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5 Indian festivals you simply can’t miss

India, known for its rich cultural tapestry, is a land of diverse festivals that celebrate the country's religious, historical, and cultural heritage. Each festival in India is a riot of colors, music, dance, and traditional rituals. Here are five of our favorites.  

Join us as we embark on a journey to explore some of the most vibrant and captivating festivals on the Indian subcontinent. From the iconic Holi to the spiritual Kumbh Mela, we'll delve into the essence of these celebrations and highlight the best cities to experience the magic of these festivals. 

Holi - The festival of colors 

Throwing colorful powder at Holi Festival in India
Wearing sunglasses and applying a thick cream, such as coconut oil, around the eyes can go a long way in protecting your eyes from the colorful powder! 

This is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India. Usually celebrated in March, it marks the arrival of spring and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. During Holi, people gather in streets, smearing vibrant powdered colors on each other, dancing to traditional music, and indulging in festive sweets. The city of Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, and the neighboring town of Vrindavan are among the best places to experience the exuberance of Holi. The Lathmar Holi in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh, where women playfully hit men with sticks, is another unique and spirited celebration that you won’t forget in a while. 

Diwali - The festival of lights

Women sitting by colorful flower candles during Diwali Festival in India

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is one of the most significant Hindu festivals. Celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm, it symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. During Diwali, usually celebrated in October or November, homes are adorned with oil lamps, colorful decorations, and rangoli (intricate patterns created with colored powders or flowers). The city of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, dazzles with illuminated palaces and markets. Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges River, offers an unmatched spiritual experience with thousands of earthen lamps floating on the sacred river during the evening aarti (prayer ceremony). 

Ganesh Chaturthi - Honoring the elephant God 

Lord Ganesha sculpture celebration for Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in India

This joyous festival celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, and is usually observed in August or September. Elaborate clay idols of Ganesha are worshipped, and processions fill the streets as devotees chant hymns and dance to rhythmic beats. The city of Mumbai comes alive during Ganesh Chaturthi, with grand processions, beautifully decorated idols, and cultural performances. Lalbaugcha Raja and Siddhivinayak Temple are popular spots to witness the fervor and devotion that are part and parcel of this festival. 

Kumbh Mela - A spiritual gathering 

Kumbh Mela Festival in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

The Kumbh Mela is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, attracting millions of pilgrims and tourists. Held every 12 years, this holy event rotates between four cities: Allahabad (Prayagraj), Haridwar, Nashik, and Ujjain. Pilgrims take a dip in sacred rivers, seeking spiritual cleansing and blessings. The Kumbh Mela offers a unique blend of cultural performances, religious rituals, and philosophical discourses. Witnessing the colorful processions of sadhus (holy men) and the immersion of devotees in the river is a cultural experience like no other. 

Pushkar Camel Fair - A cultural extravaganza 

Colorful decorated Camel at Pushkar Mela, Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India

The Pushkar Camel Fair, held every November in the town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, is a vibrant amalgamation of trade, cultural festivities, and religious rituals. The fair attracts thousands of camels, cattle, and traders from across Rajasthan, all showcasing traditional costumes, music, dance, and folk performances. The fair is renowned for its camel races, competitions, and the famous cattle trading. Travelers can explore the bustling market, witness the stunning camel decorations, and participate in cultural events. 

India's festivals offer a glimpse into the country's rich cultural heritage and provide an immersive experience filled with colors, traditions, and spirituality. To include one of these incredible festivals on your bespoke Indian adventure, speak to a Destination Expert now

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