India is a thriving country where festivals are round-the-year vibrant occasions that help in breaking the mundane routine of life. The same festival, though celebrated differently in various parts of the country, exhibits an eternal harmony of spirit of the Indian culture and every season brings along new festivals.
There is a time for prayers, pageantry and processions. Every little occasion, from harvesting crops, welcoming spring or rain, to seeing the full moon lends itself to celebrations splashed with colours, music, folk dances and songs.
India is home to every major world religion. As a result, every religious festival — Holi, Diwali, Eid and Christmas and hundreds of others — brings joy and excitement to someone or the other across. People are never left alone and are dragged into these celebrations by acquaintances and loved ones. While during Holi they splash colours on each other, on Diwali they light up diyas (lamps) together; at Eid they watch fireworks and enjoy the culinary delicacies, and at Christmas, they attend mass and relish cakes with equal enthusiasm.
At these festivals you can see different people come together and make merry – it’s the perfect time to watch how east meets west and north meets the south with much enthusiasm. It is during these festivals we realise how diverse our land is.
Folk dances and music are integral to many celebrations. For example, people celebrate Navratri in Gujarat by dressing up in sparkling finery to whirl the night away in entrancing garba or dandiya rasa dances.
Some unique regional festivals include the Ellora festival in Maharashtra, the Rath Yatra in Orissa, snake boat race in Kerala, camel festival in Bikaner, Pushkar cattle fair in Pushkar, Sonepur Mela in Sonepur, Hornbill in Nagaland and the International Kite Festival that is held in Gujarat.
Indian festivals have evolved from being simple affairs to grand public occasions. People from various fields come together to organise these events on a large scale, from the decorators, to artisans, to event managers, the entire colony or locality gets together to make the celebrations a success. At times competitions for the best decoration/ best organised event are also held.
Being a highly spiritual country, festivals are at the heart of people’s lives in India and it will remain this way in the times ahead.