called chadar.
Where : Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
Upcoming Dates : February 21-28, 2020
KHAJURAHO DANCE FESTIVAL
A week long celebration to honor and portray the ancient rich culture and heritage of India in the form of dance performances is Khajuraho Dance Festival. With the backdrop of the world renowned Khajuraho temples popular for their awe inspiring sculptures, the various dance forms of India like, Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Manipuri and Kuchipudi keep the audience spellbound. A vibrant festival for seven days is an excellent opportunity to get a deeper insight about India and its heritage.
Where: Khajuraho Monuments premises
Month of Celebration: February, 2020
Hampi festival, celebrated to portray the grandeur of the early and medieval Vijayanagara Empire is hosted amidst the heritage monuments of Hampi in Karnataka located on the banks of River Thungabadra. The remnants of ruins still stand as a testimony to the craftsmanship of artisans in Vijayanagara dynasty attracting tourists from all parts of the globe. The three days’ festival includes dance performances exhibiting the rich culture and heritage of Deccan Plateau. It is an enthralling sight to witness the dance performance in the well lit monuments of Hampi in the late evenings.
Where: Group of Hampi monuments
Month of Celebration: February, 2020
Deccan Festival – Hyderabad
To preserve and enhance the culture of the Deccan Area, the Deccan festival is celebrated in the historic Hyderabad city. Marvel the grandeur of Islamic architectures in Charminar, a world renowned structure. Dance performances, Musical concerts, array of native Andhra cuisines embraced by the influence of Mughal recipes make the festival more colourful. The traditional handmade artefacts displayed in the stalls describe the rich culture of Andhra Pradesh, worth to buy as souvenirs.
Where – Hyderabad
Upcoming Dates – February 25 – 29 , 2020
Mewar Festival , Rajasthan
Visiting Udaipur during the Mewar festival can make it a onetime experience for any tourist. One can see the distinct flavour of festival in Udaipur where everyone enjoy this festival to welcome the spring. Local markets, shops would be fully decorated on this day. Similar to Gangaur festival, women join this celebration wearing their finest dress. Gorgeously dressed up idols of Lord Shiva and His consort Parvati are taken in procession and finally immersed in the middle of Lake Pichola. Dance, songs, cultural events and firework display are the major attraction of this festival.
Where: Udaipur, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates: February 27 – 29, 2020
INTERNATIONAL YOGA FESTIVAL, RISHIKESH
A week long festival celebrated at the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh attracts thousands of participants from number of countries. Conducted to promote awareness about the healthy lifestyles, the International Yoga Festival includes several yogic techniques derived from different cultures and creed, leading to various sessions conducted by Yogic Gurus on different yoga techniques to practice. Hosted by Paramath Niketan Ashram at Rishikesh, the International Yoga Festival aims at aligning your body,mind and soul to lead a healthy life.
Upcoming Dates: March 1-7, 2020
HOLI – FESTIVAL OF COLORS
Festival of colors celebrated pompously across the popular destinations in North India & Goa and recently been in other parts of the country as well, Holi spreads rays of happiness all around. Basantha Utsav, a feel of zephyr crosses you when uttering this word. The ancient and famous hindu festival being celebrated in India and Nepal for many centuries which is quite popular among the youth of today is the Holi Festival. It also bears the names as “Festival of Colours” and “Festival of Love”. It is also celebrated as an act of gratitude to the nature for a good harvest reaped. Everyone smears colours on others as an act of affection and joy. You can see people using water guns and balloons filled with colours spraying on each other. Dry powders are also used. Bands of music and dance are performed when the celebration progresses from one place to another. This continues till the evening with lot of delicacies shared among the families. In the evening, people wear clean clothes, visit families and friends for rejuvenating and strengthening the relationships.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date: March 9th, 2020
Lathmar Holi Braj
In the region of beautiful Braj, Holi is celebrated in a very special & different way known as Lathmar Holi. You will witness the traditional festival with enthusiasm & energy in it. On this day, the women take a stick and beat the men. The men need to work a lot to save them from the highly energetic charged up womenfolk.
