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The Indian festival calendar: May-June 2018

Ganga Aarti at Varanasi
Image courtesy: ©Sirsendu Gayen/Lonely Planet

Despite the rising mercury levels, the enthusiasm and fervour for celebrating festivals that the almanac brings along at this time of the year, continues unabated. And the next two months offer quite a variety for you to take a break and be part of them. Take a pick from the major ones we have chosen for you.

Also Read: Best places to visit in May

Also Read: The royal trail of Bikaner


Sikkim has rich flora
Sikkim has rich flora
Image courtesy: ©Lonely Planet/Apurba saikia

International Flower Festival
Where: Sikkim
When: May 1-31

Land in Sikkim and you’re sure to be charmed by what the mountainous landscape of this North Eastern state unfolds – a riot of hues of its variety of gorgeous blooms. Shutterbugs are sure to enjoy clicking the pride of Sikkim, the orchids, and over 400 varieties grow here. At a special show organised to showcase them, look out for the 30 types of the exotic rhododendrons that come in different sizes as well.

Moatsu Festival
Where: Nagaland
When: May 1 – 6

Amongst the most joyous summer festivals in the North East, Moatsu is celebrated with great enthusiasm and merrymaking by Aos – believed to be the oldest of the Naga tribes. From days before Moatsu, everyone ensures that most of the jungles and fields are cleared, seeds are sown, homes repaired and each of its nook and crannies are sparking clean. With all these tedious jobs dealt with, it’s time to relax and celebrate with a lot of feasting, music and dancing.

Yoga Shala Expo
Where: Delhi
When: May 4 – 6

This three day exhibition, organized by the Namo Gange Trust, is all about putting the spotlight back on the ancient system of Indian Medicine. It highlights the full spectrum of both ancient and modern streams such as yoga, ayurveda, naturopathy, homeopathy, herbal, unani, siddha, organic products, diet, nutrition and herbal cosmetics at an international level under one roof.

Ooty's beautiful landscape attracts several tourists
Ooty's beautiful landscape attracts several tourists
Image courtesy: ©Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation

Ooty Summer Festival
Where: Ooty
When: May 6 onwards

The 22 acre, sprawling botanical gardens of Ooty come ablaze with the colours of some of the most splendid blooms. Visitors can see an amazing variety – over 650 types of flowers including dahlias and roses – from across the world at this 121-year-old flower show. At the beautiful, well combed Botanical Gardens, besides the mind boggling 3,000 varieties of the rose, you’re sure to be charmed by the decorations made of flower petals and rangolis (floor decorations). A Vegetable Show at Nehru Park and the Spice Show at Gudalur are also part of the event.

Dungri Mela
Where: Himachal Pradesh
When: May 14 – 16

The salubrious Dungri forests around the Hadimba Temple in Manali come alive as everyone gets together to celebrate the birthday of Hadimba – the wife of Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers from the great epic Mahabharata. A delightful atmosphere pervades all around as local folk musicians and dancers, in the traditional costumes, perform for the crowds, giving everyone a delightful taste of their local customs and culture.

Ruins in front of Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath
Ruins in front of Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath
Image courtesy: ©Lonely Planet/Supriya Sehgal

Buddha Purnima
Where: Sarnath
When: May 22

Celebrated in many countries across the world, Buddha Purnima marks the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Falling on the full moon day of Vaisakh, it also marks the day when He attained nirvana (salvation) and left the earth for his heavenly abode. In Sarnath, where He delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, the celebrations are indeed special for devotees also get to see some of the most precious Buddha relics that are taken out in a procession.

Ganga Dussehra
Where: Varanasi and Hardwar
When: May 24

This festival marks the day when the River Ganga is believed to have descended to earth from the heavens above to rid humans of all evil. From days preceding this auspicious day, all cities that lie on the banks of this holy river celebrate the festival. And in places like Varanasi, Hardwar and Rishikesh, after a dip in its waters, devotees prepare for the special evening aartis and pujas that are performed amidst much chanting and the ringing of temple bells.

Saga Dawa
Where: Sikkim
When: May 29

Celebrated by the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, Saga Dawa sees prayers being conducted amidst the chanting of mantras and lighting of butter lamps. Devotees and monks thank the Lord for taking them on the path to true enlightenment before taking out a grand pageant from Tsuklakhang Monastery.

Shimla Summer Festival
Where: Shimla
When: June 2 – 7

The picturesque lower reaches of Shimla turn into a riot of colours as many visitors from all across come here to be part of this five day extravaganza. It’s fun time for the locals who sing and dance to celebrate a rich harvest and pray for a good crop in the next season. Visitors enjoy vibrant folk dances and an exotic food festival together with flower shows.

Sindhu Darshan Festival
Where: Ladakh
When: June 12 – 14

In a setting that can best be described as surreal, the festival offers a beautiful slice of Ladakh’s multi-hued cultural facets at Shey Manla, which lies about 8kms from Leh. Against the backdrop of the mighty Indus, this three-day festival is also a venue for artistes from across the country to gather and share their art with each other and the guests present there – all in line with the festival’s aim of promoting communal harmony and national integration.

People offer prayers at mosques during Eid-ul-Fitr
People offer prayers at mosques during Eid-ul-Fitr
Image courtesy: ©Lonely Planet/Nishal Lama

Where: All over India
When: June 14

Celebrated on the sighting of the new crescent moon, the festival – also referred to as Ramadan Eid – brings the month-long period of fasting for Muslims to a close. Devotees gather for morning prayers and greet each other amidst much rejoicing. Through the day, friends and relatives visit each other and exchange gifts.

Sao Joao Feast
Where: Goa
When: June 24 – 25

Fun and frolic is part of almost every festival in Goa but at Sao Joao, one can truly say, it is multiplied many times over. Boasting a Portuguese heritage, this festival is celebrated when the monsoon season is deemed to be just round the corner. Dressed in colourful outfits complete with crowns made of fruits and leaves, people sing and dance through the day. Another unique aspect of this festival sees youngsters jumping into wells and water-bodies to the shouts of ‘Viva Sao Jao’.

AUTHOR'S BIO: After close to three decades in mainstream journalism, it's back to freelance writing for Purnima Sharma who enjoys writing about people, places... and just about anything that touches the heart...