October 2016 India Festivals and Events Guide

What's On in India in October

October is a very exuberant time in India. The monsoon rain has eased in most places, and the festival season is in full swing! Come to India in October and take part in events filled with lights, music, and dance. Here's the best of what's on in October in India (in date order). Do note that this article has two pages, so please don't overlook clicking on "Next" at the bottom.

  • 01 of 13

    Kullu Dussehra

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    ••• Religious Images/UIG /Getty Images

    Unlike other Dussehra celebrations in India, effigies of Ravana aren't burned at this week-long festival. On the first day, Goddess Hadimba is carried from the temple in Manali down to Kullu, where she's taken to the palace and blessed by the royal family. She then goes to Dhalpur and is joined by the idol of Lord Raghunath (Lord Rama, the presiding deity). Hundreds of gods and goddesses from all over the Valley come to meet them, and they're carried in procession to Dhalpur Maidan where they stay until the end of the festival. The fair grounds are alive with exhibitions, cultural performances, and vendors from across India. On the last day, the chariot is pulled to the Beas River, where a pile of thorn bushes is set on fire to depict the burning of Lanka.

    • When: September 30-October 6, 2017.
    • Where: Dhalpur Maidan, Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh
  • 02 of 13

    Ramnagar Ramlila

    aranasi (Benares), Uttar Pradesh State, India Credit:
    ••• John Henry Claude Wilson / robertharding /Getty Images.

    The world's oldest Ramlila, which reenacts the story of the Hindu epic the Ramayana, has been running for nearly 200 years. It commences with the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Rama, to save humanity from demon king Ravana. The Ramilia takes place over a month every year from Anant Chaturdashi and ends on the full moon night.

    • When: September 15-October 16, 2016.
    • Where: Ramnagar, on the banks of the Ganges River opposite Varanasi. 
  • 03 of 13
    Vintage Austin car.
    ••• Car Culture, Inc./Getty Images.

    Love vintage vehicles? Don't miss this new one-day festival in Goa, where more than 50 vintage cars and bikes dated from 1933 to 1970 will be on display. Expect to see the Austin, Morris, Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet, Mercedes and Volkswagen, as well as bikes including Norton, BSA and BMW.

    • When: October 1, 2016.
    • Where: INOX Courtyard, Panjim, Goa.
  • 04 of 13
    Chand Baori - Abhaneri
    ••• Chand Baori - Abhaneri. Picture By Tilak Haria/Getty Images.

    This annual two-day festival is held to promote rural tourism. It features cultural performances from a number of states across India, Rajasthani song and dance, puppet shows, camel cart rides, and a fairground. The events take place against the evocative backdrops of the Harshat Mata Temple and ancient Chand Baori (step well).

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.
  • 05 of 13
    ••• India Art Festival

    This modern and contemporary art fair aims to provide a cultural bridge between Indian artists, art galleries, art collectors and connoisseurs. The artworks on display will include paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, and video and digital art by over 400 artists. Entry is free, and various workshops and panel discussions will also take place.

    • When: November 2-5, 2017.
    • Where: Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai. 
  • 06 of 13
    Silk sari.
    ••• Silk sari. jayk7/Getty Images

    Red Earth takes its renowned annual Saree Festival to Chennai and Bangalore in October. Celebrating the diversity of saris, it features a collection of signature pieces in handloom styles from all over India. You can buy them too! There are also sari-focused talks, presentations, performances and workshops.

    • When: October 6-9, 2016 in Chennai. October 12-16, 2016 in Bangalore.
    • Where: Amethyst, Royapeth, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 1 Shanthi Road Studio Gallery, Shanti Nagar, Bangalore, Karnataka.
  • 07 of 13
    Mountain yoga.
    ••• Dinesh Khanna/Getty Images

    Samsara Himalaya Edition is a new platform for bringing together wellness and psybient (chilled out psychedelic) music lovers from all over the world. As well as encompassing the Bir International Yoga Festival conducted by AryaMarga Yoga, it will feature a wide range of natural health and wellness practitioners and teachers. Modalities include yoga, qigong and tai chi, reiki, Ayurveda, and Chinese and Tibetan acupuncture. Visitors will also be introduced to sound and vision healing.

    • When: October 22-31, 2017.
    • Where: the Tibetan section of Bir village, Himachal Pradesh.
  • 08 of 13

    Muharram Festival and Taziya Procession

    ••• Udaipur Times

    The Muharram festival is a Muslim festival that commemorates the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet. It takes place during the first month of the Islamic calendar. On the tenth and last day of the festival, known as Ashura, Sunni Muslims take taziyas (coffins of the dead, and in this case replicas of Imam Hussain’s shrine) out in procession during the evening.

    • When: Ashura, October 12, 2016.
    • Where: Udaipur, Rajasthan.  The procession ends at Lake Pichola (where the taziyas will be immersed) near the Mewar Haveli Hotel. The hotel's rooftop restaurant offers a great view. 
    Continue to 9 of 13 below.
  • 09 of 13
    ••• Kavi Bhansali

    This eclectic festival, which is the first of its kind in India, showcases regional roots music and the arts. It's a heady fusion of interactive educational events, staged performances, and late night jam sessions. Performers include singers, dancers, instrumentalists and storytellers from various Rajasthani folk communities, as well as nationally and internationally recognized artists. The festival has an outstanding location in and around the imposing Mehrangarh Fort.

  • 10 of 13

    Marwar Festival

    ••• Getty Images/Jami Tarris

    The Marwar Festival celebrates the culture of Rajasthan's Marwar region. It's held for two days over the full moon, in memory of the state's medieval heroes. The highlight of the festival is classic folk music and dance, which brings alive the myths and legends of the area. The festival also includes horse riding, horse polo -- and bizarrely -- camel tattooing.

    • When: October 15-16, 2016.
    • Where: Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
  • 11 of 13
    10 Heads Festival
    ••• 10 Heads Festival

    Back for the second year this year, the 10 Heads Festival is 10  separate mini festivals rolled into one! Advertised as a "great family adventure" it brings together curated experiences from areas including music, food, drinks, fashion, beauty, art, health and fitness, magic, and children's entertainment. What fun!

    • When: October 21-23, 2016.
    • Where: PSOI Club, Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri, Delhi.
  • 12 of 13
    ••• Kerala Tourism

    The three-day festival at this snake temple is sure to leave an impression. The unusual temple is a pilgrimage center for devotees of serpent gods and has Brahmin woman chief priestess. Rituals involve the worship of snake gods and goddesses, and the celebrations culminate in a procession of all the serpent idols on the last day.

    Continue to 13 of 13 below.
  • 13 of 13

    Diwali

    ••• The illumination from lots of small candles provides Diwali warmth. Grant Faint/Getty Images.

    Diwali, the biggest festival in India, honors the victory of good over evil and brightness over darkness. It celebrates Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom of Ayodhya, following Rama and monkey god Hanuman's defeat the demon King Ravana and rescue of Sita from his evil clutches (on Dussehra).  Lots of small clay lamps (called diyas) and candles are lit and placed in houses, and fireworks are let off everywhere, giving Diwali its name as "Festival of Lights".

    • When: October 30, 2016.
    • Where: Throughout India, except in the southern state of Kerala.