Popular Festivals in India
Numerous cultures have, over the centuries, made India a land of perpetual festivals. They will take you for a holy dip in one of its numerous rivers, or cover you with warm scented coloured water, swing you sky high, give you elephant or camel rides, and invite you to joyous day and night-long singing, dancing and feasting.
There are festivals in celebration of the wind, the rain, the fire, animal forms and other animate and inanimate objects. The sun is eclipsed and for millions of people it calls for a holy dip. The moon reaches its full glory and the event calls for a feast. The rain-laden clouds come, to remind you of Lord Indra. Since it does not rain, nor do crops ripen at the same time all over this land, you will find the same occasion celebrated at different places at different times.
Though India is often and justly described as a land of many religions and innumerable languages, it might well be described as a land of festivals as well. One conventional authority, the Encyclopedia Brittanica, rather unabashedly and with the customary cavalier attitude with which India can be treated, says of Hindu festivals that these arecombinations of religious ceremonies, semi-ritual spectacles, worship, prayer, lustrations, processions (to set something sacred in motion and to extend its power throughout a certain region), music, dances (which by their rhythm have a compelling force), magical acts - participants throw fertilizing water or, during the Holi festival, coloured powder at each other - eating, drinking, lovemaking, licentiousness, feeding the poor, and other activities of a religious or traditional character. No example is adduced of "lovemaking", but one might reasonably infer that the reference is to some tantric practices.