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FAIRS & FESTIVALS OF INDIA

Colorful and lively, the fairs and festivals of India are major attractions of the country. Reflecting the vibrant culture of the country, these events occupy a prime place in the Indian tourism industry, as many people visit the country in order to participate in them. The culture of India is aptly reflected through its numerous festivals and fairs. Bringing out the true spirit of the Indian people and their society, the Indian festivals find their roots in the traditions, religious beliefs, myths and the seasons of the country.

The fairs and festivals either celebrate the change of seasons or are of a religious nature. For instance, Mewar Festival and Holi are celebrated to mark the coming of the spring season. Teej of Rajasthan marks the onset of the monsoon. On the other hand, Onam in Kerala and Bihu in Assam are celebrated to mark the harvesting season. Other festivals, like the konark Dance Festival, promote the culture of India. Religious festivals are innumerable over here. Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmastami, Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr, Rath Yatra, Vasant Panchami, Ram Nabami and others are some of the popular religious festivals of India. Apart from these, the other festivals that are celebrated include Desert Festival, Elephant Festival, Raksha Bandhan, Nouroz, Diwali and Dusssehra amongst others.

A large number of fairs are also held in India from time to time. People from far and wide come to take part in these fairs. In fact, many tourists plan their vacations according to the time of occurrence of these fairs. Pushkar Fair, Urs Ajmer Fair and Surajkund Crafts Fair are some of the famous fairs of India. The Kumbh Mela and the colorful and grand Goa Carnival are extremely popular among the locals as well as the tourists. The fairs and festivals of India are held according to the lunar calendar. During these colorful events people of all sects, castes and religions come together and join in the revelry. Processions are held, prayers are offered, gifts are exchanged and people dance and sing during these multicolored events. Bringing out the true colors of the rich Indian culture, the fairs and festivals of India play an important role in attracting tourists to the country. These festivals are an integral part of the life of the people of the country.
 

Konark Dance Festival Konark Dance Festival
The jingling of ankle bells, the rhythm of percussion instruments and the lilting voices reverberating through the still and starry night against the backdrop of an ancient monument on a beautiful seashore – too picture perfect to be true! The Sun Temple at Konark, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, is a magnificent representation of the Surya's (the Sun God) chariot. Every year the beautifully designed Natya Mandir or the dancing hall of this shrine becomes the venue for the world-renowned festival of dance called the konark Dance Festival. For five days, this World Heritage Site resounds with the beats and melodies of music and dance against the backdrop of ancient sculptures in dance poses synchronizing with the rhythmic sound of the waves lashing against the shores of the Chandrabhaga beach. Described as a poem in stone, the sun temple at Konark is the crowning glory of the temple architecture of Orissa. A solitary splendour par excellence, oral history and folk mythology have created layers of legends shrouding the genesis of this world heritage monument built in the 13th century A.D.

The exquisite 'Natamandir' or the 'dancing hall' of this 700-year old shrine is an architectural wonder. Every inch of its walls are laced with fine artistic designs. Musicians playing drums, cymbals and other musical instruments accompany the well-adorned sculptures in Odissi dance posses. It is blessed with changing intensity and a range of emotions.

As a fitting tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together every year during the Konark Festival from 1st to 5th December to present live performance. When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air auditorium against the backdrop of the floodlit temple reverberates with the beats of 'Raga' and 'Tala' to fill the air. The classical extravaganza is a journey through eternal ecstasy.

The festival provides a platform for both to the performing artiste and the dance connoisseurs in appreciating the essence of various classical dance forms of the country. The stage for the dancing event glows in pristine glory of much admired Odissi, Bharat Natyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chhow Dance - a lavish feast for the eyes and ears. This experience of a lifetime will no doubt be a cocktail of Art & Craft, Dance & Music, Sun & Frolic - a total package for five eventful and memorable days.
 
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
The annual dance festival of Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a grand festival in the Tamil Nadu region. This festival presents the Indian classical dance in a huge scale. Every year in the month of December or January with the co-incidence of Pongal, the artists from all over India gather there to perform their traditional dance form. The shore temple in Mahabalipuram forms the back drop for the festival. This event witnesses performances on the Indian classical dances such as the Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, Odissi and Kathakali. The prominent people from their respected fields gather for this cultural event that is also promoted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department as one of the major cultural attraction to these parts of India.

This four week Mamallapuram Dance Festival is held at the venue of Arjuna's penance, a bass-relief sculpted on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks, in Mamallapuram. The magnificent backdrop that is provided by the Pallava Rock Sculptures provide a aesthetic touch to this cultural dance festival.

