Fairs & Festival
Festival of Maharashtra
Maharashtra is place of many religious and cultural traditions.
Life revolves around fairs and festivals, in Maharashtrian villages.
Each festival comes with its own colors and cuisine. People decorate
their houses and surroundings and there is an air of celebration.
The festival time is surely a must visit time in India. There are
many festivals celebrated with much enthusiasm and spirit.
Each festival signal the passing of old and beginning of new, and
this in most cases is signifies the victory of good over evil. Each
festival has its mark is always felt in the daily lives of the people
in India, specially in rural India
[ Buddha Purnima | Dussehra
And Diwali | Ganesh Chaturthi
| Gokul Ashtami | Gudhi
Padwa | Holi | Mahavir
Jayanti | Makar Sankranti |
Nag Panchami | Narali Poornima
| Raksha Bandhan | Festivals
Organized by MTDC ]
Purnima is the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar. It is the
most important festival of the Buddhists, and is celebrated with
great enthusiasm. Although Buddhists regard every full moon as sacred,
the moon of the month of Vaisakh (April - May) has special significance
because on this day the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment,
and attained Nirvana when he died. This strange, three - fold coincidence,
gives Buddha Purnima its unique significance
.On this day they wear only white clothes. They gather in their
viharas for worship and give alms to monks. Many spend their entire
day at the vihara listening to discourses on the life and teaching
of the Buddha or invite monks to their homes to speak to them. They
reaffirm their faith in the five principles (Panch Sheel) - not
to take life, not to steal, not to die, not to absorb liquor or
other intoxicants and not to commit sin.
On Buddha Purnima Buddhists avoid from eating meat and eat kheer
which they share with the poor. They set up stalls in public places,
which provide clean drinking water. Their special forms of charity
include kindness to animals: they buy caged birds and set them free
and pay butchers to let go animals meant for slaughter.
Just as in some homes paper lanterns are hung on Diwali, on Buddha
Purnima Buddhists make Vaisakh Vakats out of bamboo, garland them
with starts and decorate their houses with them. Some people also
wrap the walls of their homes with paper or cloth depicting incidents
from the Jataka tales, which are based on incarnations of the Buddha
prior to his birth as Prince Gautama.
and Diwali are celebrated in October and November. According to
the great Hindu epic Ramayana, Dussehra is the day on which Lord
Ram killed Ravan, the evil king of Lanka. It is considered as a
shubh-muharat - a very auspicious day - to start a new venture.
It is a symbol of the victory of good over evil. Tools of trade,
vehicles and machinery are worshipped on this day. As the evening
falls, the villagers cross the border, a ritual known as Simollanghan,
and worship the Shami tree. The leaves of the Apta tree are collected
and exchanged among friends and relatives as gold.
Diwali, which is the festival of lights, marks the end of one
commercial year and the beginning of another. Streets are illuminated
with rows of clay lamps and homes are decorated with rangoli (coloured
powder designs) and aakash kandils (decorative lanterns of different
shapes and sizes). A unique Maharashtrian touch is seen in the akash
kandeels or lanterns that are hung outside homes.
People rise at dawn, massage their bodies with " utanh " a special
type of scented oil and take a holy bath. Diwali is celebrated with
new clothes, spectacular firecrackers and a variety of sweets in
the company of family and friends. Dhanatrayodashi; Narakchaturdashi,
Amavasya (Laxmi poojan), Balipratipada and Yamadvitiya (Bhaubeej)
are the five days, which comprise Diwali, and each day has a peculiar
religious significance. Bhaubij, the last day of Diwali, is similar
to Raksha Bandan and deals with the relationship between brother
Ganesh, the native deity of Maharashtra, is the God of wisdom. As
August arrives, preparations to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi starts.
It is auspicious day when Lord Ganesh was born. Ganesh is the elephant
headed son of Shiva and Parvathi. Ganesh is believed to be the sign
of good luck that removes all obstacles to success. He brings prosperity
and keeps natural calamities at bay in the lives of those who worship
This ten-day festival begins with the placement of the deity, who
is then worshipped daily till the immersion on the final day. Small
Ganesh idols are installed in homes. Idols can tower 10m high and
weigh several tones. On the tenth day, winding processions fill
the streets and with the accompaniment of drumbeats and music the
image of Ganesh is immersed in the water.
Devotees chant 'Ganapati Bappa Morya' which means Ganesh, Daddy,
please come back soon next year.
