Most Celebrated Festivals in India

Most Celebrated Festivals in India

Most Celebrated Festivals in India

India is a country with a vast territory and diverse religions, which creates a diverse local festival culture. It is said that there are over a thousand festivals in India throughout the year. Every festival in India is welcomed with big celebrations and sometimes a unison of cultures. 

1. Diwali — The Festival of Lights

Diwali — The Festival of LightsPeople light up the oil lamps on Diwali nights
  • Date: November 12th, 2023 (Sunday)
  • Public holiday: November 12th, 2023 (many Indians have a week off work for this biggest of Indian festivals)
  • Celebrates: The triumph of light over darkness
  • Observed by: Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists
  • Best locations: Celebrated all over India, the best cities to experience Diwali include Delhi, Jaipur, and Kolkata
  • Celebration activities: Lighting diyas (little oil lamps) and candles, family gatherings, and worshiping Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth)

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is the most important national festival of the year in India, celebrating the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. It tops all other festivals with its lengthy, large-scale, and multi-faith celebrations in India.

The importance of Diwali for Indians is like Christmas's for Westerners. Many Indian companies take Diwali as the beginning of a new financial year. Each year, over 1 billion people — Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists, on the Indian mainland and in oversees communities — celebrate these spiritual and joyous days.

Diwali typically takes place in late October or early November, and the celebrations last for 5 days (November 10th to 14th in 2023), with the third day being the main day (November 12th in 2023) of the festival.

5-Day Celebration Schedule for Diwali 2023:

  • Day 1: November 10th, 2023 — Cleaning and Shopping
  • Day 2: November 11th, 2023 — Home Decoration
  • Day 3: November 12th, 2023 — Family Gatherings and Lakshmi Puja
  • Day 4: November 13th, 2023 -Celebrating the love between husband and wife
  • Day 5: November 14th, 2023 -Celebrate the bond between brothers and sisters

Read more about Diwali

2. Holi — Festival of Colors

Holi — Festival of ColorsHave fun on the colored-powder-and-water "fight"
  • Date: March 8th, 2023 (Saturday)
  • Public holiday: March 8th, 2023
  • Celebrates: The victory of good over evil
  • Observed by: Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists
  • Best locations: Celebrated all over India, top places for Holi celebrations include Udaipur, Pushkar, Hampi, Jaipur, and Goa
  • Celebration activities: Holika bonfires and colored-powder fights

Like Diwali, Holi also celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Holi is the celebration of the defeat of the demoness Holika and the coming of spring. The holiday takes place over two days (March 7th–8th in 2023). On the night before Holi, under the full moon, effigies of the demoness are burned in large bonfires to celebrate her defeat.

The next day, the entire country heads to the streets for a giant colored-powder-and-water "fight". The color fight is meant to represent the pure joy of victory and the coming together of people of all classes.

You should visit India during Holi if you are interested in a fun and lively atmosphere complete with dancing, laughter, and colorful photos.

You may want to read more about Holi Festival and the differences between Holi and Diwali.

Experience Graceful India and Lovely Sri Lanka
 Navaratri — Dedicated to Divine Feminine Principle in Nine NightsNavaratri Festivity in Gujarat India
  • Date: October 15th to 24th, 2023
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The end of evils and the beginning of new, good, and pure life
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: All states in India; no outstanding recommendations
  • Celebration activities: Visit temples, 9 days of fasting, meditation, prayers, and dandiya dances

Navaratri is a 9-night festival in honor of three goddesses. Nava means 'nine', ra means 'night', and tri refers to the 'three' levels of ourselves — body, mind, and soul. So, Navratri is a time of prayer and rejuvenation.

The first 3 nights focus on the goddess Durga to remove the barriers and evils on our body, the second 3 nights focus on the goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and good fortune) and the last 3 nights on goddess Sarasvati (goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning).

Navaratri is celebrated across India. During this festival, people worship different forms of maternal divinity by fasting, meditation, and prayers and with traditional dance forms like dandiya.

People also dress in different colored dresses each day of the celebrations:

  • First day  — yellow
  • Second day — green
  • Third day — grey
  • Fourth day — orange
  • Fifth day — white
  • Sixth day — red
  • Seventh day — royal blue
  • Eighth day — pink
  • Ninth day — purple

More about Navaratri.

4. Dussehra — Victory of the Tenth Day

DussehraDussehra Festival
  • Date: October 24th, 2023 (Tuesday)
  • Public holiday: October 24th, 2023
  • Celebrates: Another victory of good over evil — Lord Rama's victory over Ravana
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Mainly in Northern India; Mysore has special celebrations (see below)
  • Celebration activities: Processions and performances of the Ramlila (the Ramayana epic) with night show and torchlight parades.  

