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Festivals of North India

India is a land of diversities. The people of every faith and religion live in unity and as well as celebrate various festivals in the country. In no other country of the world are people so frequently motivated by a religious urge to travel as in India. Fortunately for the Hindus, most of their places of pilgrimage are at scenic places in the Himalayas or near the sea or rivers. There is perhaps not a single day in the Indian calendar when a festival or fair is not celebrated in such a vast country with varied religions. There are some national festivals which are celebrated all over North India like Makar Sankranti, Republic Day, Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day, Janmashtami, Dussehra, Diwali and Christmas. Then, there are festivals to celebrate change of seasons, festivals connected with the harvesting or sowing of crops, etc. Every happy occasion calls for a celebration accompanied with dance and music. But the various

Festivals of North India

festivals are not celebrated by everyone in the country. Besides these, there are festivals associated with pilgrimages. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh pilgrim centers are located almost in every corner of India attracting millions of devotees travelling from one part of the country to another. For instance, the Kumbha Mela (celebrated every 12 years) at Haridwar or Prayag (Allahabad) attracts a few million people each time. While the dates of the national festivals are known, other festivals follow the lunar calendar and the dates change almost every year. However, the dates do not differ too much.

If you plan to include an Indian festival in your itinerary, please check its date with North India Tours Team. We would be delighted to make your trip to India a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience. The North India Tours Team keeps itself updated with the dates of the several festivals which are known to us in advance. Given below is a month-wise list of the various festivals celebrated in the Land of diversities.

North Indian Festivals

Republic Day

The Republic Day is celebrated on the 26 January all over the country. The India became republic on 26th January 1950 and from this day this festival is celebrated as a national festival. The day is celebrated traditionally with hoisting of the national flag, a parade and official festivities. The main attraction takes place at New Delhi, where a spectacular parade consisting of the Armed Forces, school children and youth, and folk dancers move down from the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan, past the India Gate and onto the historic Red Fort. On 29 January a breathtaking Beating Retreat ceremony takes place, set against the Rashtrapati Bhavan when the Armed Forces bands play martial music and march forming intricate patterns. This is followed by a colourful display of flares and illumination of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and other buildings around.

In the north particularly in Punjab, the day before Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Lohri. Lohri is the time after which the biting cold of winter begins to taper off. On this day the children go from door to door and collect funds for the community bonfires which are lit in the evening. Lohri is more of a community festival, where the birth of a son or the first year of marriage is celebrated with great fun and frolic. People gather around the bonfires and offer sweets, crisp rice and popcorn to the flames. Songs are sung to the beat of vigorous claps and greetings are exchanged.

This festival celebrates the end of Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. It is an occasion of feasting and rejoicing. The faithful gather in mosques to pray and meet their friends and relatives and exchange greetings with each other. Prayers, family get–togethers and feasts are the major highlights of the celebrations. Idi or presents of money are given to the youngsters by the family elders, conveying their blessings.



On the 14 night of the dark half of the month of Magh, the festival of Mahashivaratri is celebrated, the great night of Lord Shiva. The devotees stay awake throughout the night and offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. They offer special food made from the fruits of the season, root vegetables and coconuts to Lord Shiva. The devotees fast for the whole day and in the night ate the Prasad offered to Shiva. Special celebrations are held in some of the major Shiv temples at Varanasi.

Vasant Panchami

Vasant Panchami is celebrated to welcome the spring season on the fifth day of the waxing moon of Magh or February. On this day, the goddess Saraswati, Durga and Lakshmi are worshipped. People wear colourful dress, especially in bright shades of yellow and participate in dance, music and merriment. In West Bengal and northern parts of India, the goddess Saraswati-the goddess of learning is worshipped by placing ‘instruments of learning’ at her shrine. The festival is celebrated with great fervor in the university town of Shantiniketan in West Bengal.

International Yoga Week
During the International Yoga Week, various Yoga sessions are held along the banks of the Ganga at Rishikesh in February. This Yoga week is organized by the U.P. Tourism. Different lectures and Yoga Asanas are demonstrated by the prominent Yoga experts throughout the week. One other attraction of this week is the fascinating water sports on the Ganga.

Taj Mahotsav
The Taj Mahotsav is celebrated in Agra for almost ten days. This festival brings together the finest Indian crafts and cultural nuances at one place. It is a festive introduction to India and Uttar Pradesh. Folk music, Shayari (Poetry), classical dance performances, elephant and camel rides, games and food festival are the part of the festival.

Surajkund Crafts Mela
Surajkund Crafts Mela is a delightful handloom and handicrafts fair which is held annually at Surajkund in Delhi. This fair is celebrated in order to promote the traditional Indian handicrafts. Skilled artisans and craftsmen display their skills and crafts in a rural setting. Cultural programmes and rural cuisine are also a part of this colourful fair.



