India’s Major Festivals

With a population of over 1.3 billion, and about 90% of the world’s Hindus, it’s no wonder India’s festivals are so engaging and larger than life. And every year, countless travelers flock to India to be a part of these culturally immersive celebrations. Below are three of the most iconic of India’s festivals, which you can actually visit on a Friendly Planet Tour.

Illuminated ©Jasleen Kaur/Flickr

Diwali

Known as the “festival of lights” in Hinduism, Diwali literally translates to “a series of lights”… and what an appropriate name given the ancient tradition of lighting lanterns, candles, and prayer! This annual holiday takes place on the night of the darkest new moon of the Hindu Lunisolar month. To brighten this seemingly hopeless darkness, millions of twinkling lights shine outside homes, windows, temples, and other community buildings; a shining beacon designed to be seen by all, and a confirmation that light has won over darkness, hope over despair, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil. You can visit India during Diwali on our Taj Mahal Express & Diwali, Festival of Light small group tour.

Holi celebrations ©Harsha KR/Flickr

Holi

Just as the spring signals a time for a renewal for the earth, Holi celebrates in late-February to mid-March a healing of damaged relationships and a chance to forgive, play, and laugh. It is a time for looking forward and praying that evil and misfortune stay away in the coming year. The festival begins with an evening ritual of prayer – offered so that the evils around you meet the same fate as the demon Holika, who was burnt to death by Vishnu. Then the following day Holi explodes with the iconic free-for-all “festival of colors” where Hindu worshipers of every generation throw colored powder and paste onto joyous revelers! You can participate in all the activities (just be prepare to get colorful!) on our Taj Mahal Express & Holi, Festival of Colors small group tour.

Pushkar Camel Fair ©Manuel Menal/Flickr

Pushkar Camel Fair

Follow the caravan of herders and camels into the town of Pushkar to experience the Pushkar Camel Fair of Rajasthan! This annual, five-day camel and livestock fair is not only a significant event for livestock owners, it has also gained popularity among world travelers. Farmers, businessmen and herders flock to the fair, attempting to sell their animals or purchase new livestock; women from throughout the country come to peruse the large merchant stalls chock full of jewelry, clothes, textiles, and other accessories. All of these festivities occur at the banks of Pushkar Lake. The mythology of the lake is related to the creator-god of Hinduism, Brahma, whose most prominent temple stands in Pushkar. The most important time of the fair is the day of the full moon. Legend says that it was under a full moon that the holy Brahma leaped out of the water onto land, so faithful pilgrims swim in these blessed waters to feel closer to their holy deity. Even for non-believers, the fair is quite the spectacle, and you can experience it all on our Taj Mahal Express & Pushkar Camel Fair small group tour.

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