Dussehra is an important festival in India that comes after Navaratri. The 'tenth-day victory' marks the Lord Rama's victory over Ravana (the 10-headed demon) after 10 days of battles.

In India's northern, central and western states, many performances of the Ramlila story and the burning of large statues of Ravana occur everywhere for 10 days.

During the festival, shows and plays based on the Ramlila are performed at outdoor fairs, along with songs and narrations. During Dussehra in Mysore, you should  have a chance to see Mysore Palace with its almost 100,000 lights dazzling at the night show and a torch-light parade at the Bannimantap Parade Grounds.

Learn more about how to celebrate Dussehra and the Ramlila plays.

5. Durga Puja — Victory of Durga over the Demon Mahishasura

Durga PujaDurga Puja pandals in Kolkata
  • Date: October 20th to 24th, 2023
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday
  • Celebrates: The victory of the goddess Durga over the demon king Mahishasura
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: In Kolkata and West Bengal
  • Celebration activities: Visit Durga Puja pandals (temporary shrines for worshiping Goddess Durga)

Durga Puja is the largest festival to take place in Kolkata and West Bengal. It commemorates the victory of the goddess Durga over the buffalo demon Mahishasura. It is a ten-day event, and the last five days involve certain rituals and practices. 

During the festival, large statues of the goddess Durga with her ten arms are created and placed in temples or pandals throughout the city.

The creation of the pandals and statues of the goddess begins months in advance.

During the last day of the festival, statues of Durga are paraded through the city then submerged into the Hugli River. This ceremony marks the end of the goddess's annual sojourn to her paternal home and return to her husband Lord Shiva.

You may want to learn more about how to celebrate Durga Puja and the legends behind it.

6. Onam — New Year for Malayali People in Kerala

Onam — New Year for Malayali People in KeralaBand People dressed for Onam Festival
  • Date: August 29th, 2023 (Tuesday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The beginning of the harvest season and the return of King Mahabali
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: It mainly takes place in Kerala.
  • Celebration activities: Traditional dances, sports competitions, boat races, Kathakali (a form of dance-drama of South India using mime) performances, and enjoying the festival feast

Onam is a 10-day harvest festival (August 20th – August 31st in 2023) that takes place in Kerala. It is the most revered and celebrated festival in Kerala. Onam is celebrated to mark the beginning of the harvest season and commemorate the return of the mythical King Mahabali.

Onam in Kerala is full of cultural events including traditional dances, sports competitions, boat races, and Kathakali performances. Every household also creates a pookalam, which is a decoration made from flower petals and rice that is placed on the floor at the entrance of homes and buildings.

The most important day of Onam is called Thiru Onam (August 29th, 2023), which directly translates to 'sacred Onam day'. Thiru Onam is when the competitions, boat races, feasts, and temple events all take place.

Read more details about Onam.

7. Pongal — a Harvest Festival in South India

Pongal — a Harvest Festival in South IndiaMusicians take around decorated bull as tradtion during Pongal.
  • Date: January 15th, 2024 (Sunday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday
  • Celebrates: Thanksgiving to the Sun God for harvest
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: It is mainly celebrated in the south in Tamil Nadu.
  • Celebration activities: Cattle races, traditional dances, and enjoying a special holiday dish called Venpongal

Pongal is a festival in Tamil Nadu that celebrates thanksgiving to the Sun God for harvests with large feasts and family get-togethers. Pongal also marks the return of the sun into the Northern Hemisphere and the return of warmer weather.

Pongal takes place over 4 days (January 15th–18th in 2024) and the main day is the second day. During the festival, farmers harvest crops they have been growing all year such as rice, sugarcane, and turmeric. They also clean their homes and make offerings to the Sun God for luck and prosperity. During Pongal in Tamil Nadu, you can also enjoy cattle races, traditional dances, and a special holiday dish called Venpongal.

Learn more about Pongal and how best to experience this harvest holiday.

8. Makar Sankranti — Harvest Festival in North India

Makar SankrantiMakar Sankranti Celebrations
  • Date: January 14th, 2024 (Sunday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The beginning of the harvest season and marks Hindu New Year for North Indians
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Celebrated mainly in North India, it's especially festive in Jaipur
  • Celebration activities: Worshiping sun god (Surya) and flying kites

On Makar Sankranti, Indians celebrate the sun passing back into the Northern Hemisphere, signaling the return of warmth to the country and marking the beginning of the harvest season. So, people worship Surya, the Hindu sun god.

This festival is celebrated in many different forms across India. In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as Pongal. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in North India with large kite festivals, the most famous of which is the Jaipur Kite Festival.

The Jaipur Kite Festival is one of the most attended festivals in Rajasthan. The festival includes kite competitions where competitors try to cut the kite strings of their opponents. The last kite flying gets a prize! The city of Jaipur also arranges a friendly kite-flying zone for anyone who doesn't want their kite string cut.

