Top 10 Famous Festivals of India
India is a land of golden festivals, where people of different cultures coexist in peace. Whether it's a Hindu celebration, a cultural festival, or a regional festival, you'll find that in India there is almost always something to celebrate. Being a highly spiritual nation, festivals are the core of the lives of people in India.
Don’t miss out on these popular Indian festivals for an unforgettable experience. Of many, the most exciting festivals and celebrations are described below.
(1) Diwali – The Festival of Lights
Diwali (or Deepavali) is also known as the Festival of Lights. It's the largest and one of India's most celebrated Hindu festivals. During Diwali holidays, houses are decorated with clay lamps, candles, and Ashok leaves. People wear new clothes, take part in Puja celebrations, burst crackers and share sweets with relatives, friends and neighbors. It celebrates Lord Ram and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom of Ayodhya, following the defeat of Ravana and the rescue of Sita on Dussehra. The festival is celebrated in every corner of the country and sends a strong message of the victory of good over evil.
(2) Holi – The Festival of Colors
Holi, also known as the "Festival of Colors", is one of India 's famous festivals, celebrated with great fervor throughout the country. It is an annual Hindu festival commemorated in March. The story behind Holi starts with the demon Holika who, under Lord Vishnu 's guidance, was defeated by hero Prahlada. The really fun part, people gather in open areas and celebrated by throwing or applying dry and wet colors on each other. It is even celebrated by with some carrying water guns (friendly weaponry) and colored water-filled balloons, too. Holi is a really cool festival, which is great fun to be part of if you don't mind getting wet and dirty.
(3) Durga Puja, Navaratri and Dussehra
Durga Puja is a major festival for the Bengalis in India. It coincides with the victory of Durga over Mahishasura the evil buffalo demon. It's the biggest festival of the year in Kolkata. Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata are a must-see. Every neighborhood in Kolkata competes with the largest and most impressive Durga statue to make the most beautiful pandal.
Navratri is one of India's most notable festivals. Navaratri is celebrated across India, while Durga Puja is only celebrated in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, and Bihar. In Gujarat, it is a nine-day celebration of rejuvenating Garba nights and highly energetic Dandiya Raas dances. The nine days of the Navaratri festival honor the mother goddess Durga in all her incarnations.
The culmination of the 9 days of Navratri, end on the 10th day of Dussehra. Dussehra, also referred to as Vijayadashami. The key attraction of this festival is the “Ravan Dahan” – the burning of huge effigies of Ravana and his two brothers.
(4) Krishna Janmashtami – Birth of Lord Krishna
The birthday of Lord Krishna is commemorated as Krishna Janmashtami. It is again a beautiful one among the most important religious festivals of India. Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura and Vrindavan (the birthplace of Krishna) are very popular. The highlight of the festival is Dahi Handi and is when people form a human pyramid to reach the clay pot of yogurt which have been strung up high from buildings.
(5) Ganesh Chaturthi
Mainly celebrated in Maharashtra State, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is the spectacular 11-day festival honors the birth of an elephant-headed Hindu god, Lord Ganesha. Big handmade Ganesh idols are placed in homes or outdoors, in public pandals. On the last day, the idols of Lord Ganesha are carried to the seashore for the Visarjan - immersion of an idol in a water body. The city of Mumbai holds a particular love for him and celebrate a huge festival in his honor every year.
Onam is the biggest festival of the south Indian state of Kerala. Onam is a 4-day festival that is a stunning display of Kerala's culture and heritage. People celebrate by creating a pookalam which is a decoration made from flower petals and rice that is created on the floor at the entrance of homes and buildings and woman wear the gorgeous white and golden border sarees. The festival is also celebrated with new clothes, dancing, games, and Vallamkali (snake boat races).
(7) Raksha Bandhan – Rakhi
Raksha Bandhan (also called Rakhi) is a traditional festival that celebrates the eternal bond between brothers and sisters. During Rakhi, the sister performs Aarti (prayer), applies Tilak, and ties Rakhi (a sacred thread) on the brother’s wrist and wishing for his safety and prosperity. In return, the sister receives varieties of gifts and goodies from her brother.
(8) Makar Sankranti
Makar Sankranti, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). Makar Sankranti is a very holy day in Hinduism and It marks the first day of the sun's transit into Makara (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. People celebrate this day by flying kites and having savory ‘Bajre ki Khichdi’ and sweet ’til Ladoo’. Gujaratis celebrate this festival by the name of Uttarayan.
(9) Christmas – Birth of Jesus Christ
Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ with ecstatic merriment and wonderful joy. For elders and children alike, Christmas happens to be of absolute significance. Everyone waits for this day, children specifically for the surprise gifts from Santa. Many people in their homes decorate Christmas tree with colorful stars and hanging balls. All of the churches are illuminated and decorated to celebrate Lord Jesus' birth.
(10) Maha Shivratri
In honor of Lord Shiva, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated annually. This Indian festival holds great reverence among the devotees of Lord Shiva. In Hinduism, Shiva is worshipped as a supreme god who creates, protects, and transforms the universe. The name also refers to the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance. During this festival, people visit Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams and pray and chant auspicious hymns. The ardent devotees keep awake all night. The two best places to watch the Mahashivratri festivities are Varanasi and Haridwar.