16 Festivals Across India in January
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January is wintry. While some parts of India would be still reeling with intense cold wave, in other parts harsh winter would have receded with a pleasant cool weather spreading around. Anyone on a vacation mood can plan holiday to snowy north or enjoyable south, east or west. But whatever the chosen destination is, each one is lively with their respective fiesta and festivals enjoyable to the hilt. A glimpse of some such festivities.

1. SATTE 2019

The 26th edition of internationally acclaimed Travel and Tradeshow (SATTE) is scheduled to be held from 16th to 18th January 2019 at India Expo Mart, Greater Noida, Delhi NCR.

SATTE stands for South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange. Since last the 25 years, this show has attained the status of being the most reputed and prestigious tourism Exhibition of South Asia. This Global Event is supported by Ministry, Make in India Initiative, Incredible India and UNWTO.

The leading travel show SATTE has been an interactive platform for discussion amongst the major stakeholders of the industry and influencers on the factors affecting the tourism and hospitality industry; and further improvements in tourism infrastructure that can be made to tackle any tricky issue and speed up the growth. It offers direct sales opportunities for products and services.

Satte India

Visitors can get information or make a deal of various tourism and travel-related services provided by hotels and restaurants, (catering included), travel agencies, tour operator, tourist guide services and other related services. Travel products like travel gear, passport covers, travel wallets, luggage, backpacks are also exhibited. Visitors get to discover innovative products & solutions from top leaders in tourism, travel and hospitality sectors and start-ups.

The show has helped to branch out business activities and create a customer database of visitors. It’s highly expected that SATTE-2019 would cross all expectations and would successfully showcase India’s huge potential as a tourism hotspot.

Satte India

The much awaited 26th edition of the Travel Expo exhibition is set to witness the presence of over 1000+ exhibitors from India and overseas. Participation from 50 countries and 28 tourism boards would further enhance its glow.

Date -16th to 18th January 2019

Venue- India Expo Mart, Greater Noida, Delhi NCR.

2. BASANT PANCHAMI AT GURUDWARA CHHEHARTA SAHIB

‘Basant ‘ means spring and Panchami mean ‘fifth’ thus meaning it is observed every year on the fifth day of the bright half of the Hindu lunar-solar calendar month of Magha (in late January or February). It is observed in northern, central, western parts and eastern regions as well to mark the beginning of spring. Goddesses Saraswati is the revered Goddess of the pious occasion.

However, in northern India, it has a social and seasonal significance, particularly in Punjab and Haryana.

Basant Panchami and Gurudwara Chheharta Sahib

Chheharta Sahib Gurudwara, in Amritsar, Punjab is a renowned pilgrimage site especially known for its grand Basant Panchami celebrations. The observance of this spring festival lasts for two days.

Basant Panchami

The celebrations start in the morning with kirtan durbar and continue till late night and on the next day till afternoon.

People stay awake and recite kirtans the entire night in the gurudwara.

A large congregation throngs the site wearing yellow clothes and takes a dip in the adjacent Sarovar (water tank).

Apart from its religious importance, Basant Panchami celebrations in Gurudwara Chheharta Sahib also see Kite flying competitions throughout the period. People engage in colorful kite flying activity and try to cut off each other’s kites, high up in the air. A very exciting and amusing activity to watch indeed!

The fair is organized by the local Gurudwara management along-with various social service organizations. Medical and first aid services along-with-with free lunch are arranged during the event.

Gurudwara Chheharta Sahib

Gurudwara Chheharta Sahib is located near the village Guru Ki Wadali, popularly known as Chherta Sahib, an evolving industrial township. The town is 7 km away west of Amritsar, Punjab, India on the Grand Trunk road bordering Pakistan. The name ‘Chherta Sahib’ is named after Gurudwara Chheharta Sahib founded by fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.

History and Architecture

This village or township Chheharta Sahib is the birthplace of Sri Guru Hargobind Singh, the sixth Guru of Sikh.‘Chheharta’ means six wheels. ‘Chhe’ means six and Harta means wheels.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the father of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib, constructed a large well at this place to celebrate the birth of his son. But the well was so huge it required six gigantic Persian wheels to draw the water faster. So the place came to be known after the ancient well, Chheharta.

