16 Most Famous Festivals Of India, Religious & Cultural

16 Most Famous Festivals Of India, Religious & Cultural
India is a country of festivals where people of various religions live peaceably together. Festivals In India epitomize its enchanting cultural heritage. The following are some interesting Indian festivals and celebrations worth mentioning about. Though celebrated yearlongs but in October, there is a liveliest view of the whole state. In India, each religion or group of people is always busy celebrating their own culture. Festivals of India are divided statewise, religion- based and community-wide. Therefore, each day is a special one in this country. You find yourself getting gazetted holidays which facilitate trips across the country.

Most Popular National Festivals of India

  • Makar Sankranti Festival
  • Pongal Festival
  • Rann Utsav Festival
  • Kumbh Mela
  • Maha Shivaratri Festival
  • Onam Festival
  • Navratri Festival
  • Dussehra Festival
  • Durga Puja Festival
  • Diwali Festival
  • Gurpurab Festival
  • Holi Festival
  • Baisakhi Festival
  • Rakshabandhan Festival
  • Shri Krishna Janmashtami
  • Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
You visit India any time of year, be it spring, summer, autumn, winter, or monsoon, there's a reason to celebrate all the time. We have prepared for you a list of 16 famous religious and cultural festivals which you must visit. Let’s dive in! Let’s take a look at some of the most popular festivals of India. Here we will provide you with the necessary information on all national festivities.

1.) Makar Sankranti

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Makar Sankranti Festivals Of India Makar Sankranti | Festivals Of India[/caption] Lohri, being a festival related to nature, is an occasion of joy and happiness for North Indians and Sikhs. It serves as the beginning of their new year and comes immediately before Makar Sankranti. This day is used to ask for God’s blessing in the coming year. It is the end of the winter and start of the spring, it is when farmers start the agricultural cycle. Unlike other Hindu festivals that rely of lunar cycles to decide the dates, this one is timed after a period of solar cycles. On this day, people fly kites and enjoy Bajre ki khichdi and Til Ladoos. Uttarayan is the name of this festival among the Gujaratis.
  • Significance: A new farming season begins
  • Key attractions: Kite flying
  • When: 14th January (Friday)
  • Where: It is celebrated by North Indian and Sikh communities of India. Best Place to Celebrate Makar Sankranti in India-North Region.
  • Makar Sankranti: 14th January

2.) Pongal Festival

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Pongal Festivals Of IndiaPongal | Festivals Of India[/caption] Another festival of India a similar nature, Pongal, takes place in January. It is a four-day festival that highlights the vibrant culture and traditions of Tamilians. At this sacred time, they cut down their crops or make an offering to the god. In this respect, it is worth mentioning that the most interesting thing about the festive offerings in Pongal is its exotic menu called “Pongal Food”. These include traditional delights such as Kheer, Chitrana, Medu Vada, Coconut Rice, and Curd Rice. One must certainly visit this festival, it is a cultural event of India.
  • Significance: This is a thankful feast for the first fruits of the planting season that marks the first harvest of the year.
  • Key attractions: Cattle races that involve a number of Kolam designs.
  • When: 14th January
  • Where: A popular festival of India, widely celebrated among Tamils in Tamil Nadu.
  • Pongal: It starts on Sunday, January 15th and runs through Wednesday, January 18th.
  • Things To Do: Fire, dance, bull race, confectionery, and cakes.

3.) Kumbh Mela

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Kumbh Mela Festivals Of IndiaKumbh Mela | Festivals Of India[/caption] During the Kumbh Mela, which takes place every twelve years, the greatest gathering on Earth is classified into four categories: Purna Kumbh, Maha Kumbh (twelve years), and Ardh Kumbh (six years); all three Kumbh Melas occur every twelve years. Jupiter in Aries is a very common occurrence that typically runs one week after 6th January and extends through the end of February or the beginning of the first week of March. The festival, which was a great religious ceremony of India, involved devotees, Sadhus, who were the holy men of Hindus, taking bath in the same River where, it is said; it was split. This is popular among many people both from local and international participants.
  • Significance: Celebrated according to Sun, Moon and Jupiter.
  • Key attractions: The Kumbh Mela attracts millions and millions of pilgrims and dipping in the holy rivers.
  • When: date 14th January to 26th February
  • Where: In rotation, Haridwar, Allahabad, Ujjain, and Nasik.
  • Things To Do: Have a bath in the river, attend ceremonies and pujas, be present at lectures by gurus.
Check out: Kumbh Mela Package

