Will you be in India during a major festival? Keep some of these tips in mind to make the most of your time there.
Find out the list of festivals in your city. Different cities in India celebrate different festivals and the celebrations differ in size and impact. Some of them bring cities to a standstill for weeks, while others are celebrated on a single day with much pomp and show! Some of the most celebrated Hindu festivals that bring cities to a standstill are Diwali, Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi and Holi.
During some festivals, like Durga Puja, pandals, which are temporary temples, are set up at adjacent street corners. Diwali includes a lot of fireworks and Holi involves playing with holi colors. Ganesh Chaturthi involves colorful processions on the streets.
During certain festivals, extravagant lighting on the streets and loud-speakers blasting popular Bollywood and Tollywood songs in neighborhoods can last for weeks. You might as well develop a liking for noise and bright neon lights.
There are people who go on vacations to calmer places to escape the festivities. We recommend enjoying the festival experience when you can. Take photos when appropriate and enjoy the seasonal food spreads. You could also make use of the many shopping deals during the season! If you do plan to escape the festivities, plan in advance! Too many people travel into and out of the city and last minute travel reservations may not be successful.
If you have lived in India, you know how busy and chaotic traffic can be. During major festivals, you can safely assume that there will be an unbelievable increase in the number of cars on every street that is not already blocked. Oh yes, some roads and lanes will be blocked because of the celebrations. Planning your travel routes around the city can save a lot of frustration. Cities stay busy all day and night.
Immersion processions are fun to watch…from the safety of a house. You can see people dancing to loud music and engaging in different rituals as they make their way to the river or to the temple where the idol belongs.
One of the traditions that might involve you, even if you don’t participate in the festival, are donation collections, called chanda in some parts of India. Local communities often collect chanda, to fund their festivals and organize charity meals. You can feel free to decline politely and pray that they are not persistent with the request. However, if you do wish to participate, you can be as generous as you like.
Another important thing to note, is that most businesses come to a standstill during festivals so expect slower services.
In India, you haven’t quite seen it all until you experience a major festival. So stay calm and enjoy the experience!
Author: The Lead Journal Editor
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