India Tour Packages

Festivals and Celebrations: Immerse Yourself in India’s Cultural Richness

28 Jun, 2024

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to celebrate Holi, with vibrant clouds of gulal (colour) swirling through the air as you dance and sing in the streets?

Or gaze at intricate rangoli sand paintings lit up by diyas during Diwali—India’s most dazzling Festival of Lights?

India is a country that truly comes alive through its diverse festivals and celebrations that evolve from its ancient, spiritually-rooted culture. If you shy away from engaging yourself in foreign cultures when travelling, you may miss out on life-changing experiences.

Isn’t understanding and celebrating what makes a culture unique and meaningful what travel is all about? Yet for many visitors, the kaleidoscopic array of Indian festivals can seem puzzling or intimidating.

This blog post shares India’s most vibrant and time-honoured cultural festivals to discover how tourists can enjoy the very soul of India. If you are also intrigued by Indian festivals, continue reading this post as we will be sharing some of the most famous festivals of the country.

Major National Festivals of India

India’s cultural fabric interweaves thousands of vibrant festivals and celebrations that speak to spiritual traditions tracing back centuries if not millennia. Yet ask most foreigners about important festivals in India, and chances are that Holi and Diwali first spring to mind.

These national celebrations draw in people of all faiths and backgrounds for joyous, community-centric merrymaking rooted in ancient mythology and enduring rituals. Below are some of the renowned festivals celebrated in the country:

1. Holi: The Vibrant Festival of Colors and Love

If you want to experience the vibrant festivals of India, make sure you plan your trip to India in March to enjoy the festival of colours “Holi.” This festival coincides with spring’s full moon and signifies the triumph of good over evil and the end of winter.

Additionally, Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, are considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna and are popular for the best Holi celebration in the country.

Traditions and Practices

Following are some of the common traditions and practices followed by the people on the special occasion:

  • Public bonfires also known as “Holika- Dahan” the night before recalling the burning of the demoness Holika.
  • People celebrate this vibrant festival by throwing brightly colours, dry and wet Gulal (powders), on each other, spraying coloured water at friends and family.
  • Many people visit their loved ones and reconcile differences which makes it one of the important festivals in India. Savouring festive snacks and drinks like bhang Thandai. The common greeting on this auspicious day is “Happy Holi!” while smearing colours
  • Holi makes quite the photographic impression of sheer fun, vibrant hues and cultural camaraderie that many travellers seek to take part in.

2. Diwali: India’s Dazzling Festival of Lights

The next festival on our list, that you cannot afford to skip is the festival of lights, Diwali.

Held on the new moon night sometime between mid-October to mid-November on the Hindu calendar, celebrates light over darkness and commemorates Lord Rama’s return from exile.

To have the ultimate experience of this great festival of India, tourists are recommended to visit Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to have an ever-lasting experience.

Traditions and Practices

Some of the common traditions and practices of this festival include:

  • Cleaning and decorating homes with diyas (lamps) and rangoli (colourful sand patterns)
  • Lighting countless oil diyas, candles and fairy lights
  • Bursting fireworks at night
  • Feasting on sweets like barfi and laddoo
  • Offering prayers (Lakshmi puja) and exchanging gifts like fresh fruits and utensils
  • Common greetings: “Shubh Diwali” or “Happy Diwali!” Spectacular displays of diyas and fireworks lighting up India’s streets and skies attract photographers from around the world.

3. Eid al-Fitr

Mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, prayer and reflection. Eid al-Fitr, one of the most celebrated festivals of India, follows Ramadan while Eid al-Adha coincides with the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.

Traditions and Practices

Some of the common traditions and practices of this festival include:

  • Attending morning prayers wearing new or fancy clothes
  • Giving alms and food to those in need
  • Feasting on sweet and savoury dishes like sheer khurma, biryani and kebabs
  • Visiting friends and family and exchanging gifts and greetings
  • Children receive eidi money gifts
  • Common Greetings: “Eid Mubarak” (Blessed Eid) or “Happy Eid!”
  • Global Fame: One of the most important and widely celebrated festivals for Muslims around the world. Fosters a strong sense of community, charity and celebration in India’s large Muslim population.

