India is a colorful, multi-cultural land with more celebrations than Sundays in a calendar year. The country is inhabited by people from different religious and traditional values. There is a celebration around every corner and there is no better way to explore the country than planning a trip to India based on these festivals and celebration. Holi (the festival of colors) and Diwali (the festival of lights) are two of the most important and renowned festivals in India, but to say that these are the only ones will not only be a lie but extremely unfair. We bring to you 10 such festivals of India which you must attend during your visit (experiencing even a few of them will be totally rewarding, trust us).
1. Desert Festival, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
When the desert puts up a three-day show of colors, camels, and life, you just can’t say No! The Desert Festival of Jaisalmer is one of the most popular celebrations in the mesmerizing city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. An annual event where you can experience the traditional Rajasthani culture, exquisite display of art and craftwork by local artisans, intriguing events such as camel polo, turban-tying competition, and acrobats, this three-day extravaganza is sponsored by the tourism authority of Rajasthan, in the month of February each year.
2. Torgya Monastery Festival, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Another three-day celebration representing the local culture, Torgya Monastery festival is celebrated to ward off evil spirits and negativity and welcome positivity and happiness in the lives of people. The grand festivities include amazing performances, brilliant dance shows, and a full-fledged showcase of a happy life. Chamm, a well-choreographed sanctified dance performed by monks is the main attraction. The festival takes place in the month of January.
3. Bihu Magh, Assam
The Assamese version of Sankranti, Bihu Magh is rejoiced in the month of January across Assam. The festival is mainly meant for cherishing the new harvest and is celebrated for around a week. Apart from the famous local dance form Bihu, expect bonfires and an exquisite display of cuisines. The carnival also includes several traditional sports such as pot-breaking, known as Takeli Bhonga, and buffalo fighting.
4. Manali Winter Carnival, Manali, Himachal Pradesh
Yes, India has specific festivals for specific seasons! This one, in particular, was first held in 1977 and has been celebrated with equal joy and excitement ever since. Celebrated in the month of January, this 5-day event is full of fun, frolic, and entertainment. Cultural dance and music performances, various competitions and adrenalin-packed winter sports such as skiing and ice-skating has made this celebration one of the most sought-after events of the year. There can’t be a better way to begin your New Years in the country, we bet you.
5. Konark Dance Festival, Orissa
Have you ever heard of a festival with dance performances to celebrate ‘dance’? An ultimate tribute to the various Indian dance forms, the 5-day Konark Dance festival is held in the open surroundings near Chandrabagha beach in Orissa during the month of February. With the most magnificent back drop possible, that of the Konark Sun Temple, the dance festival exhibits various traditional Indian dance performances such as Odissi, Kathakali, Manipuri, Bharatanatyam, and Kuchipudi. An elaborative crafts fair is organized to showcase and promote local artisans and artworks.
6. Hornbill Festival, Nagaland
An exquisite amalgamation of dance, music, culture, food, and color, the 10-day Hornbill festival held in November-December is dedicated to the 16 native tribes of Nagaland. Deriving its name from the state bird of Nagaland, Hornbill is not for the faint-hearted. It’s rugged, it’s flamboyant, it’s insane. War Dances, car and bike adventures, loud drum beats, head hunting rituals, and the nearly-crazy chilli eating competition – you must be a rebellious soul to truly enjoy the liberation that the festival offers.
7. Losar Festival, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
Although no one needs a reason for visiting the splendid, scenic marvel, Ladakh, one of the most popular tourist places in India, Losar festival, which marks the beginning of a Ladakhi New Year, is a good excuse to come here. Endless traditional rituals, dance and music performances, and stage fights depicting war between good and evil are some of the events you can expect during the festival. Locals start preparing a month in advance for this 15-day celebration held in February.
8. Rann Festival, the Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
A recurrent salt quagmire located amidst the desert of Thar in Gujarat, the Great Rann of Kutch is a popular place in every tourist’s check list visiting India. The festival, obviously, derives its name from the host city and is unlike any other carnival. Running for as long as three months from December to March, the Rann festival showcases numerous cultural performances, craft bazaars set up by local artisans, and various outdoor activities under the full moon overlooking the white salt marsh is a once-in-a-lifetime panorama. Don’t forget your cameras.
9. Pongal, Tamil Nadu
Another festival dedicated to harvesting, Pongal is perhaps one of the most popular festivals of southern India. The whole state of Tamil Nadu dresses up in bright hues and decorates the state with all the colors of a rainbow. This four-day long event held in the month of January is celebrated by adorning homes with traditional Kolam designs. Locals put on their best attires, prepare Pongal dish, and come together to rejoice the merrymakings by performing diverse customary dance and music acts, lighting bonfires, participating in cattle race, and exchanging sweets and savories.
10. Goa Carnival, Goa
We saved the best for the last. Not that any mentioned above are any less, but the famous Goa carnival stands apart for it is one of the only few nonstop celebrations which continue day and night for four days in the month of February. Started first during the Portuguese inhabitants, Goa now celebrates it with majesty and grandeur. Streets fill up with bright costumes, music and dance disperses everywhere in the air as far as your ears can hear. Guitars playing in full power, acrobats doing mindboggling stunts, clowns amusing you, astounding fire acts – these are the ingredients of India’s one of the most sought-after festivals. This one, you just can’t miss.
You may have different reasons for your upcoming trip to the mystical land of India but we bet this festival calendar can add fuel to your already sparking holiday plan. Pack your cameras and the brightest clothes you have in your wardrobe (or simply use the festivals as an excuse to shop) and board the flight already.