So, funny story… I just missed my trip to the Rann Festival because I didn’t realize my train to Bhuj had actually left 24hrs prior to when I was planning to board. Defeated by the classic 12hr-24hr clock problem, a valuable lesson learnt!
Now, having missed this festival, I started researching about other interesting festivals / celebrations in India, and one thing leading to another, I didn’t realize when I had an entire bucket-list drawn up for myself! I thought I should blog about it in case there are other people out there like me, who were clueless about so many beautiful celebrations taking place in India every year (Listed in chronological order). I hope a few of these festivals speak to your heart too 🙂
- What: Konkan Turtle Festival
Where: Velas, Maharashtra
The annual Konkan Turtle Festival, which can well be called a conservation movement, is held every year in the month of March in Velas village of Maharashtra in Ratnagiri. The Velas beach is the birthing place for Olive Ridley turtles, and these turtles return every year during the birthing season.The villagers of Velas have taken it upon themselves to protect these lovely creatures who are endangered due to the consumption of their eggs, destruction of breeding habitats, and the slaughter of adult turtles for leather and oil. After the mother turtles lay the eggs, the villagers collect them and take them away for hatching, and then restore the same back at the beach. Watching the newly born baby turtles scuttle across the beach surely looks magical!
- What: Rath Yatra
Where: Puri, Orissa
When: 18th July & 26th July
Simply translated to the “Chariot Festival”, Rath Yatra takes place on two days in July in the beach town of Puri. The start / onward journey of the Rath Yatra 2015 is on the 18th of July, and the return journey is on 26th July. I absolutely love the overpowering beautiful colors and paintings, the spectacularly designed immense chariots cradling Lord Jagannath, brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra. Not to mention this is one of the most famous international tourist attractions of India. Hauled by devotees and travelers via ropes, from temple to temple, all across Puri all the way to the Gundicha Temple, where the deities stay for a period of nine days, the festival makes for a lovely visual treat. From what I’ve read, the organizers of Rath Yatra invite volunteers to lend a helping hand with the preparations of the festival. Experiencing this should be grand 🙂
- What: Kumbh Mela 2015
Where: Nashik, Maharashtra
When: July 14 – Sept 25
I’m still unsure if I might actually be ready for this. The Kumbh Mela has to be the most intimidating thing on the face of this planet for the sheer horde of humans that swarm this event. This year the Kumbh Mela will be celebrated in Nashik, Maharashtra. Trimbakeshwar is a holy town of Nasik known for the Triyambakeshwar Jyotirlinga temple – one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. Kumbh Mela at Trimbakeshwar is celebrated once in every twelve years, the last time being 2003. So if you haven’t experienced a Kumbh yet and you don’t want to wait another 3 years, go for it!! Just try not to get lost 😉
- What: Krishna Janmashtami at Mathura
Where: Mathura & Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
When: 5th September 2015
Janmashtami, or Dahi Handi as we Mumbaikars know it, the birth anniversary of Krishna ji, and what better than his birthplace to celebrate! Mathura in Uttar Pradesh celebrates this day with full pomp and fervor, and so does Vrindavan – which is the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood! In Mathura people fast all day, and spend evenings in temples chanting prayers and reading from the Bhagavad Gita. Ringing bells, blowing conch shells, flickering diyas, prayers and aartis that go on until midnight, all adding to the festivities on the auspicious day. Every temple all over the city is decorated in one color. Over at Vrindavan, lovely processions or “jhankis” are organized that depict the important life events of Lord Krishna! The good thing is Vrindavan and Mathura are only 10 kms away, so one can actually visit both on Janmashtami 🙂 No better birthday party for Bal Gopal than this 🙂
- What: Kullu Dussehra
Where: Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
When: 22nd October 2015
A friend from McLeod Ganj introduced me to this week-long Kullu Dussehra celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan in Kullu valley. It begins on Dussehra and goes on for seven days. Now this celebration is a festive procession of sorts, as idols of more than 200 local deities from every temple in the Kullu Valley are taken out of their temples and carried in chariots to offer their devotion to presiding deity Lord Raghunath Ji. The former royal family of Kullu leads the convoy that is thronged by villagers, local devotees and tourists alike. At night international dance festival is attended by thousands of people at the open theater.
- What: Diwali at Golden Temple
Where: Amritsar, Punjab
When: 11th November 2015
So Golden Temple is a must-visit and a must bucket-list place for anyone and everyone traveling to India – that goes without saying. While the Temple can dazzle you with its beauty even on a regular day at any given time, I can’t imagine how mesmerizing it must look on Diwali, lit up with a zillion diyas, draped in lights and glittering under the magnificent display of fireworks, emitting a luminous reflection over the immaculate lake surrounding the quaint temple.
Fun Fact: Diwali at The Golden Temple also holds historic significance as the foundation stone of the Temple was laid on Diwali, back in 1577.
- What: Hornbill Festival
Where: Kohima, Nagaland
When: 1st – 10th December
When I think about Nagaland, the first thought that flashes across my mind is colorful attires, jewelry, eccentric headgears and tribal dance on rhythmic folk music. There are more than 16 major tribes and many sub-tribes in the State, and each tribe has its own cultural traditions and customs. Now imagine seeing all of them at one place – that’s the Hornbill Festival for you! Organized by Government of Nagaland, Hornbill is one festival where tourists from the world over come together at one place to celebrate the beautiful culture of the Naga tribes. The festival being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year has drawn a lot of eyeballs towards it, and I’m hoping 2015 will see many more Indian tourists queuing up for Nagaland! The official website of Festival gives options for tourists to choose homestays in the nearby areas, and apply as volunteers, but unfortunately the links don’t seem to work, hope they fix it soon!
- What: New Years’ Eve at the Great Rann
Where: Rann of Kutch, Gujarat (The Rann Festival)
When: 31st December
I’ve never celebrated New Years eve in my entire life because I find the entire concept of bringing in a new year at a party filled with drunk people, very redundant.
But new years’ eve at the White Rann sounds like a still from a dream! The world’s largest salt desert – The Great Rann! This place is under water for a major part of the year, which is what makes visiting it so difficult and hence so yearned. Seeing it on a full moon night should be a great experience, and while one can go visit any time except Indian monsoons, the official Rann Festival organized by the government takes place only between December to March every year. The organizers set up a show for tourists with local artisans market, the night camel safari, musical performances, folk dance etc. Although, the tents here are priced on the higher side for my liking (Around 8k for two nights 3 days for one person, 12k for twin sharing), but I’m ready to save for it! Also, if you can’t go for New Years here, 25th December (Yay Christmas!), 24th Jan and 22nd Feb are the three full moon nights when the Rann is supposed to be magical!
- Another Festival I would highly recommend is Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai. Being born and brought up in Mumbai itself, I can’t add these to my own bucket-list, but you totally should!
- Lath Maar Holi of Barsana/Nandgaon and Kite Festival of Ahmedabad sound like amazing festivals too, do check them out!
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