India, a predominantly agriculture-based economy, is also among the most culturally diverse countries in the world. However, it is the rain that truly unites the people in the most vibrant and unique celebrations. The monsoon brings much-needed water that supports more than 70% of the population, directly dependent on agriculture. The rains are consequently something that gives hope and is a reason for celebrations.
Festivals in Monsoon Season in India
Most of these festivals have been celebrated for ages and this also gives the opportunity to witness the traditions of India in their true form. If you are looking to be a part of the Indian monsoon magic, here are our top picks:
1. Karam Festival
Karam Festival revolves around the worship of God Karam – the bringer of power and youthfulness. Celebrated every year in and around Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, it brings together the tribal population including groups like Mundadri, Ho, Kurukh, Pargania, Korba, Kharia, Oraon, Kurmali, Nagpuri and Santhali.
The festival is usually organized on the 11th Day of the Hindu month of Bhadra, falling between August and September in the English calendar. The rituals involve villagers going into the jungle in groups to collect fruits, flowers and wood required for the puja. People dance and sing in unison and the entire valley is united by drumbeats. The people worship trees since they are a source of their livelihood.
Date: According to the English Calendar 17th Sep 2022 and Hindu month of Bhadra on 11th Day
Location: The Karama Festival is prominent across villages in Eastern India including states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
2. Teej / Hariyali Teej / Saavan ki Teej
Teej is among the principal festivals in the monsoon season in India, It is a celebration revolving around the wedded ladies and imprints the fancifully significant day when Goddess Parvati reunited with Lord Shiva after 100 years of separation. The celebration is celebrated in North, North-East and North-western regions under various names – Hartalika Teej, Kajari Teej, Hariyali Teej, and so forth.
Rajasthan is the best spot to be in to celebrate it – particularly in Bundi and Jaipur. During the festival, ladies pray to Shiva and Parvati for satisfaction and joy in their wedded life. They would get together, spruce up in customary wedding wear, beautify their hands with henna, sing customary songs reserved for this celebration, dance, swing on swings (customarily enhanced with blossoms and attached branches of trees) that are specially crafted for this occasion.
In the Pink City, Jaipur you can not only watch a wonderful celebration in devotion to Goddess Parvati that is held during this Monsoon festival in India ,but also enjoy devouring tasty delicacies like Ghewar, Kheer, Dal Bati Churma, and so on.
Date: Between August and September as per the Hindu Calendar
Location: North, North East and North Western regions of India
Janam means Birth and Ashtami means eight- symbolising the birth of Lord Krishna on the eighth day of the fortnight of the new moon in the Hindu month of Saavan. The festival marks the worship of Lord Krishna as an infant. And is celebrated pan India, with Mathura (birthplace) and Vrindavan (where he spent his adolescent days) in Uttar Pradesh celebrating it on a very large scale even globally with the ISKCON foundation Lord Krishna worshipping various nations. And Maharashtra’s Dahi Handi festival being the most prominent Janmashtami celebrations of India is telecast worldwide.
Extensive decorations of temples, singing holy songs, prayers, etc and feasting of curd, white butter and milk-made sweets after offering them to infant Lord Krishna, are the major highlights of this rainy season festival. You will also see tiny tots dressed up as Krishna and his friend Radha across the states.
Date: August or September as per the Hindu Calendar
Location: Pan India, with Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra’s Dahi Handi festival being the most prominent Janmashtami celebrations of India. These are telecast worldwide.
4. Puri Rath Yatra
Rath Yatra has been celebrated since ages at the 900-year-old Jagannath temple at Puri in Odisha during the monsoon. The temple is one of the CHAR DHAMS or four top religious places of the Hindus (the other three being Dwarka, Rameshwaram, and Badrinath). The festival is celebrated on the second day of the Ashadha month as per the Hindu Calendar, which falls between June-July months. The Jagannath Puri temple is located just 60 kms from the state capital Bhubaneswar.
The main ritual involves huge idols of Lord Jagannath (Krishna), his sister Subhadra and elder brother Balbhadra, being taken out in massively adorned chariots. These are pulled by thousands of devotees. And you can imagine the grandeur of these chariots from the size of their wheels which are as high as 45.6 feet and 18 in number. Devotedly pulled through the streets of Puri to the Gundicha Temple, (where they rest and are worshipped for nine-day), the festivity marks sheer devotion, and bliss experienced. This magnificent festival draws devotees and tourists from across the world.
