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September 2014 India Festivals and Events Guide

What's On in India in September

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Some of the biggest and best religious festivals in India take place during September, as the festival season is in full swing. The colorful spectacle is captivating.

Here's the best of what's on in September in India (in date order).

1. Ganesh Chaturthi

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The spectacular eleven day Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. The start of the festival sees huge, elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha installed in homes and podiums, which have been especially constructed and beautifully decorated. At the end of the festival, the statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then submerged in the ocean.

  • When: August 29-September 8, 2014.
  • Where: Mostly in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. One of the best places to experience the festival is in the city of Mumbai.

2. Onam

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Onam is a traditional ten day harvest festival that marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. It's a festival rich in culture and heritage. People strikingly decorate the ground in front of their houses with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns to welcome the King. The festival is also celebrated with new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, dancing, sports, games, and snake boat races.

  • When: September 7, 2014 (celebrations start 10 days prior and continue for around a week after).
  • Where: Kerala. The most spectacular celebrations take place in Trivandrum, Thrissur, and Kottayam.

3. Aranmula Snake Boat Race

Image: Kerala Tourism.

The Aranmula Boat Race is a predominantly religious occasion, that forms part of Onam celebrations. Rather than being a contest, it's more about retracing the time offerings were carried on snake boats to the Aranmula Parthasarthy Temple. The whole occasion is a celebration of the day Lord Krishna crossed the river.

  • When: September 10, 2014.
  • Where: Along the Pampa River at Aranmula, near Chengannur, around 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Alleppey in Kerala.

4. Onam Pulikkali Tiger Play

Image: Kerala Tourism

Hundreds of grown men dressed up as tigers and dancing to the beat of traditional percussion instruments are an unexpected feature of Onam celebrations. Although this display of the art of Pulikkali may be one of the quirkiest festivals in India, it's actually very serious business!

  • When: September 11, 2014.
  • Where: Swaraj Round in Thrissur.

5. Ladakh Festival

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The Ladakh Festival is a cultural extravaganza, and main showcase event for the region. It has plenty to offer tourists, including polo-match, music concerts, mask dances from the monasteries, motorbike/cycle expedition to Khardung-la, Thanka painting exhibition, archery, river rafting, and folk songs. Hotel and local transport discounts are available for the duration of the festival.

  • When: September 20-26, 2014. (Dates to be confirmed).
  • Where: Leh and surrounding villages.

6. Navaratri

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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.

7. Mysore Dussehra

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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.

8. Jaipur Shopping Festival

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India's biggest shopping festival returns for the third year this year, and it's going to be huge! The Jaipur Shopping Festival will run for a month in the lead up to Diwali and feature more than 7,000 of the city's retailers from its most renowned markets. The Craft Bazaar will showcase top quality handicrafts from national and local artisans as well. The festival isn't restricted to shopping though. In addition, there will be entertainment including plays, music, folk dancing, folk singing, photography competition, polo, fashion shows, and fireworks!
  • When: September 25-October 23, 2014.
  • Where: Various locations in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

9. Durga Puja

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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 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

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