India around the world is known for being home to a varied number of cultures and religions. Due to which the country has known to be the celebratory hub of vibrant festivals. These festivals have been identified for their uniqueness and the bundle of joy they leave on the faces of the celebrators.

1. Gangaur, Rajasthan

History of the Gangaur Festival 

The word ‘Gangaur’ comprises the term Gan which means Lord Shiva and the latter term Gaur means Goddess Parvathi and together it signifies their bond.

According to mythological stories, it is stated that in order to fulfil her wish of marrying Lord shiva she decided to meditate and conduct severe penance for several days. Lord Shiva was impressed by her perseverance and devotion. He decided to visit her house and ask her parents for her hand in marriage. A grand farewell was conducted and she was escorted from her home.

How is it celebrated? 

Married women celebrate this festival for the well being of their husbands. Women who aren’t married also celebrate this festival to seek a perfect match for themselves in the future. These eighteen days women are expected to keep fasts where they allow themselves only a single meal every day. Hand made clay idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshipped during the Gangaur Festival. Some Rajput families worship the wooden idols that are repainted every year by the local festivals just before the festival commences. Both idol figures are then kept in decorated baskets with wheatgrass that signifies a good harvest and flowers. Married women gift their parent’s clothes, jewellery and more on the second last day of the Gangaur festival which they also use to get ready on the last celebration day.

When is it celebrated?

The Gangaur festival is celebrated on the first day of the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu calendar. The day usually falls after Holi and continues for eighteen long days.

Gangaur, Rajasthan

2. Baisakhi, Punjab

Baisakhi is a popular harvest festival of Punjab that leads to celebrations upon the beginning of the new spring. Baisakhi also is known as Vaisakhi is a popular harvest festival of Punjab that leads to celebrations upon the beginning of the new spring. It is celebrated by Hindus all over the country. The festival signifies the end of the harvest season. Farmers thank the gods for a beautiful harvest and pray for prosperity in the coming year.

History of Baisakhi 

In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh gave an inspiring speech. He further called upon a few volunteers from the crowd who will be willing to give their lives for the cause. The fresh blood of five men was seen dripping from his sword. However, the five men were still alive and instead a goat had been massacred in their place. They became the Panj Piare, the Beloved Five, and the first members of the ‘Khalsa’ Pure Ones. They had no caste or class distinction but were celebrated as a wholly equal community that continues to live even today and celebrates the founding day of their group each year.

How is it celebrated? 

Baisakhi is celebrated with loads of joy and enthusiasm that engulfs everyone around.  People visit the gurudwara and take holy baths in the morning where they take part in the prayers. Special celebrations are held at the Talwandi Sabo, where Guru Gobind Singh recompiled the sacred Granth Sahib, the Gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib, where Khalsa was born, and at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Then along parade follows the Paanj Piaras which is accompanied with enthusiastic mock duets, Bhangra dances and Gidda.  

When is it celebrated?

According to the English calendar, the date of Baisakhi falls on April 13th every year and April 14 once in every thirty-six years. According to the Sikh Calendar, Baisakhi falls on the first day of Vaisakh month between April to May. This variation is due to the festival being observed as per the Indian solar calendar.

Baisakhi, Punjab

3. Chithirai Festival, Tamil Nadu

The Chithirai Festival is regarded as one of the biggest celebrations of the state. The festival showcases the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi, the sister of Lord Vishnu.

How is it celebrated? 

The first fifteen days of the festival is spent in celebrating the initiation of goddess Meenakshi as well as in celebrations of the goddess’s marriage with Lord Sundareswara. Whereas, the last fifteen days of the Chithirai festival are celebrated in remembrance of Lord Alagar’s journey from Alagar Koyil’s KallAlagar temple to the city of Madurai.

The wedding starts at around 9 in the morning. It is held inside the temple where a flower lit stage is set up. Devotees in huge number visit the temple. But the authorities let up to only six thousand people attend for free through the south tower on the first-come-first-served basis. Devotees are also allowed to purchase tickets for the north and west tower entrances. After the wedding, a grand feast is held at the Sethupathy Higher Secondary School.

The Chithirai Festival is a great experience for people travelling from other parts to Madurai especially to witness it. Huge crowds people gather on the streets buzzing with excitement and joy just like a real wedding.

An annual Chithirai exhibition is also organized by the government at the Tamukkam Grounds, on the city’s northern side. 

When is it celebrated?

The Chithirai Festival is celebrated for two weeks in Madurai. The dates of the Chitra Festival fall in between April and May every year. 

Where is it Held?

At the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The parades take place in the streets around the temple that are known as the Masi streets.

