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In a land of cultural and geographical diversities one gets to enjoy and experience wide varieties of cultures, fairs and festivals and India is the epitome of such experiences. A country where after every hundred kilometer you are embraced by a new cultural identity one gets to enjoy diverse backgrounds, beliefs and heritage. These fairs and festivals are part of the intrinsic cultural fabric of our society as well as a continuation of our heritage country.

The fairs and festivals in India are a wonderful statement on the country's diversity and multi ethnic character. Over the years, India has not only emerged as a major economic power but also as one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. If the ranking given by the celebrated Conde Nast Traveller magazine is anything to go by, India is indeed one of the must visit places on earth.

A travel to India can never be considered complete without being a part of its colorful fairs and festivals. In fact, many go on to say that the fairs and festivals in India are an extension of the country's cultural ethos that is truly fascinating.

Indians never lose any opportunity to celebrate. No wonder, the India fairs and festivals calendar is indeed choc a block with events of all kinds. Right from the colorful Holi festival to the desert festivals of Rajasthan, there are a variety of events to amaze every visitor. In fact, the list is endless.

Many go on to state that the fairs and festivals in India are indeed an extension of the country's very identity. These events show an India that pulsates with color and a jest for life. Moreover, the fairs and festivals in India also highlight the country's secular fabric quite admirably.

No matter, when you travel to India, you will surely come across many delightful festivals and events to claim your attention. And you will simply love every bit of your experience.

Diwali – Festival of Lights

Diwali Festival is also known by the name of "the festival of lights". One of the major Hindu festivals, it is celebrated almost in each and every city of India. There is a legend associated with this festival. It is believed that Demon King Ravana had kidnapped Sita Mata, the wife of Lord Rama, while they were undergoing their 14 years of exile. Lord Rama defeated and killed Ravana and rescued Sita Mata. With this, their period of exile got over and Lord Rama and Sita Mata returned to their kingdom Ayodhya. As a measure of welcome, the people of Ayodhya lit their homes with diyas (earthen lamps).

Since that time onwards, this day is celebrated amongst the Hindus of India with much fanfare. The days leading to Deepavali are spent in cleaning up and decorating the house. Diwali season also holds special relevance for the shopkeepers, since, in the days before the festival people shop a lot for themselves, their home, their family and friends. Exchange of gifts and sweets between friends and families is one of the traditions of Diwali. It is one of the busiest seasons as far as the shopping is concerned. Most of the big companies also offer super discounts and bonanzas to encourage people to shop more.

During the festival of Deepavali, Delhi city also wears a festive look. The markets as well as homes of the people are beautifully decorated with flowers and lights. Some people even make Rangoli (designs made on floor with colours) on the entrance of their homes. On the day of Diwali, people decorate the entrance and top of their homes with diyas and electric lights. Also, on this day, people worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi to bless them with prosperity. Diwali celebrations in New Delhi, the capital of India is incomplete without the lighting up of crackers, by both the adults as well as the children.

Holi – Festival of Colours

Holi festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Phagun (Month), on a full moon day. It is the festival of colours and involves smearing each other with gulal (colours) and throwing water on each other. There are a number of legends associated with the origin of the Hindu festival of Holi. One legend has it that on this day Holika, an evil demoness, tried to burn Prahlad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu. However, she failed and instead, was burnt to death. Another legend is that on this day Lord Krishna burnt Demon Hoda and killed Demoness Putana.

Yet another legend associated with Holi is related to Kamadeva, the Hindu God of love. To help Parvati in getting married to Lord Shiva, Kamadeva tried to disrupt His penance by shooting his weapon at the Lord. Enraged by this act, Shiva opened his third eye. The gaze that fell on Kamadeva was so powerful that the Love God got burnt to ashes. Moved by the pain of Rati (wife of Kamadeva), Lord Shiva brought him back to life, but only as a psychological image. The bonfire lit at Holi is believed to be a commemoration of this event only.

On the evening before Holi, people make bonfires and worship fire. The Holi festival in Delhi is just like the rest of India and is incomplete without the consumption of bhang, a crude derivative of cannabis. Bhang drinks, bhang sweets and bhang paan (betel leaves) are all very common at the time of Holi. Holi celebrations in New Delhi, the capital city of India, are all about having fun and immersing one in the festivities. People of all age groups, be it young, old or children, celebrate this festival with great zeal and fervor.