Basant Panchami

The well has since been covered up and once upon a time the water was used to be pumped up to the main tank for the gurudwara. The water of the well was believed to have curative properties and tourists can still see the well preserved Persian wheels.

The Gurudwara complex is spread over a sprawling 6 acre, with divan hall too. The hall holds a square sanctum in the middle and is enclosed by a brass palisade. Above the brass palisade, there is a lotus dome, topped by a gold-plated pinnacle. There are two 25 m tall Sikh flags hoisted by Nishan Sahib in front of the divine hall.

This Gurudwara is managed by the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee. Tourists and local visitors partake a meal in the day-long Langar at this religious site.

Basant Panchami

Connectivity by Road and Rail

The place is well connected by rail and road. It is just 4 km away from Amritsar Junction Railway station. The Chheharta Railway Station (main terminal station) has received a sanction of 60 crores to be developed as a satellite railway station.

Date- 14th January 2019

Venue- Gurudwara Chheharta Sahib. Amritsar, Punjab

3. INTERNATIONAL KITE FESTIVAL IN JAIPUR

Kite festival is a popular and ancient festival in India and attracts participants from the world over. Such festivals are now being celebrated with much passion and aplomb in various states of India and one gets to see an amazing collection of kites of all shapes and sizes patterning the azure sky of late spring.

Kite flying has health benefits as an exposure to sun heals the body of cough, cold, infections.

Some notable Kite Flying events in India are International Kite Flying in Jaipur, International Kite flying in Gujarat, Telengana International Kite festival, Pasant Panchami Kite festival in Punjab, and Kite flying in Delhi.

But, the kite flying event in Jaipur is one of its kinds the whole the city gets very excited about. It is a Govt. holiday; adults and children participate or watch the colorful kites hovering over their rooftops.

International Kite Festival

The 2019 edition of International Kite flying festival Jaipur is going to be held on 14th January and is scheduled to last for 3 days 14th -16th January

On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, people start at dawn with a customary dip most preferably in Galtaji, a pilgrimage spot in the outskirts of Jaipur, praying to Sun God and visiting temples. Sweet dishes made of sesame seeds Til Ke Laddu, Gajak and Feeni are prepared and partaken on this day.

Local people enjoy kite flying on their rooftops but official kite flying events are also held on the following spots-

The Polo ground in Jaipur (a Government sponsored event) witnesses huge participation for the occasion. The spot turns festive and the festival is divided into two sections.

Kite war

Friendly kite flying session

People see kites of every color and shade like ochre, indigo, yellow, red, blue, green, fuchsia, indigo, ochre, pink, orange flutters against January sky on this fun-filled event. The shapes and designs are also captivating. The prize distribution ceremony is held at Umaid Bhawan Palace’s royal premise after the end of the event.

Chaugan Stadium in the centre of the old city also plays host to the annual Kite Festival. Hundreds of locals, tourists gather on the grassy lawn to watch and participate in this traditional festival.

International Kite Festival

It’s almost like a fair as ground reverberates with musician concerts and visitors also enjoys camel cart ride.

A fierce completion ensues, and it’s really thrilling to watch the event.

Two other amazing venues to enjoy the Kite festival are at-

City Palace starting 12th January

Jal Mahal Promenade on the 14th of January

Date - (14th -16th January)

Venue- Jaipur

4. JAIPUR LITERATURE FESTIVAL

Jaipur Literature Festival 2019, the annual meet of litterateurs and thinkers from around the world, is scheduled to be held on 24th January- 28th January 2019.

The five-day long festival boasts as being the ‘Greatest Literary Show’ on earth as the past editions show a huge gathering of around 2,50,000 people.

Jaipur Literature Festival

With the modest beginning since 2006, the Lit Festival is distinct from all other similar Literature meets in more ways than one. It has gradually transformed into a global literary phenomenon, with a huge tourist potential too. Visitors, participants, invitees would always love to walk around the ancient pink city soaking in its charm. It has also been labeled as a fashionable event as many socialites from Delhi and Jaipur throng the show.

