Monsoon is not just a season in India, it is a celebration. Nourished by rains, it’s a joyous occasion for farmers and everyone seeking respite from the warm summers. While festivals are an integral part of India; there is a festival for every occasion. Also, when the country is India, also known as ‘unity in diversity’ then obviously festivals are diverse, unique, and charming in its own way. While every region has its unique traditions to celebrate, it is fun by all means. Even the monsoon is marked with a number of festivities. The famous monsoon festivals of India have different names, diverse customs, and revelries.
To celebrate the season of rains and to indulge in the exhilarating festivals, take a look at these monsoon festivals in India that you must attend.
1. Puri Rath Yatra
Said to cleanse all sins and grant salvation from the circle of life and death, Puri Rath Yatra is an auspicious monsoon festival in India. Celebrated every year in the season of rains, at the Jagannath Puri temples in Odisha, the festival is one of the grandest religious events in India.
As a part of the Ratha Yatra, the deities of Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra are taken out in a procession, a typical temple ritual. Three richly decorated chariots, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri and taken to Gundicha Temple, the Lord’s aunt where they remain there for nine days. The massive chariots are as tall as 45.6 feet and have 18 wheels which are pulled by the devotees during the yatra. The festivity, utter devotion, and bliss experienced, lure devotees from far ends of the world.
2. Ganesh Chathurthi
When devotion and daily life mingle, then it transforms into a beautiful experience. This is the annual celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi for you. The elephant-headed God of Hindu pantheon, Ganesh is the Lord who removes obstacles from daily lives and is loved liked family.
Every year during the season of monsoon, Lord Ganesha is worshipped for nine days. Massive idols are raised on huge podiums, while devotees also worship the Lord in their homes. On the tenth day of the festival, the idols are taken on a grand procession after which they are immersed in the water bodies. The religious festival has a moral lesson of worshiping the idol form and the formless. Maharashtra is drenched in the celebration every year. Sweets, savory food items, music, dance, colors, and the festivities, makes Ganesh Chaturthi one of the joyous festivals in India.
A colorful festival in India, especially for the women, Teej is a celebration of monsoon. Married women, mainly in the northern, north-eastern and western parts of the country celebrate the festival. The occasion is known by different names in different states, for instance, Hartalika Teej, Kajari Teej, Hariyali Teej, and more.
The monsoon festival of Teej is said to be a symbol of Goddess Parvati’s reunion with her husband Lord Shiva, after 100 years of separation. Women pray for marital bliss. Dressing up in traditional bridal wear and other outfits, they decorate their hands with henna, sing of special Teej festival songs, dance joyfully swing on flower-decorated swings tied to huge branches of trees.
Rajasthan, especially Jaipur have grand celebrations. The royal ‘Pink City’ organizes a royal procession of the idols of Goddess Parvati as she is believed to be the epitome of women’s power.
4. Raksha Bandhan
Few festivals of the world can match the incredible diversity and unique festivities in India. Celebrating the love and bond shared by a brother and sister, India has the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Falling in the monsoon season, mostly in the full moon night in the month of Shravan (July-August).
To celebrate the noble bond of sibling love, the sister ties a holy thread on the wrist of her brother. Raksha means ‘protection’ and Bandhan means ‘bond’, therefore the festival is rejoicing the bond of love and protection. Raksha Bandhan signifies the love and respect of a sister, as well as the protection and care of a brother. Sweets, family revelry, exchange of gifts, and other festivities make it one of the much-awaited festivals in India.
Truly in essence the bliss of monsoon, Onam is one of the most famous festivals of Kerala. The celebration in the God’s Own Country takes place mostly in the month of August or September as per the Hindu calendar. The monsoon festival of Onam is the major lure for people seeking holidays in Kerala.
Celebrated since the ancient times, Onam is special to farmers, as they rejoice after hard days of labor and witness the rains nourishing their crops. Spectacular carnival of elephants, temple rituals, music and the famous Kathakalli dance are associated with this festival. People are seen dressed in traditional finery, decorate their houses and put flower patterns called ‘Pookalam’. A lavish feast of twenty-one homemade curries and sweet payasam served on plantain leaf. The most intriguing aspect of the festival is the Snake boat races, held on backwaters where rowers compete, providing an adrenalin-pumping show.