The Visarjan (immersion) Processions and Ceremony The festival
ends with the ceremony of immersion of the idols in the sea or rivers
and wells. This ceremony which is called Ganesha-Visarjan which
means immersion of Ganesha is as popular as the festival proper.
During the immersion ceremony huge crowds move in a procession carrying
idols of Ganesha towards the places of immersion. These processions
which take place with great noisy display, begins in the afternoon
and continue till the late hours of the night.
Although this festival is observed in all parts of the country,
it is celebrated with maximum passion in Maharashtra where it is
celebrated both publicly and privately. Apart from the small idols
of Ganesha that are installed in various houses, there are also
many public celebrations called Sarvajanik Ganeshotsava.
Lokmanya Tilak started the Public Celebrations of Ganesh-Chaturthi.
In these public celebrations huge images of Ganesha ranging from
10 feet to 40 feet are installed and along with the daily prayers
and hymns, there are entertainment programs which are a major attraction.
Till the turn of the last century, this festival was celebrated
only in homes and temples. But during the struggle for independence
against British rule, Lokmanya Tilak gave it the form of a public
festival. Tilak did this so as to cleverly broadcast his political
message of freedom for India.
Carried out in the form of a religious activity, it was difficult
for the British Administration to curb it. But the festival once
having acquired a public form for a political purpose, retained
that form even after the political purpose did not exist. Hence
even today in independent India Ganeshotsava is celebrated both
publicly and privately.
Ashtami is celebrated in August. Most devotees fast till midnight
and when the birth of Lord Krishna is announced, they eat a festive
preparation of rice, butter, yogurt, puris and potatoes. Lord Krishna
and his playmates in Gokul enjoyed this meal, according to Hindu
mythology. Young men form human pyramids to break pots of curds
strung high up from buildings. In the villages, the Pola or the
harvest festival is celebrated in which bullocks are bathed, decorated
and taken out in a procession to the accompaniment of beating drums.
The Ceremony of Dahi-Handi:
During this ceremony a large earthenware pot is filled with milk,
curds, butter, honey fruits etc. and is suspended from a height
between 20 to 40 feet. Sporting young men and boys come forward
to claim this prize. To do so they construct a human pyramid by
standing over each other's shoulders till the pyramid is tall enough
to enable the topmost person to reach the pot and claim the contents
after breaking it. Normally, currency notes are tied to the rope
by which the pot is suspended. This prize money is distributed among
those who participate in the pyramid building.
Gudhi Padwa is the most significant for it marks the start of the
Maharashtrian New Year (March/April). It is dedicated to Sahaliwan,
the son of a humble potter who overthrew the dominant Guptas of
Malwa to become an important monarch guiding the fortunes of a new
dynasty. This day marks the start of the Hindu solar year. On this
day people offer rituals, prayers, prasad of neem leaves, gram pulse
and jagerry and they buy new clothes. Families erect a gudhi or
bamboo staff, with a colored silk cloth and a bright garlanded drinking
container is hung on top of it, which symbolizes victory or achievement.
In a city where business is conducted as much through modern technology
as ancient wisdom, the advice of astrologers on this day is highly
The festival of Holi is celebrated in March, which are winter harvest
and the coming of spring. Holis or bonfires are lit in the night
and people gather to worship the fire-god, which is believed to
burn away, all evil. People throw colored water over each other
and have great fun on this occasion. This is an important festival
celebrated all over north India and in several places in the South
of India. Holi is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Maharashtra.
main Jain festival of the year is Mahavira Jayanti, the birth anniversary
of Mahavira. According to the Digambar school of Jainism, Lord Mahavira
was born in the year 615 BC, but the Swetambaras believe that He
was born in 599 BC. Both sects however agree that he was the son
of Siddhartha and Trisala. Legends believe that Devananda conceived
him who is wife of a Brahmin named Rishabhdeva. The Gods, intelligently,
transferred the fertilized egg to the womb of Trisala. It is said
that the expectant mother had sixteen auspicious dreams before the
child was born (only 14 according to the Swetambaras). Astrologer's
intepreting these dream, stated that the child would be either an
emperor or a Teerthankar.
This religious event is largely observed by the Jains, by visiting
sacred sites and worshipping the Teerthankars. The event holds special
significance in Gujarat and Rajasthan, due to the ancient shrines
at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat. Mahavira Jayanti is also celebrated
at Parasnath temple in Calcutta and at Pawapuri in Bihar.