It usually held at the historic Diggi Palace hotel. The hotel is located in Sangram Colony, Ashok Nagar, just off M.I. Road, around 10 minutes walk from the Old City of Jaipur.

Over the various sessions spanning five days, participants, visitors can engage in reading, discussions, questions, and answers.One can buy books and gets them signed by the respective authors. Food, handicrafts items, music reverberates the venue throughout the period.

Jaipur Literature Festival

The main theme for 2019 will be on the struggle for gender equity with a special emphasis on, the scientific temper, speculative fiction, artificial intelligence and what the future might hold for the planet earth.

250 speakers are expected to attend the 2019 Jaipur Literature Festival. Many distinguished international, national and regional authors would be attending the fest. Some names are Andrew Sean(2018 Pulitzer Prize winner), Colson Whitehead(2017 Pulitzer Prize winner) Amin Jaffer, André Aciman, Anuradha Roy, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Donna Zuckerberg, Hari Kunzru, Markus Zusak, N.S. Madhavan, Narendra Kohli and many more.

Date - 24th January- 28th January 2019

Venue- Diggi Palace hotel, Jaipur

5. HALDA AT MCLOEDGANJ, HIMACHAL PRADESH

The Mcleodganj , Himachal Pradesh will be celebrating annual ‘Halda’ on 2019, with as much the glitter as the previous years.

Halda is a traditional festival celebrated every year in January throughout the valleys of Himachal Pradesh. With the arrival of New Year, the winter festival is observed with much fanfare to please the local Gods and Goddesses and pray for better Crop. The festival goes on for two days. The entire festive period sees family gatherings and traditional cedar wood bonfires are lit symbolizing harmony and solidarity in the community.

 Halda Mcleodganj

The actual date and place of the festival are decided by the Lama.

On this auspicious occasion, people pay obeisance to the goddess of wealth, Shashikar Apa. As the sun sets and cool evening pervades the landscape, people engage in dancing, drinking, feasting and bonfires with near and dear ones.

Every person of the community gather at a common location decided by Lamas and lit cedar twigs. Pencil-like cedar branches are cut into strips and tied together into a bundle to make a torch known as halda. The number of torch equals the male members of each family. Halda is lit inside the house before moving out of it and venturing into the common location where all villagers gather to perform the rituals.

As a part of the age-old ritual, every household in the district assembles at a common location (decided by the Lama) where they throw twigs into the bonfire.

McLeodganj is a small town of Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India. Popularly known as ‘Little Lhasa or Dhasa’, the place has a considerable Tibetan population. It is an important centre too as The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeodganj.

 Halda Mcleodganj

A major landmark from the tourism point of view, the little town is steeped in culture and building, monasteries and lakes. The Mcleodganj also observes Halda festival, like rest of the Himachal Pradesh with equal fervor and zeal.

Time – January

Venue- Halda, Himachal Pradesh

6. PONGAL IN MADURAI

Various festivals celebrated throughout the year also add to its ancient charm.

One such important festival, forming an integral part of the social and religious life of people of Madurai in particular and of Tamil Nadu, in general, is the annual harvest festival Pongal.

 Pongal

Thai Pongal is dedicated to the Sun God as well as nature and cattle. The three-day long festival is usually celebrated from January 14 to January 17(Tamil calendar). Thai Pongal is otherwise the Makara Sankranthi, the harvest festival celebrated throughout India.

On the first day of the festival traditionally called Bogi, the people of the city paint their house; remove old articles from the houses and re-decorates it with new household paraphernalia.

Bogi celebrations have its origin in the popular folklore of Lord Indra and Lord Krishna. In order to teach Lord Indra a lesson and to crunch his ego, Sri Krishna persuaded his friends to worship Mount Govardhan, instead of Lord Indra. This angered Indra and he wrought havoc by raining for days and subsequent flooding. Sri Krishna saved people from the wrath of Lord Indra by lifting Mount Govardhan on his little finger and subduing Indra.

The second day of the festival is known as Pongal. Decked in new attires, people use festoon of mango leaves on the threshold of their house to mark this occasion.

