India is a land of diverse communities and vibrant cultures. People across the breadth of the country celebrate the Festivals of India that are true manifestations of its rich heritage and traditions. Festivals of India are an excuse for celebration for the people of the country. Besides the major religious festivals of India, there are occasions that bring people together. Here is a list of a few such festivals of India that travel enthusiasts may bookmark in their travel calendar in the closing months of 2023.
The grandest and biggest of all Festivals of India, Durga Puja is now over. The next big celebration that spans across the length and breadth of India is Diwali. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, originates from ancient Hindu mythology. It celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after his 14-year exile and victory over the demon king Ravana. Symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil, Diwali is a joyous occasion when people illuminate their homes with oil lamps, burst firecrackers, exchange sweets, and seek blessings for a prosperous year ahead.
Where: All over India
When: 12th November
Originating from the ancient city of Varanasi, Dev Deepavali, also known as the “Festival of Lights of the Gods,” is a grand celebration that occurs on the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima, fifteen days after Diwali. It is a joyous occasion where the ghats of the river Ganga are illuminated with countless earthen lamps. Devotees believe that on this day, the gods descend to the mortal realm to take a dip in the holy Ganges. By lighting lamps and offering prayers, devotees express their gratitude and seek blessings from the deities. The spectacle of the illuminated ghats, coupled with the grand Ganga Aarti and mesmerizing fireworks, creates an enchanting ambiance that attracts visitors from all corners of the world.
Where: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
When: 26th November
Pushkar Camel Fair
Nestled in the heartland of Rajasthan, the Pushkar Camel Fair is a vibrant celebration that traces its origins back to ancient times. This annual extravaganza, held in the town of Pushkar, brings together traders, pilgrims, and locals to immerse themselves in a unique fusion of spirituality, cultural heritage, and business. As one of the world's largest camel fairs, the Pushkar Camel Fair holds immense significance for both religious and commercial reasons. Pilgrims flock to the sacred Pushkar Lake for a holy bath during the auspicious month of Kartik. The fair also features various competitions, performances, and cultural events, making it a captivating spectacle for visitors seeking an authentic and unforgettable Indian experience.
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan
When: 20th November – 28th November
Majuli Raas Mahotsav
Held in Assam, India, Majuli Raas Mahotsav is a vibrant festival rooted in the ancient tradition of Raas Leela. Originating in the 16th century, the festival pays homage to Lord Krishna's divine love. It plays an integral role in preserving and showcasing Assamese cultural heritage. With captivating dance performances and elaborate costumes, Majuli Raas Mahotsav offers a glimpse into the rich folklore and religious fervor of the region.
When: 21st November – 24th November
Karthigai Deepam, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated particularly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. With its origins dating back thousands of years, Karthigai Deepam commemorates the divine manifestation of Lord Shiva as a towering flame of light. The festival is observed on the day of Karthigai Pournami (full moon day) in the Tamil month of Karthigai, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness.
During Karthigai Deepam, homes and temples are adorned with traditional oil lamps, beautifully illuminating the surroundings. Devotees offer prayers to Lord Shiva and seek blessings for prosperity and well-being. The lighting of the massive ceremonial lamp called “Mahadeepam” atop the holy hill of Thiruvannamalai attracts pilgrims from all over the country.
Where: Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
When: 26th November
The North Eastern state of Nagaland hosts The Hornbill Festival in the first week of December. This is one of the most unique festivals of India that showcases the rich traditions, customs, and art forms of the Naga tribes. It provides tourists with a unique opportunity to witness their vibrant heritage. Visitors can immerse themselves in traditional music, tribal dance, sporting events, and local cuisine, making it an unforgettable experience.
Where: Kohima, Nagaland
When: 1st December – 10th December
The vibrant Ladakhi Losar festival, originating from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, is celebrated in the enchanting region of Ladakh, India. This joyous occasion marks the Tibetan New Year, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. It is characterized by the mesmerizing performance of dancers with colorful masks on their faces. Music and feasts unite locals and travelers in a spirit of unity and renewal.
When: 13th December – 27th December
Feast Of Francis Xavier
The Feast of Francis Xavier is a vibrant celebration that honors the life and legacy of Saint Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa. Originating in the 16th century, this festival attracts thousands of devotees from around the world who gather at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. They pay homage to the revered saint, seeking blessings, and participating in processions and religious ceremonies. It is a time of deep religious significance, cultural richness, and communal harmony. It is a unique event for travelers seeking an authentic spiritual experience in India.
When: 3rd December
The Bishnupur Festival, celebrated in the town of Bishnupur, west bengal, showcases the rich cultural heritage of the region. This festival pays homage to the traditional art of terracotta pottery, highlighting the exceptional craftsmanship and creativity of the local artisans. There are also musical performances from traditional gharana of music. Visitors immerse themselves in the mesmerizing display of intricate pottery, musical performances, and traditional dances, making it a must-visit event for art enthusiasts and cultural explorers.
Where: Bishnupur, West Bengal
When: 27th December – 31st December
Rann Utsav is celebrated every year by Gujarat Tourism between the last week of November and February of the next year. This festival is also called the White Desert Festival. Spread over a vast 7,505 sq km, the Great Rann of Kutch lies in the heart of the Thar Desert. What originally began as a three-day festival, progressively evolved into a three-month celebration at Dhordo, a village near Rann of Kutch. Dhordo has been recognized as one of the 54 Best Tourism Villages in the 2023 edition by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. A new tent city has been created, replete with temporary infrastructure built and rebuilt every year. A plethora of varied hues, an abundance of culture, and a cornucopia of music and dance, all together in the arid lands of Kutch reflect the identity and spirit of the region.
Where: Kutch, Gujarat
When: 1st November – 20th February
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