India is known across the globe as a land of vibrant colorful festivals where one can experience the way of life and culture of India amid the fairs & festivals, celebrated in high spirits across every town in India. The stream of various festivals continues throughout the year. Behind each and every festival in India, there is a noble purpose and a unique identity of itself. There are fairs & festivals for every section in the country, including festivals for various religions, historical traditions, marriage-based, animal worship, cattle, seasonal shifts, etc. When it comes to Indian tourism, the fairs and festivals play a vital role in bringing more eyeballs to witness the vibrant festivals across the nation.
Major fair & festivals in India includes Holi, Eid, Christmas, Diwali, Navaratri, Kumbh Mela, Pongal, Onam, Goa Carnival, desert festival, and many more. These different celebrations gives you an idea as to how diverse the cultural and historical ethos of the country is. All the festivals showcase the way of life of the local people, and also reflect the determination of the people. Generally, the festivities include rituals of prayers, wishing good for the people, singing, wearing new clothes, exchanging gifts, dancing, feasting, etc.
If someone wants to see the real historical and cultural values of India, as a country, then the fairs & festivals are the perfect window for it.
- Tarnetar Mela, Gujarat
Tarnetar Mela is one of the most peculiar tribal fairs in India, and is held every year in the village of Tarnetar, in Gujarat. It is a very fascinating fair in the sense that it is one of the largest “marriage marts” where tribal men come to the fair dressed appropriately along with a custom handmade umbrella with beautiful embroideries. Tribal women folk choose their husband on the basis of the umbrella that they find most beautiful. Besides this, there is performances of Folk music and dance for entertainment.
2) Konark Dance Festival, Odisha
Konark dance festival is India’s biggest dance festival, and is considered as the paragon of Indian classical dancing heritage. The festival is held in the backdrop of the Sun temple, which is also one of the UNESCO World heritage sites.
Konark dance festival, which is one of the biggest cultural festivals across the country, is held in the month of February where practitioners of different dance forms come, celebrate, and showcase their culture and tradition.
3) Jaisalmer desert Festival, Rajasthan
Held in the month of February in the Red Sandstone city of Jaisalmer, the desert festival is a very unique celebration to revere the desert life of Rajasthan, for three days. One can immerse themselves in three days of pure magic with folktales, music and dance performances. The camel, also known as “Ship of the desert, is one of the main attractions of the festival. It is a festival of the folk culture, music, clothes and the traditions of the nomadic life of the Indian desert.
4) Goa carnival
The name Goa resonates with fun, beautiful beach side, chilling vacations and beautiful beach shacks. And along the same tradition, is the mesmerizing Goa Carnival. It is celebrated across the state of Goa, with the help of the state government, celebrates their Portuguese heritage which sees people come out from the confines of their home, to the street and enjoy the parades of creative floats, to also dance and party all night. The carnival tours across the state, and is held in the month of March.
5) Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Kerala
Nehru Trophy Boat Race is an event which is synonymous with Kerala’s cultural identity, and it is also among the best, and most fascinating cultural event across the country. The event takes places every year on the second Saturday of the month of August, in beautiful backwater town of Allapuzha, in the Punnamuda Lake. The festival sees beautifully handcrafted boats of different shapes and sizes compete for prize money. The main attraction of the event is the Snake boat race, for which the winner receives the coveted Nehru Trophy, which is a symbol of pride for the participants.
- Pushkar Mela, Rajasthan
Pushkar Mela, arguably the biggest fair in the Rajasthan state, is among one of the biggest livestock fairs in the world. It represents the coming together of nomadic culture and the beautiful town of Rajasthan. Primarily, it is a place where the trading of camels and livestocks takes place, but with the increasing exposure to the foreign travellers, competitions like ‘matka phodh’, ‘bridal games’, and ‘longest moustache’ have become the main attraction. If one intends to know more about the nomadic culture and lifestyle of people from Rajastjan, Pushkar Mela is the place to be.
- Hornbill Festival, Nagaland
The Hornbill festival is a unique folk festival celebrated in the North-eastern state of India, Nagaland; a region known for its rich tribal heritage and traditions. The festival is an effort from the Nagaland tourism department to bring more eyes to the culture and the scenic beauty of Nagaland. The festival takes place during the first week of December every year, exhibiting the Naga way of life, attracting thousands of tourists to the state.
- Kumbh Mela
Kumbh Mela is the biggest gathering of human beings on the planet at a particular place, every three years. The most important and largest religious event in India, is a festival of grand scale but also filled with a wide array of colors as the ‘Naga Sadhus’ from various parts of the nation travel with their ‘akhadhas’ to the Mela site. The festival takes plaves in in Allahabad, Banaras, Haridwar, and Ujjain. Hindus from all over the world comes to the site to take a dip in the holy river (Ganga) and listen to sermons from the various ‘sadhus’ at the mela. Kumbh mela is also considered to be one of the most spiritually enlightening festivals in the world.
- Hemis Festival, Ladakh
In the cold deserts of Ladakh – in the northern-most state of India, is held a festival of colors, beauty and spirituality known as the Hemis festival. The festival takes place to commemorate the death of Swami Padmasambhava, is an apt place to understand the culture of people of Ladakh and about Buddhism. Hemis festival is held in the month of June or July every year, in the infamous monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling in Leh. The main attraction of the festival includes the dance performance from ‘lamas’ while dressing themselves in colorful costumes and dragon masks.
- Sonpur Mela, Bihar
Sonpur Mela has been a festival which has been taking place for two thousand years, ever since the times of Mauryan Empire. It is also the largest cattle fair in Asia, and is essentially meant for trading various kinds of livestocks, ranging from birds to horses. The main attraction of the fair however is the Elephant market which sees hundreds of elephant lined up on the banks of River Ganga for trading. This festival also includes musical and dance performances by famous artists across the region, wanting to showcase their art forms. It is a festival unlike any other and gives you a window to look back in time and understand how the trading worked in Ancient India.
- Float Festival, Madurai
The Float Festival of Madurai is a very old festival and has its origin dated back all the way to 17th century. Held every year in the last week of January or the first week of February, the festival sees the god and goddesses of the Madurai temple being taken for a boat ride across the lake in the city, a tradition started by the Tamil King of 17th century. Before taking the gods and goddesses on a boat ride, they are taken out of their temple at dawn in a ritual followed by thousands of devotees and then placed on a ‘mandap’ at the banks of the lake where devotees can offer their prayers.