Glimpses of 6 Upcoming Indian festivals of the Year

If one backpacks across India, as he crosses each state border, he will find the language, culture, cuisine, art forms change with an amazing diversity. Hence it goes without saying that the festivals in this country are endless in number, and while the style of celebration changes from state to state, the spirit remains the same.  HeyHolidays takes a bird’s eye view of the festivals that are due in this calendar year. So if you are planning a trip to India soon, make it sync with one of these festivals to get a feel of the country’s vibe.

Ganesh Chaturthi: this is one of the main festivals in the south western parts of India. Come September, and this part of the country will be decked up in devotion of Lord Ganesh. The event is a ten day long affair, culminating in visarjana, or immersion of the clay idol of Ganesh. The festival is both a communal and personal affair. So if you are in town during Ganesh Chaturthi, you will find enormous pandals or covered stages decorated with flowers and other blings. Also, most homes in this part of the country will have a homely puja or prayer as well. As laddu and modak are believed to be favorite sweets of Ganesh, these Indian confections are the most popular offering or Prasad. Celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi is almost iconic in Mumbai, where gigantic idols are set up across the city. Hyderabad too celebrates the festival with a gusto, and here too you will find a few gigantic Ganesh idols. Mumbai, Hyderabad and Karnataka observe a major surge in the number of tourists during the Ganesh Chaturthi. So if you are planning to be here, trust a HeyHolidays apartment to accommodate you in the bustle.

Durga Puja and Dusserah: If you are planning to be anywhere near Bengal, then the best time to be here is during the Durga pujas. The five days of Durga Puja (between September and October) mark the biggest event in a Bengali calendar, and the state celebrates it not just as a mark to devotion to the deity, but also as a celebration of art. A bengali’s love for art is evident in the endless pandals decked with the best of the country’s handicraft. The pandals these days are created on themes that range from anything between a temple in Madurai, to a Garhwali village. Months of dedication go before the pandals are adorned with the chosen artwork. If you are in Kolkata during the Durga Puja, be ready for some dazzling neon lighting, mouth watering street food, and streams of visitors moving from one pandal to another. The flavor of puja celebration distinctly changes as you step into the suburbs. Dura Pujas here are a more homely affair, and will charm you with their simplicity. The Durga Puja ends with immersion of the idol on the fifth day, or Dashami, and the procession for it is a sight to behold.

Durga Puja is observed in the rest of the country as well, but emphasis there is made on the fifth day, or Dusserah. This day marks the auspicious time for burning the effigy of the evil king Ravana, and marking the triumph of good over bad. The Ramayana lores are sung in Ramleela skits and ballads. Dusserah in the northern states of India is indeed a pulsating affair.

Diwali: Barely a fortnight passes after dusserah, the country is again decked in light for Diwali. The myth behind Diwali varies from state to state. While in some parts of the country, it is the time to worship goddess Lakshmi, in some others Diwali is meant for worship of Goddess Kali. Some others again trace back diwali to the tradition of lighting diyas for welcoming prince Rama back from his exile, as far as the epic Ramayana goes. Whatever be the reason, Diwali in each state is unmistakably a time for illuminating and celebrating. So if you are in India during diwali, brace yourself for a nightlong show of fireworks. Let your spirits fly high with every ‘whoosh’ and ‘boom’ around, and treat yourself with some of the best desserts of the country.

The fervor of Diwali celebration varies from state to state, with the northern parts of India celebrating most. But no matter what the extent of celebration is, almost every Indian home makes it a point to light diyas or lamps after dust. In most homes you will find a beautifully hand drawn rangoli (floor painting done with rice flour) adorning the rooms. Being in India during Diwali is surely a different experience altogether. So check with the HeyHolidays vacation rentals across the country and treat yourself to a comfortable stay well in your budget.

Onam: September is surely a month for festivals in India, and Onam too is celebrated during this time. The festival originates in Kerala, and is actually a ritual of celebrating the summer’s harvest. Kerala is a state which lovingly holds on to its traditions. So a string of events are associated with Onam. From masked dances to flower arrangements, and from mimes to backwater boat races, Onam is a fascinating collection of rituals. The festivals commences with a grand procession where adorned elephants lead the march of costumed participants. Pookkalam is the traditional art of flower arrangement made during Onam. But you will be surprised if you are expecting a basic floral drawing in the courtyard. The women here have mastered this art, and one will be amazed at the intricate designs that are made possible with petals. Dance and music are an intrinsic part of any celebration in Kerala. Hence the entire celebration of Onam is replete with folk performances like Pulikali and Kathakali. A trip to Kerala during Onam will definitely be an enriching experience, and what better way to experience the local feel than to stay in a HeyHolidays homestay with local hosts and be a part of their celebration?

Pushkar Fair: Each province of India has its own fair. But imagine a fair dedicated entirely to camels! That is precisely what makes Pushkar fair stand out and stun you with the typical Rajasthani extravaganza of color and life. The fair is a five day long event held in the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan. While the local herdsmen troop here to buy and sell their camels, the fair remains popular among tourists due to its uniqueness. Competitions among the camels remain a major crowd puller here. The fair takes place beside the giant Pushkar Lake. The visitors to this unique fair are delighted at the sheer variety which the fair brings. From leather embossed artifacts to tribal trinkets, and from exquisite embroideries by local women to wooden figurines, the fair is every shopaholic’s dream. This fair too is an autumnal event, and happens between October and November each year.

HeyHolidays has numerous holiday apartments in Rajasthan. So if you are planning to explore the state and feel the pulse of Pushkar, your lodging options should be your last thing to bother about.

Rann Utsav: come November, and the western most part of India gears up for the Rann Utsav. The Rann of Kutch is in itself a fascinating landscape of sparkling white salt deposit in the western borders of the Thar Desert.  The landscape adorns a surreal look under moonlight, and that is when the Rann comes alive with its festive spirit. With dance, music, cultural performances, acrobatic feats and more, this Utsav or festival is the best way to know the way of life in this desert land. The festival grounds are again a haven for shoppers, and you will find here a delightful spread of local handicrafts brought by local weavers and craftsmen. So take a few camel rides, hum to the rustic tunes, and experience a different way of life in the Rann Utsav.