India has a strong connection to festivals, and its festivities are among the most distinctive in the world. Every few hundred km throughout India, you will enter a new cultural group, each with its own festivals. Spanning from its ancient tribal roots to its Hindu legends, India harbours a mysterious world of exotic customs, celebrations and happenings.
The festivals in this country are a phenomenon that defies comprehension and eludes description to the global audience. Still, it attracts visitors from all over the world who want to experience the cultural allure of India. Here are few of such festivals that will fascinate you even further.
The Losar Festival Ladakh celebrates the start of the New Year according to Tibetan Buddhism's traditional calendar. The Losar festival in Ladakh is a much-anticipated celebration that is one of the major Tibetan Buddhist festivals, involving performances of traditional music and folk dances from the area.
During the festival, the local Ladakhi Buddhists present sacred offerings to their deities, immersing themselves in an array of age-old rituals and cultural expressions. The festival is an enchanting tableau of rituals, including the mystical chanting accompanied by the light of flaming torches, symbolic battles between forces of good and evil, and portrayals of kings and ministers in their regal splendour.
This fascinating series of activities is a must-see and once-in-a-lifetime experience that will include music, dancing, a feast with your friends and family, and an abundance of enjoyment beyond your imagination. The Losar festival in Ladakh is celebrated on a grand scale and goes on for a fortnight from the commencement of the Tibetan lunar calendar.
It falls on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan lunisolar calendar, which corresponds to a date in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. In 2024, Losar falls on February 10th.
Mim Kut Festival is a special festival of Mizoram in the North-East of India. It is a festival of gratitude for the maize crop that is harvested in the region between August and September.
Mim Kut is synonymous with joy and communal harmony. It's a time when the air in Mizoram is filled with the melodies of traditional songs and the rhythmic grace of folk dances. The people of Mizoram, adorned in their finest attire, come together in a spirited display of their cultural heritage.
The Mim Kut Festival offers an immersive experience into the heart of Mizo culture. You can join the locals in their performances and taste the delicious tribal food of the place. Drinking local rice wine, taking part in the festivities, and enjoying the original dishes are must-dos during the Mim Kut Festival.
The Mim Kut festival will be celebrated on November 1 this year.
Durga Puja, Chatt Puja, and other similar festivals are well-known in eastern India. Sume Gelirak, on the other hand, is a lesser-known event among the Bondas, an indigenous tribe of the Koraput region in Odisha. The Bonda community eagerly awaits this festivity throughout the year.
To the Bondas, Sume Gelirak holds profound meaning, embodying the values of friendship, love, and the freedom of choice in selecting life partners. It’s a time when the air is filled with the joyous rhythms of dance and song, and the atmosphere is charged with the spiritual fervour of offerings and sacrifices made to appease the deities of the tribe.
During this event, they get the opportunity to interact with members of various communities. Given the Sume Gelirak Festival's rustic charm, it provides an excellent chance for visitors to observe an authentic tribal celebration.
The exact date of the festival may vary according to the lunar calendar, but it usually falls around the full moon day of Magha month. According to the Gregorian calendar, the Sume Gelirak festival date for 2024 is February 25, 2024.
The Hemis Festival of Ladakh is a spiritual celebration which unique to this region. This festival is held in honour of Padmasambhava, the revered spiritual guru who is credited with founding Tibetan Buddhism.
Spanning over two days, the Hemis Festival is a spectacle of colour and cultural fervour. The celebration's date varies according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar, although it is often held in June. The festival takes place on the tenth day of the Tibetan lunar month. The villagers commemorate this day with great fanfare. The Ladakh Gompa is the centre of the festivities, with individuals dressed in their finest clothes. The valley of Ladakh transforms into a rainbow feast as people flock to give their prayers.
Every twelve years, an exquisite 'thangka' depicting Guru Padmasambhava is shown. This adds extra colour to the environment. The performers wear magnificent brocade robes and execute a unique masked dance. The Hemis Festival is a sight to behold and should be experienced by individuals from various cultures at least once.
The festival starts on July 16 and ends on July 17.
The Champakkulam Boat Race is one of Kerala's oldest boat races. Kerala and its backwaters are well-known for its boats. Boat races are an important element of Kerala's tradition. The Champakkulam Boat Race is a state-wide boat race. Champakkulam has the oldest snake boat race. This event kicks-off the yearly boat racing season. The Champakkulam Boat Race takes place at Champakkulam, Alappuzha district.
The race takes place on the Pampa River. The enormous boats divided across the river, with a boisterous throng roaring on the contestants on each ship. The precise timing of each person rowing the boat, the closely matched race, and the lyrical tune of folk songs chanted by the participants to enhance their energy all encourage people to visit God's own nation.
The boat racing event is normally held in June or July, however the exact dates are determined by the Malayalam calendar. For people who enjoy sports, come Kerala around this time of year to obtain firsthand experience with the Champakkulam Boat Race.
The Champakulam Boat Race is celebrated on Jun 22, 2024.
Have you ever heard of a festival where boys and girls pick their spouses fairly and then elope to marry? So, we bring to you the Bhagoria Festival. The Bhagoria Festival is a unique marriage festival in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
As odd as it may sound, the Bhagoria Festival is an opportunity for young people to choose their spouses and elope in order for society to acknowledge them as man and wife. This practice is exclusive to Madhya Pradesh's Khargone and Jhabua districts. The contestants are from the Bhil and Bhilala tribes. The celebration lasts a whole week, with a gigantic haat put up on massive fairgrounds. The Bhagoria Festival is related to the historical custom of Swayamvar.
The Bhagoria Festival's haat is set up seven days before Holi. Bhagoria also commemorates the end of winter and the start of spring, taking place in March. This odd celebration and haat for marriage is a must-see for anybody looking to see an ancient ritual with a Bollywood twist.
The festival is celebrated in the month of March before the festival of Holi between March 20 and March 26, 2024.
The Kila Raipur Rural Olympics draws a large throng of sports fans, including foreigners. It is conducted yearly between January and February at Kila Raipur, near Ludhiana. The extravaganza's main features include the bull cart race, mule cart race, horse cart race, kabbadi, short put, tug of war, 100mts-1500mts race, high and long jump, and tractor races. On the other side, this event has contributed significantly to the growth of tourism in Punjab.
The Rural Olympics features some bizarre events, such as people using their teeth to lift bikes or ladders, or their hair, teeth, or ears to drag cars. They also show off their skills on bikes and horses with risky stunts. For those looking for some culture, the festival has traditional dance and music performances in the evenings on all three days.
Scheduled to kick off from February 12 to February 14, the Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Anmol Gagan Mann has set the stage alight by unveiling the poster for the upcoming Kila Raipur Rural Olympics-2024.
Puli Kali, which means tiger play, is a folk art that celebrates the theme of tiger hunting. It is performed by skilled artists who paint their bodies and faces with yellow, red and black stripes to resemble tigers and hunters. They dance and act to the rhythm of musical instruments like Udukku and Thakil.
Puli Kali is a special attraction of Onam, a harvest festival in south India. It was started by a king of Cochin more than two centuries ago to honor the brave and wild spirit of his army. Nowadays, Puli Kali is a spectacular show of Onam where the artists wear masks, fake teeth, tongues, beards and mustaches. The Pulikkali Co-ordination Committee, which was established in 2004, organizes the event in the streets of Thrissur.
The Pulikali festival is usually celebrated during the first week of September as part of Onam.