India is referred to a land of festivals, a country where people from different facets and religions coexist together harmoniously. These festivals are a tribute to the rich heritage, culture, and traditions existing in India. Each festival celebrated by people of different religions has its own unique way of showcasing the best of Indian culture. Even though festivals are evenly spread throughout the year, the months between October to January is the peak time for the most vibrant festivals celebrated by a majority of the Indian population. We have enlisted the famous festivals of India, we may have missed a few and the order which we have stated is not in the order of significance.
List of Famous Festivals of India
Celebrated over a period of 5 days in the remembrance of the victory of good over evil and brightness shining over darkness. It is one of the most prominent Hindu festivals of India and is celebrated vividly across India with a lot of glitz and show. Diwali is celebrated to honor the day Lord Ram and his wife Sita returned to their kingdom of Ayodhya post the victory of Ram and the monkey god Hanuman over the demon king Ravana and rescuing Sita from his evil clutches. It is also termed as the festival of lights and all houses, shops, and even offices are decorated with small clay lamps, Ashok leaves, candles, clay lamps along with grand fireworks all around. People share sweets and accessories with their families, friends, and neighbors. It is often celebrated in the month of October and November each year and the exact date varies as per the Hindu calendar.
Celebrated over a period of two days which is honored in the remembrance of the victory of good over evil and also the abundance of the spring harvest season. This festival is celebrated as it signifies the victory of Prince Prahlad over the evil Holika along with the arrival of spring. People throw colored powder and water at each other exuberantly. They are often followed by vibrant parties and water dance as a part of the celebrations. Fondly termed as the festival of colors, this is probably one of the most celebrated and colored Indian festivals. On the eve of Holi, people also light Holika bonfires and enjoy with songs and dance around the bonfire. Bhang which is made from cannabis plants is also consumed during the celebrations. One of the great festivals of India in which every person can participate provided they don’t mind getting dirty and wet.
Navaratri, Durga Puja & Dussehra
Celebrated over ten days in the month of October or November depending on the Hindu calendar. The first nine days are celebrated with a lot of pomp and show worshipping the Mother Goddess. Durga Puja is celebrated vividly in eastern India and massive statues and idols of the Goddess are immersed in the holy Ganges River. The tenth day of the festival is called Dussehra and is celebrated to honor the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana. It also coincides with the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Dussehra is also referred as Vijayadashami and is among the most celebrated festivals of India. There are plays called the Ramlila held across Pan India in different regions and the plays end with the burning of the huge statue of Ravana, Kumbhakaran, and Meghnath. The streets across Pan India are often bustling with decoration and are one of the Indian festivals which are celebrated with a lot of drama, dance, social and theatrical events, and cultural performances.
One of the important Hindu festivals of India and is spread across ten days of colorful festivities. Gigantic decorated idols of Lord Ganesh are installed in various homes, shops, offices and in public pandals. Pujas or prayers are offered in the morning and evening each day and on the last day, the idol is carried on the streets accompanied by loud music and dance and before finally submerging the idol in a water body, often referred as Visarjan. This festival is celebrated with a lot of fervor and gaiety in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. A lot of workplaces in these states close down due to the heavy traffic congestion on the streets.
This is one of the most important Sikh festivals of India where special assemblies are held to enlighten people with the lives and teaching of the gurus. Community meals often referred as Langars are hosted in the Gurudwaras. This festival is celebrated as a reminiscence of the anniversaries of the ten Sikh Gurus. There are hymns chanting processions which are held in many cities and Karah Prasad is also distributed among the participants. People light up their houses, shops, and offices with candles and lamps and even burst crackers to celebrate this grand festival. Often held in the month of November or on a full moon day in the month of Kartik of the Hindu calendar.
One of the famous festivals of India which is celebrated pan India mostly among Hindus, but it is spread across other religions also. This festival was initially started by Late Shri Rabindranath Tagore to strengthen the bond of love between the Hindus and the Muslims residing in the state of Bengal to unite them together to protest against the British Empire. But today it stands as a testimony between the brothers and their sisters across all religions. The sister first performs a prayer ceremony known as Aarti and applies tilak on the brother’s forehead. She then ties rakhi which is a sacred thread on the brother’s wrist for his well-being. The brother in return vows to protect his sister from all adversities and problems. Bhaidooj is another festival which comes just after Diwali which has a strong similarity to Raksha Bandhan.
This is one of the major Muslim festivals in India which is celebrated over a period of three days. People dress up in fine clothing to attend a community special prayer known as Namaz in the morning. They then visit family, friends, and relatives and exchange gifts and sweets. The younger ones are gifted money or gifts, often termed as Idi by their elders. During the month of Ramadan, which is one month prior to Eid, Muslims observe a very strict fast where they eat anything only before sunrise and post sunset. They also indulge in pious activities such as peace-making and charitable contributions. This month of Ramadan is often referred as the time of spiritual renewal of body and soul for the ones who observe this fast. This festival follows the Ramadan month in the Islamic calendar and falls on the first day of Shawwal.
One of the biggest festivals of the year for the people in Kerala. This festival is celebrated as a remembrance of the homecoming of the ancient King Mahabali. One of the rare Indian festivals which are rich in heritage and culture, and where people dress up in traditional wear preferably white in color and also decorate their houses with Pookalam which are floral designs to welcome the King. People also prepare Onasadya, which is a combination of approximately 11-13 delicacies. Onasadya is usually served on banana leaves. People also indulge in events such as Kaikottikali, which is a form of clap dance along with Kathakali dance, and Vallamkali, which is a form of snake boat race. Apart from this, there are also Elephant processions and Pulikali processions. Artists dress and paint themselves like tigers and hunters in the Pulikali processions.
Also known as Govinda is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Lord Krishna. This is one of the most important and beautiful Hindu festivals of India. This festival is celebrated vividly in the regions of Mathura and Vrindavan where Lord Krishna was born and bought up. People fast and pray during the daytime and break their fast post sunset. Loud vocal hymns known as bhajans are sung during midnight as a part of the celebrations. Small children are often dressed up as Lord Krishna on this day and enact in plays known as jhaankis in the temples. One of the important features of this celebration is the human pyramid which is formed by people climbing on top of each other’s shoulders to try and break a clay pot which is filled with curd and is hung high at a certain height.