India is a country that loves celebrating and we sure have more than a bunch of reasons to get it together and throw a mind blowing party like never before! From cultural and religious events and festivals that include various traditions and rituals to those related to history and heritage, tourism and a whole lot of fun, India has it all! March has been a cracking month with various ways of celebrating the same festival across India,(ALSO READ Guide to festivals and events in March in India) and April is no less with some festivals that are so grand and so colorful that they promise a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most! Here is our list of festivals and events you must witness in April and why!
1. The Aoling Festival of the Konyak Tribe
Nagaland’s Aoling festival is unique to the Konyak tribe which was once one of the fiercest hunting tribes in India. However, they now primarily practice agriculture. Aoling is celebrated after the first set of seeds are sown for the new harvesting season. The festival also marks the beginning of the New Year for the tribe.
When: April 1 to 6, 2016 each year
Where: Mon district, Nagaland in North East India
2. Mopin Festival
Mopin is one of the last harvest festivals celebrated in north east India. The Galo tribe worships goddess Mopin and their harvest festival is dedicated to the goddess who wards off evil spirits, and blesses the tribe with good health and prosperity. People perform the folk dance, Popir, and drink a lot of the traditional rice wine called apong to celebrate the end of the winter.
When: April 5, 2016
Where: East and West Siang districts near Itanagar, of Arunachal Pradesh
3. Gudi Padwa
Photograph courtesy: india.com
The Maharashtrian New Year is celebrated in almost every household in the state. Some of the major rituals and traditions include making a Gudi (doll), with a silk cloth suspended from a bamboo stick and a pot adorned with a garland holding the figurine together. It symbolizes prosperity. People perform pujas at home and enjoy scrumptious traditional meals.
When: April 8, 2016
Ugadi is the New Year for people belonging to Karnataka, and some regions of Telangana and Maharashtra as well. The Satvahana Dynasty had started celebrating Ugadi. The festival marks the change in the moon’s orbit, making new beginnings. People offer prayers to Shiva prepare sweet dishes and spend the day mostly with family and close friends.
When: April 8, 2016
5. Godwar Festival
Rajasthan is known to be the land of festivals and fairs. Every month has a festival or two and the state seems to be in an eternal celebration mode! The Godwar festival is celebrated in Ranakpur to showcase the culture of the region. The festival is marked with traditional folk dance and music performances, bullock cart and horse races, wildlife safaris and turban-tying competitions among many other such events that bring people together!
When: April 8 and 9, 2016
Where: Ranakpur, Rajasthan
6. Cheti Chand
Cheti Chand is celebrated as the new year in the Sindhi community. The festival is celebrated on Jhulelal Jayanti, Jhulelal was a saint from the Sindh region which is now in Pakistan.
When: April 9, 2016
Where: Everywhere in India and Pakistan
7. Kodungalloor Bharani
Photograph courtesy: keralatourism.org
The festival is dedicated to Kali and is celebrated in Thrissur. During the seven- day long festival, devotees and spiritualists known as velichappads run around the Kodungalloor Bhagavathy Temple in a trance and wield swords to their foreheads. During the festival, people across castes are permitted to enter the premises of the temple. The festival signifies the day when Kali killed a demon in the region.
When: April 3 to 9, 2016
Where: Kodungalloor Bhagavathy Temple, Thrissur, Kerala
Gangaur is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Rajasthan dedicated to the consort of Shiva, Parvati who is referred to as Gauri. The festival is observed by women who pray for the well-being of their husbands and sons. Processions are carried out from various Gauri temples in elaborately decorated palanquins, with women chanting prayers and praises of the goddess.
When: April 9 and 10, 2016
Where: All over Rajasthan
9. Mewar Festival
This festival welcomes the spring season at the Gangaur Ghat that lines the Lake Pichola. Images and idols of Gauri are placed in boats that float on Lake Pichola. People celebrate the festival with traditional performances that include singing and dancing along with various other cultural activities. An elaborate fireworks show that look breathtaking from the Gangaur ghat concludes the festival.
