The Major Festivals in India: An Overview of the Indian Festivals

Date: 4-November,2020Last Updated: 26-September,2022
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Our Incredible India, known for its diverse culture and vibrant traditions, it never runs out of celebrations. Known as the oldest civilizations in the world, it gives you the best multicultural experience with its heritage and mind-blowing attractions.

From the snow-filler Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south, it is one of the most popular destinations in the world.

For a country as assorted as this, no particular religion or culture is driving the major festivities. Each and every Indian celebrates not only their own festivals according to their cultural norms, but they also part take in other religious festivals and activities wholeheartedly, making it a perfect union.

So let’s explore the festivals of India.

1. The Festival Of Lights: Diwali


The 5-day festival where Light conquers darkness symbolizing the triumph good over evil is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and people of other religions too across the nation and worldwide. Derived from the Sanskrit term, ‘Deepavali’, which means ‘rows of lit lamps’ where houses, shops, streets and public places are decorated with small oil-lamps called Diyas. A day such as this is obviously never complete with a wonderful display of fireworks and sweets which is loved by the young and the old alike. People gather in large numbers to enjoy the display of fireworks in the sky and exchange fancy boxes of assorted dry fruits with families and friends.

2. The Festival Of Harvest: Makara Sankranthi

makara sankranti

Another prominent Hindu festival symbolizing the beginning of the season of harvest, this festival is celebrated all over India and Nepal each having their own names to the occasion, for example, Tamil Nadu calls it Pongal while Punjab celebrates it as Lohri. They all stand to the same belief. However, traditions vary greatly. Being a festival of harvest, most of the dishes prepared on this day represent and utilize the crops from the harvest each having its own meaning. For example, a very prominent combination is sesame seeds and jaggery, representing the harmony in life and forgiveness no matter the difference.

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3. The Jolly Season: Christmas


This annual festival prominently celebrated by Christians and people of other religions alike is a well-known holiday in India. Attending the special church mass with loved ones and eating the lip-smacking array of meals with a night-long celebration is what Christmas is about. Church and homes are beautifully decorated with oil lamps and clay figures of the nativity scene with stunningly elevated Christmas trees. This day is pleasantly celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, according to the Gregorian calendar.

4. The Day of Holy Resurrection: Easter


Similar to the ways celebrated worldwide, this holy day is filled with music, candlelight, flowers and the ringing of church bells with special church masses followed by processions held especially in States populated mainly by the Christian communities. The history behind this day, according to the Gospel of John in the New Testament is, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus was buried only to find it empty. An angel told Mary that Jesus had risen. Blissful parades decorate the streets as everyone walk with it, remembering the holy sacrifice and the significance to life. Many villages also hold sacred dramas and episodes depicting the Easter Story. Many celebrate Easter Sunday as written in the New Testament of the Christian bible.

5. Eid-ul-Fitar: Ramzan


As the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, it marks the end of Ramadan, a month-long period of fasting and praying. Many Muslims all over India attend the communal prayers and listen to a Sermon or the Khutba and give charity in the form of food known as the Zakat al-Fitr which is usually barley, dates, raisins or wheat flour during Eid al-Fitr. These prayers are held in many venues such as sports arenas and fields etc. where Muslims travel far to participate in these activities. Many a time the Muslim communities gather together and open foods stalls welcoming members of other religion to come and feast on the mouth-watering delicacies of the festival. Therefore making it a harmonious occasion for everyone to appreciate.

6. Return of The Beloved Demon King: Onam


As odd as it may seem, this festival is celebrated in Kerala to honour the Kind-hearted and much-beloved Demon king, Mahabali, who returned to Kerala during this festival. According to the Vaishnava mythology, the king defeated the gods who were envious of him and began ruling three worlds. Although he belonged to the Asura Dynasty, he was much loved by the people as he had a kind heart. This ten-day festival, devotees bathe and offer prayers with traditional attires and all participate in dance performance, create rangolis using flowers also known as pookkalam and cook traditional meals called sadhya and served and tasted best on Banana leaves. Not to forget this festivity is not complete without the infamous boat race held annually called the Vallam Kali along with the Tiger dance, Tug of war and Kerala’s very Kummattikalu dance which is much appreciated worldwide. People fly from all over the world to experience this blissful ten-day extravaganza.

7. THE Mela: Kumbh Mela

kumbh mela

The festival Kumb Mela, where the term Kumb comes from the mythic pot of elixir, but it is also the Hindi name for Aquarius, the sign of the Zodiac which Jupiter resides in during the Mela. But, a widely known as the day which is celebrated four times over the course of 12 years, being a site of the observance rotating between the four pilgrimage places on four different sacred rivers namely, the Ganga River at Haridwar, at Ujjain on the Shipra, at Nashik on the Godavari and at the Prayag at the confluence of the Ganges is the Jamuna and the mythical Sarasvati. Each of these sites celebrates to represent the astrological positions of the Sun, the Moon and the Jupiter during the Holiest time occurring at the exact moment when these positions fully occupied. This Mela attracts millions of Pilgrims from all over the world from every class and creed, come in millions. Most come to see the Sadhus or the Holy men who remain naked throughout the year practice most severe physical discipline, and the silk-clad teachers use the latest technology in their works.

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8. The festival of new beginnings: Ugadi


Deriving its name from the two words ‘Yuga’ which means, age and ‘Adi’ which means beginning, it is the festival of new years celebrated in Karnataka. Before the beginning of Chaitra or the first month of the Hindu calendar, people clean and whitewash their homes and decorate their homes and temples with flowers, mango leaves and freshly lit incense sticks, marking the new beginning by cleaning and ridding off the old. Followed by the prayers and celebrations of the day comes the offering of the day, the Bevu Bella or the Neem leaf and jaggery which represents the mixture of happiness and sadness basically the surprising events in life and how we must appreciate it all the same way.

But this is not all there are Folks! India is the rich and diverse country that it is, and these aren’t the only festivals that it celebrates. Each and every state has over 100 different festivals celebrated by different communities in harmony! India is the country which not only generates but also appreciates diversity and allows for its growth alike as each and every one of it has its own story to tell. We are sure you have your own community, your own festival and hence your own story to tell too!

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