The streets are getting overcrowded, the alleyways are already bustling and highways are crammed with vehicles. When such scenario turns up in India, one can be sure of some massive event or festival at the doorstep. Yes, it is. This time it is Diwali, the Festival of Lights.
Conjure up pictures of the glittery capital city with its every street, nook and corner and every house being lightening up with vivid and vibrant lights. Diwali is already knocking at the doors and people are all set to make it a happening festival, once again. If you are by any chance traveling to this part of the world and want to see how Delhiites mark this up, you should be a part of the festival this time.
Diwali Mela in Delhi – Visit Dilli Haat, INA:
Okay, you have missed fairs and carnivals of Janakpuri Dilli Haat. You can still witness the extravaganza of INA Dilli Haat. It is ending on 11th November. Diwali Mela at Dilli Haat is teeming with exclusive gift items and decorative items to adorn houses. Buy candles, floating diyas, rangoli stencils, vandanwar, handicrafts and handlooms for your home. Other things to spot are food delicacies, camel rides and other invigorating rides. Cultural programs are held by the Sahitya Kala Parishad and Punjabi Academy.
No Cracker, Only Diyas:
Be a part of CM’s initiative to make Delhi a pollution free city and celebrate this Diwali by lighting up diyas, brightening up your house. Cracker is certainly not the only to bring happiness, joy and sparkle in your life.
Embellish Your Home with Decorative Items:
Next I would recommend you to revamp your house using Diwali lamps, candles, glass lamp, rangoli, flower decoration and diya decoration. This is a mere list of items to transform the look of your home.
Do Diwali Puja:
In India, it is a tradition to do Diwali puja. You are not at home native place. That’s fine. You can still do the puja in Delhi. The traditional ritual is performed at every house to drive away evil spirit and bring happiness and ecstasy.
Give & Receive Giveaways:
Sweets are offered. Gifts are exchanged. Diwali sees love, bonding, blessings, respect and affection amongst people. Giving gift on Diwali is also a tradition, which continues till today.
Places to Visit in Delhi on Diwali:
Winter has made its presence felt in Delhi. It’s slowly settling down at least for coming 3 to 4 months. Well, that’s not going to thwart the plans of avid travelers. Anyway, it is Diwali time and travelers are already on high spirit.
This is that week of the year when people forget all worries, dreariness and monotony of life and venture out on a journey full of fun, jolly and gaiety. Life seems to be so easy-going and relaxing when meeting with friends, relatives and families. City centers, alleyways, narrow lanes and streets – in short every nook and corner of India, including rural and urban areas are brighten up with vibrant and colorful lights. Even the sky looks so glittering as the crackers go high up in the air diffusing diverse colors, offering a perfect visual treat.
Diwali is not just about fireworks and mouthwatering food delicacies, but endearing the feeling of togetherness. Being away from native place for several years did not lessen my zeal, excitement, fervor and enthusiasm for this festival. I’ve mastered the art of celebrating festivals alone (kind of). 😉
A Year with Exception – Diwali in Delhi:
This year is an exception. I see no exhilaration in me to rejoice considering the increasing air pollution in Delhi. A few months ago in last May, air pollution in Delhi became the talk of the town for becoming the most polluted city on earth. The city was literally engulfed by toxic smoke coming coal-fired power plants, dust coming from construction sites and huge emissions from vehicles. A place that has become unhealthy to stay, how can I think of absorbing myself in fireworks and whole night crackers?
Appeal from the CM:
I’m apprehensive about what the authorities are doing. I mean this is true that every year, they adopt certain measures to restrict the air pollution (air in Delhi is hazardous), but in vain. Authorities take initiatives to check the acute problem of air pollution, speak about the problem, and make similar pitch, only to be heard or fell on deaf ears. This year the Chief Minister himself comes out and appeals not to convert Festival of Lights into Festival of Smoke.
Have you come across anyone saying “no” to sweets? Honestly, I haven’t seen any. Okay let’s say you have seen such people. Then let me tell you that he or she must be a diabetic. 🙂 😛
I am going to take you on a culinary trip in Odisha where you will only discover unique, delicious sweet dishes to tantalize your taste buds. Don’t believe me? Okay, then check out the following dishes. Try these out – I’m sure you are going to miss them next time you have them somewhere else.
I bet your taste buds are deprived of the delicious flavor of Poda Pitha unless you were invited to an Odia house. Why I’m saying so because only Odia families can do this magic. Poda Pitha is a unique sweet dish prepared during Raja Festival.
Ingredients used for Poda Pitha are rice, black gram, baking powder, ghee, cashew nuts, scraped coconut and sugar or jiggery.
