The Indian festival calendar: July – August 2015

Champakulam snake boat race.

In country so rich in culture and theme, every festival celebrated here is a sight to behold. And when talking about India’s many festivals, what comes to mind is poet Rabindranath Tagore’s famous line… “You are invited to the festival of this world and your life is blessed”.

Here’s what July and August have in store:


Champakulam snake boat race

When: 1 July

The serene backwaters of the Pamba River explode with energy, as the annual Champakulam Race approaches. Weeks before that, the water splashes with oars and teams from the various villages gear up for the start of the snake boat race season. More than 100 teammates sit on their snake boat and put in their best effort to propel it faster than the others. Besides big prizes, the pride of the village is dependent on this. Some may consider the Champakulam Boat Race more authentic than the more popular Nehru boat race in August, with lesser tourist footfalls.

Kumbh Mela

When: 14 July – 25 September

The largest religious gathering in the world, the ancient Kumbh Mela brings sadhus (Hindu holy men) together to discuss their faith and disseminate information about their religion. The Mela takes place on a rotational basis in four of the most holy Hindu places in India. A highlight for visitors is seeing the sadhus take a ritual bath in holy waters. For travellers, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a tide of millions of devotees who travel from across the country for the cathartic dip! What makes the event even holier, is the holy camps (akhadas) from all over the country. Sadhus of different sects pitch elaborate tented colonies on the sand banks by the Sangam.


Nehru snake boat race

When: 8 August

This is where you go when you want to watch a legendary snake boat race in Kerala. The Nehru Snake boat race is definitely popular and has a lot of more prize money at stake. This happens in Alappuzha, on the second Saturday of August each year. Packed stands, spilling viewing boats and a winning pavilion full of dignitaries contribute to the frenzied ambiance. In the middle of this, the teams row their snake boats with amazing finesse and enthusiasm in the Punnamada stretch of the backwaters.


When:  17 August -18 August

Teejt is celebrated to commemorate the reunion of Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati. Rajasthan springs into action, organising parades, dance and music programmes and get-togethers. Married women fast on these days for the well-being of their children and husbands. Across the border in Nepal, is where it’s celebrated with equal enthusiasm.

Jhapan Mela

When: 18 August

Though, over the years, the festival has been losing its general sheen, see if you can make a trip to Bengal to catch the Jhapan Mela in August. The festival is said to have originated in the tribal village of Bishnupur and still has a stronger presence there. The festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva. In this, many snake handlers bring out their trusted friends (cobras and other varieties of snakes) to display some fascinating tricks. With snakes veering off main highways, this is truly for the intrepid traveller.

Festival dates are subject to change by the organisers.

AUTHOR'S BIO: With a penchant for travelling ‘ungoogled’, Supriya has willingly got lost a number of times in the most obscure places of India for the last 8 years. She lives on a healthy diet of anecdotes and tea with auto drivers, co-passengers and locals! Supriya currently runs a Bangalore based travel-photography outfit called Photography Onthemove and writes regular features for India and International travel publications.More on: