Photo source: Flickr - Pabak Sarkar
India is a destination that conjures up images of spectacular landscapes and an extraordinary diversity that leaves travelers fascinated. Festivals are the heart of Indian culture and the locals celebrate their identity connecting with their culture in each region. The numerous and varied Indian festivals offer a unique way that travelers can see Indian culture at its best. Consider visiting one of these five popular festivals in India that will provide you with a truly memorable experience.
This is a five-day festival held in the city of Pushkar, located in the state of Rajasthan where an astonishingly 50,000 camels converge. The festival is usually celebrated during November, although exact dates depend on the lunar calendar. Pushkar festival is linked to the colorful culture of Rajasthan and it infuses life and spirit in the event making it stand out from many others around the country. The wonderful blend of faith and commerce pulsating with festive beats makes Pushkar festival one that has brightened the true spirit of India.
Also known as the festivals of lights, Diwali is India's grandest festival. It is an occasion of joy, jubilation and giving for the entire Hindu world and is an official holiday in India. It promotes peace, unity and communal spirit and anyone can join the celebration regardless of their religion, beliefs or culture. You'll find illumination, festivities and fireworks at this five-day festival that signifies the victory of divine forces over the forces of wickedness. Depending on the lunar calendar, Diwali is celebrated between October and December.
This spectacular eleven-day festival honors the Lord Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-headed god known to be the eliminator of obstacles and the god of wisdom and beginnings. The start of this festival brings elaborately crafted statues of Lord Ganesha installed in specially constructed podiums and homes. The statutes are paraded through the streets and accompanied by singing and dancing, then later submerged in the ocean. The dates for this festival fall between the months of August and September. Its celebrated in most parts of the country especially in Maharashtra and many parts of Southern India.
Commonly known as the festival of colors, Holi is a two-day festival to celebrate the victory of good over evil and abundance of the spring harvest season. People throw colored powder and water at each other, dancing and holding parties under the sprinkles of moisture. It is a carefree festival that is fun to participate in if you do not mind getting dirty or wet. The festival is celebrated in most parts of India, with the biggest celebrations held in Mathura.
This is one of the most popular and significant Hindu harvest festivals in the South of India. Pongal literally means overflowing, named after the traditional cooking of rice in pots until they overflow, which is a symbol of prosperity and abundance. It is celebrated from the 13th - 16th of January each year marking a period of plenty, peace and happiness. While each day of Pongal has a religious significance, people in the urban centers celebrate the second day of the main festival. Pongal is unique and the only festival that follows the solar calendar in India. During Pongal, wishes are exchanged between friends and families hoping to bring good fortune and cheer.
Which Indian festival interests you the most?
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Auston grew up in Phoenix before escaping to Chicago in 2008. After 4 years working as an engineer, he sold his belongings and embarked on a round-the-world trip. After traveling non-stop for a year, he finally settled in Spain with his husband where he now calls home. When he's not traveling or writing guides about events, festivals or the best LGBT destinations, he enjoys the long sunny days and nightlife of Madrid. Read Auston's blog at Two Bad Tourists, or follow him on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.
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