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Festivals of Maharashtra


Being a large state, Maharashtra is home to various religious and cultural traditions. The state has many diverse communities. The Maharashtrians are cheerful people and festive spirit is deep rooted in their culture. Apart from the main festivals, Maharashtra has many other fairs and festivals which are celebrated in different parts in Maharashtra. These festivals accompany various songs, dances and cuisines in every festival. Each festival is significant in the lives of the people in Maharashtra.

Ganesh Chaturthi - Ganesh Chaturthi is considered as the most important festival in Maharashtra. In the month of August, all over the state preparations begin with great enthusiasm to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi which is an auspicious day when Lord Ganesh was born. The ten day long festival begins with setting up of beautifully chiseled and colorfully decorated Ganesh idols in homes and at Mandaps (big tent setup), portraying different religious themes. Many events are also organized during the festival. The last day people bid farewell to the beloved God by taking the idols in a procession, accompanied with music and dance, to immerse it in the sea or close by river or lake.

Nag Panchami - In Maharashtra, snake worship is considered as an important ritual and Nag Panchami is the festival in which snakes are worshiped. Clay images of cobras are made and set up in homes. People offer milk and sweets to the snake deity and people celebrated with music and dance. Snake charmers carry snakes in baskets and collect offerings from the people. Sangli in Maharashtra is famous for snake catchers and people come to watch their thrilling performances with snakes.

Narali Pournima - Narali Pournima is celebrated on the full moon day of the Shravan month as per the Hindu calendar. It is known by different names in different parts of Maharashtra. In this festival, people will make offerings of coconuts to the sea-god. The day also marks the beginning of the new fishing season and fishermen please the sea-god before sailing out with their decorated boats.

Gokul Ashtami - On Gokul Ashtami, Lord Krishna's birth is celebrated. Most followers fast till midnight and afterwards break their fast with festival food like rice, yogurt, butter, puris and potatoes. Dahi-Handi is another ritual which is performed on this day. Clay pots are filled with curd, rice and milk and are hung high up above the streets. Various groups of energetic young men and women form human pyramids to reach the Dahi-Handi and break them open.

Gudhi Padwa - Gudhi Padwa is celebrated as a sign to welcome the New Year and is considered as one of the most auspicious days. People from Maharashtra erect "Gudhis" on Padwa which is the first day of the Hindu New Year. "Gudhi" is a bamboo staff which has a colored silk cloth and a decorated cup on top of it as it symbolizes victory. People welcome the New Year by worshiping and distribute "Prasad" made out of Neem leaves, Gram-pulse and Jaggery.

Pola - This harvest festival is celebrated by Maharashtrian farmers. Bullocks which are considered as an essential part of the agricultural errands and village economy are honored. Bullocks are bathed and colorfully decorated on this day. They are then taken out in processions accompanied by music of drumbeats and Lezhim (a musical instrument). The festival brings out a significant side of the Hindu culture which treats cattle with dignity and gratitude.

Some other Modern festivals of Maharashtra are

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The Pune Festival - Initially, the festival was a local cultural event; however over the years it has gained national and international stature and evolved into a cultural event. The festival provides a unique platform for classical music and dance performers, while promoting modern trends in the performing and dramatic arts. The festival also has traditional and modern sporting events, beautiful textiles, handicrafts and cuisine of Maharashtra.

The Kalidas Festival (Nagpur) - Each year in November, The Kalidas Festival is celebrated to commemorate Kalidas - the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist along with the golden period of the Vidarbha region. Well known artists of dance, music and drama perform in the picturesque setting of Ramtek in Nagpur district, celebrating its heritage for two exciting days and nights.

The Elephanta Festival - In the month of February, a small island near Mumbai known as Elephanta is a quite renowned amongst culture lovers. The Elephanta caves located here beautifully present the splendor of the rock cave temples. Famous musicians and dancers perform outside the caves, beneath the starry sky, for the enthusiastic audience. Special services and catering arrangements are made for visitors.

The Ellora Festival (close to Aurangabad) - Each year MTDC organizes the Ellora Festival in December. Famous artistes display their talent in dance and music amidst the ancient caves, rock carvings and backdrop of the Kailas temple.

The Banganga Festival - In January a cultural show is organized at Banganga. Top artistes from all around India come and perform live classical music in this show. Lots of cultural fans and followers attend the festival each year to feast their souls with classical music.

Last Updated on 21 May 2013