All You Need to Know about Makar Sankranti

9. Eid al-Fitr — The Festival of Breaking the Fast

Eid al-Fitr — The Festival of Breaking the FastA gathering of Muslim men and children bowing down and offering Namaz prayers on Eid`Al-Fitr
  • Date: April 22nd, 2023 (Saturday)
  • Public holiday: April 22nd, 2023
  • Celebrates: Marking the end of Ramadan
  • Observed by: Muslims
  • Best locations: All round India it is celebrated, but it is more ceremonious in North India
  • Celebration activities: Prayers in the morning, visiting friends and relatives, enjoying and exchanging sweet desserts

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated all over the world, but it is an important holiday in India because of the country's large Muslim community. Islam has contributed a lot to Indian culture especially in North India, which has had a long history of Islamic rulers, including the Mughals who built incredible structures such as the Taj Mahal and Red Fort.

Eid is a day of celebration that marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. Because Eid marks the breaking of the fast, this holiday is celebrated with large meals and incredible street food.

Learn more about how to experience Eid in India.

10. Ganesh Chaturthi — Birthday of Lord Ganesha (the Elephant-Headed God)

Ganesh ChaturthiFamily menbers do the Ganesh worship
  • Date: September 19th, 2023 (Tuesday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The birthday of Lord Ganesha (god of wisdom, success, and good luck)
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: It is celebrated in Mumbai with particular fervor and gaiety, but also in the rest of India.
  • Celebration activities: Placing huge handcrafted statues of Ganesh in pandals (temporary shrines) and other Ganesh worship

Ganesh is an elephant-headed Hindu god that is the most well-known and most admired god of wisdom and wealth in Indian mythology and folklore. Although Ganesh is a beloved deity all across India, the city of Mumbai holds a particular love for him and throws a huge festival in his honor every year.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival that celebrates the birth of Ganesh. During the festival, huge handcrafted statues of Ganesh are displayed in pandals or temples throughout Mumbai. Every neighborhood in the city competes to make the best and most beautiful statue of Ganesh.

Throughout the festival, each statue is given offerings and is celebrated with religious rituals until the final day when all the statues are carried to the ocean and submerged. Placing the statues in the sea symbolizes Lord Ganesh leaving Earth and returning to the heavens.

Learn more about how and where to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi.

11. Janmashtami — Birth of Krishna (Eighth Avatar of God Vishnu)

Janmashtami — Birth of KrishnaJanmashtami celebrations by breaking a pot full of butter, forming a human pyramid
  • Date: September 6th, 2023 (Wednesday)
  • Public holiday: September 6th, 2023
  • Celebrates: The birth of Krishna, eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu 
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Celebrated all over India, Mumbai's celebrations are notably magnificent
  • Celebration activities: Visiting Krishna temples, prayers, fasting and enjoying performances of the life of Krishna, watching Dahi Handi (human pyramid) competitions.     

Janmashtami, popularly known as the Krishna Janmashtami festival, is celebrated across India to honor the birth of Krishna (eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu was reincarnated as Krishna to bring hope to the earth and free it from the despair caused by the tyranny of evil rulers.

It is celebrated on the eighth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrava (the fifth month), and usually falls in August or September and it will last for 2 days. The celebration consists of keeping a vigil and fasting until midnight at Krishna temples, praying, and enjoying performances of the life of Krishna.

The highlight of the festival is Dahi Handi, which takes place on the second day. People form a human pyramid to reach the clay pots of yogurt strung up from tall buildings. If you wish to witness this fun activity then Mumbai is the place to go because Dahi Handi competitions take place at hundreds of locations across the city.

Learn more about Janmashtami and supreme Lord Krishna.

12. Mahashivratri — Worship Lord Shiva (the God of Destruction) 

Mahashivratri - Worship Lord ShivaMahashivratri - Worship Lord Shiva
  • Date: February 18th, 2023 (Saturday)
  • Public holiday: February 18th, 2023
  • Celebrates: Worship Lord Shiva
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Celebrated in both India and Nepal, Varanasi and Haridwar in India are the best places to celebrate
  • Celebration activities: Visiting Shiva temples, chanting, fasting, and meditating 

Mahashivratri, 'Great Night of Shiva', is a festival dedicated to Shiva. In Hinduism, Shiva is worshipped as a supreme being who creates, protects, and transforms the universe. A Shivaratri is celebrated on the 13th night and 14th day of every lunar month, among the 12 Shivaratris, the Shivaratri occuring in February/March is the most spiritual one, so it is celebrated as Mahashivratri.

Mahashivratri is not a joyous festival. It is a time for self-reflection and introspection, celebrated at night and during the day after with chanting, fasting, and meditating. Some devotees stay awake all night, singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva.