The open air stage and the dancers from far and wide come to watch the best folk dancers in India perform in front of them under the open skies in an open air theatre style ambience. This open air stage was created about thirteen centuries ago, the incredible monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallavas, next to the sea in this ancient city of Mamallapuram.

 
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival
Goa Carnival Goa Carnival
Come February and Goa is bubbling with activity as preparations for the carnival are on in full swing. One of the most popular festivals of India, the Goa carnival, is a three-day fest that began during the era of King Momo.Goa carnival begins just before the Lent season (Lent is the period of fasting and penance in the Christian calendar and corresponding somewhat to the Mohammedan fast before Ramzan Id).
This Indian festival in Goa usually starts off on Sabado Gordo (Fat Saturday) and concludes on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday)-the eve of Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of the season of Lent.

Carnival is a time for gallivanting. Singing, dancing and masked people mark the uproarious and flamboyant Goan celebration. Carnivals are celebrated by people of all the nations but Goa carnival is different because the people of Goa have inculcated different items in the carnival that makes us see what Goa is all about.

The preparations for this grand carnival begin in January itself. Goans rehearse for the plays to be enacted during the carnival. These short plays are composed by the Goans themselves and consists of music, songs and dance. The plays always have a hint of history in it. The cast consisting of men only performs the roles of women too.

The streets are crowded for three days and it is nothing but a huge party that transports the tourists in Goa to an entirely different world. A person who has tasted fun at Goa carnival cannot help but ask for more.
 
Sonepur Cattle Fair
A visual extravaganza awaits all at the Sonepur Fair, where multitudes congregate on Kartik Purnima to offer obeisance to Harihar Nath and participate in the biggest cattle fair in Asia. Festivities stretch over a fortnight, giving visitors a feel of the pulse of Bihar.

According to the Indian almanac, the full moon day or Purnima of the month of Kartik, which usually falls in November, is one of the most auspicious days. A number of big fairs are held at important paces of pilgrimage and the Harihar Kshetra Mela, as the Sonepur Fair is also known, is one of the biggest.

Sonepur is located in Saran district in the northern part of Bihar. Three mighty rivers - the Ganga, Gandak, and Ghagra, demarcate this district, which is shaped like a triangle. Sonepur stands on the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak.

The Sonepur Fair is of great importance and in the olden times, it attracted traders from as far as Central Asia. Like the origin of the Harihar Nath Temple, the reason for the inception of the Sonepur Fair is lost in the labyrinth of time. The site of the present fair was originally at Hajipur, and only the pujas used to be offered in the temple at Sonepur. During the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, the fair was shifted to Sonepur. In the pre-independence era, the European indigo planters used it as an occasion for social and sports gathering.

The original temple is believed to have been built by Lord Rama on his way to the court of King Janak to win Sita. The age and origin of the present temple has puzzled scholars but it is said that Raja Man Singh had it repaired. The builder of the present temple was Raja Ram Narain, a prominent figure during the late Mughal period. The Birlas recently conducted repairs and extension work in the temple.

Visiting the temple of Harihar Nath is naturally the main objective of the visitors to the fair after they have taken their ritual bath in the swirling waters of the Gandak. As in many other famous places of worship, a number of smaller temples of other deities surround the temple of Harihar Nath Mahadeo.

 
Sonepur Cattle Fair
Pushkar Camel Fair Pushkar Camel Fair
Pushkar Fair or Pushkar Camel Fair, as it is also known as, is one of those events when people from all over Rajasthan make their way to this small town of Pushkar. This is more so for camel drivers, people with a religious bent of mind and not to forget tourists from all over the world. For traders, it is a unique opportunity to meet traders from different parts of the state and earn some profit while for devotees, it is a means to purify their soul by taking a dip in the holy Pushkar lake.

The small and beautiful town of Pushkar is set in a valley just about 14 km off Ajmer in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Surrounded by hills on three sides and sand dunes on the other, Pushkar forms a fascinating location and a befitting backdrop for the annual religious and cattle fair which is globally famous and attracts thousands of visitors from all parts of the world.

One of the most popular and colorful fairs of the Thar desert is the Pushkar fair, which begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi & goes on for five days till Kartik Purnima. The time of the fair coincides with the bright half of the moon during the months of October-November. The lake at Pushkar is one of the most sacred in India.

This small town is transformed into a spectacular fair ground, as rows of make shift stalls display an entire range of objects of art to daily utility stuff. Decoration items for Cattle, Camel and women, everything is sold together.

