To travel to another planet, you don’t need to buy a ticket to space: a simple stay in India is enough! And if you’re going to land there one day, you might as well take the opportunity to discover one of the many festivals, most of them religious and spiritual, that animate the Hindu calendar. Agoraphobes and colorblind abstain!
10Pushkar Fair – The Indian Camel Trophy
As travelers who have been around knowing, the holy city of Pushkar in Rajasthan hosts the world’s largest camel fair every November. In addition to being able to afford some of these creatures, the event features multiple races and other Camel beauty contests. Folk dances and craft markets are also part of the event, to keep the 200,000 visitors expected each year busy.
9Mahashivaratri – The Feast in Shiva
If the God Shiva is celebrated every month by the Hindu faithful, it is disproportionate to the Mahashivaratri, which takes place once a year around February-March on the occasion of the “birth” of Shiva. Offers, ritual baths, processions enliven this day of festivities. And if you are on the side of Mount Girnar, don’t be surprised to meet Sadhus (Hindu ascetics who have given up all material ties to devote themselves to their spiritual quest) and Sadhvis (their female equivalent) naked walking around the city before joining the Bhavnath time basin.
8Makar Sankranti – The Kite Festival
Also known as the “harvest festival”, this festival announces every year around January 14, the change in wind direction, synonymous with the beginning of the harvest. Before starting work, the inhabitants usually climb onto the roofs of houses to fly their multicolored kites.
7Gangaur – Rajasthan Women’s Festival
In India, we have even better than Tinder or Adopt a Man. It’s called the Gangaur Festival dedicated to marital happiness… and to single women who take the opportunity to try to find their Apollo Irrfan Khan. And to put all the chances on their side, they put on their most colorful saris, especially the “red”, the color of marriage in India. The festivities usually take place in March and can last up to 2 weeks.
6Marwar Jodhpur Festival
Every year in October, the city of Jodhpur in Rajasthan is adorned with colors and resonates with the sounds of folk music and dance. Tourists are welcome to join the festival, even to participate in moustache or turban knotting competitions. On the second day, the festivities move 70km away, to the village of Osian with the dunes as a theatre.
The son of Shiva (God of Yoga among others) and Parvati (his wife) is known for his elephant figure, but above all for being the God of wisdom, intelligence, education, and prudence… The kind well served at birth! And like all deities in India, Ganesh has the right to his festivities. 11 days, usually between August and September, during which ephemeral temples squat the streets and attract devotees and offerings. Crowds baths that always end with baths at all!
4Pooram – The Elephant Festival
The poorams take place after the summer harvest between mid-April and mid-May and host parades of elephants richly decorated for the occasion, all punctuated by the beating of drums. This Hindu spiritual festival has been celebrated since 1798 in several cities from Kerala to the southern tip of India, but it is in the city of Thrissur that the “pooram des poorams” takes place. More than 50 elephants’ parade in the streets every year from the Vadakkunathan temple dedicated to Shiva.
The direction the region of West Bengal and more particularly the city of Kolkata which hosts for 5 days between September and October, the Durga Puja festival and its ephemeral temples in honor of the goddess Durga who came to Earth to kick the ass of the demon Mahishasura. There is a whole ritual where the ceremonies follow one another every day and end with a procession to a river or waterhole as sacred waters of the Ganges.
2Diwali – The Festival of Lights
Without a doubt the biggest festival in the country with Holi but more spiritual and family. Diwali “the festival of lights” celebrates for 5 days between late October and early November, the end of the year of the Hindu Vikram calendar. Basically, it’s a bit like the Christmas season in our country, with gifts, family meals, firecrackers, and fireworks. The streets are lit with millions of candles and oil lamps supposed to indicate the way back to the God Rama and his wife Sita after having struck down the demon Ravana. The Avengers before their time!
1Holi – The Festival of Colors
Just the kind of party where you can show up with your most colorful Desigual t-shirt without causing carabinieri headaches around you. Holi is THE most established color festival in the world (guaranteed without filters). This Hindu festival celebrates the spring equinox at the same time as fertility. It is an opportunity for Hindus to forget (a little) the castes and social rules that usually divide them. Dressed in white, men and women dance in the streets throwing pigments of colors at each other, symbols of joy and love (red), vitality (blue) and optimism (orange). To enjoy it, prefer the cities of northern India, especially Mathura where Krishna was born, renowned for their colorful celebrations.