Top 5 Festivals of India for Foreign Visitors
From the perspective of a vacationer, principally from that of a foreign tourist, a word which is synonymous with India is CULTURE. Every year, about 40% tourists are generated by festivals only. The cultural tourism is one of the noteworthy branches of Indian tourism. India is also known as the country of diversities. It has diverse geographical situations, diverse climatic conditions, diverse cultures and diverse religions. Every few miles will give foreign tourists an absolute new experience. This is the list of festivals which shall be a thrilling experience for foreign travelers.
Holi – Barsana
Holi is one of the major festivals of India and the most vibrant one of all the festivals. Celebrated in spring season, this festival brings smile in the face of one and all. It is a festival of joy and hope. People play with colored powder and colored water. The Holi of Barsana (a town near Mathura) is very interesting; here men from a village Nandgaon (native village of Lord Krishna) come to Barsana for playing Holi with gopis (girls) and are welcomed with sticks. They dramatically beat them and this Holi is known as Lathmar Holi. Men try to escape from this and the unlucky ones have to have women attire and dance like women. There is a special arrangement for tourists in a large ground on the outskirts of the city to watch the whole happening and at the meantime they may join the villagers too.
Hemis Festival – Leh
The mountains of India have a lot more to offer to tourists other than serenity of soul. Ladakh is a destination which every avid traveler has in their bucket list. People from all over the world rush to Ladakh for adventure and to explore more about the Buddhist culture here, the region has a quite exquisite bunch of the festivals that display the history and culture of the vicinity. One of the most eminent cultural festivals of Ladakh is the Hemis Festival. This is a two day long festival celebrated in the fond memories of Buddhist guru Padmasambhava’s. This is celebrated on his birth anniversary. Celebrations take place in the Hemis Gompa, located at a distance of 45 kilometers from Leh.
During this Hemis festival, a colorful fun-fair is held. These fairs have a number of small stalls and shops where one can purchase a wide variety of handicrafts. Also, there is a mystic mask dance by the lamas which symbolizes victory of good over evil. The music is composed with drums, trumpets and cymbals. This mask dance is known as chams performance which is basically a tantric dance and is performed by lamas and monks who are practicing tantric rituals. The masks used are brightly painted and the dance moves are very slow.
Bihu – Assam
Bihu is a festival celebrating the harvesting. There are three types of Bihus namely:
- Bohaag Bihu
- Kaati Bihu
- Maagh Bihu
Each Bihu symbolizes different irrigation phase of farming calendar. Like, Bohaag Bihu is celebrated in the month of April and marks the beginning of Assamese New year when the seeding procedure commences. Kaati Bihu is celebrated somewhere in the middle of October which signifies completion of sowing and transplantation of crops. Maagh Bihu is celebrated in mid-January which marks the end of harvesting season, it is also known as festival of food.
Out of the three, the Bohaag Bihu is the period of greatest enjoyment and merriment which ultimately marks commencement of spring. During festival, people dress themselves traditionally. They sing folk songs and form a circle, between such circle the prettiest girl dance and the best dancer is awarded as Bihu Kunwori or the Bihu Princess. There are various Bihu contests held over the season and regional people teach steps to tourists if they want to as the dance steps are very simple and easy. The magic of folk works here.
Nobody is unaware of this festival. Yes, the festival of lights has a magnet which attracts tourists from all over the world. It is the major Hindu festival of India. Yet today, Diwali is celebrated in various countries around the world including Australia, Canada, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. but, the way it is celebrated in India is worth watching. The best way to watch Diwali celebration is to be friends with one family in India and requesting them to include you in the rituals. When the Diwali is near, there are extra lights everywhere and earthen lamps are lit which provides the festivity a traditional look.
Eid ul Fitr
Immense significance is attached to Eid-ul-Fitr in India. All schools, colleges and public institutions remain closed to mark the significance of this day. There exists a large population of the Muslim community, which adds the cultural ethnicity to India.
This festival is marked as successful completion of month of Ramadan in which people fast (without water) continuously for a month. On this auspicious day of Eid-ul-Fitr festival, morning prayers are followed by an oration and a mass prayer at the mosque. People offer Eid prayer, which is known as, Do Rakat Namaz. Then, get dressed in new clothes they move forward to greet their family, friends and relatives by saying ‘Eid Mubarak’ and hugging and embracing each other as gestures of unity. The ritual of giving gifts is observed throughout the day. A wide variety of delicacies are prepared to celebrate the festivity. An important sweet dish: Sewaiyaan is a must have dish this day. In the evening, people rush to amusement parks, malls and parks with families and end the day with fun and frolic.