Why it is often called Incredible India? Have you ever thought of this? India has been known for many things like culture, architecture, history, gorgeous destinations, and a number of colorful festivals. In fact, there are a lot of festivals that are celebrated across India with a lot of zeal. Although, it is also a fact that several festivals fall almost every month of the year in the country, but the winter festivals in India are more fun to be a part of. Here are best 20 winter festivals that one must see at least once in their lifetime. You can mark these on your festival calendar:
1. Durga Pooja, West Bengal
Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsava is celebrated in the West Bengal, by the Bengali Hindu. This popular festival in India falls in the month of October and is decided by the priests according to the Hindu calendar. On this day, Goddess Durga is worshipped but reverence is also paid to Goddess Saraswati and Laxmi, Lord Ganesha. Basically, this festival marks the battle between Goddess Durga and powerful demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious. The things that attract people on this day are the pandals which are humongous and are spectacular to watch, there is a mesmerizing mix of lights which fills the crowd with energy, and then there is special dhaak and dhunuchi dance performance that everyone relishes. These things are indeed good to watch because they happen only once a year.
Diwali or Deepavali, is reckoned to be the festival of lights in India. It is one the festivals which is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm, especially in North India. This festival is quite important for the Hindus, as it is the reminiscence of the return of Lord Ram, to his home after 14 years of exile. Diwali is celebrated every year either in October or November. People decorate their houses with lights and diyas (earthen lamps), exchange gifts, sweets, and burn crackers, and worship Lord Ganesha, Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati.
Also called as the festival of colors or festival of love, Holi is celebrated in India during the month of March. A day before this festival, a bonfire is done which is known as Holika Dehen. People in the North and Central India celebrate this festival zealously. Splashing water and throwing colors at each other is the way of playing this one of the most famous winter festival in India.
4. Matho Nagrang , Ladakh; Jammu and Kashmir
A festival which is held in the Matho Monastery in Ladakh is reckoned as quite auspicious event for the monks. It is a 2-day festival, which is held on the 15th day of the first Tibetan month. It is a great attraction for the locals and the tourists because it sees the return of two Oracles who were meditating in isolation. This festival starts with this oracle’s preaching, followed by the famous Mask Dance. This winter season festival in Ladakh falls in the month of March.
5. Pongal Festival, Tamil Nadu
One of the most popular festivals of South India, Pongal is celebrated on a large scale across the state of Tamil Nadu. Basically, this festival has a lot of significance for the Tamil people as they gather to offer gratitude to the God of nature for giving them good crop for harvest, one can expect dance and music, along with a variety of food and savouries to relish during this popular festival in Tamil Nadu. When talking about January Festivals, Pongal is definitely an event to see in India.
6. Ziro Festival, Arunachal Pradesh
Ziro festival of music is India’s greatest outdoor music festival. A 4-day event falling between 28th September to 1st October. It has 2 stages of music performance; Ziro festival has thousands of attendees. Sky is the limit of happiness, enjoyment and love for music here.
7. Kite Festival, Gujarat
West India has a lot of eventful festivals in their calendar during the winter season, and one of them is the Kite Festival. It is celebrated in the state of Gujarat and are not only the people from different states of India, but also from different countries of the world come here for the festival. This is a 2 -day festival, which is organized in January, each year. If you have a plan to be a part of this festival this year, all you have to do is reach Ahmedabad in time.
8. Hornbill Festival, Nagaland
Nagaland has always been counted among the best destinations for cultural tourism. Moreover, it has a Hornbill Festival, which makes it a must visit place during the winter season in India. The festival is celebrated in the first 10 days of December, every year. Hornbill Festival is basically the reflection of the rich and diverse culture of Nagaland; therefore, one can witness varied dance forms, music, handicraft, and food items displayed from all corners of the state under one roof here. The significance of this festival is to revive, sustain and protect the richness of Naga tradition and heritage. It is organized by the department of cultural tourism in India.
9. Carnival Festival, Goa
Goa Carnival Festival is the most famous festival in the state. You can enjoy a carnival which was initially started by the Portuguese, who ruled Goa before it was a part of India. There are parades and events that keep the enthusiasm of the tourists alive. It is a 4 day festival held from 25th Feb. – 28th Feb., each year.
10. Winter Carnival, Jammu and Kashmir
The Kashmir region of the state has always attracted tourists due to its climate and breathtaking locales. The natural beauty is just mesmerizing. To attract more tourists, Kashmir organizes Winter Carnival every January. People come here to attend this fest and enjoy their time by indulging into skiing, listening to music and several other activities. Make sure to mark this festival in your winter festival guide so that you don’t miss this when the next time you plan a trip to India.
