Festivals in India are an integral part of life and are often colourful and lavish celebrations. Planning a trip to coincide with a festival in India offers a unique experience and plenty of colourful photo opportunities.
1. HOLI: Holi is one of the most popular and well known festivals of India and is unique to the country. It is called the festival of colours and usually falls at the end of March. The first day of holi is spent offering prayers and it is the second day of holi when people come out to play. Different parts of the country celebrate the festival in different ways. In big cities like Delhi the new trend is to have posh pool parties in farmhouses whereas is small towns age old traditions are followed. In Mathura and Vridavan the celebrations begin and end long after the official dates on the calendar. Barsane ki holi is one of the most wild and crazy forms of holi. Here, women smash their brothers-in-law with sticks and the men can only defend themselves with a shield and cannot fight back. Holi in Rajasthan is a rich affair. Entire cities are dusted with gulal (powdered color) and flowers. Getting drunk on bhaang, a potent and intoxicating drink is usually a part of the festivities. People only wear worn out clothes on this day as they are ruined after playing with strong colours.
2. NAVROZE: Navroze is celebrated every year on March 21. This is the Parsi New Year and literally means “new day.” Parsis attend thanksgiving ceremonies and decorate their homes with flowers, garlands and rangoli. Lavish feasts are laid out for guests. Compared to other Indian festivals it is a fairly muted and sophisticated one and is celebrated mainly by the Parse community.
3. BIHU: This is Assam’s largest and most important festival. It is celebrated thrice a year to welcome each new season. The first Bihu is called Bihag Bihu or Rangoli bihu and is the most festive of all three. The other two are called Magh Bihu and Kati Bihu.
On Rangoli Bihu cattle of each household are decorated with flowers and fed well. On the following day the elders are honoured with rituals and on the final day is religious rites are carried out. A local preparation called Satsak is made on the seventh day fun games and dances are organised for everyone’s entertainment. Magh Bihu is a harvest festival, which involves a bonfire and feast. In October or November Assamese people celebrate Kati Bihu. This a festival when everyone is waiting for the paddy crops to mature. At this time there are no feasts only a small tulsi puja is organised.
4. GOOD FRIDAY: On this day Christians across the country fast and attend masses. It is observed on the Friday before Easter to the crucifixion of Christ. Some Christians wear black in mourning and take out a procession. Skits depicting Christ’s crucifixion are enacted in some churches.
5. BASANT PANCHAMI: The festival is celebrated to welcome Spring. It is limited to the states of Haryana and Punjab and falls in February or March. During this festival everyone dresses in yellow which signifies joy and a golden harvest. Kite flying is an integral part of the celebration. And a simple puja is performed in every household. Rice flavored with saffron is served to everyone.
If you want to experience one of India’s many festivals and places of worship contact our reservations team who will help you plan your visit.