How to embrace the bright and colorful festivals on offer in India with open arms. Celebrate the variety of music, dances and festivities throughout the country with blogger Siddhartha Joshi by your side.Read more below
Celebrate all the festivities in India with blogger Siddhartha Joshi
How to embrace the bright and colorful festivals on offer in India with open arms. Celebrate the variety of music, dances and festivities throughout the country with blogger Siddhartha Joshi by your side.
“From a nine-day festival paying tribute to the female goddess Shakti, to a magic festival of lights known as Diwali, read my tips below to find out which festivals are especially close to my heart.”Browse the Instagram gallery
When it comes to Indian festivals, there is nothing quite like Navratri. Navratri literally translates into nine nights and is celebrated in different parts of the country, in many different ways. The Navratri celebrations in Gujarat are closest to my heart - it’s the time of year when the nights are alive with devi music, a special dance called garba and other fun festivities for all.
The purpose of the festival is to show devotion to the Shakti goddess, and the festivities at night are dedicated entirely to her. In Gujarat, Navratri is a festival of many colours with special clothes made especially for the nine days, with special dances performed during the festival and some delicious navratri food.
Following on from the nine days of continuous festivities, the tenth day is the big festival of Dussehra, celebrated throughout the country in a variety of ways. However, the overall theme remains the same - victory of good over evil.
Though it’s celebrated with much enthusiasm across the country, it’s the Dussehra celebration in the south Indian city of Mysore that truly stands out. As the nine days of festivities lead up to the main event at the Mysore palace on the tenth day, the entire city is lit up and welcomes guests from across the country. Just like in the south, in the Eastern state of West Bengal, the festival simply has no match. In cities, towns and villages people pray at home, but also come together as a community and pray together as well - it’s truly a sight to behold.
Diwali is celebrated across India as the homecoming of the Hindu god Rama after the victory over Ravana in Lanka on the Dussehra day; a battle that lasted nine days. He took exactly 20 days to reach his kingdom, and so Diwali also takes place exactly 20 days after Dussehra. Diwali is a more family-oriented and intimate festival with prayers and festivities taking place within a family or in smaller communities. No matter where in the world you are, this is one day where you make a trip back home to be with your family.
Diwali is known as the ‘festival of lights’ because we light up our homes with lamps and candles - a welcoming gesture to the gods. On this day we also celebrate goddess Lakshmi and Ganesha to bring wealth and prosperity to our homes. Personally, the festival changed meaning for me over the years - from a loud cracker-bursting day when I was younger to a quiet and beautiful day spent with the family at home now as an adult.
When it comes to festivals, there is nothing quite like Holi in India! Also known as the festival of colors, Holi is a festival where the entire city spills out on the streets and celebrates the day together as one.
One of the best ways to experience Holi is at the twin cities of Mathura-Vrindavan. What’s even more special in this region is that Holi is not just celebrated on one day, but thoroughout many weeks leading up to the big day – with a new village participating each week. Some of these festivals are played with dry colors, while others with wet ones and some even with just flowers.
Celebrated primarily in the North Eastern state of Assam, Bihu is celebrated three times throughout the year. The most significant of these is the harvest festival, Rongali Bihu, also closely linked with the famous Bihu dance. Bihu marks the first day of the Hindu calendar, and is celebrated in many other parts of the country with different names and customs. The festival in Assam is celebrated over a period of seven days - each day with special significance and unique rituals.
My tryst with Bihu happened when I traveled to Assam for a photography project a few years back. Rongali Bihu had just finished, but Bihu dancers were in the city and I spent an entire day with them learning about the festivities - the music, dance, food and more. We later indulged in a Bihu feast together. The festival is especially significant in the rural parts of the state and if one wants to experience it fully, a visit to the villages of Assam is a must.
Looking for even more inspiration? Browse through photos and tips submitted by Instagram users to help you plan a journey around India like no other.Scroll to view images
Click on the other articles below to explore more tips from Sid.