Womenfolk in this traditional time want to take revenge from the men because of the pranks and mischievous activities that they play by applying colour. It is stated that Lord Krishna started this tradition by applying Holi for the first time in the face of Radha.
Where : Braj, near Mathura Uttar Pradesh
Upcoming Date: March 9, 2020
ELEPHANT FESTIVAL – JAIPUR
Witness the grand procession of bedecked elephants, camels and horses as a part of the Jaipur elephant festival, an annual event witnessed by thousands of global travellers and local residents. It is an enchanting sight to behold the female elephants wearing anklets which tickles at every step. The gorgeous decorations of the elephants and horses are best seen when they try to outperform each other with their dance performances and other cultural festivities, keeping the audience spellbound.
Where: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Month of Celebration : March, 2020
Panguni Uthiram Festival
The last month of tamil calneder Panguni(Phalguni) is an auspicious month for religious festivals. Panguni Uthiram on the full mon day of Panguni month is considered to be very sacred as according to Hindu Mythology, the celestial weddings of Goddess Deivanai and Lord Murugan, Goddess Parvati and Lord Siva, Goddess Sita and Lord Rama took place. So, temples especially Murugan temples host elaborate poojas and rituals witnessed by thousands of devotees. Out of all the temples the Murugan Temple situated at Vayalur in Trichy city is more popular for the grand procession of devotes carrying milk pots on their heads and bedecked woods on their shoulders is an awe inspiring event. As Panguni Uthiram is also believed to be the incarnation day of Lord Ayyappan, those temples also deserve a special mention here.
Where: Vayalur , Trichirapalli, rest of Tamilnadu & Kerala
Upcoming Date: April 9, 2020
KUTTI KUDI THIRUVIZHA – FESTIVAL OF GOAT SACRIFICE
The annual festival with unique rituals of offering goat blood sacrifice is Kulumai Amman Festival. The festival is celebrated to please and get blessings from the deity Goddess Kulumai Amman, a ferocious yet benign Goddess, believed to be a supreme power protecting Her devotees.. The venue is a small area called Puthur in Trichy city in Tamilnadu. The highlight of the event is that Marulali, the designated person to represent Goddess Kulumai Amman, sits on fasting for more than month and purifies himself for the rituals. On the day of the Kutti Kudi Thiruvizha festival, Marulali accepts the goat sacrifice and drinks the gushing blood of the goats, sometimes the number exceeds thousand. The festival is attended by thousands of devotees from nearby villages. People enjoy the festivities and the grand feast following the rituals.
Where: Kulumai Amman Temple Grounds,Trichy, Tamilnad
Month of Celebration : March, 2020
CHITHIRAI THIRUVIZHA – MADURAI
Madurai, an ancient city in Tamilnadu hosts world’s one of the longest festivals, lasting for about a month is Chithirai Thiruvizha, celebrated throughout April every year. The grandest Meenakshi Amman temple is the epicentre of this festival. Series of cultural events take place across and the entire city wears a festive look. People from nearby villages throng Madurai city and a month long exhibition is held in the Thamukkam Grounds. Highlights of this festival is the celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar, attended by lakhs of devotees. It is mesmerising to see number of little girls dressed up as Goddess Meenakshi on the day of the wedding. Also, presiding deity of Alagarkoil, a popular temple near Madurai outskirts, KoodalAlagar gets into the Vaigai River in on a Golden Horse, a beautiful event to witness and enjoy is another spectacular event in Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Months of Celebration – April / May, 2020
Upcoming Date of Celestial Wedding , Meenakshi Tirukalyanam – May 4, 2020
TULIP FESTIVAL – SRINAGAR
Visit Asia’s largest Tulip garden in the foothills of Zabarwan range, with a stunning view of the Dal Lake. With a view of preserving and promoting floriculture in Kashmir, Tulip festival is celebrated in April every year. Walk through the sweet smelling flower beds giving you a reason to visit here agan and again. Tulip festival marks the onset of Spring season and it can never be missed if you are a nature lover, flower enthusiast or a tulip lover. Marvel the colors of the flower beds with Tulips,hyacinths and dafodils making the entire region more vibrant and colourful.
