As the monsoon eases off, the famous festival season gets underway in August in India. Here's the pick of popular and traditional festivals in India to enjoy this month (listed by date for 2019).
The Teej festival is an important festival for women, and much anticipated monsoon festival in Rajasthan. It commemorates the reunion of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Women apply henna to their hands and feet, get dressed up, and parade around. Artists such as folk singers and dancers follow the procession. Caparisoned elephants, bullock carts, and chariots add to the spectacle.
Nag Panchami, the festival of snakes, isn't for the faint of heart! This unusual festival involves the worship of snakes to appease them and ward off evil. In some areas, live snakes are worshiped as representatives of god, while people worship snake idols in others.
- When: August 5, 2019.
- Where: Snake temples across India, particularly in and around Nagpur in Maharashtra. The festival is also enthusiastically celebrated in Battis Shirala village in Maharashtra.
The famed 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 about 70 boats usually participate in it. This year will be its 67th edition. Read more about snake boat races in Kerala. It's possible to see the race aboard a houseboat. Johnson offers special event packages aboard his Eco Houseboats.
- When: Postponed due to rain. (Was to be held August 10, 2019).
- Where: Punnamda Lake, Alleppey in Kerala.
- Tickets: Tickets are available from local government and tourism offices (see listing). The rates range from 100 rupees up to 3,000 rupees per person for a Gold Pass.
- Stay: 9 Best Homestays in Alleppey on the Kerala Backwaters.
India celebrates its 73rd Independence Day this year. The occasion marks the nation's independence from British rule on 15 August 1947. Most of the festivities take place around the Red Fort in Delhi, where the first Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru unfurled the Indian flag. There's a flag hoisting ceremony, speech by the current Prime Minister, march of the Indian Armed Forces and paramilitary forces, kite flying, and cultural programs.
- When: August 15, annually.
- Where: Across India but especially in Delhi.
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 15, 2019.
- Where: All over India.
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 18, 2019.
- Where: The western region of West Bengal, at Bishnupur/Vishnupur (same place, just sometimes spelled differently due to translation) in the Bankura district.
Madras Day, on August 22, commemorates the founding of the city of Madras (now called Chennai). Celebrations have been extended for a whole week to enlarge participation. Activities include heritage walks, food festivals, photo exhibitions, and bike tours.
- When: August 18-25, 2019.
- Where: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
- Do: 10 Top Attractions to Experience Chennai and its Culture.
- Stay: 12 Best Hotels in Chennai for All Budgets.
Back for the seventh 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. Covelong Point Social Surf School is doing inspiring work transforming the lives of young locals.
- When: August 23-25, 2019.
- Where: Covelong Point Social Surf School, Kovalam village near Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
Celebrated on the fourth Saturday of August every year, this traditional flag festival originates from disputes over property in parts of the village. Flags were put up to mark boundaries but rival groups knocked them down. These days, the festival makes a parody of the past with mock fights and a carnival with street parade.
- When: August 24, 2019.
- Where: Divar Island, off the coast near Panjim, Goa.
This festival celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The festival is also referred to as Gokulashtami, or Govinda in Maharashtra. Lord Krishna is revered for his wisdom about how to live life on earth. The highlight on the second day is the Dahi Handi event. Clay pots containing butter, curd, and money are strung up high from buildings and young Govindas form a human pyramid, and compete to reach the pots and break them open.
- When: August 23-24, 2019.
- Where: Mumbai, Maharashtra.