In the land of many cultures, festivals are in abundance and different. From North to South, there are numerous festivals that are celebrated every year. Although some are common to several cultures, certain traditions are indigenous to a particular group of cultural followers. Here are some unusual festivals in India:
Nag Panchami - Parts of India
India is known to have many a relation to animals in their rituals. One of the popular animal rituals is the Nag Panchami which is the festival of Snake. Snakes have been a part of the traditional Hindu festivals for a very long time. The festival includes ritualistic performances including bathing the idol of the serpent with milk. Predominantly performed during the months of July and August, the festival is prevalent in places in Nagpur, Varanasi, Panchmarhi.
The Thaipusam Festival - Tamil Nadu
Celebrated in the months of January and February, Thaipusam is celebrated by Tamil Hindus. The festival involves devotees preparing themselves before the day of the main ceremony with prayers and fasting. On the day of Thaipusam, devotees pierce their bodies with skewers and hooks. They also walk to the temple with the piercing to the temple to finish the ritual. For a person who is witnessing this for the first time, it would be a hard sight.
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Fire-Walking - Theemithi, Tamil Nadu
Theemithi translates to fire stamp. In the months of October and November, the thimithi festival is a common festival. It is an act of religious vow in exchange for blessings from the one above. The devotees walk a bed of fire as a mark of tribute to their gods. A silver chariot procession marks the beginning of the festival.
Dree Festival - Arunachal Pradesh
In the agricultural land, the dree festival is an agricultural festival celebrated in the Arunachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated with the sacrifice of animals and birds by the Apatani tribe. This festival is practiced to pray for a bountiful harvest season for the resident deities of Tamu, Harniang, Metii, and Danyi.
Behdienkhlam - Meghalaya
The land of Meghalaya is known for hosting various tribal cultures and festivals. One among them is the Behdienkhlam of the Pnars from the Jaintia Hills. Celebrated to vanquish the demon of Cholera and to have a productive harvesting season. The festival involves beating the roof of every house using bamboo poles. The unusual ritual of the festival is a major attraction for travellers from around the globe.
Made Made Snana - Karnataka
It is customary for certain classes of people to roll over the leftover food on the banana leaves in Karnataka. This ritual namely Made Made Snana, can be witnessed at the Kukke Subramania Temple. The belief behind this ritual is that the people who do so are miraculously rid of various ailments.
Animal Weddings - Parts of India
As several Indian rituals involve animals, this ritual is not a particular surprise. In certain villages in India, marrying animals is a part of the ritualistic offering to the Rain God. The festival is widely popular in the villages across Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Assam, and Karnataka. Some of the commonly wed animals include toads, dogs, and even donkeys.
Aadi festival, Tamil Nadu
According to Tamil Hindu calendar, aadi is a month that is celebrated and dedicated to the god. The festival includes smashing coconuts on the heads. Practiced by thousands of devotees at the Mahalakshmi Temple in the Karur district of Tamil Nadu, it is primarily celebrated during the months of July and August. The significance dates back to the British era when the construction of a railway track was completed with this ritual.
Nga-Ngai festival, Nagaland
Nagaland’s own thanksgiving festival is called Nga-Ngai. Famous among the Zeliang tribe, it is observed in the month of December every year. The festival is celebrated with zest across the tribe.
Bhagoriya Festival, Madhya Pradesh
Held just before the Holi festival, the Bhagoriya festival is organized in parts of West Nimar and Jhabua. It is a form of tribal marriage where boys and girls are allowed to elope after choosing their partners. Celebrated in the months of February and March, boys persuade girls by applying red powder on the face. If the girl selects the boy, she reciprocates by applying the same powder on him, thus sealing the deal.
The land of many cultures offers generous and variety of festivals. Each festival enriches the traditions of the land thus increasing the value for the region. If you plan to visit and explore these cultures, do so during the particular time for authentic Indian experience.