Where: Srinagar, Kashmir
Month of Celebration : April, 2020
MAHAVIR JAYANTHI – Birth of Mahavira
The most sacred festival for Jains across India and the globe is the birth anniversary of the 24th Thirthankara in Jainism called Mahavir Jayanthi. The Jain temples are decorated gorgeously and the statues of Mahavir are given ritual baths. Special prayers are offered and long processions along with special discourses on the preaching of Mahavir will be there in all the Jain temples and prayer centres. Sweets are exchanged and offerings are given.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date: April 6, 2020
KOOVAGAM FESTIVAL – World’s unique festival for Transgenders
Witness the world’s only festival for the transgenders, Koothandavar festival celebrated at a small village called Koovagam in the South Indian state Tamil Nadu. The isolated community of transgender have their own reasons to celebrate this festival in a pomp manner. One has to recall the scenes described in the Great Indian Epic Mahabharath to correlate to this festival. Kurukshetra War, lasting for 18 days comes to an end with Pandavas as the winners, only because of the sacrifice made by Arjuna’s son Aravan, depicted as a minor character in Mahabharat.His last wish of marrying a girl is satisfied by Lord Krishna himself, manifesting as a Girl called Mohini and she grieved as a widow the very next morning on the death of Aravan. The same sequence of events are enacted in the Koovagam festival attended by transgenders and cross dressers across India and nearby Asian countries. Festival that lasts for 18 days, witnesses all transgenders dressing up themselves as brides and get the mangal sutra tied by the priest. On the 18th day, when the procession of God Aravan starts, all the newly married transgenders become widows, shedding off their mangal sutra and breaking their bangles. Lakhs of transgenders take part in this festival witnessed by tourists from all corners of the country and beyond.
Where: Koovagam, Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu
Month of Celebration : April – May
SAMAYAPURAM MARIAMMAN CAR FESTIVAL
Goddess Mariamman, normally portrayed as ferocious at the same time benign and gracious towards Her devotees sits on a fast for 48days starting from Tamil month Masi. Rice Porridge and tender coconut are offered to her every day throughout this period. On every Sunday during this fasting period, tonnes of flowers are offered to Her and is called as Poochoridhal. Following this, the Chariot festival to mark the end of fasting by the Goddess is celebrated in a grand manner with devotees taking fire pots on bare hands and getting their body pierced with lances, offering their thanksgiving prayers for the boons granted by Her. The entire region and the nearby villages wear a festive look from March onwards and the celebrations come to an end during the third week of April.
