5 Unique Festivals in India that Are an Experience of a Lifetime

Here's a list of the most interesting festivals in India. So go ahead and read it to plan your next trip to India accordingly.

Because India is an incredibly bright country with a strong spiritual bent, its people enjoy organizing various festivals devoted to various Gods and other traditions or events based on their myths and legends. There are dozens of celebrations in this vast country, and it sometimes appears that there isn’t a single day in their calendar that doesn’t have some sort of holiday or festival. It’s a good idea to plan your trip to India around one of the country’s many festivals. It goes without saying that witnessing the people celebrate by singing, dancing, lighting bonfires, and having the best time ever will be an unforgettable experience.


Makar Sankrant: The Festival of Kites

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According to the Indian calendar, the Uttarayan or Makar Sankrant festival marks the beginning of the transition from winter to summer. For farmers, it is a sign that the sun has returned and that harvest season, is approaching. This is one of the most important harvest days in India because it marks the end of winter and the start of the harvest season. Many Indian cities hold kite competitions for their citizens. Kite markets are set up alongside food stalls and performers during the event. They are typically made of plastic, leaves, wood, metal, nylon, and other scrap materials, but the ones for Uttarayan are made of light-weight paper and bamboo and are rhombus shaped with a central spine and a single bow. Dye and paint are also used to enhance the glitz of the kite. The lines are covered with glue and ground glass mixtures that, when dry, are rolled up and attached to the back, also known as firkees. Sharp lines like these are used on fighter kites, known as patangs in India, to cut down other kites during kite fighting events. On the second night of the festival, tukals or tukkals, illuminated kites filled with lights and candles, are launched, creating a spectacle in the dark sky.


Holi: The Festival of Colours

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Holi, also known as the Festival of Spring, the Festival of Colours, or the Festival of Love, is a popular ancient Indian festival. The festival commemorates Radha Krishna’s eternal and divine love. It also represents the triumph of good over evil, as it commemorates Lord Vishnu’s victory over King Hiranyakashipu as Narasimha Narayana. Holi festivities begin the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan, in which people gather to perform religious rituals in front of a bonfire and pray that their internal evil will be destroyed in the same way that Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire.

Rangwali Holi (Dhuleti) is celebrated the next morning as a free-for-all color festival in which people smear and drench each other. Water guns and water-filled balloons are also used for play and coloring. Anyone and everyone, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children or elders, is fair game. Color frolics and fights take place in open streets, parks, and outside temples and buildings. Groups travel from place to place carrying drums and other musical instruments, singing and dancing. People visit family, friends, and foes gather to splatter colored powder on each other, laugh and gossip, and then share Holi delicacies, food, and drinks. People dress up and visit friends and family in the evening.


Raksha Bandhan: The Festival of Siblings

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Raksha Bandhan is a popular, traditionally Indian, annual rite or ceremony that is central to the same-named festival celebrated throughout South Asia and other parts of the world. On this day, sisters of all ages tie the Rakhi, a thread or amulet, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility for their potential care.


Dussehra: The Festival of Performing Arts

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In 2008, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) designated the Dussehra performance arts tradition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Dasha-Hara (meaning ‘ten days’) is celebrated in most North and West India in honor of King Rama. Thousands of drama-dance-music plays based on the Ramayan and Ramcharitmanas (Ramlila) are performed at outdoor fairs throughout the country and in temporary staging grounds adorned with effigies of the demons Kind Ravan, Kumbhakarna, and Meghanada. The effigies are burned on bonfires on the evening of Vijayadashami or Dussehra. The Rama Lila, or a condensed version of Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana’s story, is performed in many places during the nine days preceding it. but in some cities, such as Varanasi, the entire story is freely acted out by performance artists before the public every evening for a month. Dussehra, also called Dasara or Vijayadashami, holiday marking the triumph of King Rama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, over the demon King Ravana, who abducted Rama’s wife, Sita.


Diwali: The Festival of Lights

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Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is a major festival celebrated by Indians. The festival usually lasts five days and is held during the month of October to November. Diwali, one of India’s most popular festivals, represents the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. In the run-up to Diwali, people will clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and workplaces with diyas (oil lamps) and rangolis (colorful art circle patterns), hold worship ceremonies for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and participate in other festivities.


Photo: CRS PHOTO/Shutterstock 


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