Varanasi is home to one of the most important Shiva temples in the country: the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This temple sees over a million Hindus from around the country who come to perform rituals.

Haridwar is famous for its temples and ghats, steps leading down to a river where pilgrims bathe to rid themselves of their sins. Devotees often first take a dip in the holy Ganges at Har Ki Pauri Ghat, then head to Neelkanth Mahadev Temple to make offerings. By watching the rituals, you will understand more about Hinduism and their belief of the soul's journey to liberation.

Mahashivratri is also considered to be the day when Shiva and Parvati got married, so it is also an extremely significant festival for women to get marital bliss and prosperous marriages.

Learn more about Mahashivratri and supreme Lord Shiva.

13. Pushkar Camel Fair — Decorated Camels Carnival

Pushkar Camel FairPushkar Camel Fair
  • Date: November 20th to 27th, 2023
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: A holy time for cattle and camel traders to do business
  • Observed by: Farmers, Hindu pilgrims, tourists (domestic and foreign)
  • Best locations: Pushkar, Rajasthan
  • Celebration activities: Street performances, folk dancers, camel races and camel beauty contests

The Pushkar Camel Fair takes place over a multi-day period in November every year. The Pushkar Fair began as an event to buy and sell livestock, but in recent years has been developed by the Rajasthan Tourism Board into a beautiful display of Rajasthani culture.

During the fair, thousands of colorfully decorated camels along with their owners arrive for a large carnival. The great array of activities include street performances by snake charmers, musicians, and folk dancers as well as camel races and camel beauty contests. You can also check out the Best Mustache and Turban Tying competitions.

The fair itself is often quite crowded and full of people trying to enjoy the carnival activities. If you'd like to avoid the crowds, consider getting a bird's eye view of the festivities from a hot air balloon.

See more on Pushkar on item 7 of Best Places to Go in Rajastan.

14. Hanuman Jayanti — Birth of the Monkey God

Hanuman JayantiPeople install Idols of Hindu gods Krishna and Radha in a pandal on the Hanuman Jayanti day
  • Date: April 6th, 2023 (Thursday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The birth of Lord Hanuman
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: It is celebrated throughout India and Nepal, without any outstanding locations.
  • Celebration activities: Visiting a local temple and performing puja (worship including offerings) and fasting

Hanuman Jayanti is a significant Hindu festival that marks the birth of Lord Hanuman. Hanuman is one of the biggest devotees of Lord Rama (the seventh avatar of Vishnu). He is described as someone who always successfully tackled odds and difficult circumstances.

During the festival, people fast from sunrise on the day of Hanuman's birth, decorate Hanuman statues with flowers and garlands, visit local temples, and attend special religious discourses, read and recite poetic shlokas (Sanskrit couplets), and sing bhajans (devotional songs). 

15. Buddha Jayanti — Gautama Buddha's Birthday

Buddha JayantBuddhist Monks Collecting Alms on the Occassion of Buddha Jayant
  • Date: May 26th, 2023 (Friday)
  • Public holiday: May 26th, 2023
  • Celebrates: Gautama Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death
  • Observed by: Buddhists
  • Best locations: All round India, wherever there are Buddhist temples
  • Celebration activities: Visiting Buddhist temples and praying, listening to monks give talks and recite ancient verses, eating vegetarian food and making donations.

Buddha Jayanti is one of the holiest Buddhist festivals in India. Gautama Buddha was a spiritual teacher in India and introduced the philosophy of Buddhism to the world. He is considered to be the supreme Buddha by many Buddhists.

The Buddha's birthday celebration is based on an Asian lunisolar calendar. So, the Gregorian date varies from year to year, falling in April or May, sometimes June. During the festival, people go to visit Buddhist temples or monasteries, listen to monks giving talks and reciting ancient verses, and follow Buddhist traditions like eating vegetarian food and making donations.

16. Guru Nanak Jayanti — Birth of Guru Nanak (Founder of Sikhism)

Guru Nanak Jayanti — Birth of Guru Nanak (Founder of Sikhism)Effigy of Sikh guru, Guru Nanak
  • Date: November 27th, 2023 (Monday)
  • Public holiday: November 27th, 2023
  • Celebrates: The anniversary of the birth of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak
  • Observed by: Sikhs
  • Best locations: Sikh communities all over the world, especially in Punjab
  • Celebration activities: Akhand Path (reading the Guru Granth Sahib completely in 2 days), praying, and enjoying Langars (community meals)

Guru Nanak Jayanti (Gurpurab) is one of the most auspicious and significant festivals in Sikhism, celebrate the birth of its founder, Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was born on Puranmashi of Khattak (the full moon in the eighth month of the Nanakshahi calendar, usually in November) in 1469.