The fair attracts a great number of tourists from far and wide. The fair grounds reverberate with festivity, as rows of make shift stalls display a bewildering array items. Body tattooing is yet another favorite activity. The profusion of colors that run riot in the desert sand, the glee and the contagious enthusiasm of the village folk are a unique experience for every visitor.

Business in Pushkar actually begins a week before the actual fair starts. It is a good opportunity for those who wish to see trading in full swing, however, once the fair begins, business no longer remains so important. It is the festivity that takes over the commercial aspect of the fair.

As per legend, Lord Brahma (the creator of the universe) was once in search of a place to perform his holy yagna. During his search, a lotus accidentally dropped from his hand and lead to water sprouting from the place where it fell. Lord Brahma performed his yagna there. Today, the otherwise quiet town of Pushkar in known as housing the only Brama temple of the country. During Kartik Purnima, devotees come to take a dip in the water of the holy Pushkar lake (the place where the lotus fell).

The fair is replete with colours and joyous activities. Camels form an intrinsic part of these activities. There are camel shows, race and a competition for best decorated camel. Apart from this, folk dances of Rajasthan also draw huge crowd. Women have other attractions to look forward to inform of jewellery stalls. Few items that make for good purchase in the fair include woolen blanket, bead necklace, textiles,brassware. Tourists can pick up these items as memorabilia of the fair. For domestic visitors, saddles, ropes and other household items are also on sale. People make it a point to visit the 52 ghats of the Pushkar Fair and the only Brahma temple of the town.
 
Desert Festival, Jaisalmer
The beauty of the city of Jaisalmer has often led the poetically inclined ones to refer it as a poem in sand. Even the sheer mention of Jaisalmer evokes the picture of magic and brilliance. Few cities in Rajasthan can boast of such magnificence as Jaisalmer. The unmistakable charm of Jaisalmer is further enhanced by the Desert Festival of India, Jaisalmer. In fact it falls in the league of the most popular fairs and festivals of Rajasthan.

Desert Festival of India, Jaisalmer takes place sometime during the months of January-February. Desert is the predominant theme of this festival and this festival is a sort of a tribute to this all-pervasive and ubiquitous factor in Rajasthan. The golden city takes on a new verve and vigor during the Desert Festival of India in Jaisalmer. To state laconically, the festival is a showcase of the performing arts of the region.

Desert Festival of India, Jaisalmer brings with it a characteristic ebullience. It seems that someone spins the magic wand over the otherwise blanch desert that comes alive with festivities. The hordes of colorfully attired people and the musical strains wafting from the desert sands create an ambience that would compel even an inveterate sluggard to come out of his shell and participate in the celebration of life. The sounds of music and the rhythms of dance infuse a spirit of enthusiasm in the people. A lot of excitement goes into the organization of the actual event. Musicians and performers from all across Rajasthan start flocking to the place for the gala event.

Jaisalmer's Desert Festival of India is made more interesting by a number of competitions and contests that are incorporated in the celebrations. Some of the unique and innovative contests that warrant special mention are the turban-tying competition and Mr. Desert contest that involves a lot of excitement and fun. The camel races contribute in a large extent to the gaiety that characterizes Desert Festival of India, Jaisalmer. The colorful craft bazaar selling a variety of wares is the ideal place to satiate your shopping urge. You can't overcome the temptation of buying embroidered skirts, wood and stone carvings, rugs, hand woven shawls, ethnic jewelry and leather bags. The performance of the genuinely talented folk artists will leave you thoroughly mesmerized. The reputed Gair dancers add to the enchantment.
 
Desert Festival, Jaisalmer
Durga Puja Durga Puja
Durga Puja, also known as Durgotsab is an auspicious occasion which is prominently celebrated in the Indian state of West Bengal. In the nine days long celebrations of Durga Puja festival, Goddess Durga, one of the most revered Goddess for the Hindus, is worshiped in different forms like as goddess of valor, wisdom and wealth. Apart from being a festival, Durga Pooja has become a social-cultural event that celebrates the cheerfulness of life, the vibrant culture, the set rituals and traditions. During the celebrations of Durga Puja, huge puja pandals are erected in which idols of Goddess Durga along with Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesha are placed and worshiped. Lots of dancing, singing devotional songs in praise of Goddess Durga, preparation of special festive dishes are also an integral part of Durga Puja celebrations.

Durga Pooja is celebrated twice a year, once in the month of Chaitra (April-May) and then in Ashwin (September-October). On both occasions nine different forms of Goddess Durga is worshipped therefore called Durga Navratri (nine nights). According to the Hindu Calendar Durga Pooja festival starts on the first day and ends on tenth day of bright half (Shukla Paksha) of Ashwin month.