Where: Samayapuram, Trichy, Tamilnadu
Upcoming Date: April 14, 2020
Sri Rama Navami – Birth of Lord Rama
The birthday of Lord Rama, hero of the great Hindu epic Ramayana is celebrated every year across all regions where Hinduism is prominent. Lord Rama, who is considered as an ideal man and believed to have lived in India is worshipped in almost all Vishnu temples accompanied by his wife Goddess Sita, Brother Lakshman and Lord Hanuman. Most of the temples conduct special poojas and rituals on this day and special enactments from the epic Ramayana are hosted by the devotees. Besides in bigger temples and community centres, ceremonial wedding of Lord Rama and Goddess Sita are conducted in a pomp manner involving spiritual discourses and cultural events, a sight to behold to understand the rich ancient tradition of India.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date: April 2, 2020
Buddha Purnima – Birth of Gautama Buddha
Witness the most peaceful and uplifting occasion, Buddha Purnima, celebrated by Buddhists, one of the oldest religions in India and the other South Asian Countries. Grand prayers and rituals will be the prominent happenings of this festival. Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, Bodh Gaya, where Lord Buddha attained his enlightenment and Kushinagar, where Lord Buddha passed away are the major destinations where Buddha Purnima is celebrated elaborately and also in other places where Buddhism Is in prominence. As it is the birthday of Lord Buddha, in specific temples, Buddha will be placed in the form of a child immersed in water, devotees will pour more water on the statue to symbolize the new beginning. The sermons of Buddha will be recalled with special poojas and rituals in the Buddhist shrines with an offering of a sweet porridge made of rice called “Kheer”.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date : May 7, 2020
Thrissur Pooram – Kerala’s Grand Fiesta
A 36 hours long pooja is Pooram, celebrated in Thrissur, Kerala is surely a visual retreat. This festival is celebrated at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur which is generally around April month, with traditional puja, ending with fabulous fireworks. The festival is celebrated to worship Lord Shiva and involves color, music, and religion. The major attraction of this festival is enthralling sights of more than fifty caparisoned elephants passing through the streets of Thrissur accompanied by the sound of beating drums.
Where: Thrissur, Kerala
Upcoming Date : May 3, 2020
SUMMER FESTIVAL – OOTY
Visit Queen of Hill Stations, Ooty during May and be a part of the Ooty Summer festival. An awe inspiring view of more than 8000 varieties of roses decorated in different shapes and forms in the most popular tourist location Botanical Garden. Besides these flower decorations, you have much more to see in Botanical Gardens including fossil trees, glass house and Toda tribe’s model house and lot more.Boat races, pageants, dog shows and other cultural events make this festival more colourful. Ooty summer festival attracts lakhs of national and international tourists during the month of May every year. Besides enjoying the events at Summer festival, you have other options to explore Ooty namely Dodda Bedda, Lake, Rose Garden, Toy Train and the list goes on.
Where: Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Month of Celebration: May, 2020
HEMIS FESTIVAL – LADAKH
To mark the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava, Hemis festival is celebrated in the largest monastery of Ladakh, Hemis monastery. The monastery is beautifully decorated and number of cultural events are hosted including Chaam Dance welcoming the good and driving away the evil. The devil dance is equally popular where a large dough ball is destroyed by the dancers and the pieces are thrown away in all the four directions to symbolise the eradication of evils. The region like Ladakh which is deeply rooted to its spiritualism and faith celebrates the Hemis festival with great pomp and show.
Month of Celebration : June, 2020
JAGANNATH RATH YATHRA – PURI
Be a part of world’s one of the oldest festivals, Puri Jagannath Rath Yathra. The entire state of Orissa wears a festive look weeks ahead of the festival. The annual visit of Lord Krishna to his birthplace Mathura accompanied by his elder brother Balabadhra and sister Subadhra is celebrated as Rath Yathra. The epicenter of this festival is the huge chariots made for this festival with a height of more than 40 feet and with adorned with gorgeous decorations inside which the deities of Lord Jagannath(Krishna), Lord Balabadhra and Goddess Subhadhra are taken out through the streets upto Gundicha temple where there is a temple for Krishna’s aunt. The festival attracts lakhs of devotees and tourists beholding the sight of this grandest festival.
Where: Puri, Odissa
Upcoming Date: June 23, 2020
Srivilliputhur Car Festival
The only female saint in Sri Vaishnavism, Sri Andal is the presiding deity of Srivilliputhur Temple, a small village in the down south of Tamilnadu. As per the ancient Vaishnavite mythology, Andal was found as a child in the Tulsi Gardens of another famous saint Periyazhwar. The event of him adopting Andal as his daughter is celebrated every year since the ancient times. The elaborate rituals and poojas is followed by procession of Goddess Andal in a huge chariot that goes around the temple. Thousands of devotees witness this festival called Thiru Aadi Pooram as Pooram is the birth star of Sri Andal as per the mythology.
