Diwali, also called The Festival of Lights, tops our list of the most interesting festivals in India because of the unifying effect it has on the whole Nation of India. The festival according to the ancient Sanskrit texts stems from a series of harvest festivals that were celebrated in ancient India.
Celebrated over five days, the Diwali festival is celebrated to symbolize the spiritual victory of “light over darkness” or “good over evil”. Though it is a Hindu festival, a large population of the country partakes in the celebrations. Before the celebrations begin, people prepare by cleaning and renovating their homes and workplace to give the vicinity a colorful appearance.
During the celebration, homes and offices are illuminated with the Diyas (a traditional oil lamp made from clay) and Rangoli. The people offer prayers to Lakshmi (the goddess of prosperity and wealth), fireworks are lit, friends and family also come around to exchange gifts and partake in communal feasts. During this time tourists come around to interact with indigenous people and experience a very important part of the Indian culture first hand.
Hinduism which is practiced by more than 80% of the Indian population celebrates the Ganesh Chaturthi festival for about 11 days every year. The festival is celebrated to mark the arrival or descent of Ganesh (The most prominent Hindu deity) into the earth with his mother.
During the festivals, locals mount Ganesh clay statues in their streets, homes, and all other important places. Also, religious hymns, text, and prayers are said for the prosperity of the community and the nation as a whole. After prayers have been said, offerings and tasty snacks such as Modaka, Mimosa, and Murruku are distributed to both locals and tourists present at the celebration. The festival officially ends when the clay statue is carried in a public procession and dissolved into water to signify the return of Ganesh to Heaven. In the city of Mumbai alone, about 150,000 statues are dissolved annually.
If you love tasting indigenous food and you will also like to experience a major part of the deeply traditional and ancient culture of India, this is perfect for you.
Onam, one of the major Hindu festivals is celebrated annually by the Malayali people. It is a harvest festival, that according to legends is celebrated to mark the visit of King Mahabali who is believed to visit the city every time the festival is celebrated.
During the festival, various activities are carried out the entertain both the locals and tourists that are present to witness the fantastic celebrations. Among these activities are Tiger Dances, Boat Races, Tug of War, Plantain offerings, and many more.
Throughout the celebrations, there is hardly a dull moment, you are sure to be caught in one event of the other. Traditional artisans also use the opportunity to sell some of their beautiful artifacts, so if you have some Indian rupees, you might be lucky enough to purchase some priceless artifacts for a small price.
The Raksha Bandhan is an annual festival that has is observed on the last day of the lunar calendar month of Shraavana (usually August). The origin of this symbolic festival is rooted in the ancient practice in which a bride marries out of her home town, and by custom, her parents do not visit her. Male family members (mostly brothers) then travel to their sister’s home to escort them back for a reunion. During such reunions, women tie am amulet called Rakhi around the wrist of their brothers to symbolically represent protection and then they in turn receive a gift.
Though also celebrated in Nepal and some other regions in the Indian subcontinent, the Raksha Bandhan is most popular in India. Tourists from all over the world come around to experience these beautiful and fascinating festivals and they also are given beautiful and colorful amulets to protect them.
You have probably heard of Mahatma Gandhi, the great anti-colonial nationalist who dedicated his life fighting for the independence of India from British rule. Well, every year, on the 2nd of October, the birthday of this great man is celebrated nationwide and it is one of the three national holidays of India.
The significance of this festival can not be overemphasized, all through the nation, prayer meetings, and commemorative ceremonies are observed all through the city to mark this historical day. Gandhi's favorite Bhajan (Hindu traditional song) is sung in his favor. Tourists present in India at this time can experience the beauty of national unity and love that exists between the citizens of this wonderful country.
In the Hindu religion, women and girls are held in very high regard. And every year, the Teej festival is held to celebrate them. Teej is the collective name for a series of monsoon festivals that are celebrated by young women in regions of North and Central India.
Women and young girls come together during this time to dance, sing, tell stories, and dress up in very colorful clothes that fit the festive mood. Various traditional meals are also prepared and shared with people present to witness the celebrations. Generally, the festival shows the beauty, energy, and good nature of Hindu women.
Husbands, in-laws, and other family members give jewelry, clothes, and other accessories to their girls and women as the whole society celebrates women as a whole.