India: Holidays                                                                

Below is a list of the annual highlights in India's festival calendar. In addition, individual towns, villages and temples celebrate their own deities.

Variable Dates

  • Id-ul-Fitur: End of month-long Ramadan fast.
  • Muharram: Commemorates martyrdom of Muhammad's grandson.

January

  • New Year: January 1. All of India.
  • Republic Day: January 26. All of India public holiday. Spectacular parade in New Delhi.

February/March

  • Sivaratri: All of India. Celebrates Siva's dance of creation and marriage to Parvati.
  • Holi: Northern India. Colored powder and water are thrown in this boisterous spring celebration (see photos at bottom of page).

March/April

  • Festival of Parvati: Women dress in a blaze of color (photo).
  • Ugadi: Hindu solar New Year.

April/May

  • Vaisakhi: North India. Foundation of Sikh brotherhood.
  • Puram: Elephant procession with fireworks.
  • Buddha Purnima: Marks the birth, enlightenment and the death of the Buddha.

June/July

  • Rath Yatra: Honours Lord Jagannath. Parade of huge temple chariots.

July/August

  • Nag Panchami: West India. Fair and festival honoring a cobra deity.

August/September

  • Raksha Bandhan: Northern India. Girls tie threads around boys' wrists to pledge (platonic) friendship.
  • Janmashtami: All of India. Birthday of Lord Krishna. Dance dramas.
  • Ganesh Chaturthi: All of India. Festival of Lord Ganesh. Fairs and cultural events. Mumbai parades immerse images of the god into the sea.
  • Onam: Harvest festival. Four days of feasting, dancing, and snake-boat races.

September/October

  • Gandhi Jayanti: October 2. Public holiday. Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

October/November

  • Divali (Dipavali): All of India. Festival of lights and fireworks. Considered New Year for many people (photo).
  • Pushkar Fair: Spectacular crowds of pilgrims at Pushkar's lake. Camel fair.
  • Guru Purab: The birthday of the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak.

December

  • Christmas Day: December 25. A Western tradition celebrated in Indian fashion.