Where : Srivilliputhur , Tamil Nadu
Upcoming Date : July 24, 2020
JANMASHTAMI – BIRTH OF LORD KRISHNA
One of the major festivals in the month of July or August is Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. As Lord Krishna is believed to have manifested in the form of children, they become the epicenter of this festival. Children in the houses are dressed up like Krishna. It is believed that Lord Krishna comes to every house to bless the children and elders and to symbolize his arrival, the feet of small children are dipped in the rice paste and designed on the floor starting from door step throughout the house, an enthralling sight to behold. As Lord Krishna is fond of eating butter, several delicacies made of butter are offered to Him on that day with special prayers. Vishnu temples across the country witness large number of devotees to take part in the rituals and poojas. Out of all the places, Janmashtami is pompously celebrated for a week in Mathura, a sacred city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Where: South India & Few North Indian states
Upcoming Date : August 11, 2020
MOI VIRUNDHU – AN UNIQUE FESTIVAL OF TAMILNADU
A culture unique to the interior villages of Tamil Nadu is Moi Virundhu, a grand feast given by those in financial need. It may sound contradictory, but the practice of Moi Virundhu has its origin around the districts of Pudukottai in Tamilnadu. Those who are in critical need for money will host a grand non-vegetarian feast and the village members attending the feast will help them back with money whatever they can. This is in fact a timely help rendered and the person who has received the money has to payback as soon as he can during the other feasts. Separate accounting system is maintained and the entire Moi Virundhu process is carried out in a very systematic manner. This is yet another astonishing culture of leading a healthy social life.
Where: Tamil Nadu
When: July – August
AADI PERUKKU – WELCOMING THE RIVER MIGHTY CAUVERY
India has a culture of worshipping Rivers, the source of living for manhood. Aadi perukku is one such festival, welcoming River Mighty Cauvery on the eighteenth day of tamil month Aadi, as only after this period, the irrigation process will commence across the state. Also, the festival is celebrated by newly married couples praying to Cauvery for a flourishing future. The poojas and rituals done at the bank of River Cauvery is a delight to watch. People take food items and exchange with their family and friends, making the surrounding more vibrant and colorful.
Where: Places situated on the banks of River Cauvery
Upcoming Date : August 2, 2020
Raksha Bandhan Festival
Most popular festival especially in the northern parts of India, where Girls tie Rakhies on the wrists of their brothers and male friends to protect them from the evil effects. Rakhies in different designs and patterns are sold on this day and the festival is most popular in schools,colleges and workplaces. In return, the girls are gifted with precious things or money for the rakhies tied. Rakhsa means to protect and Bandhan means relationship. Though originated from North India, the festival Raksha Bandhan has gained popularity and celebrated nationwide.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date : August 3, 2020
Ganesh Chathurthi – Birth of Lord Ganesha
All ends well, that begins well. India revolves around this philosophy and to succeed in everything, Lord Ganesha is worshipped before the start of every action. Lord Ganesha is loved by all for his invariably peculiar structure of human body with elephant head, symbolizing many religious concepts of Hinduism. Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha, usually in the months of August or September. Rice balls called mothak is the most favorite food of this festival and people offer this with other delicacies. Rock fort temple at Trichy is renowned for making a huge rice ball with tonnes of ingredients and offering to the God Ganesh at the Rockfort temple atop the hillock. Large idols of Lord Ganesh are immersed in water called Visarjan after the festival and this is very pompously carried out in North India with long processions carrying hundreds of Lord Ganesh idols along with musical bhajans and dances.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date : August 22, 2020
KERALA BOAT RACE FESTIVAL
Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alleppey Punnamada lake ( every year 2nd Saturday of August ), Champakulam Moolam Boat Race at Alappuzha which will during May month ( dates will varies depends on Malayalam month calendar date) , and Payippad Jalotsavam at Payippad Lake located at a distance of 35 km from the district Alappuzha are the famous boat races in Kerala. Usually these boat race festival held in between July to September months. Unique feature of the boat festival is either associated with temples or with Onam. President‘s Trophy Boat Race at Ashtamudi is happening 1st November every year, which is located in Kollam district.
