India is a land of festivals with a religious significance, but there are also many events and carnivals that take place around this country that have fun and frolic as the main ingredients. In this article, we give you a short list of five festivals that all happen during the month of February, just to give you a taste of what’s out there.
In India, we love festivals. Celebrating them. Remembering them fondly. Dropping their names in casual conversation. It doesn’t help, of course, that there are at least fifty main ones and then there are the fifty others that no one has ever told you about. It’s a wonder that with all this celebrating, the Indian economy still manages to do well enough to allow people to buy stuff.
But now we’re adding some more to the mix. The catch with this piece is that we’re sure that you’ve not heard of these festivals anywhere before. Well, how can anyone be sure sure, so we’re almost sure. Okay?
1. Shekhawati Festival
You may have heard that February is the best month of the year to visit Rajasthan, right? Well, didn’t the same person tell you that if you’re able to go to Rajasthan in the month of February, you should absolutely make the Shekhawati festival part of your itinerary? If they didn’t, they’re not your true friends, because the Shekhawati festival is just about the most vibrant, colourful manner in which you can experience Rajasthan. And the tour they throw into the mix is just a huge bonus.
2. Kila Raipur Rural Olympics
Yes, yes, we also thought that calling a village even ‘Olympics’ is stretching it a bit, but once you’ve witnessed it, you will change your opinion. This sports festival is held around the same time as the Shekawati, so unfortunately you may be able to go only one of them if time presses. But just about every sport imaginable is there at Kila Raipur: dog race? Check. Horse dance? Check. Tractor race? Check. And of course, the main event of every self-respecting rural Olympics event, the bullock-cart race.
3. Indian Derby Weekend
Many people do not know this, but legend states that the original patronisers of horse racing – the very original ones – were of Indian descent. True story. Just don’t ask us to prove it. Whether or not Indians have it in their blood to appreciate horse racing, they’ve definitely taken it on board in modern life. From the year 1943 to now, every year, the Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai hosts the McDowell’s Indian Derby. Whether you want to watch, bet, eat or just have a good time, this is the place to be.
4. Sufi Sutra
This happens in Kolkata, and it’s an international Sufi music festival. So we move from earthy Raipur to decadent Mumbai to arty, sophisticated Kolkata, that city which has spawned more Indian writers and artists of international renown than all the other states of the country combined. If you’re a person who has a musical ear, then you can definitely not miss this, because musicians from all over the world come here to perform.
5. Goa Carnival
No mention of festivals or events in India is complete without the mention of Goa. It might seem to some that there is always one or the other carnival going on in Goa, but once you’ve been to the real deal, you will never be confused. It has a distinctly Portugal flair about it with the parade and the kind of music they play, but it’s the ultimate in revelry and merrymaking.