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Ten festivals in India worth travelling for!

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India takes its festivals very seriously, and no matter what time of year you visit the country, you’re likely to encounter some sort of traditional holiday or celebration going on. Known for its rich culture and heritage, there are innumerable number of festivals that are celebrated here. Here are ten festivals that are worth packing your bags and travelling for!

Durga Puja, West Bengal

Durga Puja is one of the most famous festivals celebrated in West Bengal, in honour of Goddess Durga, in the month of October.

durga puja
Source: Dally Sun

Nothing can compare to Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata. The entire city is lit up for days! Kolkata does not sleep during the Pujo festivities and all the neighbourhoods are lit up with beautiful pandals, music and cultural festivals and lots of good food.

Preparations for the festivities are endless, as people flood malls and streets to buy new clothes and other trinkets for themselves and their families, months before the festival as their excitement knows no bounds.

duega puja celebrations in kolkata
The HotFridayTalks

Once the festival commences, the people move around the city to worship the different idols and exploring different pandals with innovative concepts. The buzz during the festive season is unmatched by any other in the world!

Click here to check out some of the best things to do in Kolkata!

Pushkar Camel festival, Rajasthan

Every year in the month of November, the small town of Pushkar plays host to the Pushkar Camel Fair which is one of the biggest events that Rajasthan witnesses. Starting from the 30th of October, the festival will run till the 12th of November. Thousands of camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar.

Pushkar Camel festival,
Source: Trip Savvy

Enjoy the events like bridal competition, the longest mustache, Matka-phod. There are puppet shows and dance shows, musical concerts and snake charmers all present in the fair. There are also competitions for the camels, such as fancy dress and camel dance competitions. Witness the cultural extravaganza, shop for handicrafts, take home a camel souvenir, and try out Rajasthani delicacies, camel cheese and cheesecakes made of camel milk. It’s a celebration not to be missed!

Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela in India is as mesmerizing as it is spiritual. This ancient northern Indian festival features a religious procession and spiritual walks. The largest religious gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela brings Hindu holy men together to discuss their faith and disseminate information about their religion. It’s attended by millions of people each day.

Kumbh Mela
Source: Haridwar

The Mela takes place on a rotational basis every 12 years in four of the most holy Hindu places in India — on the banks of the Godavari river in Nashik, the Shipra river in Ujjain, the Ganges river in Haridwa, and confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati rivers in Allahabad/Prayag.

when to attend kumbh mela
Source: AllIndiaRoundup

There are many tourist walks organised, and also other chic shows such as laser light displays and beautiful light and thematic gates. The ‘Hindu’ culture is really brought out by this event. It generally takes place in the months of January to March and lasts for around 2 months.

Hemis Festival, Ladakh

Join this festival to know the culture and lifestyle of the residents of Ladakh. It is celebrated in the backdrop of the Himalayas every June.

Hemis Festival
Source: Visit India

The colourful festival showcases the beautiful handicrafts of the area. Natives also dress up in lovely traditional attires and gather in the courtyard of Hemis Monastery, the biggest Buddhist Monastery of Ladakh. Lamas dance around central flagpole to the tunes of drums, cymbals and long horns. The otherwise cold-barren desert comes to life during Hemis Festival. Longhorn drums and cymbals are played and performers dressed up in colourful robes and vibrant masks dance to the traditional tunes.

Hornbill Festival, Nagaland

Named after the state bird (Great Indian Hornbill), the Hornbill Festival is a 10-day cultural festival held from December 1-10. It is dedicated to agriculture. Every year from, all the tribes of Nagaland take part in the festivities at the Naga Heritage Village.

Hornbill Festival
Source: Travel & Leisure India

The Festival, organised by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, is an extravagant affair, complete with parades, fashion shows, beauty contests, sports, games, stalls of various regional cuisines and artefacts. The festival includes war dance, night flea market, traditional art, folk music, headhunting rituals, traditional archery, Naga wrestling, drum beats, fashion shows, bike and car adventures, chilli-eating contest, exotic food fairs, and a seemingly endless supply of rice beer (Naga drink).