Durga pooja is celebrated extensively all over India but West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar are the states where beautiful idols of the Mother Goddess are worshipped in elaborate pandals, durga temples for nine days, and on the tenth day, these are carried out in procession for visarjan (immersion) in a river or pond.

The festivities start with the first day called Mahalaya. It is also the day of the beginning of the countdown to the Durga Puja. The face of the goddess remains covered until the bodhon (unveiling) ritual is performed on Sasthi - the sixth day of the moon. Fast is observed on this day by women for the well being of their families.

The Goddess is worshipped as a kumari or young girl, and reveals herself in her true form Mahasaptami (the seventh day of the moon). On Mahastami (eighth day) and Mahanavami (ninth day) the celebrations reach a fever pitch. New shining clothes, smiling faces, dancing devotees, chantings of Mantras, spectacular display of lights and the rhythmic beat of dhak (drums) adds excitement to the festive occasion. On Vijay Dashami (tenth day) the idol of Durga is immersed in water after performing customary rituals. The ten-armed goddess dazzles the devotees with her splendour and appearance of fiery valour during her short stay every year.
 
Onam
Onam is an annual harvest festival, celebrated mostly in the God's Own Country- Kerala. It is one of the most important festivals for the community of Malayalese celebrated in the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam calendar. This correspond with the month of August according to the Hindu calendar. This festival like many others is celebrated by people of all religions. The festival marks the home coming of the king Mahabali and brings out the best of Kerala's culture and tradition. Intricately decorated Rangoli with flowers and colours, Kathakkali Dance and the snake boat race are some of the major features of the festival of Onam.

Onam is a harvest festival and is held with great enthusiasm. The weather at this time seems very pleasant and comforting. The farmers feel very happy looking at the fruit of their hard labour. The whole area of Keral looks green. Children eagerly wait for this colourful festival because they get new clothes, toys and great food. The carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. It is the popularity of the Onam festival that made the Government announce it as a National festival of Kerala in 1961.

According to legend, it is said that during the reign of demon king Mahabali, Kerala saw a golden era. Everybody in the state was happy and prosperous. The people of his kingdom had deep respect and affection for him. But his egotism was one of the major drawbacks of the King. His this weakness was utilised by the God to bring his reign to an end. However for all his good deeds, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was very attached.

It is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. People make all efforts to celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress upon their dear King that they are happy and wish him well.

The rich culture of Kerala is at its best during the Onam festival. The ten days festival proves to be like a carnival where everybody seems to enjoy himself/herself. The most impressive part of Onam celebration is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to have the meal.

Another important feature of Onam is the Snake Boat Race that takes place on the river Pampa. It proves really an enchanting experience to watch the colourfully decorated boats competing with each other in the boat race.

 
Onam
Kumbh Mela Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage that occurs four times every twelve years and rotates among four locations: Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Each twelve-year cycle includes one Maha Kumbh Mela (Great Kumbh Mela) at Prayag, which is attended by millions of people, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world. It was actually started by King Harshvardhana of Ujjain. He used all his wealth to donate during this mela to poor,learned people of all religions.

The combined sanctity of the three holy rivers, coupled with the spiritual powers obtained from the pot of nectar of immortality has earned Prayag as tirtharaja ( the king of holy places). The confluence of India's three most sacred rivers at Allahabad , Besides the Ganges, there are also two other sacred rivers located at Allahabad, the Yamuna and the Saraswati . Ganges & yamuna has its earthly origin in the Himalayas. Whereas Saraswati, is a mystical river which has no physical form. Its is believed that the Saraswati exists only on the spiritual plane and is not visible to the human eye.

 
Pongal
Falling on 14th January every year, Pongal is harvest festival of Tamilnadu, a southern Indian state. The festival falls on the same day (14th January) when the whole country celebrates the festival of Makar Sankranti. Named after a sweet rice dish (Pongal) the Pongal festival with full of its grand celebration of its rich culture and traditions runs for three days.

The first day of Pongal, called Bhogi Pongal, marks the offering of Pongal (the rice dish) to lord Indra in order to thank them for giving rain for harvesting. On the 2nd and 3rd day, the Pongal is offered to lord Sun and Mattu (family cattles), and are called Surya Pongal and Mattu Pongal, respectively. The main activity of the 3-days running fiesta of Pongal is, indeed, the gathering of people from all over the village to enjoy the community feast.

During Pongal, Jallikattu or bull-fight is held as part of the celebrations. One such world famous place for jallikattu is Alanganallur, which is near Madurai.

