India is a colorful and diverse in many ways. Besides the various religions and innumerable languages, it is also a country of festivals. As India is a very spiritual country, festivals are at the core of people’s lives in India.

Here are the five most popular festivals in India:

Diwali

Diwali, also called the “Festival of Lights” is probably one of the best-known Indian festivals. This five-day festival represents the start of the Hindu New Year and is characterized by fireworks and small clay lamps and candles that are lit during this festival. These lights represent the victory of good over evil.

The festival gets its name from the row of clay lamps that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness. The row is called avali and the clay lamps are called deepa. Therefore Diwali is also known as Deepavali. Diwali is a beautiful, atmospheric festival and the biggest and brightest one in India. It is celebrated in either October or November each year, depending on the cycle of the moon. This year Diwali is on November 11.

Ganesh Chaturthi

This festival, which lasts 11 days, honors the birthday of the Hindu elephant-headed god called Lord Ganesha. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha is the lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom. Ganesha, which is known by more than a hundred different names, is also considered the god of beginnings.

At the start of the festival huge crafted statutes of Ganesha are installed in homes an podiums. At the end of the festival, people parade these statutes through the streets while singing and dancing and then these statutes are submerged in the ocean. This last day of the festival is called Anant Chaturdasi. This festival is usually celebrated in August or September each year. Next year it will start on September 5.

Holi

Holi, also called the “Festival of Colors” is a two-day festival that signifies good over evil just like Diwali, but it also celebrates the abundance of the spring harvest season and it is a festive time to meet others, play, laugh, forget and forgive and to repair broken relationships.

This festival is well-known worldwide where people throw colored powder and water all over each other and have parties and many non-Hindus celebrate this ancient Hindu festival across the world. The celebrations start the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire where people get together to sing and dance. The next morning participants chase and colour each other with this powder and water. Next year Holi is on March 24.

Onam

This is another well-known festival which spans over ten days and is a harvest festival marking the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. During this festival you will find beautifully decorated flower patterns in front of houses. People do this to welcome the King. Other characteristics of the festival includes new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, dancing, sports, games and snake boat races. Onam is celebrated in August or September each year and next year Onam falls on September 13.

Pushkar Camel Fair

If you want to witness an old, traditional style Indian festival, make sure not to miss the Pushkar Camel Fair in the tiny desert town Pushkar which is in India’s Rajasthan state. An incredible 50 000 camels converge on Pushkar where, for five days, they are dressed up, shaved, paraded and even entered into beauty contests. There are also camel races and the camels are traded.

This festival has two parts, the camel trading, which happens during the initial part of the festival, and then the festival winds up with pilgrims bathing in the holy lake. This year the Pushkar Fair is held on November 19-25.

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