Chithirai Festival, Tamil Nadu

4. Moatsu Festival, Nagaland

Out of the seventeen existing tribes of the state, the Moatsu Festival is celebrated by the Ao tribe in Nagaland. 
The Ao tribe is a major tribe of Nagaland that was the first to embrace Christianity as well as the Western education system. The Ao Nagas celebrate the Moatsu Mong as a renowned harvest festival. 

How is it celebrated? 

The festival takes place once the fields have been cleared, weeds have been discarded and seeds have been planted. The festival appreciates the hard work of the farmers who work tirelessly so that they can be rewarded with a great harvest. Moatsu also signifies the joyousness of the tribe for their flourishing produce. The Moatsu festival marks the onset of the spring festival too. This time considered extremely auspicious for couples to get married.

The entire three-day event involves great cheer and joy that is expressed through songs, dancing, feasting and praying to their lord. Visitors visiting at the time of the celebrations will be accustomed to the rituals and daily lives of the Ao tribe people who joyously involve themselves in celebrating one of the most important festivals. Since the celebrations are a private affair visitors should seek the permission of the tribal people before being part of it.  

When is it celebrated?

The Moatsu Festival is celebrated every year from 1st to the 3rd of May.

Moatsu Festival, Nagaland

5. Mount Abu Summer Festival, Rajasthan

Mount Abu with its picturesque backdrop and lakes is the perfect spot to celebrate the grand summer festival. The summer festival stretches up to two days which involve a feast of folk and classical music that showcases the rich culture and traditions of the state of Rajasthan. The Mount Abu Summer Festival is organized by the Rajasthan Tourism, Municipal Board, Mount Abu & District Administration. 

How is it celebrated? 

The Mount Abu Summer festival is loved by the locals of Rajasthan and they seek the commencement of it because it showcases the vibrancy and cheerfulness of what the state is known for. The locals welcome people from all parts to Mount Abu with great hospitality, liveliness and cheer. Due to this, the summer festival has gained a huge amount of popularity all these years. 

The Mount Abu Summer Festival begins with the singing of a ballad that is further followed by traditional folk dances. An exciting boat race is organized on the Nakki Lake that adds fun and joy to the festival. Moving forward the summer festival is celebrated further with a  ceremonial procession, which starts from the RTDC Hotel Shikhar and moves ahead at the Nakki Lake Chowk. At the chowk, visitors and locals are greeted by vibrant folk performances of both Rajasthan & Gujarat. 

The second and third day involves fun activities for people taking part in the festival. It includes Skating Race, skater’s Show, CRPF Band Show, Boat Race, Horse Race, Tug of War, Panihari Matka Race and Deepdan add a different level of enthusiasm altogether. The musical event of Sham-e-Qawwali involves famous qawwals or singers entertaining the crowd with their amazing performances. The end of the festival is marked by launching fireworks in the sky. 

When is it celebrated?

The Summer Festival in Mount Abu is held every year during Buddha Poornima.

Mount Abu Summer Festival, Rajasthan

6. Ooty Flower Festival, Tamil Nadu

Frequently termed as the showstopper of the south, the Ooty Flower Show is held every year in the Ooty Botanical gardens. 

History of the Ooty Flower Festival

The Botanical Gardens of Ooty were constructed by William Graham Mc Ivor who after training in the Royal Botanical Gardens of London led the construction of the gardens. Other great attractions to keep an eye for include the Indian and Japanese flower arrangements, flower rangoli, vegetable carvings and bonsai.  

How is it celebrated? 

The festival has been successfully conducted for the last 123 years. The purpose behind these festivals to be celebrated for years is to showcase the rich and diverse flora. Gardening enthusiasts are going to have a ball visiting these festivals as it is a sheer treat to the eyes and people gain a lot of awareness for the farming community. The garden hosts around 1000 species of both exotic and indigenous plants, ferns, shrubs, trees, herbal and bonsai plants. This annual event is organised by the Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crop under the Government of Tamil Nadu. It has attracted over 3 lakh visitors to the well renowned Botanical Gardens of Udagamandalam in 2018.  

When is it celebrated?

The Ooty Flower Show is a three-day event that can be attended by purchasing tickets.

It is held every year in the Ooty Botanical gardens.

Ooty Flower Festival, Tamil Nadu

7. Shimla Summer Festival, Himachal Pradesh

The Shimla Summer Festival is one of the grandest festivals that is celebrated to honour the harvest and the festivities of the summer season.

The festival is celebrated at a stretch of five days which is celebrated by conducting singing performances, cultural attractions, folk dancing, handicraft exhibitions, fashion shows, dog shows and people that sell artistic crafts, food stalls selling local cuisines. The festival has been celebrated every year since the 1960s. 

How is it celebrated? 