Usually, the celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti begin a few days prior to the guru's birthday. People start with continuous scripture reading (Akhand Path). Guru Granth Sahib reading at the Golden Temple in Amritsar start 3 days in advance. Then on Gurpurab (the Guru's birthday), people do their morning players and Langars (grand feasts) are organized for everyone.

17. Gandhi Jayanti — Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi (Father of the Nation)

Gandhi JayantiPeople paying visiting and paying tribute Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat on Gandhi Jayanti
  • Date: October 2nd, 2023 (Monday)
  • Public holiday: October 2nd, 2023
  • Celebrates: The birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Observed by: All Indians
  • Best locations: Celebrated nationwide, Delhi celebrations are particularly reverent
  • Celebration activities: Prayer meetings, commemorative ceremonies, and visiting Ghandi's memorial at New Delhi's Raj Ghat

Gandhi Jayanti is one of the three national holidays of India. It celebrates the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who led India's freedom movement against British rule in India.

The day is celebrated with tributes, prayers, commemorative ceremonies, and visiting Ghandi's memorial at New Delhi's Raj Ghat. Statues of Mahatma Gandhi are decorated with garlands on the day.

18. Eid al-Adha — Feast of Sacrifice

Eid al-Adha — Feast of SacrificeMuslims do Eid prayers
  • Date: June 28th-29th, 2023
  • Public holiday: June 29th, 2023 (National except AR, CH, DN, DD & SK)
  • Celebrates: The willingness of Ibrahim (father of the Arab people) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God's command.
  • Observed by: Muslims
  • Best locations: All in India
  • Celebration activities: Eid prayers, animal sacrifices, charity, social gatherings, and festive meals

Eid al-Adha, the 'Festival of Sacrifice', is known as Bakrid in India. It's a Muslim festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (father of the Arab people) to sacrifice his son Ismael (according to the Qur'an) as an act of obedience to God's command and God's provision of a ram as a substitute sacrifice.

Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah (the 12th and final month in the Islamic lunar calendar) and lasts for 2 days (June 28th-29th in 2023). During the festival, Muslims will wear new clothes and attend Eid prayers, sacrifice a sheep or goat, and share the meat with family members, neighbors, and the poor.

19. Eid Milad Un Nabi — Birthday of Muhammad (Founder of Islam)

Eid Milad Un NabiPeople celebrating Eid Milad Un Nabi in a local village
  • Date: September 28th, 2023 (Thursday)
  • Public holiday: September 28th, 2023
  • Celebrates: Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad
  • Observed by: Muslims
  • Best locations: Muslim areas all over India
  • Celebration activities: Prayers, parades, attending lectures about the Prophet's life and teaching

Milad Un-Nabi, also known as Eid-e-Milad, is a big day for Muslims. It is a time to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad and honor his life and teachings. Muhammad was the founder of Islam and was born on the 12th of Rabi' al-Awwal (the 3rd month of the Islamic calendar).

During the festival, Muslims take part in night-long prayer and attend lectures about the Prophet's life and teaching. On Milad Un-Nabi, people carry green flags or wear green ribbons or items of clothing, as green represents Islam and paradise for Muslims.

20. Good Friday — Celebrates the Atoning Death of Jesus Christ

Good FridayGood Friday
  • Date: April 7th, 2023 (Friday)
  • Public holiday: April 7th, 2023
  • Celebrates: the final hours of Jesus' life, his crucifixion, and death
  • Observed by: Christians
  • Best locations: Celebrated by churches all over India, the best city to spend it in is Goa
  • Celebration activities:  Church services, prayer, parades, open-air plays

Good Friday celebrates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ and the victory of God over evil. It is observed by Christians around the world. In India, Christianity is the third largest religion, so Good Friday is also a public holiday in India.

Many Christians in India attend special church services or pray on Good Friday. They hold parades or open-air plays to portray the last days and hours of Jesus' life in some areas of India.

The best city to spend Good Friday in is Goa, which has a very rich Christian culture with many churches.

21. Christmas — Jesus Christ's Birth

Christmas Celebrations in India Christmas Celebrations in India
  • Date: December 25th, 2023 (Monday)
  • Public holiday: December 25th, 2023
  • Celebrates: Jesus Christ's birth
  • Observed by: Christians
  • Best locations: Christians throughout India celebrate it, but the best city to spend it in is Goa
  • Celebration activities: Church services, prayer, family reunions

Christianity is the third largest religion of India and there are 24 million Christians in India. Many Christians in India celebrate Jesus Christ's birth on Christmas Day, and it is a public holiday.

During Christmas, Christians in India attend special church services, spend time with family members, wear new clothes, and eat a festive meal.

