Holi, Northern India
Taking place in late February or early March depending on the pattern of the moon (you’ll get used to this during your stay), this is also known as the festival of colour – and not without reason. While its origins are strongly religious, today Holi sees revellers stocking up on a concoction of water and coloured powder which is thrown on anything that moves. As well as this element of madness, however, this is India’s biggest spring festival and consists of at least four days of partying. Offering a unique look at traditional Indian customs and tradition, it is certainly worth including in your trip if you are looking at visiting the country around this time.
Divali, Throughout India
Divali aka the Festival of Lights also depends on the moon and takes place during the last two days of the dark half of Kartik – don’t ask. Basically all you need to know is that this is usually at the end of October or the beginning of November. Depending on which part of the country you happen to be in at the time, different traditions are the norm. In the south the natives take a special oil bath while in the south it is the homes rather than the residents which get a big spring clean. Regardless of what part of the country you are in, however, the fireworks and lights displays throughout are mesmerizing but the best are in Mumbai and Amristar where the famous Golden Temple in the latter is lit each evening of Divali with thousands of lamps resulting in a sight you will never forget.
Summer Festival, Rajasthan
Taking place amid the steep rocks and beautiful lakes at the foot of Mount Abu, this is a celebration of summer and all that comes with it. Celebrated in June every year, the three day event offers a host of entertainment, the most important of which is the vast selection of folk and classical music on offer. Those of you who feel that you might tire of the old Indian ballad after a while, however, can enjoy the numerous sporting events on offer including a spectacular boat race on the Nakki Lake. And, to finish the festival there’s a huge fireworks display which should appeal to even the most particular among you.
Throughout the world Carnival takes place in the week preceding Easter and the western city of Goa is no exception. A non stop three day event full of parades and open air events transform the streets of the city into a one stop party spot where the sights, sounds and smells (in a good way) of India are represented. Colour also plays a large role in the activities with all the locals dressed in traditional costume complete with masks and extensive street decorations. There is also a rather fetching transparent polythene garment which is worn by many and smeared with different colour paint – might seem weird to some but it is certainly worth getting involved in if you’re up for a laugh.
Celebrated throughout the country, the biggest festivities for this event take place in Northern India and in Delhi in particular. Also known as Vaisakhi, this festival takes place on April 13th every year and celebrates the start of the harvest as well as the Hindu New Year. And, like any other in India, this too is a unique combination of music and dance and food and drink – the perfect recipe for a good time so why not take example from the locals and kick back for the day, and the night.