The festival is known to draw huge numbers of visitors from around the country. The Shimla Summer Festival is commenced with a half marathon that signifies the beginning of the five days long Shimla Summer Festival. A huge amount of limelight is provided largely to sports and activities. A huge amount of sports events and adventure tournaments are conducted for these seven days for people to take part and enjoy. You will be able to spot many school children largely participating and showcasing their talents through their cultural performances. A flower show that is conducted during the festival showcases a huge amount of bright and vibrant blooming flowers for you to enjoy. The fashion show conducted here is a wonderful opportunity for new local designers to showcase their work. Live music is also organised to keep the high spirits of performers intact during the entire event. Other activities include folk dances, ice skating, photography, poster making competitions and more. 

Visitors are offered great Himachal cuisine too at the famous Ridge in Shimla. The fact that the festival is conducted in the queen of the hills, Shimla should be enough to drag you from your homes here. Everything else that is conducted in these five days is just icing on the cake. 

When is it celebrated?

 Every year the festival is conducted from the 2nd June to the 7th of June

Shimla Summer Festival, Himachal Pradesh

8. Bhumchu festival, Sikkim

The state of Sikkim is one of the most beautiful places to witness in India. The Bhumchu festival of Sikkim invites you to witness its picturesque view and a large fanfare. The festival is perfect to highlight this lone brother among the seven sisters of the northeastern part of India. People from the neighbouring countries of Nepal and Bhutan also choose to visit Sikkim during the Bhumchu festival. One of the holiest festivals for Buddhists around, it is also perfect for non-Buddhists to experience their unique culture, customs, beliefs and rituals. 

History of the Bhumchu festival

The festival has been known to be celebrated since 755 and 804 CE in Tibet under the reign of King Trisong Deutsonin. He was considered to be one of the three Dharma Kings who played an important role in the introduction of Buddhism.

It is under his rule that Guru Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet. He performed a holy ritual and blessed the land with water from his sacred vase, that was later said to be a hidden treasure in the Tashiding Monastery of Sikkim. Somewhere around the 17th century, the vase was again discovered by one of the reincarnations of Padmasambhava. This has led to the festival to be resumed again.

When is it celebrated?

The Bhumchu festival is celebrated in the months of February and March. The first day witnesses the monks at the Tashiding Monastery opening the sacred vase and predicting forecasts and events for the approaching year. The second day is the closing ceremony. Prayers and chants are followed by the pot is re-filled from the water of sacred river nearby and closed. It is then opened the next year.

Bhumchu festival, Sikkim

9. Hemis Festival, Ladakh

The Hemis Festival is celebrated every year in the most astonishingly beautiful 1of  Ladakh. It marks the celebrations of the birth anniversary of Guru Padamsambhav. The festival stretches up to two-days that marks the victory of good over evil. 

History of the Hemis Festival

The legend has it that Lord Padamsambhav conquered the dark forces with the help of Vajrayana Buddhism. Therefore, the people of Ladakh celebrate the day of his birth on a massive celebratory scale.

How is it celebrated? 

Hemis Festival is celebrated in the 300-year-old Hemis Monastery of Ladakh. The followers come here to seek the blessings early morning of a portrait of the Guru.  While musicians playing music behind, masked dance performance called Cham are performed to entertain the visitors. Cham depicts the war between good and evil wherein it shows the good always triumphs the good. The performance is adjudged by many as jaw-dropping and stunning to witness.

Other great things apart from the Chham dance include the Devil dances, an exhibition of handicrafts, they also serve their favourite local drink known as Chang. 

The dance dances are accompanied by holy plays which are great to watch especially for visitors. The Lamas performing the dancewear vibrant costumes enhance the fun and joyousness of watching. As per traditions, monks are also supposed to wear long gowns, elaborate masks and headgear. Every mask holds a special significance. 

A sculpture made up of dough represents the evil powers is destroyed by the head of Black Hat dancers which implies warding off the evil spirits. 

When is it celebrated?

It is celebrated every year in the summer months of June or July.

Hemis Festival, Ladakh

10. Yercaud Summer Festival

The grand festival of Yercaud Summer Festival witnesses hundreds of visitors from different parts of the country to the hill station of Yercaud. 

How is it celebrated? 

The summer festival is commenced with a grand, colourful opening ceremony. It showcases the cultural and other traditional elements that display it through the vibrant celebrations of flowers, classical dances and more. Kids love visiting this festival as their favourite cartoon characters statues such as Shinhan are displayed here which have been made out of several carnation flowers, gerbera and anthurium flowers. An astonishing number of 2.5 lakh flowers is displayed at the festival. The botanical garden alone has more than a hundred varieties of fifty thousand flower are witnessed by tourists. 

Other great attractions such as exhibitions by various government departments, boat riding competition, musical concerts and sports competition are conducted too. The motive behind this festival is to bring light to the importance of preserving nature.

When is it celebrated?

The Yercaud Summer Festival is celebrated in Mettur every year in the month of August.

Yercaud Summer Festival