May 2020 India Festivals and Events Guide

What's On in India in May

Gods at Hadimba temple festival, Manali.

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If you don't mind the summer heat, you'll be able to enjoy some big festivals in India in May. Fortunately, many of them take place in the hills, where it's not too hot. Here's the best of what's on in May in India (listed by date for 2020).

01 of 09


Muslims break their Ramadan fasting at Khatri Masjid in Pydhonie, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
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The holy Muslim month of Ramadan is a fantastic opportunity to feast on fresh street food. During Ramadan, Muslims traditionally fast daily from sunrise until sunset. In the evenings, the streets in traditional Muslim areas are flooded with people and the tantalizing aroma of meat being freshly roasted to feed the famished. The revelry continues all night. Ramadan concludes with he festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, with more feasting and shopping.

  • When: April 24-May 23, 2020.
  • Where: See Mumbai and Delhi. Also Lucknow and Hyderabad.
02 of 09

Moatsu Festival

Tribes in Nagaland.
Hira Punjabi/Getty Images.

Celebrated by the Ao tribe of Nagaland, the Moatsu Festival is a time of great rejoicing as the planting season comes to an end. All activities are associated with the harvest. You can expect a lot of singing, dancing, and merry-making at this festival. The main event is Sangpangtu. Men and women dress up in their best attire and sit around a fire, eating meat and wine. See more North East India Festivals.

03 of 09

The Yoga Shala Expo

Yoga and meditation.
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India's first international yoga, Ayurveda and wellness expo features a wide variety of practitioners and natural products such as organic food and clothing, and herbal cosmetics. There will be 150 exhibitors and speakers from 20 countries. Attractions include workshops, seminars, interactive activities, health consultations, and astrology consultations. The festival is back for the fourth year this year.

  • When: May 1-3, 2020.
  • Where: Pragati Maidan, Delhi.
04 of 09

Thrissur Pooram

Kerala Tourism

The grandest of all Kerala temple festivals, the Thrissur Pooram features a procession of around 30 colorfully decorated elephants and ensemble of 250 musicians. Other attractions include drum concerts, ornamental parasol displays, and fireworks. The festival is a huge cultural event that runs through the night with exuberant celebrations. Special viewing areas are provided for foreigners at the festival.

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05 of 09

Mount Abu Summer Festival

Woman in traditional dress at Mount Abu.
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The Mount Abu Summer Festival kicks off with ballad singing, followed by regional folk dancing. The festival also offers sports such as boat racing on Nakki Lake, and a roller skating race. It concludes with a fireworks display. The highlight of the festival is the Sham-e-Qawwali musical show, which features some of the most renowned qawwalis from various parts of India.

06 of 09

Dhungri Mela

Gods and goddessees at Hadimba temple.
Sharell Cook.

The three-day Dhungri Mela takes place in honor of Goddess Hadimba's birthday in Manali. She was the wife of Bhima, one of the five Pandavas brothers from the great Hindu epic the Mahabharata. Her temple is one of the most important ones in the region, and gods and goddesses from surrounding villages are carried in procession to attend the celebrations. A fairground is set up with stalls and carnival rides as well. The festival involves much singing and dancing, including performances of the Kullu Natti folk dance. It provides an interesting glimpse of local culture.

07 of 09

Ooty Summer Festival

Ooty, Tamil Nadu.
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Ooty is a popular hill station in Tamil Nadu. Every May, it comes alive with the Summer Festival. The top events are the Spice Show at Gudalur, Vegetable Show at Nehru Park in Kotagiri, Rose Show at the Government Rose Garden, Fruit Show at Sim's Park in Coonoor and the famous Flower Show at Ooty Botanical Gardens. There will also be a night bazaar on Commercial Road. To get to Ooty, take the Nilgiri Mountain Railway toy train.

08 of 09

Buddha Purnima and Buddha Jayanti

Buddha statue at Mahabodhi temple.
Dinodia Photo/Getty Images

Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima, celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. It's the most sacred Buddhist festival. Activities include prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha. Indian Railways runs a special Mahaparinirvan Express Buddhist Tourist Train that visits all Buddhist pilgrimage places in India.

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09 of 09

Sital Sasthi

Shiva and Parvati art in Odisha.

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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: May 28, 2020.
  • Where: Sambalpur, western Odisha.
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