India is one country where every religion and community celebrates its culture. There are festivals of India state-wise, religion-based, and community-wise. So, every day is a new celebration in this country. Although there are numerous popular festivals here we are listing the most popular festivals of India.
Not only do the festivals of India have their own heritage, but India is also known to adapt and accept the festivals of other religions and regions, here are some of the biggest festivals of India that celebrate the history, culture, traditions, and different religions across the subcontinent.
For people planning to visit the best places in India, it is highly recommended to plan your trip according to the festivals. You will get to see the real beauty and extravaganza during the festival season.
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Popular Festivals of India 2021 Dates
Festivals are a way to bring together the families, communities & people together. With the onset of each season, we celebrate it with food, colors, music & light. Every festival has a significance of its own.
There are almost 50 Major Festivals in India celebrated in different places in India( including regional & cultural festivals). Each state has its own celebrations based on its heritage & beliefs. However, most of the major festivals of India fall at the same time.
Different religions, different cultures yet the base of all celebrations remains the same ‘The victory of Good over Evil’. Many regional festivals are dedicated to the arrival of the spring season, good harvest or rainy season. India being an agricultural-based country has many beliefs & celebrations dedicated to seasons & things associated with agriculture.
Here is the Important Festivals of India List 2021
Holi 2021- March 29
Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is celebrated as per the Hindu calendar on the Purnima i.e. Full Moon of the Phalgun season. It is one of the most popular festivals of India celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm in Northern India.
On the north side, the survival of a holy figure in Indian mythology, Prahlad, and the burning of Holika, is celebrated on Holi Eve whereas in the south this festival is a depiction of the fate of Kama Deva – the God of Love and Lust.
People celebrate Holi by playing with colors and water with family and friends. This festival brings in colorful joy and a new refreshing sense. The festival has gained popularity in many parts of the world. Holi in India is a major festival but it is also celebrated in many other countries. I have attended one such celebration, Geoje Holi Hai South Korea. It was well attended by Indians as well as people from different nationalities.
Recommended read: How To Celebrate Happy & Safe Holi: 10 Ultimate Tips to follow
Significance: Victory of good over evil and start of a new season.
Devoted to: Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna, and Radha
How it is celebrated: Smearing colors on each other and eating sweets like gujiyas, Papadi & Kanji ( a drink made up of mustard seeds & seasonal vegetables)
When: It is celebrated on the full moon day of March
Period: It is a festival of two days, Choti Holi also called Holika Dahan and Badi Holi.
Where it is Celebrated: The festival is celebrated throughout India, especially in UP, Mp & Rajasthan.
Best Places to celebrate it: Braj Region of UP, and North India
Baisakhi- April 13
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is celebrated by Sikhs and some sections of Hindus too. This harvest festival is celebrated especially in the Punjab region by, For Sikhs; this festival is celebrated for the new harvest and also the birth of Khalsa.
Baisakhi is generally celebrated either on the 13th or 14th of April. People usually go to Amritsar to visit The Golden Temple. Bonfires are lit; the folk dance of ‘bhangra’ for males and Giddha for females is also performed by the people as a marker of their joy and happiness.
Significance: Harvest Festival
Devoted to: Guru Gobind Singh
How it is celebrated: Gurudwaras are decorated, Sikhs visit gurudwaras and bathe in lakes and rivers. processions like community fairs and Nagar Kirtan are held.
When:13th or 14th April
Period: one day
Where it is celebrated: Punjab
Best Places to celebrate: Amritsar
Eid-Ul-Fitr / Ramadan- April 12 To May 12
Eid-ul-Fitr also means breaking fast; It is one of the most widely celebrated religious occasions in the world. Celebrated in almost every part of the world, this festival marks the most important day for the Islamic World. The day celebrates the commemoration of 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan.
On the 29th night of Ramadan, the moon is prayed to and is also called Eid ka Chaand. Among the celebrations, People exchange gifts, buy new clothes, and children are given Eidi (small sums of money).
Significance: It marks the end of Ramadan and it is believed that Prophet Muhammad git the first revelation of Holy Kuran during this time
Devoted to: Prophet Muhammad
How is it celebrated: It starts in the morning of Eid and is a time of abundant food and abundant gifts called Eidi. Muslims visit mosques, family, and friends to celebrate this festival.
When: It is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar
Period: Three days
Where it is celebrated: Throughout India
Best Place to celebrate: Lucknow, and Hyderabad
Ganesh Chaturthi- September 10
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Ganesha to earth from ‘Kailash Parvat’ with his mother goddess Parvati/Gauri. This day is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha.
The festival is widely celebrated in the state of Maharashtra, where it originated as a public festival in the city of Pune for more than 125 years with the purpose to bring people of different castes and cultures together.
Ganesh Chaturthi celebration begins with the installation of the idols of Lord Ganesha in temples. Various sweets are then offered to the almighty and prayers are offered for the 10 days of celebration. After a set number of days, the installed idol is then taken and drowned in a river or a lake.
Significance: It is the birthday of Lord Ganesha
Devoted to: Lord Ganesha
How it is celebrated: People bring idols of Lord Ganesha at home and worship them for eleven days and then they are immersed in water.
When: In the month of August
Where it is celebrated: Throughout India, especially in Maharashtra
Best Places to celebrate: Mumbai
Raksha Bandhan- August 22
Raksha Bandhan means, The Bond of Protection. This festival marks the celebration of the bond between a brother and sister. It is celebrated widely across the country. This day is marked by a ritual of tying a sacred thread onto the wrists of the brothers by the sisters, asking them for the promise of protecting them throughout their lives.
