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).
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Red Earth takes its renowned annual Saree Festival to Mumbai. 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: September 30-October 1, 2017.
- Where: Coomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, Kala Ghoda.
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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.
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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 5-October 6, 2017.
- Where: Ramnagar, on the banks of the Ganges River opposite Varanasi.
04 of 14
28th Onam Kala Kettu Festival
This unusual harvest thanksgiving festival in Kerala sees gigantic idols of bulls, made out of straw and cloth by locals, pulled on wheels to the temple. The procession is known as Kala Kettu, and there are about 100 such bulls in it from surrounding villages. They're believed to be Nandhikesha, the vehicle of the temple deity Parabrahmam (the highest Brahman). There's a competition for the biggest and best one, which can cost 50 lakh rupees ($75,000) to make! The festival takes place on the 28th day after the start of Onam.
Continue to 5 of 14 below.
- When: October 1, 2017.
- Where: Parabrahma temple, Ochira, Kerala. It's about an hour north of Kollam and about an hour south of Alleppey.
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Muharram Festival and Taziya Procession
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.
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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 4-5, 2017.
- Where: Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
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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.
- When: October 5-9, 2017.
- Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
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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".
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- When: October 19, 2017.
- Where: Throughout India, except in the southern state of Kerala.
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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.
10 of 14
Back for the third edition this year, the Kabir Yatra is a traveling folk music festival in Rajasthan. It will feature more than 20 artists from Kutch, Malwa, Bengal, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Rajasthan who will share mystic songs across diverse musical genres. The festival will also showcase the work of painters, sculptors and photographers inspired by this tradition.
- When: October 25-29, 2017
- Where: Jodhpur and Barmer, Rajasthan.
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This north Indian festival, traditionally celebrated by the people of Bihar, is devoted to worshiping the sun. People flock to the water's edge to offer prayers to the Sun God at sunset. Hymns and folk songs are sung, and women fast and pray for the well being of their family and friends.
- When: October 26, 2017. (Chhath Sandhya Argh evening prayers).
- Where: Across India, particularly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, and West Bengal. The banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi are another excellent tourist place to see it. A Chhath Puja also takes place on Juhu Beach in Mumbai.
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The annual Tawang Festival is organized by the Arunachal Pradesh tourism department to showcase the culture of the state and promote adventure tourism. Highlights include a huge fair, chanting by the monks of Tawang Monastery, and folk and tribal dances.
Continue to 13 of 14 below.
- When: October 26-29, 2017.
- Where: Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.
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Pushkar Camel Fair
This traditional Indian style festival sees an astonishing 30,000 camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar. The camels are dressed up, shaved, entered into beauty contests, paraded, raced, and traded. An entertaining sight indeed! Do arrive a couple of days before the official starting date to catch the most camel trading action.
- When: October 28-November 4, 2017.
- Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.
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The three-day International Hot Air Ballooning Festival is an added attraction at the Pushkar Camel Fair. Similar to the Taj Balloon Festival in Agra, it's hosted by Sky Waltz, and features hot air balloons from around the world and a Night Glow Music Concert. Accommodation and balloon flight packages are offered for visitors.
- When: During the Pushkar Camel Fair.
- Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.