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One of the loved deities of Indian Hindu Mythology is Lord Krishna. Celebrating his birth in great vigor is the famous monsoon festival of India, Janmashtami. Every year the auspicious birth falls in the month of Shravan (August – September). It is among the most vibrant festivals in India, as Lord Krishna is loved as a kid by Hindu families all over India. The birth anniversary of the Lord is celebrated in different ways in the different states of India.
The northern parts of the country, including his holy birthplaces Mathura and the town here he lived till adolescence Vrindavan, celebrate by decorating temples, praying and singing holy songs. The western state of Maharashtra has the unique tradition of recreating the lord’s favorite pastime, stealing butter from pots beyond his reach by making human pyramids. Savory food, drinks, music, dance and fun are a part of the excitements adding to the joy of rains.
7. Hemis Festival
Moving on to the next amazing festival that is celebrated during monsoon, we have the Hemis Festival. The famous monastery festival of Ladakh is celebrated at the revered Hemis Gompa, one of the richest and largest Buddhist monastery in the ‘Land of High Passes’.
The 2-day festival marks the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava on the 10th day of the Tibetan lunar month that essentially falls around the mid-month of July. The appeal of the monastery festival is Cham, a fundamental a part of Tantric tradition of Buddhism. Dressed in traditional finery, elaborate headgears and lots of jewellery, monks perform dance drama accompanied by musical drums, longhorns and cymbals.
Attend the festivals, and get to be a part of the ancient traditions, enjoy the local cuisine and adventure safaris on yaks and camels. Also, rains are a miss in the cold desert making your holiday a thrilling experience of monsoon in India.
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A popular monsoon festival in North East India, Behdienkhlam gives major reasons to plan a visit to India in the season of rains. Celebrated in the north-eastern state of Meghalaya, a festival is a wonderful event expressing the victory of good over evil.
Behdienkhlam, in the local language, means, chasing away the Demon of Cholera. Once an annual cleansing, became an annual ritual, every July. After the sowing period of crops and waiting for rains, the dance festival of the Jaintia tribes becomes a major celebration. Crowds come together for merrymaking, delicious food, dance, music and sports. This festival is also an invocation to God, seeking his blessings for a bumper harvest.
When the place in the beautiful Meghalaya, abode of Clouds and the festival such a charming occasion, you must not miss out a visit to North East India.
9. Sao Joao
Just like Goa, Sao Joao the Goan festival is full of vibrant, exciting and fun-filled. The monsoon festival honors St. John the Baptist. Celebrated on the 24th of June every year, the festivities date back to the Portuguese colonial days. Now it is an occasion of merry-making, especially by the youth. The rains are charming in the beach state, as it spreads lush glory along with a new zest of life.
Captivating the spirit of merriment and tradition, on the festival, youths jump into the water bodies to have fun. While the norm of the festival is exchange of gifts in the form of delicious fruits, drinks and other tokens. Also, people dress up in colourful outfits, sing songs, recite hymns and greet each other. In addition, find carnival-themed boats floating on the streams at most villages. The festival is the best time to experience the charming rural beauty of Goa.
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10. Ganga Dussehra
Not exactly a monsoon festival but celebrated at the very start of the season of rains, Ganga Dussehra is one of the unique traditions of India. Usually held in the end of June. Primarily it is the worship of holy River Ganges, one of the longest rivers in India. The river is Mother Goddess to Hindus and has mention in numerous holy texts. In fact, the river is like a living being, granted with rights.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Ganga descended on earth in the form of the holy river Ganges. Bathing in the holy water and offering prayers will purge you of all sins and also help your soul attain salvation. The occasion marks the combination of ten auspicious astronomical instances. People offer prayers to the River Goddess and Lord Shiva, before the rain transforms the gentle river into nature’s wrath.
Water is life and as rains brings water to rivers, ponds and other sources, it is one of the largest celebrations. Last on the list but definitely not the least, Adiperukku is a holy monsoon festival in India mostly celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Mainly a female oriented festival, the date generally falls on the 2nd or the 3rd of August.
Women of Tamil Nadu pray to the life-sustaining properties of water. Hence, the festival celebrates rivers, ponds, basically any source of water. Celebrating life in essence, the occasion means delicious food, beautifully decorated homes, and equally decked-up women in all their finery.
Monsoon festivals in India have a unique charm. Fairs, festivities, a glimpse of the colorful culture, mouthwatering food, and traditional Indian hospitality give you enough reasons to visit India with family, friends, and loved ones.
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