11. Konark Dance Festival, Odisha
Konark Dance and Music festival is a very popular festival held in Odisha. It is one of the biggest February Festivals of dance. It is held in the backdrop of Sun temple in Konark. Being a 5 day dance festival it is celebrated from 19th-23rd February every year. It is known to be one of the biggest dance festivals in India. The architectural wonders to be watched during this time are the exquisite ‘Salamander’ or the ‘dancing hall’ of this shrine.
12. Nagaur Fair, Nagaur; Rajasthan
Another cultural fair, but this time it is in the largest state of India. Yes! Rajasthan. The state is known to a lot of people for its historical monuments, forts, fascinating wildlife and the glowing sand. Apart from this, Rajasthan is also known for its Nagaur Fair. Tourists come here to see all those monuments, but those who visit here on 22nd February, get to watch the heartwarming Nagaur fair. The cattle, including the camels, cows, goats, sheep, are decorated beautifully by their owners. The owners themselves wear colorful attires on this day. During this festival people enjoy games like, tug of war, horse races, handcraft exhibitions and much more.
13. Bodh Mahotsav, Boddhgaya; Bihar
Bodh Mahotsav is a festival celebrated in Bodh Gaya, Bihar on 1st February every year. Singers from not only India, but also from different parts of the world gather here to perform and attend this festival. There is a Gyan Yatra which is held before this festival. This festival includes a lot of singing, dancing, speeches and spiritual talks. People come here to hear the about the life of Gautam Buddha.
14. Festa De Diu, Daman and Diu
If you are planning to go out with your family this New Year, then just think about Diu. From 1 December to 15 February, spanning across 3 months, Festa De Diu is an eventful festival to attend. Music, party, dance, enjoyment, you can find everything here. Even if you are thinking to make your valentine week special this time, take your beloved to this fest.
15. Tamladu, Arunachal Pradesh
Tamladu, is an ancient festival, which is celebrated in Itanagar. To make it a magnificent celebration, tribes here invite people to join them on 15th February. They celebrate this occasion on this date every month. People here are very much dependent on the agriculture and harvest. This makes them worship nature. People here believe that nature is also a form of god, who gives them a livelihood. This festival is devoted to nature and people worship their Nature God and thank him for everything.
16. Tarpa Festival, Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Tarpa festival is celebrated in the month of December, in Dadra and Nagar Haveli. People here come gather to sing and dance together. This festival gets its name from the famous and extremely popular folk dance of this place. It consists of tribal dance, which is mostly done under the moonlight. Males play wind instruments named as Tarpa and the dancers encircle the Tarpakar and they dance under the moonlight. The dance performance during this event is so coordinative that the performance in the festival reflects their unity. The most basic dance step is when the dancers hold each other’s hands and swing to and fro.
17. Rann Utsav, Gujarat
Rann Utsav is an awesome festival celebrated in the Kutch region of Gujarat, you can get a better insight into it here. It includes the carnival of music, dance and much more of the famed white sand desert that is beautiful and scenic to watch, and indeed feels like heaven. This festival is usually celebrated between November and February.
18. Ellora Festival, Maharashtra
Ellora festival is celebrated in Maharashtra. This celebration is done in the month of January. The events of the festival are held between the Ajanta and Ellora caves, which means, some of the events take place in the premises of Ajanta and some of Ellora’s. People come here to watch the classical and folk dances and enjoy the music. These events take place around 30kms from Aurangabad towards the Chamadri hills.
19. Indira Gandhi Boat Race, Kerala
Indira Gandhi Boat Race is a very colorful water sport event that takes place in Cochin, Kerala. It is organized in the last week of December. These boat races are so packed with energy that people come here to watch this race especially from different places of the country. It happens in the Cochin backwaters, where around 150 people representing their village row a boat to the finishing line. These snake boats are smeared with sardine oil, which allows the boat to glide in water smoothly. It reduces the friction. These boat races are a part of the festival and the winner of the boat race is awarded with cash prize and trophies.
20. Royal Kathina, Assam
Roval Kathina is a festival that is held in Assam. It is a Buddhist festival, which comes in at the end of Vassa. The Vassa is a Sanskrit word, which means Varsha or rain. It is celebrated on 23rd October every year. It is the season during which a monastery holds Kathina for a time period of one month. This festival begins after the full moon of the eleventh month in the lunar calendar. This calendar usually starts in October. The significance of this festival is to keep up the Dharma alive in this world. In this festival, donation is given to temples; Lay Buddhists bring new robes for the monks. The time during the festival is known as the time of giving, for the laity in order to show respect and express their gratitude towards the Buddhist monks.
These are 20 most popular festivals of the winter season that are celebrated in India. If you have missed any of these festivals, do attend them, because these are not the things to miss. Moreover, keeping your comfort and enjoyment in mind, we have brought to you some exclusive travel packages which can be added to your amusement.