 
Lohri Lohri
Lohri is a festival connected with the solar year. Generally, it is an accepted fact that this festival is to worship fire. This is particularly a happy occasion for the couples who for the first time celebrated Lohri after their marriage and also the first Lohri of the son born in a family. The wood crackles and burns, the fire blazes high, a circle of warmth on a cold winter's night. Lohri is essentially a festival dedicated to the Sun god. Lohri is a joyous time to eat gur and peanuts, singing songs and share the warmth with your family and loved ones.

A week before Lohri, children begin gathering firewood, hunting for logs that will burn well. A spirit of good-natured rivalry binds the community together and every one takes pride in making the biggest and most grand bonfire in their neighborhood. Lohri is an important festival which brings the entire community together, each family contributing sweets made of til and gur, peanuts, tilchowli and many other delicious home-made delicacies.

The Guru Granth Sahib praises this auspicious time of the month and says those who meditate before a fire will be blessed. Lohri, which marks the highest point in winter, is considered especially important for new born babies who are taken around the bonfire. They pray for prosperity even as they make offerings of til (gingelly), moongphali (peanuts) and chirwa (beaten rice) to the burning embers.

According to legend, a good Lohri sets the tone for the whole year ahead - the more joyous and bountiful the occasion, the greater will be the peace and prosperity. Some people believed that Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former vanished into the fire, Lohri survived and lives on.

The rituals and celebrations associated with Makara Sankaranti and Lohri are only symbolic of a common thanksgiving to nature as represented by the Sun god, and in the process, the festivities embody a spirit of brotherhood, unity and gratitude, with family reunions and merrymaking generating a lot of happiness, goodwill and cheer.

 
Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganapati Bappa Moriya : The festival of Ganesh or Vinayak Chaturthi, is the day on which Lord Ganesh was born. It is the most joyous event of the year. Throughout India the festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm and devotion for upto ten days. It is said that Ganesh was the creation of Goddess Parvati, who breathed life into a doll, which she made out of the dough she was using for her bath.

Ganesh Chaturthi festival comes on the 4th day of Bhadarva Shukla-Paksh of Hindu calendar in (August/September). Ladoos (sweets) are distributed, milk is offered to idols of Lord Ganesh at home and at temples, and worshippers visit Ganesh temples for Ganesh Puja. This elephant-headed god, vehicle is the Mooshak or rat and loves Modaks (round sweets called Ladoos).

In India, Ganesh is worshipped first on all auspicious occasions, whether it is a marriage or a religious function. Ganesh is the foremost god of the Hindu Pantheon. Any new project or venture that a Hindu family undertakes starts with his name, the housewife utters his name before even starting a small chore as he is the remover of all 'Sankat' (obstacles) and is an extremely benevolent god, fulfilling the wishes of those who pray to him sincerely.

Ganesh also has long been associated with commerce, and merchants still pay homage to him. If an Indian business or bank fails, all the images of Ganesh in the offices will be turned upside down, signifying the bad luck. In households, it's common for small offerings of money, flowers and food to be placed before one of the family's effigies of Ganesh. These tokens please him and he therefore brings more beauty, money and food to the family.

Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration and Ganesh is fervently worshipped for about 7-10 days. On the day of the Chaturthi, i.e. the last of the days dedicated to the god, shrines are erected, firecrackers let off, huge images of Ganesh are carried in grand procession for 'Ganesh Visarjan' accompanied by the sound of devotional songs and drums.

 
Ganesh Chaturthi
Baisakhi Baisakhi
Baisakhi is a seasonal festival with a special accent. This is the time when harvest is gathered in and the farmer exults in the fulfillment of his year's hard work.  It is celebrated in Punjab with great fervour. It was on this day that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood). The holy book of the Sikhs, Granth Sahib is taken in a procession, led by the Panj Pyaras (five senior sikhs) who are symbolic of the original leaders. The occasion is marked by lot of feasting and merry making . All night revelries termed Baisakhi di Raat (Night of feasting) or Baisakhi da Mela (Baisakhi fairs) are held, where men and women dance to the rhythmic beat of drums. In Kerala the festival is known as Vishu. A display of grain, fruits, flowers, gold, new cloth and money, is viewded early in the morning to ensure a prosperous year ahead. Known as Rangali Bihu in Assam, the festival is celebrated with lively dances, music and feasting.

In Punjab people join the merry-making with full gusto and does not mind walking for miles to be able to do so. Since this fair is also an expression of prosperity, singing and dancing constitute its most enchanting features. The Punjab's famous Bhangra and Giddha are inextricably linked with this festival. Many fairs in the Punjab are held near the tombs and shrines of pirs. These fairs must have originated in a spirit of devotion to those saints and sages.

