August 2017 India Festivals and Events

What's On in India in August

Young Artiest Painting Ganesh Idol, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
••• Dinodia Photo\Getty Images

The famous festival season gets underway in August in India. Visitors can enjoy some of India's most popular and traditional festivals and events. Here's the pick of them (listed by date).

  • 01 of 11

    Raksha Bandhan

    Rakhis for sale.
    ••• Rakhis for sale. Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images.

    On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a rakhi (a beautifully crafted and decorated thread) on the right wrist of their brothers as a reminder of love and protection. The brother vows to take care of his sister and in return offers her gifts and sweets. The festival is a wonderful way of bringing the family closer together. Many women also tie rakhis on their close friends and neighbors as a sign of caring and harmony in their social lives.

    • When: August 7, 2017.
    • Where: All over India.
  • 02 of 11
    ••• Image: Kerala Tourism

    The Nehru Trophy snake boat race is undoubtedly the most exciting boat race of the year in Kerala. This race is held in memory of India's late Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru. An impromptu snake boat race was held in 1952 when the Prime Minister visited Alleppey. Apparently he was so impressed with the welcome and the race, he donated a trophy. The race has continued on ever since. It takes place annually on the second Saturday of August and around 70 boats usually participate in it. This year will be its 65th edition. Read more about snake boat races in Kerala.

  • 03 of 11
    ••• Making a human pyramid. CR Shelare/Getty Images.

    The festival of Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Govinda, commemorates the birthday of Lord Krishna. In Mumbai, on the second day, an extremely fun part of the festival involves people climbing on each other and forming a human pyramid to try and reach and break open clay pots filled with curd, which have been strung up high from buildings.

    • When: August 14-15, 2017.
    • Where: Throughout India. One of the best places to experience the festival is in the city of Mumbai. Celebrations take place at hundreds of locations throughout the city. The huge ISKCON temple complex, in the beach side suburb of Juhu, also runs a special cultural program. The most elaborate rituals are performed at Mathura in northern India, where Lord Krishna was born and spent his childhood.
  • 04 of 11

    Independence Day

    Red Fort.
    ••• Ramesh Lalwani/Getty Images

    India celebrates the nation's independence from British rule on 15 August 1947. Most of the festivities take place around the Red Fort in Delhi. There's a flag hoisting ceremony, kite flying, and cultural programs. Extra special, extended arrangements are expected to be made this year, as it's India's 70th Independence Day. This is likely to include patriotic film screenings, exhibitions showcasing the might of India's armed forces, and food and cultural events that capture India’s diversity.

    • When: August 15, annually.
    • Where: Across India but especially in Delhi.  
    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Gogamedi Fair

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    ••• Gautam Narang /Getty Images

    The Gogamedi Fair is a traditional Rajasthani cattle and handicraft fair. It's held to pay tribute to regional hero Gogaji, believed to be a snake God. One of the big attractions of the fair is the rustic singing and dancing. It starts on Goga Navami, the ninth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in the Hindu month Bhadrapad, and goes for three days.

    • When: August 16-18, 2017.
    • Where: Ganganagar, on the northern Rajasthan border.
  • 06 of 11

    Jhapan Mela

    ••• Jeff Rotman/Getty Image

    Another snake festival, Jhapan means a stage set up to exhibit tricks with snakes. And that's exactly what happens at the Jhapan Mela. Snake charmers, called Jhampanias, bring king cobras and other snakes in cane baskets and perform astonishing acts with them. The festival, which is largely of tribal origin, is celebrated in honor of the serpent Goddess Manasa, the daughter of Lord Shiva. She's worshiped for good rainfall and fertile land. It takes place on the last day of the Bengali month of Shraban/Shravan (mid August).

    • When: August 17, 2017.
    • Where: The western region of West Bengal, at Bishnupur/Vishnupur (same place, just sometimes spelled differently due to translation) in the Bankura district.
  • 07 of 11

    Bhandara Festival

    God Shiva's Temple festival in Jejuri town, Maharashtra.
    ••• Ashit Desai/Getty Images

    This festival sees an astonishing amount of turmeric being thrown all over the temple premises by energetic devotees, who also sing and dance. At noon, the idol of the temple god is taken out in procession to have a holy bath in the nearby river, which is the main highlight of the occasion. The festival takes place on Somvati Amavasya. This is a new moon day that falls on a Monday. It usually happens two or three times a year.

    • When: August 21, 2017.
    • Where: Khandoba temple in Jejuri, about 1.5 hours southeast of Pune in Maharashtra. It's possible to visit it on a day trip from Mumbai if you hire a car. However, travel time one way will be about 4.5 hours (or more depending on the traffic). Hence, it may be more convenient to go there from Pune.
  • 08 of 11
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    ••• Entrance to a temple at Chennai. Exotica.im/Getty Images

    Madras Day, on August 22, commemorates the founding of the city of Madras (now Chennai). Celebrations have been extended for a whole week to enlarge participation. Activities include heritage walks, food festivals, photo exhibitions, and bike tours. 

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11
    ••• Ashit Desai/Getty Images.

    There isn't a more colorful start to Kerala's Onam festival than the Athachamayam festival, which kicks off celebrations. The festival features a street parade accompanied by decorated elephants and floats, musicians, and various traditional Kerala art forms.

    • When: August 25, 2017.
    • Where: Tripunithura, near Ernakulam in Kochi.
  • 10 of 11

    Ganesh Chaturthi

    Lalbaugcha Raja closeup.
    ••• Jagdish Agarwal/Getty Images

    The spectacular 11 day Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. The start of the festival sees huge, elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha installed in homes and podiums, which have been especially constructed and beautifully decorated. At the end of the festival, the statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then submerged in the ocean.

    • When: August 25 to September 5, 2017.
    • Where: Mostly in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. One of the best places to experience the festival is in the city of Mumbai.
  • 11 of 11
    ••• Covelong Surf Classic Surf & Music Festival

    Back for the fifth edition and bigger than ever this year! The Covelong Point Surf, Music and Yoga Festival will feature a national level surfing competition, diverse musicians from around the globe, yoga on the beach, meditation workshops, massage, healing music therapies, organic food stalls, Indian and international cinema, and recreational activities including water gun fights, beach volleyball, and kayak races. Entry is free.