Sankranti marks the start of the Sun's journey to the Northern Hemisphere
Makara raas), signifying the onset of Uttarayana Punyakalam, and
is a day of celebration all over the country. The day begins with
people taking holy dips in the waters and worshipping the Sun. Traditionally,
this period is considered an auspicious time and the veteran Bhishma
of Mahabharata chose to die during this period. Bhishma fell to
the arrows of Arjun. With his blessing to choose the time of his
death, he waited on a bed of arrows to depart from this world only
during this period. It is believed that those who die in this period
have no rebirth.
The Indo Gangetic plain begins this day with taking dips in the
Ganga and offering water to the Sun god. The dip is said to purify
the self and bestow punya. Special puja is offered as a thanksgiving
for good harvest. According to folklore, girls who take the holy
dip get handsome husbands and boys get beautiful brides. Til and
rice are two important ingredients of this festival. In the rice-eating
belt of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, people have a special rice-centric
meal on this day. Also known as Gangasagar Mela, on this day, people
come from all over India for a ceremonial cleansing in the river
Hooghly, near Calcutta. In Maharashtra, when two persons greet each
other on this festive day, they exchange a few grains of multi-coloured
sugar and fried til mixed with molasses and say "til gud ghya, god
god bola" (from this time on let there be only friendship and good
thoughts between us). The sky is ablaze with colorful kites in this
Panchami is the snake festival and is observed at the village called
Battis Shitale in the Sangli district towards the end of August
or early September. In Hindu mythology, the cobra has a special
significance and the earth, it is believed, rests on the head of
'Shesha' - the thousand-hooded cobra. The devotees collect hundreds
of cobras, place them in earthen pots and worship them to the accompaniment
of folk dances and song. Later they are carried in processions of
bullock carts and chariots. On the following day they are released
into the fields from where they were captured.
The full moon day of the month of Shravan is celebrated as Narali
Poornima with characteristic passion in different parts of Maharashtra
and is known variously as Narali Pournima, Shravani Pournima, Rakhi
Pournima or Raksha Bandhan. 'Naral' means 'coconut', and Narali
Pournmia is thus called because offerings of coconuts are made by
people to the sea-god on this day. Narali Pournima also marks the
arrival of the new fishing season and fishermen calm the sea-god
before sailing out in their gaily-decorated boats. The festival
is a day of singing and dancing.
The annual "festival" of Raksha Bandhan, which is meant to honor
the lasting ties between siblings of opposite sex, usually takes
place in late August, and is marked by a very simple ceremony in
which a woman ties a rakhi - which may be a colorful thread, a simple
bracelet, or a decorative string - around the wrist of her brother(s).
The word "raksha" signifies protection, and "bandhan" is an association
signifying an abiding sort of bond; and so, when a woman ties a
rakhi around the waist of her brother, she signifies her loving
attachment to him. He, likewise, recognizes the special bonds between
them, and by extending his wrist forward, he in fact extends the
hand of his protection over her.
Organized by MTDC
Festivals have been a part of our culture since time immemorial.
Festivals instill enjoyment and feeling of well being in our otherwise
monotonous lives. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has
taken the initiative to promote the state's unique history, heritage
and culture through these festivals. Every year it will showcase
five distinct festivals: Kalidas, Banganga, Elephanta, Mumbai and
Ellora. These festivals aim to celebrate the state's cultural diversity
and heritage. Every year, MTDC seeks to present the myriad facets
of Maharashtra's rich heritage of the performing arts through a
series of festivals held at important cultural centres. The years
have added a mesmerising allure to these events, now avidly awaited
by lovers of Indian music, art and culture, who appreciate the artistry
of India's leading exponents of classical music and dance who come
from all over the country to perform at the festivals.
The Elephanta Festival
February Elephanta, a small island near Mumbai, is a favoured destination
for culture lovers. It is the site of the Elephanta Festival, the
tranquil abode of Lord Shiva, just one-and-a-half-hour's journey
by motor launch from Mumbai. Once known as Puri or Gharapuri, the
island was the proud capital of a powerful coastal kingdom. It was
named Elephanta by the Portuguese, who took possession of it several
centuries later, and found a monolithic stone elephant at the place
they first landed.
The Elephanta caves are a showcase of legends created around Lord
Shiva, beautifully presented here in all his splendour in the rock
cave temples. Every year, renowned dancers and musicians perform
outside the caves, beneath a star-studded sky, to a select and appreciative
audience. Special launch services and catering arrangements are
provided for visitors.
The Ellora Festival near Aurangabad
There was a time when the Gods grew bored in their celestial abode.