Date: Between June-July months as per the Hindu Calendar
Location: Jagannath Puri in Odisha (a similar Rath Yatra is also taken out at the same time in Ahmedabad).
5. Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi
Among the top festivals of the monsoon season in India, Ganesh Chaturthi is the one that is famous worldwide, especially via the Southwestern state of Maharashtra, where Lord Ganpati/ Lord Vinayak is considered the main deity and protector of the region. Such is the grandeur that the city of Mumbai typically comes to a halt, to hail the elephant God who is also the second son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It marks the birth of Lord Ganesha/ Lord Ganpati and new idols of God are brought home and typically worshipped for the next ten days, before being immersed in the seas, or river waters.
The idols are also kept in huge pandals, for those who cannot keep them home for ten days, for regular prayers. Lord Ganpati’s favourite sweet Modak or the Laddoo is the main food offered during the rituals. On the tenth day, the idols are taken out in grand processions amid Marathi music, devotional songs and dance before they are immersed in the water bodies.
This immersion, during this 10-day long rainy season festival, is a world-famous phenomenon that attracts tourists from across the globe, plus is telecast LIVE on news channels including the BBC.
Date: July or August, on the fourth day or Chaturthi of the month of Bhadrapada, the sixth month of the Hindu calendar.
Location: Prime festival of Maharashtra, with Mumbai being an international spot for celebration. Since Bollywood has popularised this festival big time, so now even cities like Ahmedabad of Gujarat, national capital Delhi, Delhi NCR celebrate the same on a good level. Goa (Konkani regions), Karnataka , Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh also celebrate this festival to some extent.
Kerala is full of cultural festivals. A rundown of the best monsoon festivals in India can’t be complete without Onam. The ten-day-long harvest celebration is for the individuals who celebrate the bliss of Monsoons. And during this Rainy season festival in India, God’s Own Country Kerala – comes alive in the entirety of its bountiful joy.
During Onam there are staggering festivals of elephants, strict age-old ceremonies held in sanctuaries, customary music, people singing customary melodies and obviously, Kerala’s brand name the Kathakali dance is held across the state from villages to cities. Individuals likewise wear customary dresses, create Rangoli called ‘Pookalam’ to enliven their homes in gorgeous ways and there is a banquet or Saadya of 21 hand-made extraordinarily delectable curries and sweet payasam made and served in all conventional homes on banana leaf on Thiruvonam, the second day of the celebration.
However, the highlight of Onam festivities is Vallam Kali – the Snake boat races that are held at the backwaters during this time. The members sing songs and chant slogans as they compete to keep the morale high. The Nehru Trophy Boat race which is held in Punnamada Lake close to Alappuzha, Kerala is the most well-known of these races and is famous globally. People from across the world come here to witness this monsoon gala.
Date: Either in August or September as per the Hindu Calendar
Also Read: Lesser-Known Festivals Of India
7. Nag Panchami
The festival of snakes, Nag Panchami is among the most enchanted and adventurous experiences among the Festivals in monsoon season in India. The word ‘Nag’ means snake and ‘Panchami’ signifies the fifth day of a fortnight. Celebrated on the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha (the fortnight driving from new moon to full moon) of Saavan month, it is praised by adoring snakes and the Snake God – the Shesh Nag. Prayers are performed while offering milk to their symbolic idols and wish is sought that the Shesha Nag should protect them from all evils.
Date: Either in August or September as per the Hindu Calendar
Location: Across India, with the Northern states, Bihar and Maharashtra witnessing major celebrations.
8. Narali Purnima or Nariyal Purnima
Next in our rundown of the best of monsoon festivals in India is the Nariyal Purnima or Narali Poornima. The word ‘Nariyal’ signifies coconut and ‘Purnima’ signifies full moon. Narali Purnima is seen with extraordinary energy and excitement in Maharashtra and its adjoining Konkani areas. Individuals from the fishermen community or Koli, hail this festival to pray and avert and mishaps during the fishing season. The celebration denotes the finish of the rainstorm season in Maharashtra and the start of the fishing season. The fishermen offer obeisance to the ocean God, Varun, for a smooth excursion out in the waters and towards seeking bliss, satisfaction and abundance in life. Moving and singing are a vital piece of this celebration. Among the brightest festivals in monsoon season in India, fishermen fix their nets, paint their boats or buy new ones in the preceding fortnight of Narali Purnima. While the Brahamans of the region observe fast and culminate it by eating only the sweetened coconut, on the other hand the conventional food includes coconut is arranged like Narali Bhat or coconut rice.