4.) Maha Shivratri

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Maha ShivratriMaha Shivratri | Festivals Of India[/caption] This Indian festival is of great veneration among the devotees of Lord Shiva who is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is an important Hindu mythology event that takes place on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun. They say that anyone who worships Lord Shiva on this day gets free of all sins and achieves salvation. It is also one of the most important Indian festivals where both unmarried and married women seek marital bliss.
  • Significance: Devotion to Lord Shiva
  • Key attractions: Fasting and worshipping Lord Shiva
  • Where: India and Nepal
  • Things To Do: Go to temples where celebrations and festivity take place.
Check out: Chardham Yatra Package

5.) Holi Festival

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Holi FestivalHoli | Festivals Of India[/caption] Indeed, Holi is one of the most important festivals in India and goes beyond just being a festival that spreads love and pleasure. It is a feast of color, joy and the triumph of light over darkness that symbolises Spring’s victory. On the eve, huge bonfires are lit all around, where people gather to sing and dance. The bonfire rite signifies the triumph of Holika over demoness. People become active only on the festival day, while throwing colours and water on each other. Special assortments of delicious Indian snacks will be one of the most remarkable things about this festivity.
  • Significance: It is a victory of good over evil — Prince Prahlad over Holika. Welcome Spring!
  • Key attractions: Holi celebration, playing of colours, and taking of bhang thandai.
  • When: The first day of lunar year (Bengali New Year’s Day) and the full moon (Purnima) of the Phalgun month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar that occurs in March on the Gregorian calendar.
  • Where: They are held almost all over the country; the most lively celebration takes place with the greatest number of participants in the northern Indian states.
  • Holi : March
  • Things To Do: Gujiya is a sweet eaten especially in sing and dance in front of Holika bonfire during Holi or play with colours.

6.) Dussehra

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Mysore Dussehra FestivalDussehra | Festivals Of India[/caption] In Hinduism, it is one of the renowned festivals of India including Vijaya Dashami. Different countries celebrate it differently. It lasts for 10 days everywhere and it is called Ramlila, enactment of scenes from Ramayana. It ends up with “Ravan Dahan” – an amazing show of burning massive effigies of Ravana, Meghnath, and Kumbhkaran. In Mysore, a colourful procession is taken out while people celebrate for ten days to welcome their mountain deities in the valley of Kullu. The Mysore Palace is lit up like a bride and the air is filled with drum music. You should definitely include this in your itinerary when visiting the city of monarchs. It is among the most religious Indian festivals.
  • Significance: It is a festival commemorating the killing of Ravana by Lord Rama.
  • Key attractions: Decorated markets’ hustle bustle, Ram-Leela acts, and the big burning of effigies of Ravina Meghnath, and Kumblekarana.
  • When: According to this calendar, it falls on the tenth day of the month of Ashwin, which in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to September or October.
  • Where: Pan India
  • Dussehra: 24th October (Wednesday)
  • Things To Do: Go and take a look at the Dussehra celebrations, attend Ravan dahan, and go to popular temples.

7.) Navratri

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]NavratriNavratri | Festivals Of India[/caption] Navratri is a very significant festival in India. However, different people in India celebrate this in their own unique style. Navratri Festival or Nine Night Navarats is a nine days long celebration of refreshing Garba Nights and vibrant Dandiya Raas dances in Gujarat. The people there dress up in colourful traditional clothes and the environment is lively. Fasting is an Indian religious custom, which has a reason. If ever the season is changing then make a time to fast for resting your stomach and enhance your body’s defence for the new coming season.
  • Significance: This is associated with the reverence for the Nawalata goddess in nine avatars of Goddess Amba power.
  • Key attractions: These nine-day celebrations have evolved into a dance festival in Gujarat. The elegant Chaniya Choli (skirt and blouse) is one example. & culinary delights like Sabudana Khichdi, Mandvi Paks, Singuda Ki Kheer.
  • When: The new year began on the tenth day of the first lunar month.
  • Where: All over almost the entire country and the most lively in Gujarat, Maharashtra and major cities.
  • Navratri: October, 15th to October, 24th.
  • Things To Do: Fast for nine days, Visit gods’ abodes.

8.) Durga Puja

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Durga Puja Festivals Of IndiaDurga Puja | Festivals Of India[/caption] The festival Durga Puja is considered one of the main ones in the list of Indian religious holidays along with many others that are widely popular all over the country. Songs, dances, and dramas of various cultures accompany ten days of fasting, festivity in worship of goddess Durga. Large and beautiful Durga idols are created and arranged on unique artistic pandals. They put on traditional dresses and start making the rounds of the pandals with prayer, wish fulfilment and feast in the mindset.
  • Significance: This ceremony is conducted by invoking Goddess Durga, who was summoned to help fight the evil king Ravana during the time of Lord Rama.
  • Key attractions: Puja with exquisitely pretty ten handed Durga Idols and plush pandals.
  • When: The tenth day in ashwina shukla paksha as per the panchangs’ account falls in September and October as per the Gregorian calendar.
  • Where: Durga Puja celebration is the best thing one can do in the metros of India, including Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai. Apart from metro cities Assam,Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand.
  • Durga Puja: 24th October (Tuesday)
  • Things To Do: Experience the spirit in Durga Puja pandals.

