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India’s must-see monsoon festivals, from north, east, west and south of India.

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

by Sudha Mathew

India is known for colour and chaos, food and festivities, diversity and drama. If you haven’t been to India before, it’s something you must definitely experience in your lifetime. There’s nothing like India anywhere in the world; ask any Indophile!

If you would like to experience India in all its many splendored beauty, there’s no better time than the monsoons. This is when the land of festivals, India, is at its dramatic and dressy best. Rains bring along the beginning of the festival season in India, in right earnest. Each region of India has its own version of monsoon merriment, and this cultural experience is something difficult to put in words or pictures. But we’ll try, and here is a list of some of the major Indian monsoon festivals celebrated in various parts of India. Given how diverse India is, we cannot possibly cover all the monsoon festivals in one blog post, so we have attempted to showcase one or two festivals from the four corners of India.

North:

Hemis Festival at Ladakh:

Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of India, known for its beautiful valleys, lakes, rivers and the towering snow-capped Himalayas, celebrates the rains with the Hemis Festival. The 5 day long frolic is arranged within the Hemis Monastery of Ladakh.

Minjar fair at Himachal Pradesh:

Himachal Pradesh thanks the god of rain in their own unique way through Minjar festival. This 7 day long festivity is often accompanied by Minjar Mela or fair. This mela is held on the second Sunday of the Shravana month (between last week of July and first week of August)

Girls in traditional attire, at the Minjar festival in Chamba, Himachal Pradesh

East:

Puri Rath Yatra ( chariot festival of Puri)

This festival is one of its kind – three huge chariots, towering at 14 meters height, are pulled by the devotees struggling and jostling to get their hands on the ropes used to pull the chariots. The chariots are richly decorated, and there’s music and chanting. This annual event attracts huge crowds from India and abroad, and it is telecast live on Indian and international television channels. This is the only time of the year the deities can be viewed by non-Hindus and foreigners.

: Puri Rath Yatra- a must watch Indian festival

Behdienkhlam festival of North-East India:

This is a unique and ancient festivity celebrated by the tribal people of Meghalaya, a picturesque region of north-east India. Devotees pray for a good harvest and perform religious rites to ward away evil spirits. The festival can easily be called one of the most colourful and playful religious festivals, as the festival includes a tug of war with a tree trunk, and a kind of soccer match with a wooden ball. Of course, there is song and dance, drinking and feasting.

Colourful Indian festival from north-east India- Behdienkhlam

West:

Nariyal Purnima (coconut full moon) festival of the Maharashtrians:

You can see the Maharashtrians celebrate Nariyal Purnima, the coconut festival. This is predominant among the fishing community or the Kolis in Maharshtra and other coastal locations. Unlike some other harvest related festivals, this Indian regional festival celebrates the end of monsoon, when the seas become safe for the fishermen to resume fishing.

Narali Purnima or nariyal purnima, a unique Indian festival 

South India:

Onam of Kerala:

Onam, celebrated in the state of Kerala has a look, feel and flavour unlike anything else. Visit Kerala around this festival to experience the real local culture, food and traditions. Onam is a harvest festival, celebrating the first harvest of the land. The evergreen Kerala turns into a riot of color with floral decorations, sumptuously decorated temple elephants and stunning Kathakali dancers. The Onam sadya (special feast of onam) is a festive delicacy that is craved by locals and non-locals alike. Then there are the snake boat races. We can go on, but we think this is enough to make you book your trip to Kerala to coincide with the Onam festival.

Colourful Kathakali dance during Onam festival in Kerala

See our travel tips for monsoon travel here

Need help with visa? See our 10 tips to get a visa to India

Read our blog post about Onam Sadya here

Cheers

Sudha

Picture Courtesy:

Minjar Mela, IndiaMike

Puri Rath Yatra, Southupdate 

 Behdienkhlam, Photoextract

Narailpurnima, Magical Mumbai

Kathakali, Wikimedia

Posted by Sudha at 12:04 pm
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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

Though I don't have any claim to wisdom, I have discovered a whole new me through travel. Like who I am when I'm outside my comfort zone or when I am face to face with something enchanting. While you can read here about the places I stayed at, there's so much more to a journey. An unexpected fiery sunset or a quirky tradition or a fabulous hole-in-the-wall restaurant. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unanticipated aspects of travelling. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries.

 
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