The monsoon arrives in India in June, so it's an excellent month to enjoy the wet weather at a monsoon festival in India! Otherwise, head north to the mountains to catch some popular festivals and events. Here's the best of what's on in June 2021 in India (listed by date).
Do note that celebrations may be curtailed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Details, where available, are provided below.
The annual 28 day Kottiyoor festival takes place at two temples -- Akkare Kottiyoor and Ikkare Kottiyoor -- on opposite sides of the Bavali River and surrounded by dense forest. The Akkare Kottiyoor temple is only open during the festival. There's no formal structure. Rather the idol of the deity, a swayambhoo lingam (self-created idol of Lord Shiva), is seated on the ground and formed by a small heap of stones called manithara. The Neyyattam ritual on the first day and the Thirukalasattu ritual on the last day attract the most spectators and devotees.
- When: May 25 to June 20, 2021.
- Where: Kottiyoor, Kannur district, Kerala.
Shimla Summer Festival
Beat the rain by heading north to the mountains in Shimla, to experience the annual summer festival. This renowned event has been held regularly in Shimla since the 1960s. It features musical performances, some from famous singers, food and fashion. Plenty of local handicrafts are on sale too. To get there, travel on a toy train to Shimla.
- When: First week of June. To be announced.
- Where: Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.
- Stay: Sunnymead Bed and Breakfast.
Visit Ladakh before the peak season starts to catch the Yuru Kabgyat festival at Lamayuru Monastery, the oldest monastery in the region. Two days of sacred masked dances and other rituals take place against a spectacular setting atop a steep hill. Music is a big part of the festival with monks playing cymbals, drums, and wind instruments.
- When: June 7-8, 2021.
- Where: Lamayuru Monastery, Ladakh. It's about two and a half hours from Leh, on the Srinagar-Leh Road, and can be visited on a day trip by cab.
This unusual festival is a mock fight that commemorates the historic battle between the Kayamkulam and Ambalapuzha kingdoms in medieval times. Men dressed as warriors enter a waterlogged wetland and engage in combat, ceremoniously to the beat of drums, using sticks.
- When: June 15-16, 2021.
- Where: Wetland near Ochira Parabrahma temple, Ochira, Kollam district, Kerala.
The occasion of Sital Sasthi, which celebrates the marriage of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, provides a remarkable opportunity to see thousands of folk artists performing dying art forms in Odisha. The performances are part of a carnival-like marriage procession, which also features the deities. The festival was started about 400 years ago and is held to encourage an abundant monsoon (Shiva is believed to represent the scorching summer heat and Parvati the first rain).
- When: June 16, 2021.
- Where: Sambalpur, western Odisha.
An usual Tantric fertility festival, the Ambubachi Mela marks the menstruation period of the Goddess Kamakhya. The temple is closed for three days while the Goddess menstruates and reopens on the fourth day, with a rush of devotees who come to receive bits of cloth that are supposedly soaked with her menstrual fluid. It's considered to be extremely auspicious and powerful. The festival attracts numerous Tantric sadhus (holy men) from India and abroad. Some of them only appear in public during the four days of the festival. They perform unique rituals and exercises that are widely photographed. The festival is also popular for its rural crafts fair.
- When: June 22-26, 2021.
- Where: Kamakhya temple, Guwahati, Assam.
The Ganga Dussehra festival is celebrated to mark the time that the holy Ganges River descended to earth. A large number of pilgrims congregate alongside the holy river, to bathe in it and worship. Read more about the Ganga Aarti in India.
The two-day Hemis Festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The highlight is the masked dance, performed by the lamas, that illustrates good prevailing over evil. The performers wear elaborate and bizarre costumes and brightly painted masks. The music is characteristically punctuated with sounds of cymbals, drums, and unwieldy trumpets. It's an amazing spectacle.
- When: June 20-21, 2021.
- Where: Hemis Monastery, near Leh, Ladakh, in the far northern part of India.
Silk Route Festival
The Silk Route Festival is dedicated to promoting the indigenous culture of Ladakh and the Nubra Valley. It features an array of cultural programs, music, traditional foods, handicrafts, sports, and of course camel safaris through the sand dunes.
- When: June 23-24, 2021.
- Where: Sand Dune Leisure Park, Sumur village, Nubra Valley, Ladakh.
The Champakulam Boat Race is more than 500 years old, making it one of the oldest boat races of Kerala. It's also the first boat race of the state's exciting racing season. The Champakulam Boat Race celebrates the installation of Hindu deity Lord Krishna at a local temple in Ambalappuzha. Before the race, a captivating ceremonial procession of decorated boats carries an idol of the god to the temple. About 20 boats of various types, including the iconic snake boats, participate in the race.
- When: June 24, 2021.
- Where: Pampa River at Champakulam, not far from Alleppey in the Kerala backwaters.
Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist
The most popular festival in Goa, Sao Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), involves the interesting feat of men jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. There are also boat races, and singing and dancing.
- When: June 24, annually.
- Where: North Goa, particularly Siolim.
Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
This monsoon celebration, by Goa's local fishing communities, sees people sailing up river on rafts while performing plays and songs.
- When: June 29, annually.
- Where: Goa, particularly the riverside villages of Candolim, Siolim, Ribandar and Agassaim.
It's mango season in India! This delicious mango festival was started in 2013 by female mango grower Jyotsana Kaur Habibullah at her mango orchard, with the aim of promoting the region's mangoes, and supporting small farmers and women in agriculture. It takes place over three days and includes orchard visits, mango food festival, farmers market, cultural events, and a seminar. The finest mangoes are available for sampling and purchase direct from the farmers at the festival. There are also delicious mango delicacies, mango eating contests, and plenty of children's activities. Food at the festival is cooked by locals in the village. Folk music and dances will entertain the crowd under the mango trees.
- When: To be announced.
- Where: Orchard Malihabad near Lucknow, and Indira Gandhi Pratishthaan in Lucknow.
- Read More: 13 Best Things to Do in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.