April puts a spirit of youth and a glow of happiness in everything. In this month of fickle weather, the golden sun has warmth and the evening breeze lifts the hair and soul. Unique experiences are easy to come by in our fascinating land of diversities, fairs, and festivals.
If you’re looking to be part of cultural celebrations in an Indian state you haven’t visited before, here are some of the famous festivals in India that fall in the month of April.
Although celebrated through different regions of Rajasthan, Gangaur festival in Udaipur is a real cultural attraction. An elaborate procession of colourfully-attired women carry the idols of the Hindu goddess Gauri (wife of Lord Shiva). They make their way through the narrow streets of the old city and gather on the ‘Gangaur Ghat’ of Lake Pichola – a major tourist attraction in Udaipur. The festival coincides with Mear Festival which welcomes the spring season.
Also known as Baisakhi, this harvest festival of Sikh culture marks the beginning of the solar year. Sikh community in India, particularly Punjab, celebrates Vaisakhi with much gusto. The processions and traditional performances include Nagar Kirtans in gurudwaras and through the streets as devotees recite hymns from Guru Granth Sahib. Another highlight is the daredevil stunts and martial arts performed by jovial men. The Gurudwara Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib city is the place to be in this famous Sikh festival.
Thrissur Pooram, Kerala
The Tekkinkadu Ground, encircling the Vadakkunnathan Temple, is the centre stage of the Thrissur Pooram – one of the most colourful temple festivals of Kerala. The celebrations begin seven days before the main event of Pooram when the moon rises in the Malayalam month of Medam. It is the largest of all Pooram celebrations in ‘God’s Own Country’. Two rival groups of Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple (on western side) and Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple (on eastern side) battle it out on the temple grounds. Make sure to see pyrotechnics on the fourth day (known as Sample Vedikettu), decorated elephants and fireworks display.
Another popular harvest festival that is celebrated around mid-April in Assam, the ‘Bohag Bihu’ marks the beginning of a new crop cycle as well as a season of merrymaking and happiness. Celebrated since ancient times, it allows travellers to learn dance, folk songs known as Bihugeet and rituals of Assamese people. The celebrations go on for seven days. On the first day known as Chot Bihu, males dance to Bihu songs, where as on the Raati Bihu it’s a ladies night only.
Go Goa to see the five-day festival held at the D. B. Bandodkar Ground in Campal near Panaji. It is the largest canvas for cuisine and culture in a state famous for music festivals. Plenty of stalls serve cuisine prepared from master-chefs to home-cooked delicacies by Goan housewives. For a true Konkan experience, wash the food down with some local feni. Enjoy cultural programmes, fireworks display and refreshing breeze on the beaches.
Chithirai Thiruvizha, Tamil Nadu
The Chithirai Festival is an annual Tamil festival which is celebrated at one of the most famous temples in South India – Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. The festival re-enacts the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi, sister of Lord Vishnu. It has been celebrated in the same traditions for more than 400 years and the celebrations are a month-long affair. Stick around and explore the pillared halls of Thirumalai Nayak Palace and the huge temple tank, Mariamman Teppakulam.
Similar to Theyyam in north Kerala, Padayani is a traditional dance form and a ritual art (which blends theatre, music and satire) originated in central Kerala. It is performed in different villages on different occasions throughout the year. This year, Kadammanitta Padayani will be performed between 14 and 23 April. It is held at Kadammanitta village in Pathanamthitta district. So, if a trip to the famous backwaters of Kerala is on the cards, find time to soak up some culture along the way.
Other popular festivals in India in April are Aoling Festival in Nagaland, Mopin Festival in Arunachal Pradesh, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, and Ram Navami across north Indian states.