Date: Full moon night of the Hindu month of Saavan which either falls in August or September.
Location: Maharashtra and adjoining Konkani areas of the state.
9. Moatsu Festival / Minjar
The Moatsu or Mong or Minjar Festival is prominent among the tribes of Nagaland, especially the Ao People. The festival marks the end to the grain sowing season and in the belief of a good harvest. The celebrations also give the opportunity of entertainment and recreation to farmers after long months of hard and stressful work in the fields. The day of the Moatsu is consequently a day of fun, dance and peppy songs. A big fire is lit and men and women put on their best clothes and get together in unison with food and drinks. Several other unique rituals are also associated with the three-day-long celebration and are worth an experience.
Date: The Moatsu Festival is held in the first week of May, and is observed for three days (May 1st to May 3rd), every year.
Celebrated with huge pomp and show, the Hareli Festival in Chhattisgarh is synonymous to Hariyali (Hindi word for Greenery). It is celebrated by several communities of farmers and agricultural workers in the Hindu Month of Shravan, between July and August of the English Calendar. Organized on a new moon day, it marks the beginning of the monsoons and the worship of Goddess “Kutki Dai” – the God of Agriculture. The celebration is particularly prominent among the people of the Gond Tribes. The theme of the celebration revolves around nature and though the manifestations are simple, the prayers are uniquely keen.
Date: 28th July on a New Moon Night
The Behdienkhlam is a ritualistic homage to the God of the Seven Huts who are believed to arrive to the region from heaven and established their kingdom in the hills. The Jowai People of the Jaintia Hills consequently worshiped the divine elements in expectation of good weather and protection against the Demon of Cholera. It is also a prayer to seek a rich harvest after the monsoon season. The ceremonial invocation of the Gods by the tribal chief and the religious ceremonies weaved against natural elements are something that everyone should witness. Another main attraction of the festival is men smearing mud all over their faces and engaging in duels.
Date: 14th July 2022
Location: Jaintia Hills, Jowai, Meghalaya
12. Sao Joao Festival
The state of Goa witnesses a unique form of monsoon celebration in the form of the Sao Joao Festival. The Sao Joao, marked by the beginning of heavy monsoons is organized synonymous to the feast of St. John the Baptist. The ritual of Sao Joao is not just celebrated in Goa but also in Portugal and according to beliefs, is also the day that Mother Mary announced the birth of baby Jesus. Locals celebrate the day by jumping into lakes, ponds and well, cheering “Viva San Jao”. Sao Joao is also described as the Festival of Fertility and Goans are at their colorful best, wearing flowers, leaves and fruits.
Date: 24th of June
13. Aadi Perukku
Rainy season starts in Tamil Nadu in the long stretch of the Tamil Month – Aadi, when the water level in streams and rivers rises considerably. Aadi Perukku is celebrated to show the appreciation of Tamil individuals to Mother Nature, pay obeisance to the main river of the region the – Cauvery River and to seek safety from the wrath of rainfall, because it rains very heavily in this Southern State of India. Adiperukku is an interesting Tamil celebration of South India celebrated on the eighteenth day of the Tamil month Aadi. Consequently it is known as “Pathinettam perukku” , Pathinettu implies eighteen, and Perukku alludes to rising. Mainly celebrated by the women of Tamil Nadu, Goddess Parvathi is worshipped on this auspicious day. Various kinds of rituals and offerings are done to her. Holy bath in river Cauvery is one of the major highlights of this monsoon festival in India. After the pooja rituals, the families relish the ‘Kalandha Sadham’ (Variety of rice dishes) on the bank of the river.
Date: Aadi Perukku typically falls on the second or third of August.
Location: Tamil Nadu
14. Saputara Monsoon Festival
There are lots of festivals that are celebrated in Gujarat. Hosted and organized every year by the Gujarat Tourism Department, the Saputara monsoon festival is a month-long celebration of the rains. Several sporting events, cultural programs and activities are organized during the event and are a great opportunity to witness spectacular shows by Adivasis (tribal) from this part of the country. The Saputara is easily the gateway to enjoying the monsoons, clouds and pleasant weather along with a rich blend of mythology, history and culture. If you are a nature lover, this is something that you shouldn’t miss.
Date: During the month of August
Over to you:
Start planning for your next monsoon trip now and be a part of these popular monsoon festivals of India. If you know about any of such least explore monsoon festivals worth sharing, write them here by comment and we will cover them for TheIndia.