22. Republic Day — Constitution of India Day

Camel Parade in India Republic DayCamel Parade in India Republic Day
  • Date: January 26th, 2024 (Thursday)
  • Public holiday: January 26th, 2024
  • Celebrates: The date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on  January 26th, 1950
  • Observed by: All Indians
  • Best locations: Celebrations happen throughout India, but the ceremonial parades in New Delhi are particularly special
  • Celebration activities: Join and watch the Republic Day parades

Republic Day is a national public holiday with great honor and joy in India. It celebrates the Constitution of India coming into force and the spirit of an independent and individual India. The main Republic Day celebrations — ceremonial parades — are held in the national capital New Delhi on January 26th each year.

23. Independence Day — Marks Freedom from British Rule

Indian girl celebrating Indian Independence Day Indian girl celebrating Indian Independence Day
  • Date: August 15th, 2023 (Tuesday)
  • Public holiday: August 15th, 2023
  • Celebrates: the nation's independence from the United Kingdom
  • Observed by: All Indians
  • Best locations: All in India celebrate, and there are flag hoisting ceremonies in New Delhi
  • Celebration activities: Hoisting of the Indian tricolor, parades, and cultural events

Independence Day is celebrated on August 15th every year to commemorate India's freedom from British rule in 1947. It is a national holiday celebrated across India in the spirit of India's freedom, with a hoisting of India's flag, parades, and cultural events.

24. Baisakhi — Spring Harvest Festival in Punjab

Dance during Baisakhi ProcessionDance during Baisakhi Procession
  • Date: April 14th, 2023 (Friday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: the harvest season
  • Observed by: Sikhs
  • Best locations: Punjab
  • Celebration activities: Visiting local gurdwaras, processions, local folk dances, and enjoying festive foods

Baisakhi is New Year's Day for the Sikh community. It commemorates the harvest season.

During the joyful festival, Sikhs bathe in lakes or rivers before visiting local gurdwaras. There are many community fairs, processions and local folk dances, such as Giddha and Bhangra. Then, people gather and share festive foods.

25. Lohri — a Winter Folk Festival

Lohri FestivalLohri festival for Punjabi Punjabi bhangra
  • Date: January 13th, 2024 (Saturday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday generally, but a public holiday in Punjab.
  • Celebrates: The end of winter and harvesting of the crops
  • Observed by: People of Punjab region
  • Best locations: Punjab region
  • Celebration activities: Bonfires, enjoy food and dance

Lohri is celebrated in the Punjab region to mark the ending of mid-winter and a harvest of crops. It is also seen as New Year's Day for Punjabi farmers. Lohri night falls in the month following the longest night of the year, usually on January 13th or January 14th.

People celebrate Lohri by lighting bonfires, eating festive food, dancing, and giving gifts.

26. Ugadi — Hindu New Year


Hindu New Year Festival, Jodhpur, India Hindu New Year Festival, Jodhpur, India
  • Date: March 22nd, 2023 (Wednesday)
  • Public holiday: March 22nd, 2023
  • Celebrates: The beginning of the harvest season and the first month of the year
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: All over India, it is celebrated with fervor
  • Celebration activities: Taking traditional oil baths, wearing fancy clothes, decorating homes with rangoli and performing puja (shrine worship)

Ugadi is the Hindu New Year mainly celebrated in Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. Ugadi consists of the Sanskrit words yuga ('age') and adi ('starting'), meaning 'the beginning of a new age'.

The month of Chaitra is considered to be the first month of the year in the Hindu calendar. It is a harvest festival and an auspicious time to start new work. What's more, it is believed that the supreme god Brahma created the universe on this day, according to Hindu mythology.

People celebrate this festival with joy and splendor by taking traditional oil baths, wearing fancy clothes, decorating homes with rangoli, and performing puja (obeisance rituals).

Ugadi is celebrated as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra (West of India). Padwa means crop and it marks the end of the rabi ('winter') crop and time for a new vasant ('spring') season.

27. Bihu — Assamese New year

Rongali Bihu at Rong Ghar of Historical Sivasagar, AssamRongali Bihu at Rong Ghar of Historical Sivasagar, Assam
  • Date: April 14th, 2023 (Friday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The beginning of the harvest season and the first month of the year
  • Observed by: Assamese people
  • Best locations: Assam (in northeast India)
  • Celebration activities: Community feasts, music, and dancing

Bihu is one of the biggest festivals in the northeastern state of Assam and is considered to be the start of the Assamese New Year.

Bihu is also a harvest festival, which the Assamese people celebrate with community feasts, music, and dancing.

