While India offers countless opportunities for festivity, we have cherrypicked some of our favourites that offer an insight into our culture.
With the cooler Autumn and Winter months, wedding season is in full swing! More than just celebrating the union of a couple, these elaborate affairs are an occasion for those involved to share prosperity with family, friends and neighbours; with each day having its own traditions and significance. The average Indian wedding lasts three days, with the bride and groom preparing separately in the days leading up to the celebration before meeting in front of their family and friends for the main day of the procession. Other than the love being shared between the couple, the highlight of these festivities is the food; banquets of delectable and enticing sweet treats laid in an abundance that is hard to imagine until you see it – it’s no wonder that these events are gladly attended by sometimes thousands of guests. If you should ever receive an invite, it is not something that you should pass up, as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to admire the glittering gowns and saris and elegant suits; and enjoy the famous Indian hospitality.
One of India’s most internationally famous festivals, Holi is celebrated with colour and vibrancy across the nation – with particularly spectacular festivities taking place in the north. This two day event begins with group celebrations around homemade Holika bonfires, singing and dancing the night away in anticipation of the next day. On the day itself people gather in open spaces such as parks armed with wet and dry colourful paints and powders, with which they adorn on each other like paint on a canvas. Holi is celebrated during the full moon in March and signifies the triumph of good over evil as Prince Prahlad defeated the evil Holika with the arrival of spring. Enjoyed by all ages, this festival brings out the child in everyone.
Also known as the ‘Brother and Sister Festival’ Raksha Bandan is a family-centric celebration that takes place during the full moon of the Hindu month of Shravana, and is celebrated primarily in the North and West of India. The festival centres around the ritual of tying the ‘Rakhi’, a sacred thread infused with a sister’s love for her brother that she ties around his wrist to cement their everlasting bond. The thread itself is made from string, but is considered to be stronger than iron chains as it eternalises an inseparable connection founded on trust and love. Naturally, the festival also includes typical Indian celebrations such as gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and feasting. As well as this, Raksha Bandhan has a broad social message as it impresses the importance of harmonious coexistence.
Lasting a total of 5 days, Diwali is the biggest festival in the Hindu calendar and one that is long awaited each year. Diwali’s festivities centre around the triumph of good over evil and
light over darkness. Traditionally the welcoming in of light was represented using handmade diyas , small earthenware lamps containing mustard oil and lit with cotton wicks. Recent trends have seen traditional decorations overtaken by electronic lights and extravagant firework displays. Whilst extremely festive, there has been growing controversy surrounding these displays as a result of India’s ongoing struggle with pollution, and each year Diwali celebrations feature in worldwide news for this reason. Alongside the light displays, Diwali celebrations centre around the coming together of friends and family, renovation of houses and purchasing gold in order to secure prosperity for the coming year. For Hindus, the religious significance of Diwali focuses on Lord Rama’s return to his Kingdom after 14 years of exile; special prayers are also dedicated to the Goddess Lakshmi, in hope that she will provide wealth and success for the family. Usually everybody’s favourite festival, Diwali is a time of great merriment and celebration for all.