4. Durga Puja in West Bengal: A Grand Celebration of Goddess Durga

In West Bengal, Durga Puja is a huge celebration that goes beyond just worship. It’s a spectacular event filled with devotion, creativity, and artistry that captures the essence of Bengal’s culture.

Local artists spend a lot of time creating detailed pandals, temporary structures where they place Goddess Durga. These structures are like beautiful works of art, mixing tradition with modern design.

The pandals can range from traditional styles to more modern and innovative designs, displaying the incredible creativity of the Bengali people.

Artistic Expressions: Where Tradition Meets Modern Ideas

Durga Puja, one of the festivals of India Devoted to Goddess Durga, is a platform for artistic expression, featuring traditional and modern art like sculptures, paintings, and installations.

Well-known artists often work with local communities to bring new ideas to the festival, resulting in a mix of old and new art that transforms the streets of Kolkata into an outdoor art gallery.

Devotion to Goddess Durga: A Spiritual Journey

Durga Puja is not just a cultural event; it’s a deeply spiritual experience where people connect with the divine.
Devotees show strong devotion to Goddess Durga, participating in rituals, prayers, and cultural performances throughout the festival.

The whole city comes alive with traditional music, hymns, and the rhythmic beats of dhak drums.

Community Bonding: Bringing People Together

Durga Puja goes beyond religious and social differences, uniting communities.

The festival promotes a sense of togetherness and inclusivity, encouraging people from all backgrounds to join in the celebrations.

Kolkata becomes a melting pot of cultures during this time, showcasing the true spirit of Festivals and Celebrations in West Bengal.

Durga Puja in West Bengal is a beautiful mix of religious traditions and cultural creativity, blurring the lines between sacred rituals and artistic expression.

It’s a showcase of the Bengali people’s dedication to Goddess Durga and their commitment to preserving and evolving their cultural heritage.

The festival not only offers a visually stunning experience but also brings spiritual enrichment. Festivals and Celebrations in West Bengal reach their peak during Durga Puja, creating an experience that is both captivating and deeply meaningful.

5. Onam in Kerala: A Grand Feast and Homecoming

Travel to the southern state of Kerala during Onam, and you’ll be greeted by a spectacle of vibrant cultural festivities. Onam is the biggest annual festival of Kerala, spanning 10 days of celebrations centred around bountiful feasts, exciting snake boat races, colourful pookalam flower rangolis, and the heartwarming tradition of families reuniting.

Pookalam: Intricate flower carpets made from vivid blooms like marigolds and orchids adorn homes to welcome the legendary King Mahabali.
  • Sadya: The grand vegetarian feast on the main day is served on banana leaves with over 24 dishes, showcasing the diversity of Kerala cuisine.
  • Vallam Kali: These adrenaline-filled snake boat races see oarsmen in traditional white dhotis compete to win prizes, entertaining thousands of spectators.
  • Homecomings: The festival inspires a huge homecoming, as people working away return to celebrate Onam with their families.

Becoming a part of Onam festivities will give you a vivid glimpse into Kerala’s unique heritage and the warm hospitality of its people. It’s a tropical paradise celebrating its bountiful nature and rich traditions.

Winding Up

As we wrap up this exploration of important festivals in India, remember, that each celebration adds a unique thread to the colourful fabric of this diverse nation.

Experiencing these festivals isn’t just discovering; it’s an open invitation to connect, celebrate, and grasp the pulsating soul of this extraordinary land.

Whether it’s the vibrant Holi, the illuminated Diwali, Eid al-Fitr or the grand Durga Puja, India’s diverse cultural mosaic eagerly awaits your embrace. Soak in the joy, build connections, and let the spirit of Festivals and Celebrations be your compass in this enchanting journey.