9.) Shri Krishna Janmashtami

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Shri Krishna JanmashtamiShri Krishna Janmashtami | Festivals Of India[/caption] Another of the really important, stunning and grandest religious festivals of India belongs to Janmashtami. Mathura and Vrindavan are well-known for their Janmashtami celebrations. One of the significance in the line of Indian festivals is that people keep fast during the day and celebrate breaking it with the delicious food in evening time. The celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna revolves around visiting temples, engaging in prayers, dance, as well as singing bhajans at midnight. On this day sometimes, little kids play as Lord Krishna. The jhankis in the temples display images and picturization of the story of Krishna’s life. It is one of the important festivals in India.
  • Significance: Birthday of lord krishna celebrated every year.
  • Key attractions: Puja and Festivals of Janmashtami in the temple and Jhanki of Lord Krishna.
  • When: According to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, the 8th day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of the month of Bhadrapada corresponds to the August or September period.
  • Where: The whole Hindu community celebrates Holi but the fanfares at Mathura and Vrindavan.
  • Janmashtami: 6th September) – 7th September
  • Things To Do: Go to Krishna temples and participate in the special puja including bhajans jhanikas.
Check out: Mathura Tour Package

10.) Onam Festival

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Onam FestivalOnam | Festivals Of India[/caption] Festivals provide colourful insights into the many cultures in Indian states. The Onam festival is an ideal portal for anyone who would like to explore the wealth of culture in Kerala. This is a very crucial festival for Kerala. They celebrate it with great joy and happiness because they believe that during this time the spirits of their ancient king, Mahabali will visit them. In addition, it marks the commencement of Malayalam New Year and lasts for ten days. The jubilations encompass various activities: flowers, fancy banquets and delicious dishes, as well as dance sessions. The famous festival of ‘Onam’ in Kerala is notable for its Snake Boat Race that occurs at the Aranmula River, and hypnotic classical dance called Kathakali. The Pulikali procession with its unique charm depicts artists as hunters and they come alive and tell tales of past times.
  • When: During the Malayalam month of Chingam, or August or September in the Gregorian calendar.
  • Where: Onam Celebration is celebrated in south Kerala. Places to visit are Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur.
  • Things To Do: Watch boat races, and participate in other ceremonies.
Check out: Kerala Tour Package

11.) Rann Utsav Festival

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Rann Utsav FestivalRann Utsav | Festivals Of India[/caption] Rann Utsav is one of the most anticipated cultural festivals in India where a number of events showcasing Gujarat’s music and dance have been lined up as highlight of Gujarat tourism. This colourful fest occurs every year from November to February against a spectacular backdrop in the white salt desert of Kutch. It is a festival of culture and tradition in Gujarati where folk dances, music, food stalls, adventure sports, cultural shows and exquisite handicrafts are exhibited. The inaugural Rann Utsav took place back in 2006 as an effort to promote the region as a major player in world tourism business. Visit at this time for an ultimate immersion in the cultural fabric of Gujarat during Kutch Festival.
  • Key attractions: craft bazaar, Adventuerous Activities, Authentic Food, Salty Dessert.
  • Where: Rann Utsav Celebration is celebrated in Gujarat.
  • When: November to January
  • Where: Dhordo Village, Kacch.
Check out: Gujarat Tour Package

12.) Ganesh Chaturthi

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Ganesh Chaturthi FestivalGanesh Chaturthi | Festivals Of India[/caption] Another important Festivals Of India is Ganesh Chaturthi – ten days full of bright celebrations of colours. Families set up big handmade Ganes’s statues in their houses and in the streets they built huge Pendulous. Morning and evening pujas are conducted. On the last day they do Visarjan or Immersion with an Idol into any Water Body. Singing, dancing, and theatre shows, as well as free medical and blood donation camps become cultural activities.
  • Significance: Today is the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the God with an elephant’s head.
  • Key attractions: Lovely life-sized idols of Ganesha and immersion ceremonies.
  • When: This falls on the 4th day of the first fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada of the Hindu lunisolar calendar; this is approximately August or September according to the Gregorian.
  • Where: Festive in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Ganesh Chaturthi: 31st August (Tuesday)
  • Things To Do: Be present in visarjan ceremony, indulge in cultural activities.
Check out: Maharashtra Tour Package