 
Surajkund Crafts Mela
A delightful handloom and handicrafts fair is held annually at Surajkund (8km New Delhi) in February for two weeks. This internationally famous mela launched in 1981 by the Haryana Tourism is a unique fair showcasing folk arts and rich crafts tradition from all regions of India. This Mela (fair) serves as a meeting ground for talented artists, painters, weavers, sculptors and craftsmen from all over India who display their ware in the typical setting of a rural Indian marketplace.

The fair is unique in the sense that each year the decor is based on a state theme and highlights a particular craft. The look of the entrance, the grounds and the whole setting of furniture, colours, architecture everything is based on a particular state. Of the total stalls numbering over 400, many are dedicated to the particular theme craft.

Sandalwood and rosewood carving from South India, 'Chikri' woodcraft of Kashmir, fine cane craft and 'Kantha' traditions from West Bengal and North Eastern states, Phulkari embroidery of Punjab, the 'Banjara' and 'Bunni' embroidery of Gujarat, lace and crochet from Goa, 'Chikan' work of Lucknow are just a few of the amazing exhibits found here. The prices are relatively low when bought from the mela.

At the open air theatre, 'Natyashala' folk dances and musical evenings are held throughout the fortnight. A special stall serves traditional food of the theme state along with other stalls serving food from other popular cuisines like Punjab and South India.
 
Surajkund Crafts Mela
Mysore Dussera Festival Mysore Dussera Festival
Mysore comes alive in all its glory at Dasara time. The celebrations culminate in a procession on Vijayadasami day to underline the victory of good over evil. Called “Naada Habba” or State festival, Dasara in Mysore has metamorphosed into a rare blend of the religious and the secular. The festivities have assumed the character of a carnival in which the modern mix with the ancient, without diluting the religious essence of the events.

Dasara, over the years, has come to represent different things for different people. For the connoisseurs of art and culture, it is an opportunity to soak in the glory of classical music and dance; for youngsters, it is time to swing to the music of Indipop stars at the Yuva Dasara (Dasara for Youth) events; for heritage enthusiasts, it is an opportunity to take a tonga ride or feast on the beauty of Mysore’s historical buildings; and for stakeholders in tourism, the mega event helps market Mysore as a hot destination for domestic and international tourists.

Heritage rides, food melas, flower shows, traditional wrestling, classical dance, as well as cultural programmes in front of the illuminated Mysore Palace entertain revellers. The palace provides the perfect setting for open-air music concerts.

Dasara is believed to have originated as a simple thanksgiving ceremony to Indra for providing timely rains. It acquired complex connotations later such as the triumph of good over evil as symbolised by the killing of the demon-king Ravana by Rama. In Mysore, Dasara and Vijayadasami are also associated with the slaying of the demon Mahishasura by the main deity of the city, Chamundeswari.

The origin of Dasara in Mysore is traced to the celebrations that the Vijayanagar emperors (A.D. 1336 -1565) conducted. During their rule, Dasara became the state festival and was organised on a grand scale. The Wodeyars, who were the feudatories of the Vijayanagar emperors, inherited this tradition, which continues to date.

A glimpse of the Dasara of yore is brought alive in 26 classical murals that adorn the Kalyana Mantapa in the Mysore Palace. These have helped immortalise Dasara. There have been significant changes in the festivities in the post-Independence era.

For instance, the procession on Vijayadasami day earlier had the Maharaja seated in the golden howdah and carried by caparisoned elephants. But after the abolition of the privy purse, the Maharaja was replaced by the idol of goddess Chamundeswari, while the traditional durbar was abolished.

However, tradition has not been supplanted in its entirety. Images of a bygone era unfold in the main palace as the scion of the royal family performs all the religious rituals associated with the festivities, clad in royal robes. On all the 10 days, he goes through a ceremonial bath, worships the family deity in the palace, enters the durbar to the accompaniment of the chanting of mantras, ascends the golden throne and receives tributes from courtiers in what is purely a family affair witnessed by a select audience. The ceremonies are held in the Amba Vilas Palace, which is also known as the Diwan-e-Khas.

 
Holi - The Festival of Colors
Holi, the festival of color is marked as the opening festival in Hindu calendar, falls on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun. People enjoy themselves playing with several colours and celebrate the whole day with much pump and gaiety.

Originally Holi was regarded to be the festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land. There are several legends and stories behind Holi. A popular legend says that Holi is remembered for the sacrifice of Holika who burnt herself in fire on this day.

