Festivals of India

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Numerous cultures have, over the centuries, made India a land of perpetual festivals. They will take you for a holy dip in one of its numerous rivers, or cover you with warm scented coloured water, swing you sky high, give you elephant or camel rides, and invite you to joyous day and night-long singing, dancing and feasting.

There are festivals in celebration of the wind, the rain, the fire, animal forms and other animate and inanimate objects. The sun is eclipsed and for millions of people it calls for a holy dip. The moon reaches its full glory and the event calls for a feast. The rain-laden clouds come, to remind you of Lord Indra. Since it does not rain, nor do crops ripen at the same time all over this land, you will find the same occasion celebrated at different places at different times.

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,There seems not to be a single day, or any change in nature which the Indian calendar will not recognise as an occasion for the celebration of the beautiful mystery of Prakrati or nature, the mother of all creation. So it is that, in the South, the festival of Pongal, or Sankranti celebrates the harvest, and heralds the onset of summer, with its longer days and shorter nights. In North India it is the festival of Lohri, featuring dancing and celebrations around a bonfire, which marks the end of winter and welcoming of warmer weather.

Teej is a festival which welcomes the monsoon. It is celebrated mostly in Rajasthan, where the arrival or absence of the monsoon is of utmost importance. The festival is essentially celebrated by women, who dress in bright green clothes and ride improvised swings hung from trees.

Yet another harvest festival this one native to Kerala is Onam. Onam is widely known for the snake-boat races that are its most famous feature.

All these festivals are dedicated to the changes of season and to the harvest yet these are only a few of the better-known ones. But in India, where life is still closely associated with nature, it is not nature alone which is a cause for celebration. Beneath all this lies an active interaction between man and his environment, which is not merely confined to cycles of seasons and crops, but is also linked to man's higher invisible association with the Cosmos.

So, some festivals are dedicated to gods and goddesses and to their incarnations and reincarnations for example, Deepawali celebrates the return of Rama, Prince of Ayodhya, after fourteen long years of exile. But the festival is also dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and -- in eastern India -- to goddess Kali, the consort of Lord Shiva. In India, both Christmas (celebrating the birth of Christ) and Easter celebrating his resurrection are also observed. The Sikhs celebrate the births of their leaders Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, while Muslims observe Id and Muharram.

So if it seems as though every day in India is marked by some celebration, it must be remembered that it is the result of the inter-mingling of different communities and different religions. And it is this very intermingling of the people that makes India more than a collection of states.

SOME MAJOR FESTIVALS OF INDIA

FESTIVAL MONTH STATE/REGION DESCRIPTION
Elephant March January Kerala Procession of decorated elephants.
Pongal 14 January Andhra Pradesh Harvest festival Marking the change of seasonTamil Nadu.
International Kite Festival 13-15 January Gujarat Connoisseurs of the sport gather and indulge in friendly competitions, flying kites of varied colours, shapes and sizes.
Desert Festivals January/February Jaisalmer,Rajasthan A three day show of dances, acrobatics, camel races and camel dances.
Cattle fair January/February Nagpur,Rajasthan Trading of camels, bullocks, and horses, with sports, music and dance.
Konark Festival February Konark,Orissa A festival of classical dances of the site of The Sun Temple.
International Yoga Festival February Rishikesh,Uttar Pradesh Demonstration and experience of yoga and meditation.
Surajkund Crafts Mela 1-15 February Haryana Display of arts and crafts from all over India.
Taj Mahotsav 18-27 February Agra, Uttar Pradesh Dance and drama recreating the age of Shah Jahan, combined with a food festival.ffestival days,singing,dancing,indian feasts,lord krishna,lord shiva,indian nature,pongal,baisakhi,indian thanksgiving,indian new year,indian monsoon,rajasthan,kerala,snake-boat races,indian gods,snake-boat races,indian gods and goddesses,diwali,easter,sikks,estival

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Khajuraho Dance Festival March Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh Classical dance performance extravaganza.
Hoil March North India Festival of colours in which people splash coloured water on one another in a spirit of comradeship.
Ellora Festival March Ellora Caves, Maharashtra Festival of Classical Dance and Music.
Gangaur March/April Rajasthan Dedicated to Goddess Parvati upholding the power of nature.
Pooram April/May Kerala Temple festival with the famous Elephant March.
Carnival April Goa Originally celebrated the fruiting of cashew and mango.
International Spice April Cochin, Kerala Fair displaying spices grown in the region.
Rath Yatra June/July Puri, Orissa A huge procession carrying images of deities in chariots.
Hemis Festival July Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir Monastery festival. Age old plays are performed by masked dancers.
International Mango Festival  July Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh An exhibition and sale of the best Indian mangoes.
Onam August/Sept Kerala Famous for the snake boat races held to celebrate the event.
Ganesh Chaturthi September Maharashtra Dedicated to Lord Ganesh. His idol is carried in a procession before being immersed in a river or sea.
Dussehra Sept/October Nationwide A ten day festival celebrating Lord Rama killing demon king Ravana symbolisms the victory of good over evil.
Diwali Oct/November Nationwide A festival of lights celebrating the home coming of Lord Rama after killing Ravana.
Sonepur Fair November Sonepur, Bihar Cattle fair where cattle, elephants, etc. are bought and sold.
Pushkar Fair November Pushkar, Rajasthan Rajasthan Colourful Cattle fair includes camel races, etc. . People also come for a dip in the holy Pushkar Lake.
Shekhavati Festival December Shekhavati, Rajasthan A colourful festival held in the home of the world's most beautiful frescos.
Feast of St. Francis Xavier 3rd December Goa The well-preserved remains of St. Francix Xavier are displayed in a beautiful silver casket.

(Since many of the dates of the festivals are decided by the phases of the moon, the dates mentioned above are only approximate. Dussehra and Diwali, for example, can vary by 10 days between one year and the next. The date of Id is often not finalized till the night before the tentative date, as it depends upon the sighting of the moon.)

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