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Festivals & Fairs

The Indian calendar is a procession of festivals and fairs, each a joyous celebration of life, a kaleidoscope of myth and mystique dear to the Indian heart. Like the colours of the rainbow or the seasons that drape the Indian landscape in spring green, mustard yellow and chilly red, the festivals and fairs of India are myriad and infinite.

The heritage of India is an amalgam of cultures. Race after race abode in this country, spreading layer upon layer of rites and rituals. These survived in a riot of colour, music, dance, song, drama and prayer, becoming an integral part of its festivities. All Indian festivals and fairs are the epitome of the cultural and artistic expression of its people involving images, dolls, trees, animals, utensils and lyrical performances. They invariably reflect two remarkable facets of the Indian - the genius of their arts and crafts, and their aesthetic refinement.

The major festivals of India like Diwali and Dussehra are celebrated throughout the country, though the emphasis and the rituals involved change from region to region. There are no fixed dates for many festivals which fall according to the Indian lunar calendar. Muslim festivals again occur any month of the solar year. Many obscure tribal festivals dating from prehistory are little known though very colourful. To the plethora of festivals and fairs Independent India adds the Republic Day - a pageant matched only by the swelling tide of nationalism of India’s one billion.

A common feature of Indian rural life is the hatt or bazaar as it is called in north India and santhi in the south. In the villages this is not only a social but an economic necessity with the occasional religious slant. Although many of the fairs are linked to religious festivals, they serve as market places for rural farmers and tradesmen to buy and sell cows, camels, horses and even donkeys. For the rural women folk it is time to stock goods. Usually the fair ends after the barter, but sometimes during an important festival other attractions are added to prolong the hatt and make it an important fair. These events, apart from being diverting in their own special way, provide an insight into the rural values of India. Mendicants and parrot men with your fate held between twisted beaks….organ grinders and peep shows, snake charmers and fakirs…. carousals, colour and candy floss. Nestling against the water’s edge nudging a hillside, or triumphant against a grey sandy desert, sometimes in the midst of nowhere, the fair or mela is a unique facet of India. Colour and sound, a spontaneous joy, a gaiety nestling somewhere deep in the Indian psyche, suddenly burst to the surface to make the mela an unforgettable experience.

Destination States

Ganesh FestivalGanesha the benevolent God, is omnipresent. He is snugly ensconced in temples, wayside shrines, homes, offices and most of all in the hearts of millions in India and all over the world.

Kutch Utsav (Gujarat)Come February, and there will be a very special opportunity for you to visit and know Kutch intimately - Kutch Utsav. It is organised by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat and is a guided tour of the life and times of Kutch, its beauty, nostalgia, ethos, traditions, culture and spirit.

Surajkund Crafts Mela (Delhi)8 km. from the heart of south Delhi, Surajkund (a small town in the state of Haryana) is one of the region’s oldest and most interesting historical sites. A vast, circular stepped pool with the ruins of a Sun Temple on a raised platform at its eastern rim, Surajkund dates back to the 10th century

Festivals of KeralaFestivals abound in Kerala, but there are some that are better known than others. Since all temples celebrate their individual festivals, chances are that on your visit you will come across at least some form of the celebration..

The National Celebration of GoaOne of the most popular festivals of India, the Goa carnival, a three-day fest, had its birth in Goa during the era of King Momo. He ushered in the Goa carnival just before .

DussehraDussehra is a ten day celebration in honour of the mother goddess, Durga. Lord Shiva is the god of both destruction and creation. Shiva is well known as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. He is also represented by the phallic symbol, the lingam, representing the creative force.

DiwaliMost civilizations of the world recognise the importance of light as a gift of God. It has always been a symbol of whatever is positive in our world of experience. To Hindus, darkness represents ignorance, and light is a metaphor for knowledge. Therefore, lighting a lamp symbolizes the destruction

International Kite Festivalhe recommended places to visit to witness the magnificent kite flying festival would be Jodhpur, the desert city of Rajasthan and Ahmedabad, the second largest city of Gujarat. In these two cities, kites practically

Baisakhi or VaisakhiIndia’s innumerable fairs and festivals mark the seasons which signal to man the time for work and the time for play and relaxation, the advent of the agricultural cycle with sowing in spring, and its culmination with the harvesting of the golden grain.

Festival of RajasthanThe Rajasthani’s love for colour and joyous celebrations is proved by the elaborate rituals and the gay abandon with which he surrenders himself to the numerous fairs and festivals of the region. In addition to the festivals, there are also the traditional fairs.

The Elephant FestivalThe Elephant Festival is a unique event held annually in Jaipur, the capital of the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Groomed to perfection, glittering in gold, row upon row of elephants catwalk before an enthralled audience.

Pushkar FairJust 11 km. Northeast of Ajmer is Pushkar, a small town sacred to the Hindus and now a tourist attraction for its annual camel fair, the largest in the world. Many legends have grown over the origin of Pushkar.

Festival of Bahubali, SravanbelgolaVardhamana Mahavira, the great teacher of Jainism, lived at the same time as Buddha. His mother, Trisala, had a series of sixteen dreams which foretold the birth of a son and his future greatness.

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