When: April 9 to 11, 2016
Where: Udaipur, Rajasthan
10. Lairai Jatra
Jatra in the local language means a fair organized for pilgrims. Lairai Jatra is one of Goa’s biggest cultural festivals in honor of Lairai, the presiding goddess of the temple in Shirgao. Devotees, known as dhonds walk to the temple barefoot and prepare themselves for the festival. After they bathe, all the dhonds perform a dance for the goddess. This is followed by a bonfire that is lit by midnight. A few hours of singing and dancing later, when the coal is a tad simmered. All the devotees, chant goddess’s name and run on the coal, proving their true devotion for her.
When: April 11, 2016
11. Chithirai Festival
This is one of Madurai’s biggest temple festivals, where the wedding ceremony of Sundareswarar and Meenakshi is re-enacted. While Sundareswarar is another name of Shiva, Meenakshi is Vishnu’s sister. (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Meenakshi (Lord Vishnu’s sister). Locals believe that Vishu rode on a golden horse to Madurai to be a part of the wedding.
When: April 11, 2016
Where: Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
12. Tulip Festival
The Tulip Festival hosted at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden is one of the biggest Tulip shows in the world. In fact, it is the biggest tulip garden in Asia. The garden overlooks the Dal lake and is home to over 60 varieties of tulips. Apart from looking at a lot of colors at a time, this festival will also feature Kashmiri folk dance and music performances along with local handicrafts that will be on sale.
When: April 12 to 14, 2016
Where: Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir
Along with being the last harvest festival of the year in Punjab, Baisakhi also commemorates the day when Khalsa was wounded. Khalso is known as Sikh brotherhood which was laid down by Guru Gobind Singh. The highlight of the festival are the bhangra and gidda forms of dance performances and lip-smacking feasts cooked in most households. The biggest celebrations happen at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
When: April 13, 2016
14. Rongali Bihu
Rongali Bohu is celebrated in north east India’s Assam. The festival is celebrated thrice in a year, and Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu falls in April/May each year. Along with being a harvest festival, it also marks the new year and the beginning of spring. The festival is celebrated for three days. the first day is dedicated to cattle, as their important for agriculture, the second day is dedicated to spending time with friends and family and the third day is when the local deity is prayed to.
When: April 13 to 15, 2016
15. Ram Navami
Ram Navami is celebrated for two reasons, one, as the day when Rama, the crown prince of Ayodya was born and the other, when he married Sita. People started celebrating Ram Navami to pay homage to the hero of the Hindu epic, Ramayana.
When: April 15, 2016
Where: All around India
16. Thrissur Pooram
This is one of Kerala’s biggest festivals that is just as appealing as a cultural carnival anywhere in the world. With over 30 decorated elephants and hundreds of musicians performing traditional folk music that will definitely send you into a trance. The 200 years old festival goes on for over 36 hours at a stretch with hundreds of thousands of devotees paying their respects to Shiva.
When: April 17 to 18, 2016
Where: Swaraj ground, Vadakkumnathan Temple, Thrissur, Kerala
17. Mahavir Jayanti
Vardhamana Mahavira was the 24th Jain Tirthankara, also known as the spiritual leader. It is believed that he was born over 2500 years back and this day is celebrated as his birthday. Various shrines around the country are dedicated to the spiritual guide, and the Jains pay their homage by chanting prayers in praise of Mahavira.
When: April 20, 2016
Where: All around India
18. Ujjain Kumbh Mela
Photograph courtesy: Kumbh Mela/Facebook
Kumbh Mela is celebrated at four destinations, Haridwar, Allahabad , Nashik-Trimbakeshwar and Ujjain at an interval of 12 years. Last year, the Nashik Kumbh Mela took place and this year the Ujjain Sumhastha Kumbh Mela will be hosted. The legend behind the fair being hosted at these four destinations is that Vishu is said to have dropped small amounts of amrut (nectar) while transferring it in a pot (kumbha). The festival gets it suffix, Simhastha from the fact that the Ujjain Kumbh Mela is organized when Jupiter is considered to be positioned in Leo, referred to as Simha in Hindu astrology.
When: April 22 to May 21, 2016
Where: Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
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