With the mercury touching unbearable heights at this time of the year, the question ‘Will it or will it not rain on time?’ remains a predominant part of many discussions. What adds cheer to this hot season, besides the eating of mangoes, are the colourful festivals that the almanac offers. Take a look at some of the major ones that lie round the corner.
Shimla Summer Festival
Shimla, June 2-7
It’s that time of the year when, happy with a good harvest, everyone gets into the mood to celebrate and thank the Lord for the bounties bestowed upon them. And so begin the six-day festivities in Shimla that brings in people from across the state to showcase their cultural heritage. Musical performances, dance shows, local handicraft exhibitions together with fashion shows and dog shows all add to the fun.
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All over India, June 5
Once the beautiful Shawwal moon is sighted, it is time for the Eid al-Fitr celebrations. The day also brings to a close the sacred month-long Ramazan period that sees devotees fasting from dawn to dusk. From the morning itself, after the offering prayers, Muslims greet each other, partake of joyous feasts and exchange gifts. The day is particularly exciting for children who get money too as ‘eidi’ from all elders.
Varanasi, June 12
This festival is celebrated to commemorate the River Ganga’s descent onto the Earth from the heavens above. Legend has it that the holy river came down so that people could absolve themselves of all sins by taking a dip in its waters. All across the major ghats that lie along the route of the Ganga particularly Varanasi, Allahabad, Haridwar and Rishikesh, thousands congregate to bathe in its water and offer prayers. Evening time is breathtakingly beautiful for that is when the aarti (prayer) is sung to the sound of temple bells as devotees float diyas (earthen lamps) in the water.
Uttar Pradesh Mango Festival
Lucknow, June 19
This is something that’s completely up the street of mango lovers. Established in 2013 by the Awadh Mango Growers’ Association, the festival aims to bring mango orchard owners and the buyers onto a single platform, tell people about the varieties grown in the state and let them savour the taste of the different kinds of mangoes. Adding to the fun are orchard visits, cultural events and a seminar, besides mango eating contests and activities for children.
Gangtok, June 17
One of the most important festivals for the people of Sikkim, Saga Dawa, is celebrated mainly by devotees of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. According to the believers, the full moon day of the fourth month of the Buddhist calendar was the day when Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and also his Nirvana. Prayers are conducted with the chanting of mantras and lighting of butter lamps. The day also sees a grand pageant that starts from the Tsuklakhang Monastery with the monks chanting hymns as they carry the Holy Scriptures through the streets of Gangtok.
Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist
Goa, June 24
Although celebrated all across the world by Catholics, the Sao Joao Feast is delightfully different in Goa, for it is here that youngsters jump into water bodies like lakes, ponds and wells to the delightful shouts of ‘Viva Sao Jao’. This is done to commemorate the joy Elizabeth felt when she jumped with delight upon hearing the news that her sister, Mother Mary, was carrying baby Jesus in her womb. On this day, North Goa comes alive with colourful floats that move through the streets providing everyone, particularly shutterbugs, with perfect photo-ops. Fun-filled activities continue into the evening when decorated floats are set sail in the lake waters.
Ladakh, June 29-30
Celebrated over two days at the Lamayuru Monastery, Yuru Kabgyat is an important Buddhist festival that is attended by devotees from across the world including Tibet, Japan, Korea and China. The festival is dedicated to Yama, the god of death and Padmasambhava who is regarded as the Second Buddha. Masked or the chham dances are an important part of the festival- performed by the lamas of the monastery to please the deity who keeps everyone safe from illness and misfortune.