 Pongal

In an earthen pot, simmering atop a fire with milk, rice, and other cereals are added, to create Pongal rice, a Thanksgiving feast an offering to the Sun God, the life-giver of all that exists

On the third day, of Mattu Pongal, the inhabitants of the city pay tribute to the cattle bedecked with tinkling bells, multi-colored beads, and sheaves of corn and flower garlands.

Popular Pongal recipes prepared on the occasion are Rice Pongal, Ven Pongal, Chackra Pongal, Sakkarai Pongal, Rava Pongal, and Khara Pongal. Some other sweet and savory dishes prepared during Pongal are Pineapple Rasam, Soft Idlis, Paper Dosai, Boonda, Rajma Curry, Rice and Green Gram Dhal, Milk Payasam and Bread Idli.

Pongal celebration has huge tourist drawing capability as visitors could actually see, feel and take part in this ancient festival as Tamil culture is best displayed on such festivals.

Date: 15 Jan 2019 – 18 Jan 2019

Venue – Madurai, Tamil Nadu

7. RED PANDA WINTER CARNIVAL, SIKKIM

A very popular cultural festival in the landlocked stunning Sikkim is Red Panda Winter Carnival previously celebrated as Sikkim Winter Carnival. Held annually in the wintry month of December or January, the festival showcases a mélange of traditions, diverse culture, bio-diversity, customs, cuisines, folk music, history and lifestyle of Sikkimese people under one roof. The festival started in 2016, and rechristened as Red Panda, to honour the exotic animal of the state.

It is mainly a 10-day event. The date and venue are decided by the state tourism board.

 Red Panda

The carnival includes display of handicrafts, organic product exhibition cum sale, cultural performances, motorbike stunt show, riders meet, and handlooms and eco/adventure sports usually held at different venues in and around Gangtok. It’s an amazing sight for tourists who travel far and wide to savour this delightful cultural exhibit. Activities like mountain biking, trekking, river rafting, and paragliding are organized throughout the region during the scheduled timeframe, that too at promotional prices. Tourists and locals alike participate in such events.

The festival was aimed at increasing the influx of tourists to this mountainous terrain state.

 Red Panda

Date – December/ January

Venue - Titanic Park of MG Marg in Gangtok

8. NAMPRIKDANG NAMSOONG FESTIVAL SIKKIM

Namprikdang Namsoong is one of the many state-level tribal-cultural fests celebrated in northern Sikkim at the confluence of rivers Teesta and Tholung Chu in Upper Dzongu. The festival marks the new year of the Lepcha Tribe. Tourists could feast their eyes on the magnificent show of folk dances, traditional games, and exotic Sikkimese (Lepcha) cuisine. The annual holy festival is held for 15 days during the December-January timeframe.

It’s indeed a great time for anthropologists, historians, cultural aficionados, and the offbeat travelers and one should a miss this season. They gain a profound insight into ancient Lepcha cultural beliefs and faiths.

Namsoong festival

The celebrations for Namsoong started in 1976 on the Namprikdang ground, a small and grassy flatland in the Dzongu valley. Dzongu valley, a lush landscape of thick forests, waterfalls and majestic hills, is believed to connect the mythical abode (called Mayal Lang Country) of Lepcha ancestors. The Lepchas believe that all good Lepchas who pass away, courses through this beautiful cradle to finally reach their heavenly abode.

A host of interesting Lepcha legends and stories are also associated with Namprikdang festival.

Traditional Lepcha dances, make-shift restaurants and food stalls serving authentic Lepcha cuisine like roasted pork, beef and Chhang provide a wonderful time to all the locals and travelers.

The main venue for the celebrations is the beautiful traditional Lepcha house Namprikdang Namsoong festival provides for a lifetime opportunity to travelers. Shamans (priests) perform various religious rituals offering prayers to Mt. Kanchenjunga and Lepcha ancestors. The ritual provides a hypnotic spectacle that enthralls outsiders.

Namsoong festival

Date – December/January

Venue - Dzongu valley, Sikkim

9. SPITUK GUSTOR FESTIVAL IN LADAKH

Spituk Gustor Festival is a two-day annual winter celebration in Ladakh and has huge the Buddhist tourism prospects. Gustor in the local language means 'Sacrifice of the 29th day' and is a traditional ritual in the monasteries of the reformist Geluk-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism.

