Pondicherry or Pondy, is one of the popular tourist place known mainly for its amazing history and wonderful heritage. Years ago, French people came and stayed to Pondy so as to grow their business which made the Indian culture quickly mingled with the new French culture in those days. This small union territory of India is a hotchpotch of Indian and French culture which can be easily seen in various festivals celebrated in this little piece of land. Pondicherry celebrates variety of festivals all over the year. These festivals are inspired by the mesmerizing history of Tamil Nadu blended with wonderful French history. This perfect blend of French and Indian culture makes Pondy a perfect place to spend a leisure time and admire the cultural heritage of this beautiful place. Popular Festivals celebrated in Pondicherry:
Pongal is a Hindu festival celebrated in Southern states in India and specifically in Tamil Nadu. The festival lasts for 4 days from 13-16th January. The first festival in a year is celebrated with great splendour and some traditional customs. First day of the four-day festival is called as Bhogi. On this day, people cleans and decorates their homes. The next day is known as Surya day where people begins their day by worshipping the Sun followed by cooking several traditional food and meeting dear ones. On third day, people clean their cattle, decorates them with beautiful colors and then these cows or ox are raced in entire village. The third day is so called as Mattu Pongal or Cow or Ox festival. The last and fourth day is known as Farmer’s day or Kaanum Pongal where everyone meet and greet each other and spend time with their family.
Masi Magam Festival
Masi Magam festival is celebrated by Tamil -Hindu people during full moon day in Masi month as per the Tamilian calender. Masi Magam is also called as Maasi Makam. In this festival a variety of traditional customs and rituals can be seen like idol from the neighbouring temples are taken out in a procession for a ceremonial dip in sea, lake or pond. It is also said that, if one participate in the procession and then take a holy dip in the water, all your sins would get washed away. The most important deity is “Sowriraja Perumal” from Thirukannapuram temple. The mythological story behind the festival states that lord Sowriraja Perumal got married to a woman from fisherman society which made him to go into the fisherman village. The festival is celebrated on that occasion as the lord enter into human world while people offers a warm welcome to him.
This splendid celebration takes place during February to March as per the Mashi month of Tamil calendar. Thousands of travellers come here and participate in this holy occasion. Masi Magam is not only celebrated in India but it is also in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia.
Bastille Day in Pondicherry
Bastille Day is one of the important festival celebrated in Pondy. The name, Bastille Day in English speaking countries is nothing but the National Day of French. The festival is celebrated yearly on July 14. In French, it is generally known as “La Fete Nationale” which means “The National Celebration” which is celebrated on the fourteenth day of July i.e. “Le Quatorze Juillet”.
On this day, Pondy once again gets a chance to witness the Indo-French celebration with utmost pride and honour. One this day, all the retired soldiers participate in the parade and sings both, the Indian as well as French National anthems. The parade takes place on the street as a tribute to the soldiers who were killed in the war. One can see Indian and French flags flying at many house tops.
With the whole country, Pondy also celebrates Republic Day on 26th January with the enthusiasm. The government buildings like the building of Chief Secretariat and residence of Governor’s is decorated with attractive lights. People gather at Indira Gandhi Stadium to watch and enjoy police parade that takes place every year. People gather in their ethnic and traditional wear and celebrates the festival by folk dancing at various places.
Masquerade festival celebrated in Pondy is a proof that French culture and french side still exists in Pondy along with the Tamil culture. To celebrate this festival, people wear fancy and unique mask, dressed up in different different costumes gathers at a street and dance to the loud music of trumpet and accordion.
Mask festival or Masquerade is celebrated during March to April in Pondy.
International Yoga Day
Pondicherry hosts two world famous Yoga institutes namely, the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research and the Aurobindo Ashram where quality of research work on Yoga is being conducted. The Government of Pondy organises International Yoga Festival every year in which yogis from all over the world participates. The main aim of the festival is to build up the conscious process at every level from physical to mental, spiritual and emotional so as to achieve completeness in each aspect of the life.
The programme contains practical Yoga classes, workshops, lectures and discussions on various Yoga topics.
The festival is celebrated every year from 2nd to 4th January at Muthialpet, Pondicherry.
French Food Festival
French food festival which is one of the most important and biggest festival in Pondy, is organised every year by the Tourism Department. The festival is displayed with magnificence and grandness. Tourists from all over the country visit and participate in the festival and enjoys various French delicacies.
With all over the world, Pondy also celebrates Christmas every year on 25th of December. People in Pondicherry celebrates the festival by participating in midnight mass at different churches. Christmas which is celebrated as a birth anniversary of Lord Jesus Christ is a joyous moment for all Christians. Pondicherry is all lighted up on this day and every christian and even non-christian participates in the celebration .
Christmas followed by New year are popularly known for the lavish parties and celebrations by Restaurants and Hotels in Pondicherry.
Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo
Sri Aurobindo who was born on 15th August was a renowened freedom fighter in India, guru, philosopher, poet and yogi. He became one of the most influential leader after he joined the freedom movement for India during British era. He holds a renowned place in the Indian society. He later stepped into a divine reformer and introduced his views on spiritual evolution. Along with Independence day, Pondicherry people also celebrates Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Anniversary or Darshan Day on 15th of August.
The famous Aurobindo ashram is located in Pondy. All his devotees visit the Pondicherry and Sri Aurobindo Ashram on his Birth Anniversary to seek blessings. It is one of the main and grand occasion celebrated in Pondy with great pride.
The day is celebrated with several traditional and cultural programs so as to make the festival more cheerful and colorful.