28. Mewar Festival — Celebration of Spring's Arrival

Mewar festival in Udaipur, India Mewar festival in Udaipur, India
  • Date: March 24th, 2023 (Friday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The arrival of the spring season
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Rajasthan and Udaipur in particular
  • Celebration activities: Dressing well and attending celebrations

Mewar is celebrated to mark the arrival of the spring season, and the famous Mewar Festival of Rajasthan is the best way to experience Rajasthan's culture and celebrations.

The festival will last for three days of celebrations (March 22nd–24th in 2023) by the locals with a large number of cultural events, such as dances and songs. The festival coincides with the famous Gangaur Festival of Udaipur (devoted to Goddess Gauri, wife of Lord Shiva), so it holds a special significance for womenfolk and offers them an opportunity to dress in their finest clothes and join in the celebrations.

29. Losar — Tibetan New Year

Losar — Tibetan New YearBuddhist monks and nuns celebrate Losar, the Tibetan New Year at the Dalai Lama temple, McLeod Ganj, India
  • Date: February 21st, 2023
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday
  • Celebrates: The start of the Tibetan year
  • Observed by: Buddhists
  • Best locations: Mainly Himachal Pradesh, Leh, and Ladakh
  • Celebration activities: Feasting, dance, and music, fire processions

Losar is the greatest Indian festival and celebration for its Tibetan people, especially in Himachal Pradesh, Leh, and Ladakh. The Ladakh region is also called 'Little Tibet'. Losar means New Year (lo — 'year', sar — 'new') in Tibetan. It is celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists to mark the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year.

Losar falls on the first day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunisolar calendar, usually in the period February 5th to March 5th. The main celebrations in India will last for 3 days (February 19th-21st, 2023). People celebrate this joyous festival with great feasts, dances, music, metho ('fire') processions, and reenacted battles between the king and his ministers.

30. Hemis — Birth of Lord Padmasambhava

Hemis — Birth of Lord PadmasambhavaMasked dance to honor the Padmasambhava
  • Date: June 28th–29th, 2023
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: The birthday of Lord Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism
  • Observed by: Buddhists
  • Best locations: Leh in Ladakh
  • Celebration activities: Vibrant costumes, masked dance

The Hemis festival is a celebration of the birthday of Lord Padmasambhava, who was the founder of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism. It is one of the most tourist-friendly and famous religious festivals in India.

Hemis is celebrated on the 9th and 10th day of the 5th month of the Tibetan calendar (in June or July). The festival lasts 2 days (June 28th–29th, 2023). During the festival, monks wear colorful robes and perform frightful Cham dances (sacred mask dances) to honor the Padmasambhava at Hemis monastery.

31. Mahavir Jayanti — Birth of Lord Mahavir (Founder of Jainism)

Mahavir Jayanti — Birth of Lord Mahavir (Founder of Jainism)Indian Jain community people on horse drawn chariot in a procession on mahavir jayanti festival
  • Date: April 4th, 2023 (Tuesday)
  • Public holiday: April 4th, 2023
  • Celebrates: the birth of Lord Mahavira
  • Observed by: Jains
  • Best locations: Wherever there are Jains across India, but most widely celebrated in Gujarat and Bihar
  • Celebration activities: Visiting Jain temples, prayers, and fasting

Mahavir Jayanti is the most important religious holiday in Jainism, as it commemorates the birth of Lord Mahavira. Mahavir is a contemporary of the Buddha and the 24th and last Tirthankara (great sages) of Jainism.

During the festival, local people visit Jain temples, pray and fast, and a procession is carried out with an idol of Lord Mahavira.

32. Chhath Puja — Thanking the Sun God Surya

Chhath Puja — Thanking the Sun God SuryaIndian women pray and devote for Chhath Puja festival on Ganges river side in Varanasi, India
  • Date: November 19th, 2023 (Sunday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: the sun god's provision of well-being, prosperity, and progress
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Mainly in North India, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
  • Celebration activities: Bathing in the holy rivers, praying, and sun god puja (worship)

Chhath Puja is a popular Hindu festival to thank sun god Surya for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to extend good wishes for life. Chhath means 'six' in Hindi, and this festival is celebrated on the 6th day of the month of Karthika (the 8th month of the Hindu calendar).

The festival lasts for 4 days (November 17th to 20th, 2023) with different customs and activities on each day. Local people bathe in the holy rivers or lakes and perform prayer rituals to Surya (puja) around the holy rivers.

33. Basant Panchami — Festival of Goddess Saraswati

Basant Panchami Festival in Rajasthan, IndiaBasant Panchami Festival in Rajasthan, India
  • Date: February 14th, 2024 (Wednesday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: Goddess Saraswati in order to seek blessings and wisdom and marks the beginning of spring
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: All over India; no particular best location
  • Celebration activities: Worshiping Goddess Saraswati, wearing yellow attire

Basant Panchami, also called Saraswati Puja, is a festival dedicated to the goddess Saraswati. She is the wife of the creation god Brahma, and she is the goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning, according to Hindu scriptures. Saraswati Puja will be celebrated on the fifth day of Magha (11th month of the Hindu calendar) and occurring in January or February.

