Regional Fairs and Festivals of India

Kashmir (Ladakh)

Mela Hemis Gompa (June) :- There are a large number of Buddhists in Ladakh and their festivals are associated with ancient Monasteries. One of these is held at the famous I Hemis Gompa, 40 km from Leh. It is the oldest, the biggest and the richest monastery in Ladakh. The fair is held on the tenth day of the fifth Buddhist month every year and lasts for three days. The Lamas dance wearing exotic masks and the low subdued notes of the music being played by them create an air of mystery. The mela (fair) celebrates the birthday of Padma Sambhava, the founder of Lamaism. Masked dancers simulate a combat between good spirits and demons to the sounds of cymbals drums and pipes.


Lohri (January) :- The festival marks the culmination of Winter. Community bonfires are lit and people gather around, singing popular folk songs.

Uttar Pradesh

Car festival at Mathura (March-April) :- At the Sri Rangji temple at Brindavan, near Mathura, gorgeous vahanas (chariots) carry the temple deities, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, through the streets for ten days. The temple is managed entirely by South Indian Brahmins.

Van Yatra (September-October) :- Krishna is believed to have protected the villagers from heavy rains by lifting the mountain Goverdhan. This forest pilgrimage, which corn— memorares the event, lasts a month and the pilgrims visit all the places connected with the life of Krishna. Goverdhan puja is held on this day.

Ras Lila :- The dance drama depicting episodes from the life of Krishna, is performed by special troupes.


Jagannath Car Festival, Pun (June-July) :- King Indradyumna finding a relic of Krishna, asked Visvakarma, the architect of the gods, to construct a Vishnu temple to house the relic. A beautiful temple was built but Visvakarma abandoned his work due to the undue interference of the king, leaving the image without hands or feet. On the king’s plea, Brahma breathed the power of a deity into the idol, which has become one of the most famous ones.

The deity, Jagannath, and his brother and sister arc placed in huge chariots 45 feet high with wheels more than 7 feet in diameter. These are pulled by hundreds of devotees to another temple a little distance away, where they are kept for 7 days. The event commemorates Krishna’s journey to Mathura from Gokul at Kansa’s invitation, The chariot l0cesSiOn goes along the broad avenue to Gundicha Mandir, the Lord’s summer garden house.

The word ‘juggernaut’ is said to have originated from the name of this idol.


Gangaur (March-April) :- This spring festival is held in honour of Gauri, the goddess of abundance. Girls pray to the goddess for a good husband. Though the festival is celebrated throughout Rajasthan the procession in Jaipur and Udaipur have their own charm. In Jaipur a procession from the city palace with thousands of people lining the streets to watch it, in Udaipur a boat procession in the Pichola lake adds to the gaiety.

Teej (June-July) :- This is mainly a women’s festival held in honour of Devi (Parvati) who is taken out in a procession with caparisoned elephants camels and horses. It is a treat to watch the villagers dressed in bright and colourful clothes on this clay. This festival also celebrates the beginning of the monsoon rains.

Pushkar (October-November) :- A fair is held by the side of the holy tank at Pushkar, 11 km from Ajmer (130 km from Jaipur). The tank is said to have been created by Brahma himself. Pushkar is also the second place in India having a Brahma temple. The animal fair held here is now internationally famous and thousands of tourists come from all over the world to see it. It is a good opportunity to see the colourful village people from all over Rajasthan.

Andhra Pradesh / Tamil Nadu

Pongal (January) :- This three day festival is the biggest event for the Tamils. Bhogi-Pongal is the first of the three days followed by Surya-Pongal dedicated to the Sun. On the third day, Mattu-Pongal, cattle are decorated with flowers and worshiped and fed with pongal (rice cooked in milk aid sugar). In many places money put in a bundle and tied to the horns of a ferocious bull and unarmed villagers try to seize the bundle. It is a sport requiring great skill.

The Brahmotsavam (March-April to December-January) :- This ten day festival is celebrated with great eclat in the famous temples at Madurai, Kanchipuram and Tirupti. The temple deities are decked in splendid clothes, seated in magnificent carriages and taken out in a procession. Decorated elephants lead the procession and there are fireworks also.

Teppam (February-March) :- At Mylapur in the Kapalees, warar temple and in the Parthasarathy Swamy temple this festival is seen at its best. Seated in a beautifully decorated and illuminated teppam (float), the temple deity is floated and taken round the water-tank to the accompaniment of chanting by the priests.

Madurai River Festival (April-May) :- Two deities, Sundaresa and Meenakshi with pearl crowns on their heads are taken out in a procession. The deities are placed on a golden bull and the procession starts from the Meenakshi temple.

Fire-walking Festival :- Held once a year, its time-is fixed by the local soothsayer. It is held to ensure a good harvest and to honour the local deities. The chief priest and twelve local youths smear their bodies with turmeric powder and begin a dance that culminates in fire-walking which is done over a long pit filled with live coals. They come out unharmed.


Ugadi (March-April) :- This is the New Year’s Day and is celebrated with gay abandon.

Dussehra (September-October) :- Though Dussebra is celebrated all over India, the elephant procession taken out in Mysore during the festival is very famous.

Head Anointing Ceremony at Sravanabelgola (near Bangalore). Once every twelve years, the colossal 57 feet high granite statue of Gomateswara (a Jam saint), carved a thousand years ago, is anointed by several thousand Jam monks. They stand on a scaffolding and pour milk, sandal-wood pastes gold and silver ornaments and precious stones kind many other items on the statue.

Prince Gomateswara gave up his kingdom to become an ascetic and the statue was erected in his honour by his brother.


Visbu (March-April) :- This is the Malayalee New Year’s day. Gifts are exchanged. The elders give cash presents to dependents and relatives younger to them.

Onan (August-September) :- This is a major harvest festival and also to mark the end of the summer monsoons Onam is celebrated in Kerala for four days with a lot o feasting, boat races, dancing and singing. According to legend Onam is celebrated to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali. At Trichur elephants take part in a spectacular processi0I At Shoraflur, kathakali dancers enact stories of the epic heroes.

The Vallumkali (boat race) is one of the main attractions of the festival and is best seen at Kottayam and Aranmulai where about a hundred oarsmen row huge graceful boats (odee). In the evening the girls perform the famous clapping dance (KyekOtti)

1 comment:

helle said...

It's interesting post and also image. I liked it.