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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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 23-October 24, 2018.
- Where: Ramnagar, on the banks of the Ganges River opposite Varanasi.
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Back for the fourth edition this year, the Kabir Yatra is a traveling folk music festival in Rajasthan. It will feature more than 50 artists from Kutch, Malwa, Bengal, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Rajasthan who will perform music from across genres. Attendees will also be able to listen to poetry from Bhakti and Sufi saints such as Kabir, Mira, and Bulleh Shah. The festival will showcase the work of painters, sculptors and photographers inspired by this tradition as well.
- When: October 2-7, 2018.
- Where: Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner.
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Navaratri is a nine night festival that celebrates the Mother Goddess or Shakti in all her manifestations, including Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Worship and fasting take place in the daytime, while the nights are reserved for feasting and dancing. The festival culminates with Dussehra, the victory of good over evil, on the tenth day. In Delhi, the feature of Navaratri celebrations are the Ramlila plays that take place all over the city. The festival is celebrated as Golu, with the display of dolls, in south India.
- When: October 10-18, 2018.
- Where: All across India, but particularly in Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi, and Mysore.
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The state festival of Telangana in south India, Bathukamma is a flower festival that celebrates life and the Mother Goddess during Navaratri. It's devoted to Goddess Maha Gauri, an incarnation of Goddess Durga that's considered to be the life-giver and goddess of womanhood. She's worshiped in the form of Bathukamma, a floral arrangement stacked to resemble a temple tower. Women sing old folk devotional songs and take the Bathukammas out in procession to immerse them in water on the last day.
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- When: October 10-18, 2018.
- Where: Hyderabad, Telangana.
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A festival of "Mind, Body and Soul", the Sacred Pushkar features a range of activities focused on mindful and inspired living. These include morning yoga, sound meditation and healing, devotional music, organic cooking, and heritage and food walks, Packages including accommodations, meals, and all activities are available.
- When: October 12-14, 2018.
- Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.
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In honor of warrior Goddess Durga, beautifully handcrafted statues of Durga are installed in podiums in almost every lane of the city during this festival. People flock to the streets to view the goddess statues amid mesmerizing light shows, drumming, and aromatic food stalls. On the last day of the festival, the statues are paraded around the city before being submerged in the river.
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Known as the Worship of the Horse, this unique Rajasthani festival is grandly celebrated by the Mewar royal family of Udaipur on the last day of Navaratri. It honors the special relationship between warrior and horse. See the royal horses being worshiped by the current head of the royal family, accompanied by the palace band. A highlight of the festival is the mouthwatering Rajasthani cuisine.
- When: October 18, 2018.
- Where: Udaipur City Palace, Rajasthan.
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The day after the Navaratri festival is known as Dussehra. It's widely devoted to commemorating the defeat of the demon king Ravan by Lord Ram. Huge effigies of Ravan go up in smoke all over India. However, there are other more unusual celebrations of the festival too. Some start at the beginning of Navaratri, while others kick-off on the main day of Dussehra and continue on for weeks. Not all are associated with Lord Ram and Ravan. Goddess Shakti is worshiped in various forms too. See these 9 Ways and Places to Celebrate Dussehra in India.
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- When: October 19, 2018.
- Where: Particularly in northern India.
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The Marwar Festival recognizes 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 23-24, 2018.
- 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 24-28, 2018.
- Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
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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.
- When: October 26-29, 2018.
- Where: Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh.