Are you planning a trip to India in August? Enjoy the colour and drama of India’s festive pageantry with these 6 celebrations in mind:
Commemorating the day India attained freedom (15 August), Independence Day is celebrated with flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programmes in the state capitals. The Prime Minister’s speech at the Red Fort in Delhi is the major highlight. The Delhi skyline is dotted with thousands of kites on this day.
Teej, Rajasthan and Chandigarh
This swing festival welcomes the advent of the monsoon. Swings are hung from trees and decorated with flowers. Women, colourfully attired, swing on them and sing songs in celebration. The occasion is also dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with Lord Shiva, and the festival celebrates marital bliss, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul.
Raksha Bandhan, North India
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a Hindu sister’s day when brothers and sisters reaffirm their bonds of affections. Sisters tie colourful threads or rakhis on their brother’s wrists. The brothers in turn promise to protect their sisters and give them gifts. Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in different forms in different areas and it is also known by the names such as rakhi, rakhri and saluno.
Onam, Kerala’s most important festival, heralds the harvest season. Onam lasts 10 days and people wear new clothes, visit temples and offer prayers. Girls perform the Kaikottikkali in the open, dancing around the traditional brass lamp. Major attractions are the famed snake boat races along the backwaters at Champakulam, Aranmula and Kottayam. About a hundred oarsmen in each boat row huge and graceful odee (snake boats) to the rhythm of drums and cymbals and songs praising Mahabalis reign. Cultural festivities are held throughout the state at different venues.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Kerala
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, is conducted on Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha, on the second Saturday of August every year. During this fiercely fought boat race, the tranquil lake front is transformed into a sea of humanity with an estimated 2,00,000 people, including tourists, watching it. For the people of each village in Kuttanad, a victory at this race for their village boat is something to be celebrated for months to come.
The birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu, is celebrated with great fervour all over India especially at Mathura and Brindavan where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. Temples and homes are beautifully decorated and lit. Nightlong prayers are offered and religious hymns are sung in temples. The priests chant holy mantras and bathe the idol with Gangajal (water from the holy river Ganga), milk, ghee (clarified butter), oil, and honey pouring all these from a conch shell.