Pushkar Camel Fair, Pushkar

The largest fair in India, The Pushkar Camel Fair of Rajasthan a unique fair with no other equals. The venue of the fair is Pushkar in Rajasthan. Hordes of people from all of the rural India swarm the fair with their camels and cattle. The Pushkar Camel Fair goes on for a number of days with activities ranging from live stock trading to horse dealing to pilgrimage and religious festival. As far as the religious aspect of the fair is concerned, devotees bathe in the Sarovar Lake. It is believed that taking a dip in the sacred water of the lake will lead to salvation.

The Pushkar Fair is organized in the Hindu month of Kartika (October-November). It starts on the eighth day and ends on the full moon day (poornima), as per the lunar calendar. Attracting tourists to the fair are devotees, musicians, acrobats, folk dancers, traders, comedians, sadhus, etc dressed in bright colours. The highpoint of the fair is the trading of camel and cattle trading, especially during the first half of fair. In the second half, trading takes a back seat and the front stage is given to religious activities.

The fair sees a complete alteration of the small town of Pushkar into a magnificent fair ground. Exhibited on rows upon rows of temporary stalls, is an array of objects ranging from arts and crafts to the items of daily consumption. You can even find accessories for everyone ranging from women to cattle, camel and other animals. Apart from the shopping purpose, other attractions are the camel and horse races. There is even a Camel judging competition held at the fair. Other forms of entertainment include folk dances and folk music of Rajasthan, enthralling the crowd.

Nagaur Fair

The Nagaur Fair of Rajasthan is mainly known for cattle trading, which takes place extensively at the fair. Lasting for eight days, the Rajasthan Nagaur Cattle Fair is organized in the Hindu month of Magha (Jan-Feb). The venue of the fair is Nagaur, one of the most scenic Rajput towns. It is the second largest cattle fair of Rajasthan. As many as 70,000 (approximately) bullocks, camels and horses are traded every year in the Nagaur

To make them attractive, the animals are adorned with various accessories in an extravagant manner. At the same time, the owners, themselves, are seen showing off their colorful turbans and long moustaches. Apart from the business of cattle trading, there are a number of other attractions at the fair. At the Nagaur fair, the biggest Mirchi (red chili) Bazaar (market) of India is organized. Other items traded at the fair include wooden items, iron-crafts, camel leather accessories, etc.

The Nagaur Fair also offers a lot to those wanting to have some fun. Sports organized at the fair include tug-of-war, camel races, bullock races and cockfights. Other means of entertainment are jugglers, puppeteers, storytellers, and campfire evenings, adding to the excitement of the tourists. Echoing through the peace and serenity of the desert, the folk music of the Jodhpur lends further serenity to the mind.

Desert Festival, Jaisalmer

The Desert Festival is organized in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, usually in the month of January or February. The duration of the festival is three days and it comes to an end on Poornima, the full moon day. The main purpose of the Rajasthan Desert Festival is to display the rich and colourful culture of the state. Dressed in vibrant and colourful attire, the people of Rajasthan dance to the tunes lingering ballads of heroism, romance and tragedy of the local heroes.

The major attractions of the Desert Festival of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan include snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats, folk performers, etc. Especially, the Gair and Fire dancers, in their vibrant and colourful costumes, capture your heart. However, amongst all these, the ship of the desert, camel does not lose its special place. Apart from the camel rides that are quite popular, camels take part in a number of events. Of them, the most famous and unique ones are camel polo and camel dance.

Other events include the turban tying competition and a display of the most glorious moustaches. Turbans and moustaches are deemed to be the symbols of honour in the state of Rajasthan. Then, there is a Mr. Desert contest that further adds to the enjoyment. With the fascinating Jaisalmer Fort and the sand dunes serving as the backdrop, the celebrations gain an added advantage. There are also brilliant performances by the folk artists, dancing elegantly to the tunes of the folk music. Traditional handicrafts of Rajasthan are also traded at the fair.