The cold winter air sweeping through most of North India has been sending out ominous signals for the tough season ahead. Although these days are ideal to snuggle under your comfy blanket or watching your favourite web series while sipping on your cup of hot coffee, layering up and venturing outside should also be one of your options especially with all the upcoming festivals.
With winter in an overdrive and a cold wave sweeping northern India, can festivals be far behind? From the Pushkar Camel Festival in Rajasthan to the Magh Bigu Festival in Assam to Lohri in Punjab and Pongal in South India, the time for celebrations is right around the corner. Enrich yourself with the diverse and extraordinary traditions of the country.
Pushkar Camel Festival
Held during the auspicious period of Kartik Poornima, the Pushkar Camel Festival is one of the largest camel festivals in the world. Traders from distant part of the Thar Desert partake in this extravaganza. The last day of the festival witnesses unending hordes of devotees who bathe in the Pushkar Lake, the sacred location is said to be where Lord Brahma dropped the lotus flower into the Earth. Gathering in the heart of the city, colorful tents, shop arraying bangles, turbans and ethnic wear enamor the glorious festival. Snake charmers, folk musicians, and traditional dances bring a sense of harmony and culture to the historical festival. Pushkar is set in the midst of quaint havelis, Rajputana forts and palaces, and temples dating back centuries.
Taking place in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, the festival is spread over a span of three months. Celebrating Gujarati folk music and culture, the event takes place over 7,000 square miles of white sand. Set up near the small town of Dhordo, which is easily accessible from the Bhuj airport, 400 tents are raised for tourists to stay in. The live performances under the serene moonlight are a real treat to the eyes and ears.
Taking place in the most eastern state of India, Nagaland, the Hornbill festival witnesses the coming together of the cultures and traditions of 16 tribes of the region and more. A blend of music, handicrafts, dance forms and food, the festival aims to revive and sustain the diversity of the Naga culture and heritage. Hornbill, which is the bird that the festival is named after, plays a prominent part in most of the folklore of the tribes.
From experiencing colors of Gujarat, take a trip to Punjab and feel the pomp of Lohri. A harvest festival in northern India, the extravaganza commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. Marking the end of the winter season, it is held one day before the festival of Makar Sankranti. Remembering the sun deity, Lohri is marked by a bonfire around which the entire family gathers to honor the spirit of unity and togetherness.
Makar Sankranti / Pongal / Magh Bihu
While it falls on January 14 every year, 2019 is an exception where the festival will fall one day later. Usually taking place one day after Lohri, it marks the first day of the sun's transit into the spring months. Events such as kite flying, feasts, bonfires, and vibrant performances make the day one to remember. It is also the first festival of the calendar year and therefore, carries utmost importance. Known by different names - Pongal in South India and Magh Bihu in Assam - the day carries unparalleled significance across all of the country. Pongal and Bihu can usually last upto several days. In Gujarat, the auspicious occasion sees innumerable amount of kites take to the sky and compete in an unbelievable kite competition.