They asked the Lord if they could visit the earth. That evening,
He said they could, but on condition that they returned by dawn.
The Gods set up a city at the place they fancied and, lost in their
pleasures, they let time pass by.
Since they failed to return by dawn, they were turned to stone
- in the magnificent monolith called Ellora, the heavenly abode
of the Gods on earth. MTDC organises the Ellora Festival here in
December, inviting in renowned artistes who display their virtuosity
in music and dance. Surrounded by 1,400-year old caves and rock
carvings, artistes perform in this magnificent ambience to enchant
the gods, goddesses and human lovers of art. The Kailas temple,
sculptured out of one huge rock, is one of the most beautiful backdrops
for an event such as this.
Ganesh, or Ganpati as He is popularly called in Maharashtra, is
among the most beloved of Hindu Gods. As Ganesh Chaturthi - his
day of birth - approaches every year in August-September, so does
the Pune Festival, a celebration of art and culture, song and dance,
custom and tradition.
Originally conceived as a localised cultural event, the Pune Festival
has, over the years, gained national and international stature and
evolved into one of India's landmark cultural happenings. It is
one of the few festivals that has been consistently and actively
promoted abroad by the government of India, as a major tourist attraction.
Some of the country's internationally renowned artistes have gathered
at Pune, and regarded it as a privilege to be invited to perform
at the festival. While it has provided a unique platform for exponents
of classical music and dance it has, keeping pace with changing
times, also helped to promote modern trends in the performing arts,
notably the dramatic arts and the traditional art of rangoli.
A rare treat, the week-long Pune Festival provides a feast of entertainment
for visitors who can participate and revel in traditional and modern
sports events, shop for exquisite textiles and handicrafts, relish
the delectable cuisine and rejoice in the colourful customs of Maharashtra.
The Banganga Festival
Legend has it that Lord Ram, on his way to Lanka in search of his
wife Sita, stopped on the hillock of Malabar Hill. His followers
were worshippers of Shiva and they fashioned a shivalinga from sand
and called it Walluka Ishwar - 'walluka' meaning 'sand' and 'Ishwar',
'the God'. Though surrounded by water, the people could not find
fresh water to quench their thirst or perform daily puja. Seeing
this, Ram shot a ban (arrow) into the ground and the fresh waters
of the holy Ganga sprang from that spot.
Centuries later, the Shilahara kings built a large and beautiful
tank in stone, to store the water of the Banganga. Settlers through
the ages built numerous, beautifully sculpted temples to various
deities around the tank.
Every year, in January, a cultural extravaganza is organised at
Banganga, where top artistes from around the country perform live
classical music concerts. Cultural enthusiasts attend the festival
and feast the soul as well as the mind as the sun sets.
was a great Sanskrit poet and dramatist, famous for his historical
drama, Shakuntalam, and for the epic poem, Meghdoot. The Kalidas
Festival brings back memories of the golden period of the Vidarbha
region. Ramgiri, or Ramtek as it is popularly known today, is the
place that inspired Kalidas and its beauty features predominantly
in his literary work. Every year, in November, some of the greatest
exponents of music, dance and drama perform in the picturesque setting
of Ramtek, celebrating its glorious heritage over two exciting days
Background: The Festival endeavors to bring back memories of the
golden period of the Vidarbha region. It was in here that Mahakavi
Kalidas had penned some of his greatest literary works, Kumaarasambhava,
Meghaduuta, Ritusamhaara, etc.
Organized by: The Kalidas festival is organized in association
with the District Collectorate Office of Nagpur, the Kalidas Festival
will feature some of the greatest exponents of music, dance and
drama from all over the country.
Objective: The Kalidas festival is held to showcase Nagpur, the
Orange City, and Maharashtra's second capital. This will in turn
familiarize the masses about the wildlife and other scenic places
in and around Nagpur. Popularizing the entire Vidarbha region is
also another objective of the festival.
Organized by: The Mumbai Festival 2006 is organized by the Mumbai
Festival Committee in association with the Government of Maharashtra.
Many organizations have come forward to be a part of this enchanting
festival. The effervescent city of Mumbai will reveal its true colours
during the celebration of this festival.
Objective: Elephanta is a renowned World Heritage site, and the
festival aims to introduce, promote and popularize the beauty and
grandeur of this monument to tourists all over the world. The Elephanta
Festival is a tribute to the country's great art and musical legacy.
Info on Fairs and Festivals of Maharashtra - India