Top 5 Festivals to enjoy in India


Top 5 Festivals to Enjoy in India

India is known for its festivals for good reason, with numerous celebrations being held throughout the year across the various religions.  With a population that includes Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains, amongst others, spirituality is interwoven with daily life for most Indians, and each festival is celebrated with both joy and devotion.

Taking part in one is a wonderful way to gain deeper insight into the Indian culture, not to mention the opportunity to snap some authentic photos of celebrated cultures that will charm your family and friends.  Whichever festival you’re lucky enough to experience though, take care to show utmost respect for its traditions.  Here are some of the biggest:

Diwali

This joyful five-day festival, also known as the Festival of Lights, starts off the Hindu New Year around September/October.  Candles, fireworks and lamps are an integral part of the celebrations as people pay tribute to their ancestors and family-related gods.  Buildings are beautifully decorated with marigolds and mango and banana leaves, and statues of Lakshmi and Ganesh are displayed, along with offerings of wheat and rice.

Holi

Holi is the second biggest Hindu festival after Diwali, and its traditions have spread far beyond their religious origins to music festivals around the world.  The date varies but it’s usually held towards the end of February or beginning of March.  Otherwise known as the Festival of Colours, it’s a celebration of spring and the victory of good over evil.

On the first day of the festival the Holi bonfire is lit, and on the second day, celebrants get to play with coloured powders or coloured water.  If you get the chance, be sure to join in what is basically a massive colour party!

Maha Shivaratri

Devoted to the Hindu god Shiva the Maha Shivaratri festival has several different origin stories. One of the most popular is that it’s the day Shiva married Parvati, who is one of the forms of the Hindu feminine energy known as Shakti. Devotees believe that this astrologically auspicious day, which falls sometime during February or March, helps to raise their spiritual energy as they seek the blessing of Shiva through fasting, cleansing, meditation, prayers and offerings. Visit the beautifully decorated temples to observe the devotees in action.

Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the daylight hours to commemorate the time during which Mohammed received and transcribed the teachings of the Koran, the Islamic holy book. The festival continues today as a way of keeping the body disciplined and the mind focussed on good deeds. 

Usually beginning in June, the exact date is determined each year by a committee whose job it is to catch the first glimpse of the crescent moon before they declare Ramadan. Extra prayers are offered during this very holy festival, acts of charity are performed and the fast is broken after sunset at the end of each day. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to join a family for the especially sumptuous meal and celebration at the official end of Ramadan, which is known as Eid, be sure to accept.

Baisakhi

This festival marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year in April and is also a harvest festival, especially in the Punjab region of North India, when agricultural communities give thanks for an abundant harvest and pray for future ones. The numerous processions, spontaneous dances, traditional performances and fairs are a great way to experience the exuberance of the festival first hand.

Taking part in one of these and many other celebrated and inspirational festivals is an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.  Contact our travel specialists on 020 7843 3531 or email info@clevelandcollection.co.uk and we’ll create the perfect itinerary for you.