Holi is therefore regarded one of the most ancient festivals of the Aryans who finds an honored mention in our old Sanskrit texts like Dashakumar Charit and Garud Puran. Even the play "Ratnavali" written by Harshdev states a delightful description of Holi as a festival. In those days this very festival was celebrated as "Vasantotsav". Latter everybody started calling it "Madanotsav".

Celebration of Holi festival is characterized by performing Holi puja as per Hindu tradition. Dhuleti, which falls day after Holi Puja, is considered to be the actual festival of colors. Children and youngsters vie with each other use fast and sticky colors to celebrate Holi. It is all fun and joy for them.

Holi commences about ten days before the full moon of the month called Phalgun (February-March); but it is usually observed for the last three or four days, terminating with the full moon.

Along with Holi, spring season also arrives which is marked as the auspicious season for the Hindus. In this season, all the ‘tesu’ and other trees are filled with sweet smelling flowers. They all proclaim the glory and everlasting beauty of God and inspire you with hope, joy and a new life and leave you with the thought to find out yourself that; who is the actual creator behind them.

Holi is aptly called the festival of color and joy. Its spirit is uniquely Indian, colorful, exotic, happiness and full of energy. Holi is celebrated by everybody. People prepare special recipes on Holi day. Before few days they start cooking (preparing) many delicacies for this day namely gujjia, papri and kanji ke vade.
 
Holi - The Festival of Colors
Diwali Diwali
India is a melting pot of races and religions. Every religion has its own unique style of celebration. But Diwali (Deepawali), the Festival of Light, is celebrated with fervor and gaiety among all races and religions. The festival symbolizes unity in diversity. The celebration of this five-day festival commences on Aswayuja Bahula Chaturdasi and ends on Kartika Shudda Vijiya.

Hindus all over the world celebrate Deepawali with great enthusiasm. This is a major Hindu festival honouring Mother Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth. Diwali is a holy tradition, not to be put in the shade. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness; darkness refers to ignorance and light refers to knowledge. Celebrated joyously all over India, it is a festival of wealth and prosperity.
Deepavali is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on Amavasya - the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin (Aasho) in (Oct/ Nov) every year.

Diwali is a festival synonymous with celebrations in India and is an occasion for jubilation and togetherness. This is an occasion for people of all religions. At the metaphysical level, Deepawali is a festival signifying the victory of good over evil. People believe that the latter is destroyed and reduced to ashes by fireworks. This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in almost all regions of India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of a New Year.

On this day of Diwali (Deepavali) people light small oil lamps (called diyas) and place them around their homes, in courtyards, gardens, verandahs, on the walls and also on the roof tops. In cities, candles are substituted by diyas; and among the riches, candles are made to substitute for fashionable lights. The celebration of the festival is customarily accompanied by the exchange of sweets and lighting crackers.

On the night of Diwali, all the shops & offices are decorated with electrical bulbs of various colors. They are filled to capacity in this festive season. People visit their friends and relatives and present them sweets. Many people make "rangoli" inside & outside their house. Rangoli is a pattern which is made on the floor, normally by coloured powder, but in the house it is made with paint.

In the evening the family prays to Laskmi, the goddess of wealth. Then people put diyas (oil lamps) all around the house. About 8.00 pm the fireworks start. This is the time when the whole country is lit up and fireworks continue uptill midnight.

 
Maha Shivratri
Maha Shivaratri (Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival, celebrated all over the country with much pump and enthusiasm. The festival usually falls every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Maagha (as per Shalivahana) or Phalguna (as per Vikrama) in the Hindu calendar. The festival is exclusively dedicated to Lord Shiva which is known by hundreds of names.

Maha Shivratri is the day to rejoice…to pray to the almighty for wellness. Almost all Hindus throughout the world offer prayers in the morning/evening and some observe fasting throughout the day. Most people visit the nearby temples of Shiva and offer prayers in large crowds. The prayers and worship continue throughout the night and the devotees offer coconut, Bilva leaves, fruits and specially prepared sacred food to Shiva and his divine consort Parvati. As this is a dark fortnight,

Devotees light candles and diyas (a lamp made usually of clay, with wick made of cotton and dipped in ghee) throughout the night – this is a symbol of spiritual manifestation.


Shiva being an ascetic god, Maha Shivratri is very popular with ascetics. Thandai- a drink made with cannabis, almonds, and milk, is essentially drunk by the devout. This is so because cannabis is said to have been very dear to Shiva. The Puranas contain many stories and legends describing the origin of this festival.
 
