As you volunteer in India, be sure to take advantage of Indian festivals. A great opportunities to experience Indian culture at its most exciting.
Festivals and holidays in South India to experience while serving as volunteer in India
Celebrated on January 14, Sankranti is a harvest festival and one of the most important festivals in South India. You’ll see colorful rangoli patterns painted on doorsteps and sugar cane for sale across Bangalore. This is also a public holiday.
January 26 is Republic Day which commemorates the day India’s constitution came into force in 1950. This is a public holiday across the country. Every year during this holiday (as well as on Independence Day on August 15) there’s a flower show at Bangalore’s Lalbagh Botanical Gardens with spectacular flower arrangements designed around a specific theme.
Holi, the festival of colours, is a joyous festival marking the beginning of Spring which people celebrate by throwing colored powder and dousing each other with water. Originally a festival celebrated only in North India, it has also become popular in South India. The exact date of this festival depends on the lunar calendar, but it is usually sometime in early March
Bangalore’s oldest festival is celebrated for 9 days with festivities centered around the Dharmayaswamy temple in the City Market area. An earthen pot symbolizing the goddess Shakti is carried during a night procession accompanied by drumming, singing and dancing. The exact dates of this festival depend on the lunar calendar, but it is usually sometime in April.
On August 15, India celebrates its independence from British rule in 1947. This is a public holiday across the country. The holiday coincides with the bi-annual flower show at Bangalore’s Lalbagh Botanical Gardens.
This popular festival commemorates the birth of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, and is celebrated with loud music, frenzied dancing and colorful street processions. Painted statues of the god are placed in each household and also at neighborhood shrines and then taken to be immersed in a body of water like a lake. The exact date of this festival depends on the lunar calendar but usually takes place in late August or early September.
Dasara is one of the most important festivals in South India, celebrating the victory of good over evil. This 10-day festival is celebrated with much pomp in Mysore, where the palace is lit up with festive lights and music and dance performances are held every night. On the 9th day, prayers and flowers are offered to the everyday tools and machines used to make a living during Ayudh Puja. The dates of this festival depend on the lunar calendar and can take place in October or November.
Diwali / Deepavalli
Diwali or Deepavalli, the festival of lights, is India’s most important religious festival. It’s celebrated in a grand, festive and joyful way for 5 days, when clay lamps are lit each night and firecrackers and fireworks set off to symbolise the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. The dates of this festival depend on the lunar calendar and can take place in October or November.
Peanut festival (Kadlekai Parishe)
During this traditional street festival celebrated on Bull Temple Road in Basavanagudi, peanut farmers offer their first crop to Nandi the bull at the Bull Temple before selling the rest. Vendors line the streets with huge stacks of peanuts, as well as food and trinkets. The exact date of this festival depends on the lunar calendar, but it is usually sometime in late October or early November.