Raksha Bandhan is a symbolic gesture of the strong bond between a brother and sister. This one-day festival generally falls in the month of August.
Significance: To celebrate the sacred bond of brother and sister
Devoted to: brother and sister’s bond
How it is celebrated: Sisters tie rakhi on their brother’s wrist and ask him to protect her from all the problems. Brothers give gifts to their sisters in the form of money
Period: 1 day
Where it is celebrated: throughout India
Best Places to celebrate: Throughout India
Krishna Janmashtami- August 11
Krishna Janmashtami celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu. Alongside prayer, song, and feasting, this popular festival involves a particularly exhilarating activity. By tradition, a clay pot filled with buttermilk is hung high above the ground.
A team of people, who’ve trained for weeks, form a human pyramid and attempt to reach and break the pot. Called Dahi Handi, this activity is filled with joy and cheer.
Significance: Birthday of Lord Krishna
Devoted to: Lord Krishna
How it is celebrated: People keep fast and decorate temples. Some people perform Raasleela and there is a festival of Dahi handi in Maharashtra.
When: Month of August
Period: One day
Where it is celebrated: Throughout India
Best Places to celebrate: Mathura, and Brindavan
Onam- August 12 To August 23
Onam is an annual Hindu festival with origins in the state of Kerala in India. It falls in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, The festival commemorates the Vamana avatar of Vishnu, the subsequent homecoming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali, and mythologies of Hinduism related to Kashyapa and Parashurama.
Onam is more of a cultural festival than a religious one. Although it is a Hindu festival people from different religions embrace it with much love and respect.
People wear new traditional dresses and eat the traditional food of rice poured on banana leaves along with four different types of dishes. They also have a great boat riding competition to bring peace and harmony to their homes.
Significance: It is celebrated to honor King Mahabali
Devoted to: Lord Vishnu in the form of Vaaman
How it is celebrated: People lay flower mats in their front courtyard and arrange a grand feast. They dance, play, and celebrate.
When: August or September
Period: 10 days
Where it is celebrated: Kerala
Best Places to celebrate: Kerala
The nine days of the Navaratri festival honor the mother goddess Durga in all her incarnations. The tenth day, called Dussehra, celebrates the defeat of the demon king Ravan by Lord Ram and monkey god Hanuman. It also coincides with Durga’s victory over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
It is one of the major festivals of India celebrated in various parts of India. Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal.
In eastern India, the festival is observed as Durga Puja. It’s the biggest festival of the year in Kolkata. Huge statues of the Goddess Durga are made and immersed in the river there. In Delhi, nightly plays are held around the Red Fort, recounting episodes from the life of Lord Ram.
Significance: It is celebrated to commemorate Maa Durga’s win over the demon Mahishasura and it represents the victory of dharma over evil.
Devoted to: Maa Durga and her nine avatars and Dussehra to Lord Rama
How it is celebrated: People observe 9 days of fasting and in Gujarat, there is a dandiya Raas festival. In Bengal Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals. Dussehra is celebrated by burning an effigy of Ravana.
When: Two times a year, in Spring and Autumn
Period: 9 days of Navratra and one day of Dusshera
Where it is celebrated: throughout India
Best Places to celebrate: Gujarat and West Bengal
Diwali 2021- November 4
Diwali, or Dipawali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. It is also one of the most popular festivals in India. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects them from spiritual darkness.
Diwali has become a national festival that’s also enjoyed by non-Hindu communities and brings everyone together. People celebrate by bursting firecrackers, lighting diyas or lamps, cleaning and decorating their homes, buying new clothes, and making hand-painted rangoli designs in their living rooms and courtyards.
Prayers are offered to Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity. Diwali signifies the victory of good over evil. The festival marks the return of Lord Rama after defeating the demon king Ravana. Bonfires are lit to burn away evil spirits.
Significance: Victory of Good over evil
Devoted to: Lord Rama, Ganesha, and Goddess Lakshmi
How it is celebrated: People decorate their homes, perform Lakshmi puja, and burst crackers at night
When: during October or November
Period: It is a festival of 5 days
Where it is celebrated: Throughout India, especially in North India
Best Places to Celebrate Diwali: Banaras, Amritsar, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Kolkata
Christmas- 25th December
Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God. Christmas has evolved into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian and pagan traditions into the festivities.
Over the years it has become one of the major festivals of India celebrated across the country. With the increase in pop culture, people from different religions also started celebrating Christmas with much gusto.
Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are the traditions of the festival. Christmas carols, cards, and Santa Claus are some of the popular derivatives of the festival that have developed across the globe and have become a crucial part of Christmas celebrations.
Significance: Birthday of Jesus Christ
Devoted to: Jesus Christ
How it is celebrated: People decorate homes and churches and visit the church on Christmas morning. They also exchange gifts and decorate a Christmas tree.
When: 25th December
Period: Two Days
Where it is celebrated: Throughout India
Best Places to celebrate: Goa and Pondicherry
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Indians love to celebrate these festivals with fun and frolic and start preparing for these festivals in advance. These festivals of India keep the people united as they enjoy celebrating all these festivals irrespective of their religion and caste.
If you are planning to visit India and want to see these festivals then visit during these months and you can witness the cultures and traditions of India. We can assure you that all these festivals of India will leave you mesmerized with the fantastic traditions and rich cultural heritage, so visit India during these festivals and witness something unique.