They say to celebrate life, not just festivals. And, in a country like India, life is synonymous with festivals as there are more celebrations happening in a year than you can count. Each of these festivals is a reflection of India's rich and diverse culture, rituals and traditions. 

Most of the festivals in India are religious, and they either follow the Hindu or Islamic calendar. The dates of the festivals may change each year, but the fervour of the celebration never does. In general, September to January is the peak festival season in India, and various celebrations happen one after the other and sometimes simultaneously across the country. 

All festivals of India have their essence and flavour and are speckled with different colours, dance, music, and food, which you must experience first-hand. In this blog, we list down seven of the biggest festivals of India that are celebrated widely all over India. 

  • Diwali

Diwali is undoubtedly one of India's biggest and most famous festivals. Known as the 'festival of lights,' it is celebrated in every corner of India, and the celebrations are marked by people decorating their homes with lights, i.e., the lamps, bursting crackers, exchanging gifts, and sharing special Diwali delicacies with friends and families. 

The festival commemorates Lord Ram's return to Ayodhya with his wife, Goddess Sita, and brother, Lord Lakshman, after his 14-year exile and triumph over the Demon King Ravana. It symbolises the victory of good over evil. 

  • Holi

If Diwali is the festival of lights, then Holi is the festival of colours. One of the national festivals of India, Holi celebrations symbolise the victory of good over evil and the arrival of the spring. This festival is celebrated all over India with great zeal and enthusiasm. 

The Holi celebrations start on the night before the festival by lighting a bonfire called the Holika. People sing and dance around the burning fire, offering prayers to the Gods and seeking their blessings to ward off evil. 

The next day is the main celebration when people apply dry and wet colours on each other. People also play with water balloons and water guns. And the Holi celebrations are incomplete without drinking Thandai, a special Holi concoction made of milk and various Indian spices. 

  • Dussehra

One of India's most prominent festivals, Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami in some parts of the country, commemorates the victory of Lord Ram over Ravana. In some parts of the country, especially in West Bengal and other eastern states, people celebrate Dussehra to honour Goddess Durga's triumph over the demon Mahishasura. 

Like most festivals in India, the Dussehra celebrations differ in different parts of India, but the spirit remains the same among people of all religions and castes. The festival is celebrated in a grand way in the northern states, where people perform Ramlila and burn the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkaran, and his beloved son, Meghnad. 

If you want to witness the Indian Festivals 2024 celebrations, you must not miss the Dussehra celebrations in Mysore, Karnataka. During the festival, the famed Mysore Palace is illuminated with one Lakh bulb, presenting a breathtaking sight for the onlookers. Also, several grand events take place, including the huge procession of Elephants decorated in ornate clothing; it is a spectacle worth witnessing. 

  • Janmashtami

This festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, and it is celebrated with great pomp and splendour all over India. It is one of the top Hindu festivals. On this day, people worship the Lord in their homes and in temples and offer God a variety of his favourite dishes to please him and seek his blessings. 

The best places to witness Janmashtami celebrations in India are Mathura and Vrindavan, the two historical places that are related to Lord Krishna's birth and childhood. During the day, people often dress up the children in the house as Lord Krishna and his consort Radha and worship them as the God. 

Another important festival attraction is the breaking of the pots, which is most witnessed in Maharashtra. An earthen pot filled with curd, ghee, and milk and decorated with flowers is left hanging over the floor. People form a gigantic pyramid by standing on top of each other and try to break the earthen pot known as 'Dahi Handi.’

  • Ganesh Chaturthi

Among India's famous festivals, Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi holds a special place in the hearts of all Hindu communities. The festival celebrates the birth of the much-loved Hindu God, Lord Ganesha, the God of Wisdom.

The festival is celebrated over 10 days, and it starts with the installation of the beautifully crafted idols of Lord Ganesha in home and public pandals. People worship the Lord with much joy and stand in queues for several hours at different pandals to seek the blessings of God. 

On the 10th day of the festival, the idols of Lord Ganesha are immersed in the water, marking the end of the festival. The festival is celebrated with much zeal and enthusiasm throughout the state, especially in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, etc. 

  • Eid-ul-Fitr

When you think of all the festival names of India, Eid-ul-Fitr or Ramzan Eid would come as one of the most important festivals of the Muslim community, yet loved by everyone in India. The festival marks the end of Ramadan, a sacred month for Muslims, which is very similar to the Lent period for Christians. 

From day one of the month, the Muslims fast for the entire day, eating and drinking only after sunset. The fasting continues throughout the month until the crescent moon's sighting in the sky, known as 'Eid Ka Chaand’ at night. 

The following day, people hold a grand feast for friends and families and make delicious dishes, including kebabs, biryani, and seviyan, which they distribute to their loved ones. Also, people dress up in special festival dresses and greet each other, saying, 'Eid Mubarak!'

During the festival, the mosques across the country are beautifully decorated, creating a wonderful spectacle for all. 

  • Christmas

Christmas needs no introduction. One of the most popular festivals in the world, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm in every corner of the globe. The Christmas season is synonymous with gifting, feasting, and, of course, Santa Claus. 

In India, Christmas celebrations are celebrated with the same fervour as other festivals. Everyone, especially children, loves this festival as they look forward to singing carols, getting surprise gifts from Santa, and gorging on delicious Christmas goodies. 

The Christmas celebrations and preparations start much before the actual festival date; people start preparing Christmas trees in their homes. Also, Christmas Eve, i.e., the night before Christmas, holds a special place in the hearts of Christians as they visit the church and attend the midnight mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. 

So you now have a full list of India's most popular and biggest festivals. Each of these festivals holds a special place in the hearts of every Indian. Although the celebration style of these festivals may differ, they all signify India's rich culture and traditions. 

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Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 250,000 members , who can holiday at 100+ resorts in India and abroad.

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