Mahashivratri
Christmas Christmas
Christmas the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ, is celebrated in India with great fervor all over India by the Christians. People decorate their houses, erect Christmas trees, make cribs with figures of baby Jesus, Mother Mary, Joseph, the three kings who come to visit the baby and shepherd boys and their herds grazing around depicting the scenes of Jesus's Birth in the Bible. They decorate the Christmas tree, hang stars, gifts and illuminate them.

On the Christmas day, people enjoy a sumptuous Christmas lunch. Christmas cakes and wine are served to visitors and exchanged as gifts among friends and relatives.

Christmas celebrations vary in different parts of India. In some parts, small clay oil-burning lamps, mango leaves etc are used as Christmas decorations and mango and banana trees are decorated. All the major Indian cities wear a festive look. Shops and bazaars are decorated for the occasion and offer attractive bargains. Carol singing, get-togethers and the exchanging of gifts enhance the Christmas spirit. Christmas parties launch off celebrations for the New year, thus retaining the festive mood for at least a week.

Christians all over the world celebrate the birth or Nativity of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, on 25th of December every year. This is the most important and the gayest festival of the Christians. Other communities in India also look upon it as a festival of goodwill and greetings. Children and youngsters looked forward to Christmas holidays when they enjoyed themselves to their heart's content.

Shops and homes take on a festive air. Streets and markets go gay with festival wares. Dances, songs, Christmas trees, Santa Claus moving through the streets with his glittering colorful robes, glowing long white beard and shaking hand with children in the streets form the main attraction of this festival. Families get together around sparkling Christmas trees from whose branches hang numerous lovely gifts. When the youngsters receive the gifts and open them, they dance with joy. Both men and women, young and old take pains in designing the cribs, sheep and shepherds, old Joseph, young Virgin Mary, Child Jesus nestling in his cradle of hay, angels floating in the star-studded sky and the Three Wise Men on the fringe of horizon.
 
Easter
Easter is the day when Jesus Christ was crucified and the Christians offer prayers and services in the Churches. Easter is another important festival for Christians. On this day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are a major attraction during Easter, the festival of rejuvenation of life and living.

In the days of the early Christian church, only Easter Sunday was celebrated as a holy day. By the fourth century, each day of the week preceding Easter was established as holy days including Good Friday.

To most Christians, Good Friday is really a misnomer in that it was a "bad" Friday—the crucifixion day of Jesus. Some believe the term "Good" evolved from "God" or God's Friday. Others believe "good" represents the good gift of salvation brought forth by the martyrdom. Regardless, it is a holy day throughout the Christian world.

Ceremonial worship of the holiday follows closely to the events described in the scriptures. Some congregations still hold a three-hour service on Friday representing the three hours He hanged on the cross. A typical service includes seven distinct elements representative of Christ's seven utterances while on the cross.

Good Friday is the culmination of Lent, an important observance in the lives of devout Catholics. Lent is observed for 40 days from February to March, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.

On Good Friday, a cross, symbolic of the one on which Jesus was crucified, is unveiled in many churches. It is believed that Jesus rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter. The rituals for Good Friday begin on the preceding Thursday. A feast symbolising the last supper of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter.
 
Easter
Eid Ul Fitr Eid Ul Fitr
Eid-ul-Fitr, popularly known as the "Festival of the Breaking of the Fast", occurs as soon as the new moon is sighted at the end of the month of fasting, namely Ramadan. This festival celebrates the end of Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. It is an occasion of feasting and rejoicing.

Fitr is derived from the word ‘fatar’ meaning breaking. Fitr has another meaning derived from another word fitrah meaning ‘alms’.Special foods and delicacies are prepared for the day and are distributed among neighbours and friends.

The devotees gather in the mosques to pray, friends and relatives meet and exchange greetings. Prayers, family get-togethers and feasts are the major highlights of the festival.

Unlike most festivals, Ramadaan doesn’t fall on any particular day. Ramadaan is the ninth month of the Islamic year. It is usually a time for increased religious devotion and self-examination.

Islam follows a unique approach in celebrating Eid. After the namaz, Muslims are supposed to celebrate the day in a responsible manner, greeting one another at home and in the neighborhood. Children receive gifts and sweets on this special occasion.

Everyone begins their day by taking a bath in the morning, wearing new clothes and eating dates before going to the mosque. Men usually wear white clothes symbolizing purity and austerity. Alms are distributed to the poor. The Id special prayer ‘Do Rakat Namaz’ is performed in the morning in the mosque.

Sadaqah Fitr or charitable gift is a dole to break the fast. The grains and the quantities which are given to the poor are specified in the Quran. People visit each other's homes and take part in the festive meals with special dishes, beverages and desserts. The most common food item that is eaten during this time is vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk.