As the hot and humid weather slowly comes to a close, the ‘Sharad Ritu’ sets in and slowly envelopes the country with its gorgeous spirit and colours. This is when fairs and festivals start getting celebrated with renewed vigour. Take a look at some of the festivities that October is all set to unveil.
Where: West Bengal
When: October 4-8
Although celebrated across the country where ever there are Bengalis, the joy and fervour of this festival is to be seen to believe in the state of West Bengal where devotees worship Goddess Durga, believed to be the slayer of the demon Mahishasura after a fierce, nine-day battle. Beginning with the Mahalaya, while each day calls for a celebration, it is on Sashti Tithi or the sixth day that gorgeously adorned idols of the Goddess are placed in community pandals. On Vijayadashami-the tenth day, the idols are immersed in sea waters amid much merriment. Besides pandal-hopping, everyone looks forward to gorging on goodies such as sandesh, malpua, kolar bora, luchi and alur torkari that are an integral part of the festival.
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Where: All over India
When: October 8
Celebrated on the day after Navratri or the Festival of Nine Nights, Dussehra is also referred to as Vijayadashmi, marking the victory of good over evil. While Bengalis celebrate it with the immersion of the Durga idols, in most other parts of the country it marks the day when the hero of the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, killed the evil Ravana. Huge effigies of this demon, his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhakarna are created from days before and erected in large open grounds. And as evening descends, to cheers from an enthusiastic crowd, these effigies are set on fire to echo the battle scene in which the evil represented by these three demons is annihilated.
Rajasthan International Folk Festival
Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
When: October 10-14
With Mick Jagger, the front man of the rock band The Rolling Stones as its international patron, the Jodhpur RIFF comes packed with a series of spectacular concerts and events based in and around the historic Mehrangarh Fort. This year, culture connoisseurs can look forward to presentations by a number of folk dance and music concerts including dhol drummers, the (dummy) horse dance, ghoomar, besides Punjabi folk artiste Bir Singh, Carnatic vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram, multi-instrumentalist Valeri Tolstov from Armenia, English musician Andrew Cronshaw, among many others. The programme schedule is available online. Entry is through tickets/donor passes.
When: October 12-13
The Marwar region of Rajasthan never ceases to fascinate with its historic tales of valour and sacrifice. This festival is organized at three venues- the Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mandore and the Mehrangarh Fort- and offers a veritable treat. Besides cultural events, visitors are sure to be charmed by activities such as camel tattoo show, horse polo and horse riding, turban tying competitions, etc. A special fair organized at this time gives visitors a peek into the life of the desert folk, and yes, taste the amazing cuisine and savouries the region is famous for.
Where: All over India
When: October 27
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Diwali is one of the most popular of Hindu festivals. It’s celebrated to mark the day when Lord Rama returned home with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana after 14 years of exile. Legend has it that since it was Amavasya or a dark moonless night, people lit up the entire city with lamps to help Rama find his way back to Ayodhya. The celebrations have continued since, and preparations begin from days before. Homes are cleaned and painted, festive new clothes bought and a variety of sweets prepared. In the evening, after prayers offered to Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the whole city seems to twinkle with glittering tea lights and earthen lamps.
Where: Arunachal Pradesh
When: October 29-31
This three-day festival puts the spotlight on the beautiful Tawang region which is also home to the Monpa tribe. Setting the ball rolling is a procession called Sebang in which monks walk from the Tawang monastery to the festival venue. Soon, the stage is set for monastic and tribal dances together with music shows and traditional sports. Besides exhibitions, shopping opportunities and a chance to taste the variety of food preparations, visitors are sure to enjoy the Dance of the Yaks and the special Aji Lhamu performances.