Read about about Hornbill festival here!

Ziro Music Festival, Arunachal Pradesh

The most happening music festival in the laps of the green valley of Arunachal Pradesh, the Ziro Music Festival is an outdoor music festival that showcases the talent of independent artists in India. It is held every year in the month of September at Ziro Valley in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Ziro Music Festival
Source: JungleFlit

It is a one-of-its-kind celebration of the amazingly eclectic independent music scene in India. It was founded by Bobby Hano and guitarist Anup Kutty and is hosted by the local Apatani tribe. Till date, this festival has featured artists like Steve Shelley, Lee Ranaldo, Menwhopause, MONO, Indus Creed, and so on. You can expect a variety of genres at this music fest, for there is jazz, pop-funk, fusion, hip hop, grunge and more. Plus, great food and a chance to explore the region.

Snake Boat Race Festival, Kerala

Kerala hosts the very popular annual snake boat race in Alleppey, also known as the ‘Nehru Trophy Boat Race’. It is a visual extravaganza on the backwaters of Punnamada in Alappuzha district.

Snake Boat Race Festival
Source: Veena World

The Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race is an event that is held every year in the month of August or September. It is one of the premier snake boat races that draws massive crowds from all over the country. During this time, the locals bring the past associated with Alleppey to life with different ceremonial water processions held one after another along with various magnificent water floats. The snake boat race highlights the Onam festival and along with that a lot of other boat races are held.

Click here to read about this festival in detail!

Click here to read about Traditional Rituals in Onam Celebrations!

Magnetic Fields Festival, Rajasthan

A three-day boutique music and art festival set in the pristine village of Alsisar in Rajasthan at the Alsisar Mahal, Magnetic Fields’ unique theme and exciting lineup both make it one of the best festivals in India worth travelling for!

Magnetic Fields Festival
Source: The Economic Times

It features an impressive line-up of international underground music artists and DJs along with a formidable pool of local electronic artists. Besides the music, there are food stalls, wellness and yoga sessions, costume balls and workshops with artisans on how to make Rajasthani handicraft items.

Bihu, Assam

Bihu is a festival celebrated to mark the crop harvesting cycle of the Assamese. Visit Assam, the north-eastern state of India where this festival is celebrated thrice every year.

Source: Discovering India.Net

Rongali or Bohag Bihu celebrated in mid-April with the coming of spring and the beginning of the sowing season. It is also known as Rangaali Bihu (“rang” means merry-making). Next is the Kangaali Bihu (kangaali meaning poor) is celebrated in mid-October. It is called so because by this time the harvest is brought home. The Magh Bihu is celebrated in mid-January. Also known as the Bhogaali Bihu (“bhog” means enjoyment and feasting). There are community feasts and bonfires which take place.

You can join them on their traditional dance, or enjoy their local delicacies, the events of worshipping colorfully dressed cows and pray to the local deity for a successful future.

Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, Punjab

Kila Raipur Sports Festival, popularly known as the Rural Olympics, is held annually (February) in Kila Raipur (near Ludhiana), in Punjab, India. The event is organised at Grewal sports stadium at Kila Raipur which attracts more than 4000 thousand sportsmen and women, and more than a million sports enthusiasts.

Kila Raipur Rural Olympics
Source: Lufthansa magazin

The three-day festival is witnessed by more than a million people, every year. So many eyeballs witness the numerous sets of games like Bullock Cart race, Athletics, Tug of War, Horse Race, Tractor Race, Cycle race, Dog Race etc. Not only that, the other acts such as balancing on two or more horses, motorcycle acrobatics, pulling heavy vehicles with one’s hair etc are just heart thrilling. You will definitely feel the real spirit of Punjab if you ever get to attend this festival!

Click here to read about some of the strangest festivals in India!

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