Volunteer Programs,Travel and Work in India

Festivals in India

            Having a look at the culture of India can indicate to any human being alive today that festivals, religion, and family are all important aspects of society there. In particular, the festivals in India bring together the people and are some of the most sought after tourist attractions when it comes to foreigners. There are eight very popular festivals known all across India and the tourists that travel there.

1) Pushkar Camel Fair is a parade and celebration of over 50,000 camels. These camels can be found in Pushkar, the small village the celebrations are named after. For five days, all the camels are dressed up in classy attire, paraded around, shaved, raced, entered into beauty competitions, and lastly, a lot of the camels are also traded by their owners. It is an old Indian festival that highlights the culture and commerce brought to the people by camels for ages in the past.

2) Kerala Temple Festivals are located in the southern Indian state of Kerala, attesting to the festival’s name. The state of Kerala is dotted with temples that are renowned across the nation for their temple festivals. Typically, these festivals focus around elephants that are well-adorned with ornaments, as well as colourful floats, drummers, and local musicians.

3) Diwali is a five day festival known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, mainly for all of the fireworks, clay lamps, and candles that are lit during the celebrations. Diwali represents the start of the Hindu New Year. The lights are claimed to be the beacon of victory of good over evil, and brightness over darkness. This is typically a very happy festival and the warm lighting makes for an enjoyable atmosphere.

4) Onam is a ten day harvest festival that welcomes the homecoming of a mythical King known as Mahabali. It is rich in both culture and history, and people generally decorate the ground in front of their homes with flowers arranged into patterns to greet the King. The celebrations also involve new clothing, feasts served with banana leaves, dancing, sports activities, group games, and snake boat racing.

5) Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival that honours the birth of the Hindu elephant-headed God, Lord Ganesha. It runs for approximately eleven days and the start of the celebrations are greeted with expertly crafted statues of Ganesha installed in homes and podiums. By the end of the festival, these same statues are paraded through the streets, always accompanied with singing and dancing. To successfully end the celebration, all the statues are submerged in the ocean.

6) Holi is a two day festival that specifically celebrates the victory of good over evil, as well as the success of the previous spring harvest season. It is referred to as the ‘Festival of Colours’, as people throw coloured powder and water over each other, have parties, and dance under water fountains or sprinklers. A paste called Bhang, derived from cannabis plants, is traditionally eaten during the celebrations as well. It is a short festival but focuses heavily on being carefree and having fun if you don’t mind getting dirty and soaked.

7) Navaratri, Dussehra, and Durga Puja are a combination of events mashed together into one large festival. The first nine days of the festival are referred to as Navaratri, and focuses on dancing in honour of the Mother Goddess. The tenth day is referred to as Dussehra and is devoted to celebrating the defeat of a demon King known as Ravana. This King was defeated by Lord Rama, and it coincides with the victory of the Warrior Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Note that this festival is known as Durga Puja in eastern India, and involves submerging huge statues of the Goddess in the holy Ganges River. This festival is typically boasted as an extremely social and theatrical celebration, filled with drama, dance, and culture performances throughout the nation.

8) Krishna Jamhastami, also known as Govinda, celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna. The main attraction during this festival is often an activity where people climb on top of each other to form a human pyramid. The goal is to reach clay pots that have been hung from buildings, and they are filled with curd. Temples in northern India are heavily decorated for the occasion, and the festival is very laidback.