Holi is popularly known as the ‘colour throwing festival’. This festival is celebrated by the people all over the country. Holi is a spring festival which is celebrated normally over two days in the month of March. On the evening of the first day bonfires are lit, to symbolise the destruction of evil. On the next day the people throw colored powder and water on each other and exchange sweets. In various other parts of India Kama, the god of pleasure, the presiding deity of Holi is also worshipped.

Holi Festival
Lord Krishna is also worshipped by various people to commemorate the destruction of the female demon Putana by the Lord Krishna.

Rama Navami
Rama Navami is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Rama. This festival is celebrated all over the country, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. During the eight days preceding the birthday it is considered auspicious to read or listen to the epic Ramayana. So the celebrations involve reading and staging of the Ramayana in various folk forms.

Id–ul-Zuha or Bakra-Id
Id-Ul-Zuha is a Muslim festival which is celebrated all over India. This festival commemorates the Ibrahim’s sacrifice. Prayers are offered in the mosques and special delicacies are prepared and served among the families and friends on this day.

Khajuraho Dance Festival
Khajuraho Dance Festival is a weeklong dance festival which is held every year during the month of March in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh. This dance festival is organized by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department and is promoted as one of the major cultural event in Khajuraho. This dace festival is organized against the background of the famous Khajuraho temples built by the Chandela kings. During this dance festival various classical dances are performed which feature the best artistes of the country. This festival has earned a great deal of reputation among the local and foreign tourists.


Baisakhi is celebrated as an important day by the Sikhs in Punjab. It was on this day that Guru Govind Singh founded the Khalsa. At all Gurudwaras the ‘Granth Sahib’, the holy book of the Sikhs is read from beginning to end and taken out in a procession by the Panch Pyaras (five senior Sikhs) who are symbolic of the original leaders. After this there is a lot of feasting. In the night the Baisakhi di Raat or Baisakhi da Mela is held in which various folk dances, especially the Bhangra dance is performed and men and women dance to the rhythmic beat of drums. In Kerala the festival is known as Vishu. A display of grain, fruits, flowers, gold, new cloth and money, is viewed early in the morning to ensure a prosperous year ahead. This festival is also known as Rangali Bihu in Assam, and is celebrated with lively dance, music and feasting.

Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. It is one of the most famous festivals of the Jain community. On this day, the Jains visit the sacred temples and offer prayers.

Muharram is celebrated as a day of mourning on the occasion of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the holy Prophet Mohammad. This festival is mainly celebrated by the Shi’ite Muslims, who take out procession of colourfully decorated ‘Tazias’, which are paper and bamboo replicas of the martyr’s tomb at Karbala in Iraq. Tazias are carried in procession through the streets while men beat their chests and distress. The processions are especially impressive at Lucknow and Hyderabad. In some parts of the south India, the tiger dancers, men painted with stripes and wearing tiger masks, lead the procession.

Buddha Purnima
Buddha Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day in North India. On this day the Lord Buddha born and also achieved Nirvana or the extinction of self and freedom from the cycle of rebirth on the same day.

Good Friday and Easter
Good Friday is celebrated all over India by the Christians. On this day the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. Easter Sunday is celebrated on the occasion of the rebirth of Christ, as the triumph of good over evil. It is a festival of rejuvenation of life and living. A popular custom of this feast is the making of Easter eggs with presents for children inside them. Chocolate eggs, small chicks of cotton wool and almond sweets are bought for children. The festival is celebrated with lot of fun and frolic and the Christians offer special prayer services.


Mango Festival
The famous Mango Festival is held in the month of June in Saharanpur, in Uttar Pradesh, in every mango season. In this festival innumerable varieties of the mangoes are displayed.


Guru Purnima
On Guru Purnima all the teachers are specially worshipped. Ved Vyasa, the author

Mango Festival

of the great epic, Mahabharata, is also worshipped on this day. On this day the students worship their elders, teachers and guides in order to show respect to them with gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets. Discourses are held in community gatherings to hear the reading of the holy book, Bhagwad Gita.


Independence Day

Independence Day is the national festival of India and is observed throughout the country on 15th August. On 15th August, 1947 India got independence and later from this day onwards it is celebrated as Independence Day.

Janmashtami is celebrated on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. This festival is celebrated at midnight in all the temples of Krishna all over the country. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm at Mathura and Brindavan where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. Colorful Raslilas, song and dance dramas depicting the life of Lord Krishna are performed all day and night. On this day the night long prayers are offered, religious hymns are sung in temples and various scenes are enacted from Lord Krishna’s early life. In Maharashtra, earthen pots of curd and butter are hung high up over the streets and young men form pyramids and try to break these pots. This is an act in imitation of the Lord who when young, often stole butter and curds kept in earthen pots out of his reach.