During the festival, students and artists visit her temples to pray for wisdom and academic growth. Newborns' families also encourage their babies to write their first sentence with their fingers. On this day, all devotees wear yellow attire to do their puja (shrine rituals), as it is believed to be Saraswati's favorite color, and yellow signifies knowledge, learning, and happiness for Hindus.

34. Ratha Yatra — Celebrated for Lord Jagannath (an avatar of Lord Vishnu)

Devotees at Puri Ratha YatraDevotees at Puri Ratha Yatra
  • Date: June 20th, 2023 (Tuesday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: Lord Jagannath
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best location: Puri in the state of Odisha
  • Celebration activities: A grand procession of idols of Lord Jagannath and his siblings

Ratha Yatra is a festival devoted to Lord Jagannath at the famous Jagannatha Temple in Puri, Odisha. Rath Yatra is observed on the 15th or 16th day of Ashadha (4th month of the Hindu calendar). On the Gregorian calendar, it falls in June or July.

On this day, idols of Lord Jagannath and his siblings (Goddess Subhadra — half-sister of Krishna and Lord Balabhadra — elder brother of Krishna) are decorated and placed in chariots to cover a 3-km (2-mile) journey from Jagannath Temple to the Gundicha Temple.

35. Raksha Bandhan — Celebrating the Bond between Siblings

Raksha Bandhan — Celebrating the Bond between SiblingsCute Indian child brother and sister celebrating raksha bandhan festival
  • Date: August 30th, 2023 (Wednesday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday
  • Celebrates: A strengthening of the bond between siblings
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Mainly in north India, central India, and western India
  • Celebration activities: A ceremony in which a sister ties a bracelet on the wrist of her brother and her brother give her sweets and gifts in return

Raksha Bandhan, also called Rakhi, is a traditional festival that celebrates the bond between siblings. Raksha Bandhan means 'to tie a knot of protection' in Sanskrit and comes from the festival's main ceremony in which a sister ties a bracelet on the wrist of her brother for his safety and prosperity.

The bracelets used during the festival are called rakhis and are made from colorful woven threads and decorated with beads and stones.

Once a sister has tied the rakhi around the wrist of the brother, he will give her sweets and gifts. The sister will also offer prayers for her brother and place a red mark on his forehead.

Today, Raksha Bandhan is not only practiced between brothers and sisters, but also between friends, cousins, and anyone else who has a sibling-like relationship.

Learn more about Raksha Bandhan and how to tie a special bracelet around a wrist.

36. Karwa Chauth — Hindu Women's Festival

Karwa Chauth — Hindu Women's FestivalWoman applying Thilaka or Mark to his partner or husband`s forehead during Karwa Chauth festival
  • Date: November 1st, 2023 (Wednesday)
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday.
  • Celebrates: Bonds of marriage
  • Observed by: Hindus
  • Best locations: Particularly in northern and western India
  • Celebration activities: Fasting and praying, exchanging gifts, singing songs, and performing pujas (shrine worship)

Karwa Chauth is a festival for Hindu women, especially married women, who observe a fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands. During Karwa Chauth, Women wear new clothes and solah shringar (the 16 Bridal Adornments) and perform Karwa Chauth puja for a happy and blissful marriage.

The festival is mainly observed by married women, but unmarried girls and boys can also observe this festival while seeking a blessed life partner.

Like many other Hindu festivals, Karwa Chauth dates change every year as it is based on the Hindu lunisolar calendar. It falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the month of Kartik (the 8th lunar month in the Hindu calendar), in October or November.

37. Bikaner Camel Festival — Celebrating Ships of the Desert

Camel Festival in Bikaner, IndiaCamel Festival in Bikaner, India
  • Date: January 13th–15th, 2024
  • Public holiday: It is an optional holiday
  • Celebrates: Decorated camels: Ships of the Desert
  • Observed by: Farmers, Hindu pilgrims, tourists (domestic and foreign)
  • Best locations: Bikaner, Rajasthan
  • Celebration activities: Processions of colorful camels, dances and competitions.

Bikaner Camel Festival is an annual cultural celebration in Bikaner. It is dedicated to camels. The festival lasts for 2 days and it is one of the best ways to witness the culture of Rajasthan. It is the one of the most colorful and energetic festivals in Rajasthan and attracts thousands of locals and travelers.

During the festivals, local people decorate their camels and lead them through Bikaner. They celebrate this joyous festival with dances, music, parades of beautifully decorated camels, fun competitions, and camel racing. 

See more on Bikaner on item 6 of Best Places to Visit in Rajasthan.

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