 Spituk festival

The event is to be celebrated on 3rd Jan to 4th January 2019 in the ancient Buddhist shrine, the Spituk Monastery. The serene ambiance of the monastery brims with visitors from around the world.

Traditionally held in the 28th and 29th days of the 11th month of the Tibetan calendar, the festival is observed since the 11th century. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The festival prays for world peace, happiness and for the welfare of all beings. Prayers start seven days earlier to the festival. Music and dances are performed during the carnival. The effigies of evil forms are also burnt.

A type of mask dance, Cham is the best part of Spituk Gustor. The dance drama has characters that represent the guardian divinities (Dharmapalas) of the Buddhist pantheon, and the patron divinities of the Geluk-pa order. Monks dress up in beautiful masks made of clay and paper and painted with natural colors and refined with gold and silver. They wear dresses usually of silk and brocade. They dance to the tune of cymbals, conch shells, longhorns, bells and many other forms of instruments.

 Spituk festival

The festival saw a monk congregation from many monasteries from the world over like Stok, Sankar, Saboo and Spituk. A protective amulet treasured in the Spituk monastery is displayed on such occasion. Pilgrims take blessings of the sacred amulet.

Date -3rd Jan to 4th January 2019

Venue - Spituk Monastery, Leh district, Ladakh.

10. NEW DELHI WORLD BOOK FAIR

The 2019 edition of New Delhi World Book Fair will be hosted at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. The scheduled dates are 5 - 13 January. The 7-day book extravaganza is known as India’s oldest book fair.

New Delhi World Book Fair

The Fair is structured by National Book Trust, India an autonomous organization of the Government of India under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), the nodal agency of the Government of India under the Ministry of Commerce, is the co-organizer of the Fair.

NDWBF offers exhibitors an opportunity for promoting titles, co-publication arrangements, and trade. The Fair plays hosts many literary and publishing conferences. The Fair draws participation from major publishing houses across the globe. The 2018 edition saw a participation of around 1000 Indian exhibitors and 40 foreign exhibitors. Visitors can get to buy a wide array of books, by national, regional and international authors.

In the 2019 edition, the Theme is Readers with Special Needs, with emphasis on the reading needs of children with special needs. The theme also intends to carry forward the idea of Inclusive learning and discover issues and scope of creating, producing and disseminating content to the readers.

New Delhi World Book Fair

A special exhibition of Braille books, integrated print-braille books, audio books, books for differently-abled, children with sight or ear impairment, autistic kids, children/readers with ADHD, behavioral/psychological problems/anxieties will be the focus of the Theme Pavilion. Authors Corners provide an apt platform for panel discussions, dialogues, book launches for domestic publishers, authors and book lovers. Besides an international events corner is an attractive platform for sharing enhancing literary understanding and ideas.

Date and Duration - 5 - 13 January 2019, 11:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m.

Venue - Pragati Maidan (New Delhi), Near Delhi Zoological Park, Mathura Road, Delhi

11. HIMACHAL WINTER CARNIVAL, SHIMLA

Himachal Winter Festival trending since 1977 is another feather in it cap of many spectacular festivals and fairs. Over the years it has proved to be a ‘pull factor’ for the tourists. It has gained the status of state-level festival by Himachal Pradesh Government.

Himachal Winter Carnival

Come February, the snow capped peaks, the chilling breeze, the chirping birds, pine forests and sneaking sun beams of Manali welcomes Winter carnival fest with folk dances, band competition, street plays, and other adventure sports.

Another significant feature of the celebration is the magnificence challenge known as the "Winter Queen" and "Mr. Manali". 2019 will also organize Carnival Parade,Folk Dance Competition, Winter Queen contest,Voice of carnival, Bollywood Dance (Old Song),Bollywood Dance (NewSong),Street Dance,Street Play,Kesh Queen,Fashion,Classical Dance.

The onset of the carnival also sees a procession is from the Hadimba Devi sanctuary. The stretch of Manali mall road resembles a fair. Visitors to this Winter carnival can also go to the Manacle Gompa, Vashisht Springs, Jagatsukh, Manu Temple and Hadimba Temple.

