Jammu and Kashmir is the most beautiful part of the Indian Subcontinent. It is said that Kashmir is the heaven of India. Kashmir used to be a popular movie location decades before. The movies showcased the beauty of our country to the world through songs. Now also if you go to Kashmir you will feel like you are in heaven. Houseboats called Shikaras, rivers, snow and evergreen landscapes of Kashmir will give you the most beautiful experiences and relaxation. Jammu and Kashmir is also famous for festivals, which the people celebrate without any barrier of religion.
Photo by S. Kiranjot Singh Malhotra
On April 13th of every year, Baisakhi is been celebrated. This is actually one of the main festivals of the Sikh community and in Jammu and Kashmir, there are a considerable number of people belonging to the Sikh community. The Baisakhi festival marks the beginning of a new harvest season. It is known as one of the most celebrated festivals in North India. During the festival time, there will be many fairs and exhibitions where you can find some amazing traditional handicrafts and eatables. The fair will continue for many days and weeks. Most of the tourists do their shopping at these fairs where they will get some authentic and traditional handicrafts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha
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These are most important and popular festivals of the Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. Eid of Kashmir is very important because of the huge Muslim population in Kashmir. Jammu people also celebrate it but in a different way from Kashmir Muslims. As all we know, Eid-ul-Fitr is a festival which comes after a whole month of fasting and prayers of Ramadan. On the day of Eid, Muslims do Namas (prayer) for six times instead of the regular 5 times. This is a very important day for them because of strict fasting without indulging in any other activities for one month; they celebrate it with a huge feast, gifts and wearing a new dress. Eid-ul-Azha is the festival of Kurbani or Sacrifice. For this festival, each Muslim family will sacrifice one goat, sheep or camel.
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Hemis festival is a Buddhist festival and this is celebrated at Ladakh of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, who is the Tibetan Monk who established Buddhism at Tibet. Hemis festival is conducted at the Ladakh Buddhist monastery. At this place, they will tell the story of Guru Padmasambhava’s fight against evil powers. It will be explained by the lamas and common people of that place by wearing traditional attire. Most of them wear a mask which is one of the customs of this festival. Wearing traditional dress, mask, and headgears, they will dance to the tunes and say the story of their Guru. This is actually known as Chaam dance.
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Lohri is the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh of the Sikh society. Makar Sankranthi or Lohri is celebrated by Jammu and Kashmir Hindu followers. This is celebrated on the 13th of January every year. It is celebrated to welcome the spring season to their life. Spring season is the major tourist season of Jammu and Kashmir. People gather at night in a place where they will have a bonfire and enjoy the cold weather with dance and music. They distribute sweets to each other and welcome the spring. People enjoy a dip in the rivers that flow through Jammu and Kashmir. They believe that this can cleanse their soul and body from sin. In rural areas, they have a really different style of celebration. Children and youngsters are showered with gifts from the elders of the family. Small boys perform a special dance called Chajja, which is very interesting and entertaining.
Photo by J I G I S H A a.k.a Nitin Badhwar
Dussehra is a well-celebrated Hindu festival in Jammu and Kashmir. People keep their tools, weapons, and instruments for Pooja on this day. You will see three huge figures of Asura King Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Meghnath made of gunpowder and crackers. These figures will be placed in a ground where the public can gather and see the activities. At last, they will set fire to these figures of Asuras, which will symbolize the win over evil demons. Kids will dress up like Ram and Sita and perform Ramayana at the same place. When the Ramayana drama ends, Rama will set fire to the figure of Ravana. Lakshman and Hanuman will set fire to the other two Asuras. Watching this, people will applause and enjoy the collapse of all these evil figures.
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