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Festivals of the month: January 2020

Beautifully decorated camel at the Bikaner Camel Fair
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock /Nila Newsom

Many visitors in north India love the downward spiral that the icy winds and biting cold bring in their wake. And why not, that’s what adds to the colour and romance that the festivals lined up at this time of the year bring along. Take a look at some of the most interesting ones we’ve lined up for you.

Sunsplash Music Festival

Goa, Jan 10 – 12

Music lovers from across the world get together not just for the country’s biggest celebration of reggae music but also to enjoy the sun, sea and sand. The line-up this year includes Macka B, OBF + Charlie P, Naaman and Jah Sun + The Rising Ride, Housewife’s Choice, Kimochi Youkai, Bombay Bassment, among many others.

Bikaner Camel Festival
Bikaner, Jan 11 – 12

No visitor to Bikaner can remain unmoved by the colours of this vibrant two-day festival that begins with a fun filled parade against the backdrop of the beautiful Junagarh Fort. The events that follow include folk music and dance shows, camel races and competitions, village fair, puppet shows, etc. A spectacular firework display brings the curtains down on the festivities.

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Ernakulathappan Uthsavom
Kochi, Jan 12 – 19

This is among the grandest of temple celebrations at this Kochi temple that sees elephant- each beautifully caparisoned than the other- processions each day, followed by folk dance and music performances. The day before last, there is a spectacular display of ‘kadhina’ (crackers) on the road leading towards the temple. The festival ends with a display of fireworks in the afternoon.

All over Punjab, January 13

People dance to the beats of dhol as they celebrate Lohri
People dance to the beats of dhol as they celebrate Lohri
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/Steve Mann

Lohri welcomes the onset of the harvest season and also what is known as the financial year of the farmers. Evening time is when the fun begins; bonfires are lit and everyone in the family sits around it. Some boisterous bhangra and gidda dances are performed on dhol beats. The fun is multiplied manifold at the Lohri that follows a wedding or the birth of a baby.

International Kite Festival
Ahmedabad, Jan 14

Image courtesy: ©mridulablog /

Called Uttarayan in Ahmedabad, it’s a delight to see kites of all shapes and sizes soaring up into the sky. Even at night, white hued kites make their presence felt and what’s more, skilled flyers manage to fly these with strings of brightly lit lanterns hanging on them too. For the past three decades, this festival has been witnessing many master kite makers and flyers from the USA, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan taking part.

Mukteshwar Dance Festival
Bhubaneshwar, Jan 14 – 16

A festival that focuses mainly on different dance forms of the state is hosted at Bhubaneshwar’s Mukteshwar Temple that goes back to the 10th century. The three-day programme witnesses both established as well as emerging talent from across the world taking part. The festival commences with a group song dedicated to Lord Shiva, and then the stage is set for solo, duet and group performances.

Tamil Nadu, Jan 14 – 17

Pongal is prepared in a decorated pot
Pongal is prepared in a decorated pot
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/RamkumarMG

Celebrated not just in Tamil Nadu but across the country wherever there are Tamils, the day sees women praying for the happiness and health of their families. The celebrations that traditionally last four days include rituals like Bhogi Mantalu, a bonfire that is believed to burn away all evil, the offering of a sweet made of rice and milk to the Sun God, worship of household cattle and ceremonies believed to bring home wealth and prosperity.

Bhogali Bihu
Assam, January 16

A traditional Assamese meal is relished during Bihu
A traditional Assamese meal is relished during Bihu
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/David Talukdar

One of the most important festivals for the Assamese, Bhogali Bihu is all about celebrating the New Year and welcoming the spring. It’s also time to sow the next crop of rice and honour Lord Krishna, pray to the fertility goddess, cattle, and elders. Feasting and dancing by children is an important part of the festival.

Modhera Dance Festival
Gujarat, Jan 19 – 21

The spectacular ruins of the Sun Temple at Modhera do not fail to stun with their unique style and structure. A beautiful three-day dance festival brings dance connoisseurs from across the world together; evenings are a well-spent memorable experience here.

Jaipur Literature Festival
Jaipur, Jan 23 – 27

It’s that that time of the year that the literati wait for. Often described as the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, it brings together some of the world’s greatest minds, historians, politicians, sports people and entertainers from all walks of life together on the same platform and the crowds to hear them speak are to be seen to be believed. And this year, as JLF celebrates its 10th year, it features writers Gulzar, AND Haksar, Sadhguru, Vasanthi, Anne Waldman, among others.

Republic Day
Delhi, Jan 26

Parade marching towards India Gate during Republic Day
Parade marching towards India Gate during Republic Day
Image courtesy: ©Amit kg /

This day is indeed special as it honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect in the year 1950. Preparations begin from days before and at India Gate, a spectacular parade goes past giving the world a look into our military might and cultural diversity.

Basant Panchmi
Punjab, Jan 29

The state of Punjab comes alive in a burst of yellow on the day of this festival. It’s the fifth day of spring and everyone gets into a joyous mood and the activity that rules the day is kite flying. Feasts of sweet rice and boondi ladoo are the highlights of the day.

Nagaur Fair
Nagaur, Jan 30 – Feb 2

Nothing can beat the spectacle that spreads out on the sand dunes of Nagaur with over two lakh animals including horses, cows, bullocks, oxen and camels brought here for the second largest cattle fair in India. Adding to the fun are activities such as camel and bullock races, etc. During evening dance and music shows giving you a dekko of the state’s colourful flavours will keep the audiences enthralled.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Having long been a journalist with the mainstream media and a broadcaster with All India Radio, Purnima Sharma is now enjoying her stint as an independent writer. The Delhi-based journalist is happiest writing on people, places...and anything that touches the heart. More on: