Festivals, north india



Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi has several traditional links with legends. Holi announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. Young and old alike are drenched with colors. On Holi, people are suddenly caught unawares with colors being poured from the terraces and roofs of houses, bursting balloons, or long pistons squirting colored water. People in small groups are seen singing, dancing and throwing colors on each other. They also eat food laced with bhang, an aphrodisiac that leaves one feeling light and happy.Usually people burn the Holika tree on the eve of Holi.


A family festival, it is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October / November). Deepawali or Diwali, the most pan-Indian of all Hindu festivals, is a festival of lights symbolising the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word Deepawali literally means rows of diyas (clay lamps). Twinkling oil lamps or diyas light up every home and firework displays are common all across the country. The goddess Lakshmi (consort of Vishnu), who is the symbol of wealth and prosperity, is also worshipped on this day. Houses across the country are scrubbed till they are spotlessly clean, and whitewashed with fresh white paint. To enhance their new look, they are decorated with bright paper lanterns, diyas and flowers, while the girls of the house embellish the aangan (courtyard) and walls with traditional aesthetic designs and patterns called rangolis. New clothes are bought and the family gathers together to offer prayers, distribute sweets and light up their homes. Crackers and fireworks illuminate the sky and people pray for a prosperous coming year.

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the fifteenth day of Shravan, in July / August. Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in some parts of India as a festival to honour the sea god Varuna, where coconuts are offered to the sea Because of its three eyes, the coconut represents the three eyes of Shiva. As a mark of auspiciousness, coconuts are also broken at shrines and temples. However, at most places, it celebrates the love of a brother for his sister. On this day, sisters tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers to protect them against evil influences. In some places, before tying the rakhi, barley saplings are placed on the ears of the brother. This is also the day set apart for Brahmins to change their sacred thread they wear.

Nagaur Fair

The cattle fair here is reputed as the second largest in Rajasthan and offers some of the best sight of Rajasthan. The fair attracts visitors from all corners of the world for the trading in cows, camels and horses. Various games are organized during this four day festival that include tug-of-war, camel races, cock fights and countless others. It offers tourist a memorable extravaganza of fun and frolic. As the sun goes down, the folk musicians, whose voices echo far and wide across the tranquil desert land, create a joyous atmosphere.

Pushkar Fair

It offers a breathtaking spectacle of fun and frolic. During the fair, the otherwise quiet changes its color and becomes a happening place. The fair attracts a number of cattle breeders from across the world. They bring a large number of cattle of various breeds to be paraded and sold here. The fair also attracts a large number of villagers from different parts of the state who come here to enjoy the peaks of festivity and fun. A number of makeshift tents offering exquisite handcrafted items and other specialties of Rajasthan add to its attraction.

Desert Festival

One of the most popular of all festivals it is a journey into the heart of the desert, the golden city of Jaisalmer that has a charm of its own. A true show on the sands which attracts even the much traveled visitor.

Urs Fair

Held in the memory of the revered Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, it is an occasion for thousands of believers to congregate at the shrine and offer their prayers. All of Ajmer seems to take on a festive air and several programmes are organized to mark the festivals.


A festival devoted to Godess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. It is a time for young girls to dress up in their finery and pray for grooms of their choice while the married women pray for the well-being of their husbands. This 18-day festival is laced with various activities and culminates in a grand procession marking the arrival of Lord Shiva to escort his bride home.


The birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great fervour all over the country. In Mathura and Vrindavan - where Lord Krishna spent his childhood and youth, the Janmashtami celebrations are quite elaborate. The Krishna Leela stories of his eventful youth are enacted. In Maharashtra, earthen pots of curd and butter are hung up over the streets. Young men enacting an episode from Krishna's childhood form human pyramids by climbing on each other's shoulders and try to break these up.

Kumbh Mela

The biggest congregation, perhaps of the entire world, Kumbh Mela is held at Allahabad every twelfth year. Ardh Kumbha Mela is also held at these places every sixth years.

November - Lucknow Festival

This festival celebrates Lucknow's living culture. Capital alight during this ten day long event. Colorful processions, traditional dramas Kathak dances in the style of the famous Lucknow gharana, sarangi and sitar recitals along with ghazals, qawalis and thumri create a festive atmosphere. Exciting events like ekka races, kite flying, cock fighting and other traditional village games recreate an atmosphere of Avadh's nawabi days.

Basant Panchami

Being the famous seasonal fair heralds the advent of spring. Yellow mustard flowers all around create an aura of romantic vive infecting the spirit of the Punjabis. Deeply merged in heart and soul with the Nature, every Punjabi expresses his gratitude with dance and songs.


The Punjabis always look forward to celebrate it. Baisakhi has a special accent as the down of the New Year so also the time where the harvest is gathered in. It is the symbol of prosperity reminding the great aggragarian heritage of Punjab where the famous Bhangara & Gidda are danced. As a mark of respect and devotion many of the fairs in Punjab are also celebrated near the tombs and shrines of Pirs, Saints and Sages. Such fairs are Chhapar fair, Jarag fair and Roshni fair etc.

Chhapar Fair

The fair is celebrated near the shrine 'Gugge di Marhi' of Gugga Pir on Anand Chaudus, the 14th day of bright half of the month of Bhadon. Gugga Pir was a Chauhan Rajput who believed to have come down to earth directly with his steed and never returned. The Pir possessed special power over all kinds of Snakes. On his day of the fair, the villagers scoop the earth seven times by invoking Gugga Pir to protect them against Snakes. The fair lasts for three days with fun, music and dance.

