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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 ]

Buddha Purnima
Buddha PurnimaBuddha 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.


Dussehra And Diwali
Dussehra And DiwaliDussehra 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 and sister.


Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh ChaturthiLord 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 him.

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.


Gokul Ashtami
Gokul AshtamiGokul 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 PadwaGudhi Padwa
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 sought.



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.



Mahavir Jayanti
Mahavir JayantiThe 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.


Makar Sankranti
Gangasagar MelaMakar 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 season.


Nag Panchami
Nag PanchamiNag 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.


Narali Poornima
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.


Raksha Bandhan
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.


Festivals 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
The Elephanta FestivalIn 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.  

Pune Festival
Pune FestivalLord 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.  

Kalidas Festival
Kalidas FestivalKalidas 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 and nights

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.  

Mumbai 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.  


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