Where: Alleppey, Kerala
Upcoming Date of Nehru Trophy Boat Race : August 8, 2020
ONAM – HOMECOMING OF KING MAHABALI
Kerala’s biggest festival Onam draws tourists from all corners of the world. Falling between the months of July and August,Onam lasts for ten days, celebrating the home coming of King Mahabali. Religious anecdotes convey that King Mahabali,when punished by Lord Vishnu for his sins, got a boon from the God to visit his people once in a year.
Entire Kerala without any barriers of religion, caste and community looks forward to celebrate onam with gorgeous decorations of their houses, flowers rangolis called Athapookalam on the streets and special prayers in the temples. The last day of the festival is earmarked with Onam Sadya, the grand feast offered in the houses of every Malayali across the world. With more than 40 dishes on a big banana leaf, the Onam Sadya can never be out of the list for anyone. With bidding a farewell to the beloved King Mahabali, the onam festival comes to an end.
Upcoming Date : August 31, 2020
DRUPKA TESHI FESTIVAL
The most prominent Buddhist festival celebrated in Sikkim and other North East Indian states where Buddhism is prominent is Drupka Teshi festival, celebrated during the 6th month of Tibetan Calender, generally falling around August. The Eight fold path given by Lord Buddha to mankind to attain salvation is celebrated on this day. The preaching and sermons of Lord Buddha are recalled in special prayers and offerings done at the Buddha temples. Yak procession is also there in some of the North East Indian states to earmark Trupka Deshi festival.
Where: Throughout Sikkim
Month of Celebration : August
DUSSEHRA – NINE DAYS’ CELEBRATION AS NAVARATRI
The Ten days long festival with Goddess Durga as the epicenter is Dussehra festival celebrated across India. Dussehra is called in different names and celebrated in different traditions exhibiting the diverse culture of India. The festival falls anytime between October and November.
The South Indian state Tamil Nadu celebrates Dussehra in the name of Navaratri, worshipping the THREE incarnations of Goddess as Durga,Lakshmi and Saraswathi, the tenth and final day of the festival is called as Vijayadasami, symbolizing the power of the Almighty in eradicating the evil and bestowing victory. KOLU is the highlight of this festival, where odd number of steps are decorated with different idols. The arrangement will be gradually upgraded starting from small animals, plants, grass, human beings and the uppermost step will be with gods and goddesses leaving behind an important philosophy that anyone can attain salvation if he leads a ethically valued life. Thus, arranging Kolu is highly significant and daily poojas are done to the idols and special food items are distributed.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Dates : October 17-26, 2020
DURGA POOJA – KOLKATA
North Indian states like West Bengal is renowned for Durga Pooja during the tenth day of the Dussehra festival. If you plan to be in Kolkata during Dussehra, then it is an amazing experience to be a part of a grand celebrations everywhere in the city. The huge idols of Goddess Druga, worshipped as Supreme Power are worshipped with special poojas rituals before the idols are immersed in water (Durga Bisarjan) on the last day of the festival.
Where: Kolkata, West Bengal
Upcoming Dates: October 21-26, 2020
DUSSEHRA FESTIVAL – MYSURU
The South Indian state Karnataka witnesses thousands of devotees and tourists gathering to worship Goddess Chamundeswari during Dussehra. Mysuru is the epicenter of this festival. The festival lasting for ten days entertains everyone with cultural events, competitions, religious sermons, special poojas and rituals. The Mysore Palace, the official residence of the Royal Family of Mysore is gorgeously illuminated with lights and the site will be awesome during nights. On the tenth day of the Dussehra festival, it is a breath taking moment to watch the procession of caparisoned elephants carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeswari. The festival is more enchanting with cultural events, crackers and the native Karnataka cuisines.