Himachal Winter Carnival

Date - 2nd to 6th January 2019

Venue -Manali, Himachal Pradesh

12. ELEPHANTA FESTIVAL

Usually held in the month of February, the 2-day Elephanta Festival is a splendid Dance and Music festival. The festival is organized by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) to encourage the prowess of Indian dance, music, sculpture and as an impetus to tourism to the heritage sites.

Elephanta Festival

The Festival is held on Elephanta Island adjacent to the Elephanta caves. Elephanta Island is only 10 km from the mainland and is accessible by launch and ferry from Mumbai Harbour.

Started around 1989, (with interruptions in between) the spiritually and culturally uplifting fiesta resumed in 2018.

Visitors get a surreal feeling right from the entrance till they enter the magically illuminated Maheshmurti ( Lord shiva) idol in the pillared caves where the stage is set for the performances. Live music, folk dances, classical dances, instruments and vocal recitals mark the occasion.

A must in the bucket list of every tourist, the festival also has arrangements for introducing visitors with the wide variety local delicious cuisines.

Date - Not specified

Venue - Elephanta island, Mumbai, Maharashtra

13 BIKANER CAMEL FAIR

The Bikaner camel festival celebrates the bonding of camels with the people of Rajsthani deserts. For centuries, these tough animals have been the mode of transport as well as a source of livelihood for Rajasthani people.

 Bikaner Camel Fair

It’s worthwhile to see the loving, lively relationship between these ‘Hues of Desert’ and their human master. The festivities starts with a colourful procession of camels decked with multi-coloured Rajasthani clothes from the Junagarh Fort. A unique pageant show indeed!

Time - 13th -14th January 2018

Venue - Bikaner

14. INDIA ART FAIR

Indian Art Fair, earlier known as “Indian Art Summit” is a Largest Art show in news since ten years. An apt platform exhibiting contemporary and modern Indian art along-with painting, installations, sculptures, mixed media, prints, video arts of contemporary artists from Asia, Europe, North and South America. The fair is a good opportunity for art connoisseurs’, curators, journalist, artists, and, art lovers.

India

Date-31stJanuary-3rd February 2019

Venue - NSIC Grounds, Okhla, New Delhi

15. MYLAPORE FESTIVAL, CHENNAI, TAMIL NADU

Vacationers, explorers of culture and heritage, heading to Chennai, South India would always find Mylapore festival exuding Tamilian life styles and customs.

Mylapore Festival

Mylapore, the oldest residential in Central Chennai, is more traditional and steeped in ethnicity than the rest of cosmopolitan Chennai. One should be prepared for a visual feast of age old temples like Kapaleeshwarar Temple.

Rightly, lovers and conservationists of Tamilian culture has chosen centuries-old ‘Mylapore’ as venue for conducting a Cultural Extravangaza like ‘ Mylapore Festival’.

Music recital, classical dance, folk dance, Tamil plays, Kolam (traditional drawing) contest, art and craft workshops for children, stalls selling colourful craft items, live playing of traditional games like Dayakattam, Palankuzhi, and heritage tours are some of the highlights of the Festival.

Time - 10-13, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Venue - Kapaleeshwarar Temple and Nageswara Park

16. MAGH BIHU FESTIVAL, ASSAM

The north-eastern state ‘Assam’ on the north of Himalayas and along the mighty Brahmaputra River is known all over the world for ‘Bihu’.

‘Bihu’ is the chief festival of Assamese people and people planning a holiday to Assam should be delighted if their vacationing time coincides with ‘Bihu’ on the month of Janaury.

Bihu is unique as it is a set of three different festivals celebrated over a year. An agrarian festival, the other three parts are Rongali Bihu, Kaati Bihu and Magh Bihu.

Magh Bihu

Magh or Bhogali Bihu is observed in January and marks the end of harvesting season. Magh Bihu is the ‘ Makar Sankrit’ celebrated in other parts of India .

Rongali Bihu (Assamese New Year) and Kati Bihu are held in the months of April and October respectively.

Magh Bihu

People engage in lot of fun, bonfires and feasting and an outsider would witness many traditional rituals, cuisines ( Pithas, Jolpan ect) and games(tekeli bonga etc.) during the period.

Date -15th January

Venue - Assam