India is a country full of life, culture and festivities. It is said that India is always in a constant state of festivities. However, on some special days, the whole country comes to life with religious fervor, food, and fun. Here are some of the biggest Hindu festivals in India.
If you are keen on Indian culture, you probably already know about this festival, otherwise known as “the festival of lights”. This five-day festival is a celebration of good over evil, light over darkness and is why there are so many lights all through the festivities. There are a lot of fireworks, gift giving, religious prayers and dancing. Indeed, it is a beautiful time to visit India.
Dusshera is a one-day festival that celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king, Ravana. Coincidentally, the same day, Mahishasura, an evil buffalo demon, was defeated by the warrior goddess Durga. These two spiritual victories are a symbolic triumph of good over evil within the Hindu culture.
During the events, people burn effigies of Ravana along with his evil son Meghnadh and brother Kumbhakarna. This is meant to be a figurative purging of evil from people’s souls as they strive to walk in goodness and righteousness.
During Dusshera, a lot of people commit their new ventures and tools of trade to the goddess Durga for blessing. It is believed that if you start a business or project on this day, you will be successful. It is therefore also a time of new beginning.
Janamashtami (July- August)
This is the birthday of Lord Krishna, who was the eighth incarnation of the revered Lord Vishnu. Depending on which part of India you are, it is also referred to as Govinda or Gokulashtami. This event is celebrated all over the country, though it is best experienced in Mumbai. Hotels in Mumbai will be exceptionally busy in this period though, so make sure you book ahead.
A particularly interesting event is where people form human pyramids to try and reach pots of butter which are hung from tall buildings. This practice originates from the legend that the mischievous young Lord Krishna used to steal butter and curd in the same manner with his friends.
This is a particular favorite of mine. Holi is a celebration full of color, activity and fun. If you are adventurious and don’t mind getting wet and dirty, you will have fun. This festival, also known as the “Festival of Colors” happens for two days during the spring. It commemorates the defeat of the demoness Holika by Lord Vishnu.
During this festival, people splash each other with color powder and throw water at each other. There are also numerous parties and festivities around the country and a lot of dancing under water sprinklers. In addition, a local paste made from the cannabis plant, Bhang, is used during the festivities. If this party style holiday sounds attractive, then stay away from the South parts of India. Here, they are more keen on the spiritual and less on the festival.
A word of warning: all the excitement and intoxication during the festival may increase safety risk, especially for young females. So, if you are touring during this period, ensure you are in a group, preferably with men you are comfortable with. If you do that, you will be guaranteed a fantastic time and a cultural experience like no other!This is a guest post from John at Top Backpacking Destinations