Where: Mysuru, Karnataka
Upcoming Dates : October 17-26, 2020
DUSSEHRA – UNIQUELY AT KULASEKARANPATTINAM
Kulasekaranpattinam or Kulasai, a small village in the down south of Tamil Nadu, witnesses lakhs of devotees disgorging on the tenth day of Dussehra festival. The entire region is flooded with tourists and devotees where you can see hundreds of people dressing up themselves as Goddess Kali dancing terrifyingly. A newbie will never know what is happening around when such a ferocious crowd move towards the temple and they can find them finally in a trance state. A sudden chill runs down your spine when you are surrounded by hundreds of kalis, a never before experience,still, not to be missed. The procession and the vigorous dancing comes to an end at the sea shore very close to the temple. The festival is over with the ceremonial bathing in the sea and subsequent poojas and rituals in the temple.
Where: Kulasekaranpattinam, Tutocorin, Tamilnadu
Upcoming Date: October 26, 2020
DIWALI – FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Festival of lights, Diwali, an Indian festival during October or November, now celebrated across the globe is so enthralling to be a part of. With religious backdrop of the demon Naragasura being destroyed by Lord Krishna, Diwali is the most colorful festival in South Asian countries especially in India. The entire country wears a festival look weeks ahead of Diwali, engaged in purchasing gifts, costumes, crackers and lot more. The day of Diwali starts around 3 am when people take oil bathe and do special poojas before heading on to burst crackers on streets. Diwali is celebrated by the diasporic population across the world and in many of the countries, the day is declared as Government Holiday.
South India witnesses Diwali as a victorious deed by Lord Krishna, whereas in North India, the Greatest Hindu Epic Ramayana is related to celebrate this festival. The demon king Ten headed Ravan is killed by Lord Rama and the event is celebrated as Ram Leela Festival witnessed by thousands of devotees and tourists.
Where: Across India
Upcoming Date: November 14, 2020
Bathukkamma Festival – A festival for Flowers
Bathukkamma festival is the annual fiesta in Telangana state to honor women and their significant roles in the society. Different varieties of flowers are decorated in a tower like structure and special prayers and poojas are done in its wake. The entire state wears a festive look to mark the beginning of Bathukkamma festival. Girls and women get involved in various cultural events enthralling the visitors, making the festival more colourful.
Where: Throughout state of Telangana
Upcoming Dates : October 15 – 23, 2020
INTERNATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL – RAJASTHAN
Witness India’s one of the finest festivals to protect and enhance the traditional arts and folklore of Rajasthan is Rajasthan International Folk Festival, conducted in every October in the Mehrangarh fort of Jodhpur, a popular tourist destination in Rajasthan. Conducted on the Sharad Purnima day, the festival draws thousands of international tourists with the colourful performances of arts and folklores by artistes assembling at Jodhpur from various parts of Rajasthan. The vibrant platform gives them opportunities to showcase their talents.
Where: Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Month of Celebration: October 2020
CAMEL FAIR – PUSHKAR
Choose to travel to Pushkar, Rajasthan during October – November to be a part of the grand travel experience. With more than four lakh tourists arriving to Pushkar from all parts of the world, the camel festival at Pushkar is a grand annual gathering. The celebrations together with religious rituals include plethora of exciting events right from camel walk, camel pageant, sale of camels, cows and horses and on the full moon day, the religious things take place where the devotees take bathe in the Pushkar lake adjoining to the Brahma temple, the icon of Pushkar.
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates : November 22 – 30, 2020
BUNDI UTSAV – Discover Rajasthan
Bundi, a renowned tourist destination attracting global travellers with its unique style of palaces, temples and stepped wells welcomes you for the annual fiesta Bundi Utsav celebrated in November-December. Typically this is celebrated in the tamil month Karthiga and it is similar to the festival of lights celebrated in South India. Series of events like folk dances, folk art forms and number of competitions are attended by participants from various parts of Rajasthan. Deepdan is the highlight of this festival when people decorate the temples and their homes with lots of lamps.Huge number of international tourists visit Bundi during this time to witness the festival celebrated in a pompous manner.
