The vibrant experience of Indian festivals
India is probably one of the most paradoxical and discordant countries, where the best melds into the worst, and the darkest finds the brightest. But this little piece of heaven with sordid air features an intense cultural scene, gathering multiple spiritualities and religions and hosting some of the most vibrant and colorful holidays and festivals in the world. From the Hindu celebration, the Islamic holiday to the regional celebration, the cultural events in India are probably the most intense you’ll experience in your life, and we made for you a selection of the most impressive Indian holidays and festivals; the guarantee to come back with sparkles in your eyes.
Better known as the festival of colors, Holi is the most important Indian cultural event, and the most important Hinduism celebration, gathering people from all over the world every year to enjoy the explosion of watered colored powder in the streets of the whole country.
The festival takes place at the beginning of March, during the Equinoxe of Spring, and is probably the best-known festival abroad, celebrating the victory of good over evil, and the burning and destruction of the demoness Holika, made possible only through the constant devotion of Lord Vishnu.
People celebrate here the end of winter, the arrival of spring, and the blossoming of love by throwing colors and squishing water guns on each other, in a very carefree and joyfully liberating mood; a great opportunity to get familiar with the festive spirit of Indians, and to meet people from all over the world. So if you don’t mind getting dirty, this festival is made for you.
With Holi, Diwali is the biggest and most important Indian cultural festival. The Festival Of Light celebrates the victory of good over evil and brightness over darkness and the whole country shines for five days with the brightness of thousand flames. Kind of the Christmas of Europe, Diwali is the most anticipated party of India, where people offer presents to each other and celebrate the goddess Lakshmi and the God Ganesh by lighting fireworks, small clay lamps, and candles. The actual day of Diwali happens on the third day, commonly known as the Hindu New Year, also the day Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, having successfully rescued Sita and defeated the demon Ravana. Walking on the streets on Diwali is a real pleasure, the country has a magical ambiance, and people are joyful, a different spirit than Holi, more familial and calming.
Particularly famous in Mumbai, the festival extends over 11 days where people gather to celebrate the birth of the beloved elephant-headed Hindu God, Lord Ganesh. Ephemeral temples and huge beautifully handcraft decorated statues of Ganesh are installed in the streets, around which people worship God and bring offerings throughout the festival. On the last day, people parade singing and dancing in the streets showing off the figures of Ganesh and throw them in the ocean as a closure of the holidays.
Eid Ul Fitr
Eid Ul Fitr is one of the most important religious festivals in India, celebrating the end of Ramadan. India counts between 20 to 30% of Muslims, which translates into more than 215 million people and makes this holiday one of the biggest in the country. This Indian celebration features an impressive culinary festival, where you will find food in every corner and delicious demonstrations of cuisine; a treat for the palate.
While Diwali and Holi are the most celebrated holidays in the country, Onam is one of the most traditional festivals of India, praised in the state of Kerala. Organized at the end of the harvesting season, the Hindu holiday honors during ten days the King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. A lot of festivities, traditional dances, flowers, and beautifully patterned decorations animate the streets of the cities to commemorate the King, and everyone wraps himself with new and fancy colorful clothes. You will also be brought to enjoy feasts served on banana leaves; a taste of heaven.
The poorams are probably the most impressive Indian culture celebrations in Kerala, and Thrissur is considered as the pooram of the pooram. During Poorams, a lot of elephants are decorated and showed off in the streets, caring for the most worshipped divinity in the villages in question. This Pooram represents the biggest gathering of elephants in the world, with more than 50 elephants leaving the temple of Vadakkunathan, dedicated to Shiva, escorted by drums and music. This occurs in April and is 36 hours of pure pleasure.
Pushkar Camel Fair
The tiny desert town of Pushkar is every end of November fulfilled with an incredible amount of Camels, all colorfully dressed up, to enter an impressive beauty contest and the biggest camel trade fair. It’s an impressive show that you won’t experience anywhere else.
More about curious festivals read in our article three brightest african festivals