2020 is here which means there’s a new bucket list we all have to tick off those travel goals this year. While India boasts of endless destinations you can visit round the year, festival tourism in India is an aspect that attracts so many visitors to the country each year. Since India is home to several tribes and communities, each of these have festivals that have been celebrated for years now.
Since the harvest season is coming up, the farming communities around the country are gearing up for their respective harvest festivals.
If you’re a culture nerd, here are 5 harvest festivals in India you can celebrate:
Lohri is one of the most popular festivals of Punjab. The harvest folk festival scheduled for 13th January this year, is one that brings the entire community together. People gather around a bonfire to get relief from the biting cold while singing folk songs. Grains, corn and nuts are offered to the harvest gods to thank them for the sugarcane crops. If you love intimate community gatherings, you must experience Lohri to understand the essence of festival tourism in India.
Since it is one of the most popular festivals of India, Bihu should definitely be on your list. Assam’s age-old festival celebrates the crop that is received by the farmers by rejoicing throughout January. This year Bihu shall be held on 16th January. The celebration starts the nigh before with Uruka which is the community feast. On the day of Bihu, pavilions made of clay and hay are burnt. Since local women participate in group songs and dance as a form of thanking the harvest gods, this is a treat to watch. If you wish to experience the cultural beauty of Assam through the lens of festival tourism, now is a good time to visit.
While Pongal is one of the most popular festivals of South India, few know that it is a harvest festival. It is a 4 day festival which shall be held from 15th to 18th January this year. The festival is celebrated to thank Mother Nature for the produce that has been cultivated. It is celebrated in many cities in Tamil Nadu. The first day is the Bhogi Festival in worship of Lord Indra, the god of rain. On the second day, newly harvested rice and milk are cooked and offered to the sun gods. The third day is for cattle worship and on the fourth day, Pongal or traditional coloured rice is offered with turmeric, betel leaf, and betel nuts. The festival is also known for bull-taming races and bonfires made from agricultural waste.
If you’ve grown up watching Bollywood movies, you’ve probably seen several films and songs centered around Baisakhi. The festival which takes place on 13th April this year, is one that all culture enthusiasts must attend. While men indulge in Bhangra, the women can be seen performing Gidda. The entire region comes alive to the tunes of the dhol. Baisakhi fairs are also organised where activities like acrobatics and wresting can be seen
5. Makar Sankranti
One of the most widely celebrated harvest festivals in India, Makar Sankranti is celebrated across Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and so many states. Makar Sankranti is held on 15th January. It marks the end of an unfavourable phase and the beginning of a prosperous time. People celebrate the harvest of new crops with bonfire, carnivals, songs, dances and kite flying. Since the kite festival in Gujarat is very lively, it is worth attending. If you wish to experience festival tourism at its peak, there’s nothing like Makar Sankranti
India is truly a melting pot of cultures and if you wish to explore the cultural heritage of the country, there’s nothing better than the festivals of India. Plan a trip to one of India’s harvest festivals and start the year 2020 on a bright note!