Festivals in India

#1 Jan 17th, 2009, 19:33
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Hi,
I've just started to plan my trip to India (it's going to be a few years in the making) and have bought a map to try to start to record when certain events are going on in certain areas, and to plan my trip around them.

I was wondering what peoples must see festivals are, whether they've been to them or just really want to in the future. Maybe it's just an area of the country that they think is unmissable at a certain time of year or something like that.

Any ideas would be great, and any info around the places would be good too, like the best hostels/hotels etc. (I know that sounds a bit cheeky, so sorry, but I will do research for myself as well!)

I did have a quick look through the forum before I posted and couldn't find anything, but if I missed it, point me to the thread and I'll apologise profusely!

Thank you!
#2 Jan 18th, 2009, 18:05
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#2
By the way, just to clarify, I don't mean music festivals like some of my friends have thought, but things along the lines of the festival of colours, and local and regional events.
#3 Jan 18th, 2009, 18:19
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#3
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Originally Posted by Marcher View Post Hi,
I've just started to plan my trip to India Thank you!
Well as there are festivals virtually every day across the country, it would help to know the dates of travel.....
#4 Jan 18th, 2009, 20:13
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#4
Could try Vrindavan and Braj area around holi. It is spectacular. Paleface has lived there so can help you. Ask him.
#5 Jan 18th, 2009, 20:22
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Some of the big festivals in India are either noisy or messy. But many enjoy them, including, sometimes, me.

That said, scroll down this page and see/click under 'Similar threads'.. there are a few threads on this.
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#6 Jan 18th, 2009, 21:29
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the capt makes a good point, "noisy and messy" . . . having experienced Holi (the festival of colour) in Varanasi (three times)(and Shivaratri (The Night of Shiva, held in Shiva's city, gotta figure there'll be a party!) three times) and Holi in Dharamsala (once) and once in Pokhara, my thoughts are that it became a reason to go just a little crazy. While the difference in scale and magnitude between these festivals in Varanasi and Dharamsala, say, are much different, it seemed it gave everyone carte blanche to "lose it" for a day . . . or two. My favorite Shivaratri was spent on a boat gliding down the Ganges late at night, with a little distance between me and the revelers.

In my mind/for me, the ultimate festival might very well be the Khumb Mela, held every twelve years at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in Allahabad. Ten million(?) people (many, many of them sadhus) camped out on a sandbar for some days.
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#7 Jan 18th, 2009, 22:12
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I'm not sure of the dates yet Paleface, it's a long way away (3 or 4 years!) but I see you're point that the question is too broad, I guess I was looking for first hand experience of peoples favourites.

Thank you very much for the responses though, and advice on where to look for other info, to be honest I was a bit daunted by the amount of threads here to do a thorough search before hand!
#8 Jan 18th, 2009, 22:22
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Originally Posted by Marcher View Post it's a long way away (3 or 4 years!)
Crikey you're life will be quite different by then. Anyway long term plan eh!
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#9 Jan 18th, 2009, 23:52
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I like Makar Sankranti, on Jan 14th.

It's not crazy madness, and I'm not sure how widely it's celebrated (or even what it means really - anybody?) but I can remember a couple of times - once in Amarkantak (source of the Narmada) and once in Hoshangabad (on the Narmada) and they were both really enjoyable days with a lovely holiday atmosphere. Lots of not-very-well-off families who maybe don't get out much had come from the neighbouring small towns, and so many people seemed to be delighted to be there, it was infectious.

It wouldn't be worth planning your trip around, but if you're in India anyway at that time ....
#10 Jan 19th, 2009, 00:54
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JuliaF - as far as I understand Makar Sankrnati it is when the sun passes into Capricorn, and heralds both the end of winter and the coming of spring. While living in Varanasi over a winter, I asked my bansuri guru when the thick fog that had sat on the city for over a month would clear; without hesitation he told me "January 14." I laughed, but he was adamant. On January 14, the fog lifted.

In Varanasi it is celebrated by flying kites. Almost every rooftop in the city is crowded with children (and adults) flying kites, often going after kites from another roof.
#11 Jan 19th, 2009, 01:22
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Perhaps not immediately relevant, but: Festival dates are not that terribly easy to find out about, not least because most of them follow the lunar calendar, and so shift annually. (Or they may follow more complex constructs even: the first full moon before... Christians may find this recognizable from some of their own festivals.)

There is this recent and sticky thread on it that people may find helpful though: Holidays India 2009: when will all the Indians go on vacation?
#12 Jan 19th, 2009, 01:45
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#12
The January festival here in the South is called Pongal: harvest festival.
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#13 Jan 19th, 2009, 16:56
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#13
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Originally Posted by Paleface View Post Crikey you're life will be quite different by then. Anyway long term plan eh!
I want to go for 3-6 months, and that will only be possible after I finish uni (I'm already 4 years late starting, so I don't want to delay it any more really!) So that's why it's so far away. The plan is to slowly absorb more and more info to plan a really good trip. Chances are though that all my carefully laid plans will go out of the window as soon as I step off the plane but ah well!

Julia and Darma, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, where you've enjoyed spending time at festivals before! I'll look into Pongal too Nick, thank you.

Any more ideas out there? Don't forget I'm also looking for places that are extra special at a certain time of year, maybe the area loos beautiful with the blossom out or something like that.
#14 Jan 19th, 2009, 20:56
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On Makar Sankranti Uttarkashi opens its annual Magh Mela which is quite and event here and people wait for it to happen all year round. You get to taste local food and culture like never before. Mela aside before the opening of the mela, all the local devatas are brought down to the Bhagirathi river in dolis for a dip in the river. This usually happens before dawn around 3.30 - 4.00 am. People are roused by the sounds of the drums playing and singing of the people accompanying the devatas. It is a remarkable sight worth a watch. Then Mela inauguration is preceeded by a Doli dance competition of sorts where the devatas in their dolis compete with each other. Very picturesque!
#15 Jan 20th, 2009, 20:38
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That sounds good also livin, thank you very much.

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