It’s not for nothing that India is called the ‘land of fairs and festivals’. Festivals form the core of Indian ethos, and each festival has its own charm and stories.
While India celebrates one festival or the other every month, the second half of the year is completely dominated by special days and occasions. August has passed, and we are already done with two important festivals of Eid and Rakshabandhan in the past month.
We are bringing you the Indian festival calendar for the rest of 2018, listing all special days, holidays and occasions. Take a good look at the months and dates, you can plan your holidays accordingly.
When: 2-3 September, Sunday–Monday (Gazetted holiday)
Janmashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, and it’s a special festival in almost all parts of India. The rituals begin with fast and puja of Ashtami and end with the ‘parana’ on Navami. In many states, people mark the occasion with ‘dahi handi’, when they form a pyramid and one of them, usually, a little boy or girl (makhan-chor, Govinda), tries to reach up and break a clay pot filled with curd amid songs and dance by onlookers.
Ganesh Chaturthi or Ganeshotsav
When: 13 September (Thursday) to 23 September (Sunday)
The 11-day Ganpati Mahotsav festival is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. The first day, i.e. Ganesh Chaturthi, sees an installation of the elephant-headed God’s statutes in homes and pandals. After 10 days of festivities, the idols are immersed in water (Ganpati Visarjan) on Anant Chaturdashi. While Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in most parts of India, it’s considered the main festival of Maharashtra.
When: 12 September, Wednesday
Hartalika Teej is dedicated to the reunion of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is mainly observed by women. Old-timers say unmarried girls observe it to get a good husband, while married women do it for the well being of husbands.
When: 21 September, Friday (Gazetted holiday)
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar. Muharram dates change every year when compared with the Gregorian calendar. On the tenth day of Muharram is the Day of Ashura, when the Sunni Muslims keep fast and Shia Muslims mourn the death of Imam Hussein and his family. Respecting the martyrs’ sacrifice, they spend the day praying and refrain from all joyous activities.
When: 10 October, Wednesday to 19 October, Friday
The nine-day festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga, an exemplar of Shakti. Navratri is usually marked by kanya pujan and Garba across the country. It’s fun time as people get together for fun and frolic on all nine days. Navratri is followed Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra on the tenth day.
When: 8 October, Monday
Mahalaya occurs on Amavasya, the last day of the dark fortnight (Krishnapaksha), in the month of Ashvin, according to the Hindu lunar calendar. Mahalaya marks the beginning of the annual Durga Puja festival. On this day, Goddess Durga is believed to descend on Earth, her ‘paternal home’, every year.
When: 15 October (Monday) to 19 October (Friday)
Durga Puja, also known as Sharadotsav, is a Hindu festival celebrated all over India, especially by Bengalis across the world. Celebrated over five days, it marks the triumph of good over evil symbolised by the slaying of the demon called Mahishasura by Goddess Durga.
When: 19 October, Friday (Gazetted holiday)
The festival is celebrated to remark the victory of good over evil because, on this day, Lord Rama had killed Ravan. The festival is also known as Vijayadashami, marking the slaying of buffalo demon Mahishasura by Goddess Durga.
When: 27 October, Saturday
It’s one of the biggest festivals in North India when married women keep fast for long life of husbands. Those unmarried too keep this fast to get a good husband in future.
When: 5 November, Monday (Gazette holiday)
Celebrated two days before Diwali, Dhanteras, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. The entrance of the home is decorated with lanterns and earthen lamps on this day. It’s considered a good day for the purchase of gold or silver articles or utensils.
When: 7 November, Wednesday (Gazetted holiday)
Unarguably the most important festival celebrated across India, Diwali is the festival of lights. People decorate their houses with rangoli artworks and light earthen lamps at night when firecrackers light up the sky and sweets and gifts are exchanged.
When: 7 November, Wednesday (Gazette holiday)
The Bengali community celebrates Kali puja during this time of the year. Kali puja, also known as Dipanwita Kali Puja, may or may not coincide with Diwali every year.
When: 9 November, Friday (Gazetted holiday)
On this day, sisters apply tilak on their brothers’ forehead and follow other rituals, praying for their long life. Like Raksha Bandhan, the festival too signifies brothers’ responsibility to protect sisters.
When: 13 November, Tuesday
A very important festival in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Chhat puja is performed across India by both men and women to express gratitude to the Sun God for sustaining life on the Earth. It’s a tough festival when devotees keep fast for multiple days in reverence to God.
Guru Nanak Jayanti
When: 23 November, Friday (Gazetted holiday)
Guru Nanak Jayanti, also called Guru Nanak Gurpurb, is celebrated on the first full moon after Diwali. The day celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru. This is one of the main sacred festivals in Sikh community. In gurdwaras, evening prayers and kirtans are performed.
When: 25 December, Sunday (Gazette holiday)
The birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated by exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas tree, singing carols at churches. Christmas also heralds the year-end celebrations leading up to December 31 to begin the New Year on a high note.
Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
When: 2 October, Tuesday (Gazette holiday)
When: 20-21 November, Tuesday–Wednesday (Gazetted holiday)
The Muslim community observes Milad un-Nabi, which commemorates the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Also known as Nabi Day and Mawlid, it’s a gazetted holiday in India.