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6 Fabulous Festivals in India that Bring Us Together

India is synonymous with vibrant food, elaborate architecture, and awe-inspiring landscapes. Not to mention, home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. One thing that makes India so unique is the sheer volume of different religions and religious festivals celebrated each year. The religious harmony that occurs within India is what makes the country so enjoyable for everyone.

Spirituality permeates throughout the country. The rich diversity of faith can be seen everywhere from the top of the snowy Himalayas in the north as far down to the tropical south. Every religion is imaginable is practised in India, including Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Whether you follow one of the above already or you’re simply religion-curious, rest assured there is a festival in India to suit you.

Man riding an elephant in Jaipur, India

When we look at the different types of religious festivals on offer, India has an abundance of devotional celebrations. From impressive light parades heralding new beginnings to village fairs that ward off bad spirits.

In India, they have it all. Let’s take you there!

Kumbh Mela festival, celebrated by Hindus.

Notably the World’s Largest Gathering of people, just a measly 120 million people. Kumbh Mela is so large, that it can even be visible from space. The mass Hindu pilgrimage takes part every twelve years in one of four sacred sites, where devotees (and Sadhus, holy men) bathe at once in the holy river. According to Hindu mythology, the river is where Amrit (purity and immortality) can be found, but it’s only sacred when the dates and stars align when the sacred rivers turn to nectar.

When: Between mid-January to March.

Where: Prayagraj, Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain

Diwali festival, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists

Diwali is undoubtedly the most popular religious festival in India. Occurring over five days,
Diwali is often referred to as the festival of lights and is all about celebrating new beginnings, peace, and light over darkness. Devotees decorate their homes with bright colours, candles, and string lights throughout the festival. Cleaning the home, exchanging gifts, spending time with friends and family and attending prayer services are the key attractions throughout.

Diwali festival lanterns, Amritsar, India

When: Typically coinciding with a new moon, around October/November.

Where: Throughout India, some special places to experience the festival are Varanasi, Amritsar, Kolkata and Goa.

Losar festival, celebrated by Buddhists

Losar festival is the New Year for Tibetan Buddhists and is celebrated over three days. The festival begins with the lighting of incense sticks dedicated to the local Gods and spirits. With the belief that a happier deity ensures the wellbeing of the people in the New Year.

Losar festival is a time spent with loved ones sharing gifts and delicious foods like a tasty noodle soup with delicate dough balls and a sweet lapse cake with chang, an alcoholic drink. Devotees visit the local monastery for worship and give gifts to the monks. Firecrackers are set off to clear the community of evil spirits.

When: February

Where: Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh

Come with us to Ladakh

Ramadan festival, celebrated by Islam

This month-long festival is spent fasting every day from dawn to sunset. It is believed that during the ninth month of the year, the first verses of the Quran were revealed and that the gates of heaven opened. During the month-long festival, extra prayer and increased charity are offered.

It is meant to be a time of spiritual discipline, and an intense study of the Quran is exercised. At the end of the month, there is a big three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr to break the fast, where everyone comes together for large meals with family and exchange presents.

When: From April to May

Where: Lucknow, Delhi and Hyderabad

Let’s go to Delhi!

Holi festival, celebrated by everyone!

Undoubtedly, the most colourful festival celebrated in the world. Holi is a true representation of India’s essence and vibrancy. Not just a festival, Holi marks the arrival of the spring season, signifying the victory of good over evil. Over the two days, Indians use this time to spread love and happiness.

Holi festival begins with huge bonfires lit, signifying the burning of the demon Holika, while people sing and dance around it. The real fun begins the following day when people throw colours and water at each other. Another key highlight is the delicious snacks shared afterwards.

Children celebrating Holi festival of colour, India

When: March

Where: Throughout India, some special places to experience the festival are Mathura, Vrindavan, Dwarka and the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.

Christmas, celebrated by Christians

Among the most famous festivals in India, Christmas is widely celebrated throughout the country. Commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, the festival is a time for religious and cultural celebrations. Just as you would anywhere around the world, Christmas is a time for decorating the home, exchanging gifts and sharing sumptuous food with friends and family.

Throughout India, midnight mass is a very important service for Christians. In the south, devotees will often put small oil-burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show the neighbourhood that Jesus is the light of the world.

When: December 25th

Where: Kerala and Goa

Fancy a trip to Kerala?

Visit all our tours to India here.

The beauty of having so many diverse cultures and traditions in India is that you are never short of anything to celebrate!

by  Lexi Connors

Lexi is your ultimate wanderlust enthusiast with an incurable case of curiosity and a deep passion for action on climate change. You can read more of her work www.avaycay.com. Find her on Facebook or Instagram @avaycay.