13.) Rakshabandhan

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Rakshabandhan FestivalRakshabandhan | Festivals Of India[/caption] Amongst all these famous festivals of India, one is Rakhi which falls in the category of Hindu’s celebration. In the festival of Rakhi, the sister does Aarti for her brother and applies tilak and tie rakhi in the brother’s hand indicating the pure relation of brother-sisterhood. In return, the brother promises to help protect the sister. Only one other similar festival, Bhai Dooj, comes right after Diwali.
  • Significance: It means a brother and sister relationship is very strong in it.
  • Key attractions: Colours are also evident in festivals like Rakhi and when markets display a vibrant array of “Rakhis”.
  • When: It corresponds to the full-moon day of the Shravana month in the Hindu lunisolar calendar and is in August according to the Gregorian calendar.
  • Where: Especially in North, Central and West India.
  • Things To Do: On this day, celebrate with your brothers and sisters.
Check out: Bihar Tour Package & Uttar Pradesh Tour Package

14.) Diwali

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Diwali Festivals Of IndiaDiwali | Festivals Of India[/caption] Certainly, introductions are not necessary when it comes to Diwali. It stands as India’s most renowned festive religious celebration. Diwali is often referred to as ‘the festival of lights’ that stands for spreading joy and cheer. It’s a day when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his fourteen years of exile with his wife Devi Sita and brother Lakshman. Persons still keep up this custom by having lighted house lamps, candles, or any other source of illumination in their homes. Giving presents is still a crucial aspect of this feast. In particular, crackers are burst for children who love sweets. Prayers are made to Goddess Laxmi and Lord Ganesha on Diwali.
  • Significance: The day Krishna defeated Lord Indra.
  • Key attractions: These include the preparation of wheat or rice cereal which is accompanied by dishes of leafy vegetables presented to Lord Krishna.
  • When: On Diwali’s following day.
  • Where: All across India
  • Govardhan Puja: 13th November (Monday)
  • Things To Do: Temples celebration; go on Govardhan parikrama.

15.) Gurpurab Festival

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Gurpurab Festivals Of IndiaGurpurab | Festivals Of India[/caption] The Sikhs attach great importance to Gurpurab as it commemorates the birthday of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. The Akhand Path commenced two days before, characterized by the continuous 48 hours’ reading from Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism. The Nagarkirtan then proceeds as a procession of great display that involves exhibiting different forms of martial arts. Homes sparkle with rows of lighted lamps and candles, while the roads resound with songs accompanied by Sikh flags and flowers. Various assemblies occur in Gurdwaras and are followed with langars (community meals). The sky lit with firecrackers echo the joy, where for others they set up complimentary meal stands along the roadside.
  • Significance: It is the birthday of the very first guru among ten Sikh gurus, as well as the founder of Sikh religious system generally known as Sikhism.
  • Key attractions: Bhajan-Kirtan, Gurbani in Gurdwaras, Langar and Karah Prasad.
  • When: That is during the full moon day on the Kartika month of the Hindu lunar calendar. Gregorian Calendar from October to November.
  • Where: It is celebrated everywhere in the world among the Sikhs, particularly in Punjab.
  • Things To Do: Visit a gurdwara, serve ‘sewa’ and ‘langar’, help the poor and give donations.

16.) Baisakhi

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"]Baisakhi FestivalBaisakhi | Festivals Of India[/caption] Among many famous Indian festivals this is a festival celebrated mainly by Sikhs in Punjab and all over the country. It is celebrated in anticipation of the coming rain during the rabi harvesting season. This festival is celebrated with great excitement and eagerness among the Sikhs. They perform the local folk dances like Giddha and Bhangra. In India this festival signifies a very important religious day as in 1699, the tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, laid down the cornerstone of Panth Khalsa- order here on earth.
  • Significance: Welcoming the harvest season
  • Key attractions: Punjabi feasts, folk, dance-like Bhangra and Giddha, and house or Gurudwaar decorations.
  • When: 14th April (Thursday)
  • Where: This event occurs in Sikh communities in India. Punjab in India is the best place to celebrate Baisakhi.
  • Baisakhi: 14th April, Friday
  • Things To Do: Gurudwaras are worth visiting while you are here. Celebrate like locals.
Each and every Festivals Of India is a mirror of the wide texture of varied cultures and customs that are special to different areas in India. Enjoy this compendium of significant religions in India, as you head toward your next excursion. Keep following our posts for more interesting readings.