Here's the best of what's on in October in India (in date order).
Navaratri is a nine day festival that celebrates the Mother Goddess 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.
- When: September 25-October 3, 2014.
- Where: All across India, but particularly in Gujurat, Mumbai, Varanasi, Mysore, and Manali.
Mysore Dussehra is Dussehra with a difference! The city's royal heritage ensures that the festival is elaborately celebrated on a grand scale. In Mysore, Dussehra honors the Goddess Chamundeswari, who killed the great demon Mahishasur.
- When: September 25-October 4, 2014. (Dates to be confirmed).
- Where: Mysore in Karnataka.
- When: September 25-October 23, 2014.
- Where: Various locations in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
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 amidst 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.
- When: September 29-October 4, 2014.
- Where: Kolkata, West Bengal
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 3, 2014.
- Where: Udaipur City Palace, Rajasthan.
The tenth day of the Navaratri festival is known as Dussehra. It's devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama.
- When: October 4, 2014.
- Where: Particularly in northern India (Delhi and Varanasi), Kota in Rajasthan, and the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh.
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 7-8, 2014.
- Where: Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
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 8-12, 2014.
- Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
Diwali represents the start of the Hindu New Year and is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness. 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 of "Festival of Lights". People also clean and decorate their homes with Rangoli (Hindu folk art), buy new clothes, gamble, and give each other gifts and sweets during the festival.
- When: October 23, 2014.
- Where: Throughout India, except in the southern state of Kerala.
This north Indian festival, traditionally celebrated by the people of Bihar, has grown to be a big occasion in Mumbai as well. Chhat Puja is devoted to worshiping the sun. People flock to Juhu beach 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 27, 2014. (Chhath Sandhya Argh evening prayers).
- Where: Juhu Beach, Mumbai, Maharashtra. The banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi are also another excellent tourist place to see it.
This traditional Indian style festival sees an astonishing 50,000 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!
- When: October 30-November 6, 2014. The focus of the festival shifts to religious celebrations from November 3-6, 2014.
- Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.
Kolayat Fair (Kapil Muni Fair)
The largest fair of Bikaner district, in India's desert state of Rajasthan, the Kolayat Fair combines a huge cattle fair with a pilgrimage to the town's holy lake. It's quite a spectacle as buffaloes, camels, horses and cattle are traded, and pilgrims bathe and float clay lanterns in the lake.
- When: October 30-November 6, 2014.
- Where: Kolayat, near Bikaner, Rajasthan.