Karva Chauth

Karva Chauth of the ladies praying for the long life of husbands, Devuthan i.e. waking up the deities who had gone to sleep during the harvest and first ploughing after the start of the autumnal rains, Diwali in the month of Kartik worshipping the Goddess of Laxmi, Lohri and Maghi in the months of December-January are some of the illustrious and popular festivals of Punjab which shows their deep respect to nature, Gods and Saints.

Nirijala Ekadashi

Nirijala Ekadashi or Nimani Kasti of Jeth, Teeyan of Sawan, the Chaumasa, the Rakhi festival of Bhadon reminding the brothers to protect their sisters, the Gugga Navami in honour of Gugga Pir with sweet Sevian dish, the shradh ceremony of the ancestors followed by Navratras worshipping Goddess Gorja, Goddess Sanjhi etc Vividly narrate cultural and religious heritage of the Punjabi folk.

Devidhura Fair

This fair takes place at Varahidevi temple in Devidhura, situated at the border of Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital districts. It is held every year on the day of Rakshabandhan. An unique feature of this fair is the image of Goddess Varahi kept in a locked brass casket. The casket is taken out in a procession to a nearby mountain spring where a blindfolded priest ritually bathes the image and puts it back in the casket.

The Goddess is worshipped whole night and the next morning and exciting 'agwaal' air takes place. The event is marked by two groups of people fighting a battle in front of the temple, throwing stones at each other, while they try to protect themselves by using big roof-like shields. Thousands of people gather to watch this event. The fighting stops soon after the priest appears and both sides meet and reconcile.


Vasantotsav or spring festival is held every year at Ramnagar during the month of January-February. A large number of local people and tourists, including foreigners participate in the festival at Ramnagar which is a gateway to Jim Corbett Park, the wildlife sanctuary of Uttar Pradesh. The event reflects cultural activities of both Kumaon and Garhwal.

This fair is held at Ranibagh, about 30 kms. from Nainital on the occasion of Uttarayani every year. It has immense religious importance. A number of programmes are organised to attract visitors.

This fair is held in Nainital in the month of September every year. Among other things, a number of cultural programmes are organised on this occasion.


This fair is organized in Nainital in the month of October. Various cultural programmes, folk dances and folk arts are organised during this fair. A large number of people including foreign tourists visit this fair to have a glance of the local culture and traditions.

Magh Mela

Magh mela takes places on the occasion of Makar Sankranti (January) in Uttarkashi every year. It is an important event of the district from religious, cultural and commercial point of view. A large number of local people and tourist participate in the mela, with many pouring in from different parts of Kumaon, Garhwal and other parts of Uttar Pradesh.

DOSMOCHE ( Leh Region )

Masked Dances In The Royal Courtyard : An ancient tradition started by the kings of Ladakh, Docmoche is still celebrated every year in February with great pomp and fervour. The courtyard of the chapel below the gates of the Leh of the Leh Palace comes alive with the music of drums and the thumping steps of the masked Lamas from different monasteries performing the sacred dance-drama. The Lamas prepare, consecrate and eventually destroy the sacrificial offerings as the climax. The Lamas from the Thak Thok Monastery, the only Nyingmapa foundation of Ladakh, who are experts in tantric practice and astrology, prepare the elaborate 'DO' or Thread Crosses - the main objects of offering, which ensnare all the evil spirits, hungry ghosts and demonic forces when the prescribed mantras are recited and requisite rites observed by the Lamas.


The Sindhu Darshan or Sindhu Festival aims at projecting the Indus as a symbol of India's unity and communal harmony. Whilst promoting tourism to this area, this festival is also a symbolic salute to the brave soldier of India. Sindhu stands for peaceful coexistence and communal harmony. Sindhu is a symbol of our country's identity and civilisation. The 'Sindhu Yatra' will help forge a bond of unity with those who live in far-flung corners of the country; thus providing them an opportunity to visit the beautiful region of Ladakh.

The Extravaganza

The festival includes performances of music and dance, both classical and folk, flower shows, events for children, exhibitions by local artists, photographers and craftsman and a wide range of amusements. The various competitions such as children competition, dog shows, flower decoration competitions etc are organized.

Geeta Jayanti

Every year, the birth of Srimad Bhagwad Gita is celebrated as the Gita Jayanti. A visit to Kurukshetra during the festival is a spiritually elevating experience. The environment of the town is immersed in sanctity.

The event celebrates the treatise on 'karma' that Lord Krishna, the main protagonist of the epic, delivered to Arjun in the divine moment. Mythology has it, that Kurukshetra was witness to the Mahabharata battle fought between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. In the battle of right versus wrong, Lord Krishna was the charioteer of Arjun. As the forces came to stand before each other, Arjun was filled with anguish. His brothers, kith and kin stood against each other for battle. At that point of time, Lord Krishna delivered the celestial song of Gita Updesh, the path of selfless 'Karma' (action), 'Gyana' (knowledge), and single-hearted devotion to the Lord, to the wavering Arjun.


The arrival of monsoons in India brings in a lot of enthusiasm and rejuvenation in the lives of the people, which gets reflected in the whole environment. Teej is celebrated on 'Sawan Sudi' - 3 (Jul-Aug). It is celebrated to welcome 'Sawan' or the rainy season. After first showers of Sawan, a small red insect called 'Teej' in Haryana comes out from soil.

Swings are set up in the open courtyards. Girls apply henna on their hands and feet and are excused from household chores on this day.