Raksha Bandhan is the famous Hindu festival which is celebrated mainly in north India. This is a festival when brothers and sisters reaffirm their bonds of affections. The sisters tie colourful threads or rakhis on their brother’s wrist wishing for their long life. The brothers in turn promise to protect the honour and help them in adversaries and also gave them gifts. The sea God Varuna, a Vedic deity, is also worshipped on this day and is as such known as Narial Purnima or ‘Coconut Full Moon’.


Gandhi Jayanti

Gandhi Jayanti is the national festival of India and is celebrated on 2nd October. This festival is celebrated due to the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.


Navratri is the longest Hindu festival which is celebrated all over India. This festival is celebrated for nine consecutive nights in praise of Lord Rama and goddess Durga. During these nine days and nights, there is continuous chanting from the great epic Ramayana and as well as various performances from the episodes of his life also known as

Navratri Festival

Ramlila. This festival is a combination of many concepts. It is believed that Durga, the goddess of power and vitality, has nine forms called Navadurga and on each day she takes a new form, with an arsenal of weapons, to ride a lion and fight the demon Mahishasura. The most joyous celebration of Navaratri is seen in Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Every night people gather in courtyards to perform the folk dance, Garba, Dandiya. It is a community dance in which men and women dressed in festive clothes, dance in pairs with dandiyas or painted wooden sticks. Vijaydashmi or Dussehra, the 10th day, is celebrated with feasting and rejoicing as day of victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Lord Rama is said to have worshipped the Goddess, seeking her blessing in order to overpower the evil force of Ravana, the abductor of his beloved Sita.

Dussehra is celebrated all over India to mark the homecoming of Lord Rama. This festival is celebrated as a triumph of the good over the evil. This festival is celebrated for nine consecutive days in praise of Lord Rama and his victory over the demon Ravana. During these nine days, the Ramlila, an enactment is made on the various episodes of the life of Lord Rama and there is continuous chanting from the great epic Ramayana. On the tenth day, the Lord Rama killed the demon Ravana, the abductor of his beloved Sita. On Dussehra, larger than life effigies of Ravana, his brothers Meghnath and Kumbhkarna filled with different fire crackers are set alight to celebrate the victory of good over evil. In Himachal Pradesh, a week long fair is held at Kullu during the Dussehra festival. From the little temples in the hills, the deity of Lord Raghunathji is brought in procession to the Kullu Maidan with lot of gaiety, music and colour. On this day the Mysore Palace in Mysore is also illuminated with lights. Majestic processions, a torch lights parade and dance and musical events enliven the tranquil city. In south India during Dussehra, houses are decorated with displays of dolls, toys and idols. In West Bengal, the decorated idols of goddess Durga which were worshipped for nine days are taken out in huge procession and immersed in tanks, rivers or sea.


Guru Purab

Guru Purab is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the first guru of the Sikhs who founded the Sikh faith in the North India. The two main events which are the part of the festival are the recitation of the holy book and taking out of the holy book in a procession. The ‘Akhand Path’ or the continuous reading of the ‘Granth’ holy book is held in Gurudwaras all over the country. Langars (community feasts) are organised where people of all castes sit together to eat and sing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib. The celebrations at Amritsar are especially impressive.

Sharad Purnima
Sharad Purnima is a harvest festival which is celebrated when the goddess Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity, visits the home of all to bring them fortune and good luck. Kojagiri, the special night, is celebrated with ice-cold, saffron-flavored sweet rice milk or Kheer is prepared and kept in the moonlight. On the next day, that Kheer is served to all the people and other family members. The full moon night is called Navanna Purnima or the moonlit night of new food. The newly harvested rice is offered to the god and lamps are lit before the full moon.


The word “Diwali” is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepawali’, which means a row or cluster of lights. It is one of the most widely celebrated and most beautiful festivals of India. Diwali is the brightest and noisiest festival of India. This festival comes after the 21 days of Dussehra. According to the legends the Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his 14 year exile in the forest. It is said that the people illuminated their houses and streets with earthen oil lamps to welcome the

Diwali Festival

Lord. Even today almost every one illuminates their houses with oil lamps, candles and electric lights, decorate their houses and distribute the sweets to each other. The people decorate their doorways with the Bandanwars or torans (a decorative garland) of mango leaves and marigolds. Rangolis (designs on floor) are drawn with different coloured powders to welcome the guests. On this special day the goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped. In the night, the people wear new clothes, illuminate their houses, worship the goddess Laxmi, burn the firecrackers and exchange the sweets.



Christmas is celebrated by the Christians all over India and world on 25th December. Christmas is celebrated due to the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. The Christmas spirit pervades in the market that also offer attractive bargains. On this day the people exchange greetings and gifts and offer prayers in Church.


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