Where: Bundi, Rajasthan
Upcoming Dates : November 3 – 5, 2020
Karthigai Deepam – Festival of Lights
One of the most prominent religious festivals across South India is Karthigai Deepam, celebrated in the Tamil month Karthigai, generally falling around between November – December. Lighting lamps is the epicentre of this festival with a religious reason that the rays emanating from the lights drive away the evils and welcomes victory. All the temples across Tamil Nadu wear a festive look days ahead with elaborate poojas and rituals done at various times. Out of all the temples, Arunachaleswarar temple at Tiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu is most significant. A huge cauldron filled with tonnes of ghee is placed atop the hills in Tiruvannamalai and on the festival day, the lamp lit there is visible across several kilometres radii. Lakhs of devotees attend this festival and take a girivalam around the mountain base for a distance of 14kms to be bestowed with the grace of Arunachaleswarar.
Where: Tiruvannamalai and rest of Tamil Nadu
Upcoming Date: November 29, 2020
Rann Uthsav – Gujarat
The finest traditions and culture of Gujarat can best be explored if you happened to there during the Rann of Kutch festival, one of the most grandeur festivals of India. The annual celebrations spanning between November and February, the region wears a festive look in the traditional Gujarati style with tents, cultural programmes, lavish Gujarati cuisines, bonfire nights, an experience that can never be missed while planning a tour to India.
Where : Burj , Gujarat
Months of Celebration: October 28, 2019 – February 23, 2020
Hornbill Festival – Nagaland
The annual festival to protect and enrich the culture and heritage of the tribal people of Nagaland in North East India is the Hornbill festival attracting thousands of tourists. Hornbill festival is the iconic celebration of Nagaland Tribes which provides a colourful blend of dances, parade, fairs, games and sports which re establishes the uniqueness of Nagaland every year. The ten days long festival includes the most highlighted Hornbill International Rock Festival where several rock bands showcase their talents.
Where : Nagaland
Upcoming Dates : December 1 – 10, 2020
THEYYAM FESTIVAL – KERALA
One of the iconic festivals of the God’s Own country is Theyyam festival, representing a ritual art form. Theyyam is a special art form of Kerala where the epics of Hindu Mythology are demonstrated as dance drama. The highlight of Theyyam is the make up of tshe artistes and the heavy jewelries put on them. The style of Theyyam is so unique that the entire duration of the performances the audience are spell bound with the excellent dance movements and expressions given by the artistes. There are more than 400 Theyyam shows, more popularly celebrated in cities of North East Kerala like Kannur, Nileshwar and Karivalloor commencing from November and ends in February. The major events of this festival are conducted in the temple premises of Kannur.
Where: Parts of Kerala, like Kannur and Nileshwar
Months of Celebration: November 2019 – February 2020
KUMBH MELA – CELEBRATION AT CONFLUENCE OF MIGHTY RIVERS
Festival drawing largest number of devotees who offer their tributes to the river Mighty Ganges is Kumbh Mela. The four cities Allahabad, Ujjain, Haridwar and Nashik are the cities hosting Kumbh Mela festival every twelve years. The vast scale celebrations include stalls, religious discourses, cultural events and other ceremonial functions. Devotees believe that by taking a dip in River Ganges during Kumbh Mela wash away their sins. More than 100 million people is reported to attend the festival which comes once in every 12 years.
Where: Haridwar,Allahabad, Ujjai, Nashik
Months of Celebration:
Allahabad : January – February
Haridwar: March – April
Ujjain: April – May
Nashik: August- September
Festivals unite people, letting them rejuvenate their bonding with friends and family. Despite all visible differences, India stands unique in binding people with emotions. Let us celebrate life by way of festivals.