Odias celebrate more festivals than there are days in a year. Yes, I’m not joking at all. You visit Odisha and be lucky to get an invitation for a lunch or dinner at an Odia residence. It will not be surprising to find a wide variety of dishes served in your plate. You never know you might get a chance to spoil your taste buds with Manda Pitha. It is prepared at each and everyone’s home during the festive seasons of Durga Puja, Gamha Purnima and Kumar Purnima.
Ingredients used for Manda Pitha are suji, scraped coconut, sugar, ghee, cardamom and salt (if required for better taste).
To try this, you don’t have to wait for any festivals. The most popular and most loved Odia sweet dish is Chhena Poda. The cheese desert is widely available in restaurants.
Ingredients used for Chhena Poda are cheese, cardamom powder, semolina, milk, ghee, sugar, cashew nuts and raisins.
You know how donuts taste? But you don’t know how scrumptious Kakara is. Don’t trust me? Then have it. Kakara or Kakara Pitha is a sweet deep-fried cake mainly offered to Lord Ganesh. Ladoo is another sweet item our much loved Elephant-faced God love.
Ingredients used for Kakara are semolina, cheese, scraped or shredded coconut, sugar, etc.
Kheer or Kheere:
I guess you have tried it already. However, do try it once when you visit east. Much attention is given to prepare rice kheer. It gives you the real taste when flavored with almonds, raisins, cashew nuts, saffron and cardamom. Kheer is literally for all occasions. It is served after a hearty meal. Besides that there is huge demand of Kheer before some important work. Have Kheer before starting a great work. It certainly falls in right place.
Ingredients used for Kheer are basmati rice, organic milk, green cardamom, golden raisins, kaju, saffron and sugar (according to taste).
Yes. I have had Rasagolas in places like Delhi and Bengaluru, but I was not very much impressed. Everyone knows Rasagola is a famous Bengali sweet dish. I admit. But I also admit that you get it better in Odisha. There’s been a battle between Odisha and West Bengal over rasagola invention. July 30th is celebrated as Rasagola Day or Rasagola Dibasa in the state. (“Rasagolas made in Odisha are softer and creamish than Bengali rasgullas” – as stated in Wikipedia).
Ingredients used for Rasagolas are milk, sugar, suji, cardamom powder, etc.
You have not probably heard this name. Famous sweet dish from my native place. Yes, I brag off it. Cheese is the main ingredient of Rasabali, which originated to be served as Bhog to Baladevjew Temple of Kendrapara.
Ingredients used for Rasabali are baking soda, cheese, saffron, maida, sugar and milk.
Mainly prepared during Pausa Sankranti, Malpua is one of the mouthwatering sweet dishes served as snacks at many Odia homes. Malpua is a prominent food for the Almighty, Lord Jagannath, in the morning and evening.
Ingredients for Malpua are semolina, baking powder, maida flour, sugar (to make sugar syrup), fennel and ghee or oil.
Rabdi or rabri is a delicious Indian sweet dish. This is a different thing that Rabri was not derived from Odisha, but you got to taste its flavor. Various spices, sugar, nuts, salt, zeera, etc. are added to give it the best flavor.
Ingredients used for Rabdi are milk, sugar, cardamom, cardamom powder, saffron strands, rose water, pistachios and almonds.
Ghee Pitha or Arisa Pitha:
Another Odisha special. As the name suggests, this particular unique sweet item is made up of pure ghee. Have a bite of Ghee Pitha and you are surely going to remember this for a long time. If I remember correct, I’ve mostly eaten this during marriage ceremonies. Ghee Pithas, otherwise known as Arisa Pitha, are prepared and sent to the groom’s house from the bride’s home as gift. Obviously, there are other items too.
Ingredients used for Ghee Pitha are ghee, flour, sugar or jiggery, salt and sugar syrup.
If you want to prepare them at home, you can do that. But I would rather ask you to try them first so that you know what they taste like. Next time you travel to Odisha, try them out at an Odia house.
Malta has always fascinated me with its rich natural beauty, historical places, amazing beaches and a wide range of delicious gastronomy. But, there is another aspect that the island has charmed me – it’s the intriguing exhibitions and shows. Though it has not the largest fairs and shows in the world, the island is able to attract huge number of travellers from all around the world. Below, I have furnished a few interesting exhibitions that occur every year on the island of Malta.
Air Malta International Travel Exhibition (AMITEX): This popular exhibition is held in Naxxar on the Trade Fair grounds that attracts around 25,000 visitors from different corners of the world. The fair showcases displays related to the travel industry from both local and international companies. Tourists get to learn many things including the best travel products that are on display in the area. If you are, any chance, working in the travel field, this fair is definitely an amazing platform to get connected with different countries.
Lejlet Lapsi – Notte Gozitana: If you happen to be in the city of Gozo, you must witness the annual event of Lejlet Lapsi Notte Gozitana. The event celebrates the culture and energy of youth in Malta. Firework displays, street processions and festivals – this is a great way to get around and know more about Gozo. Moreover, the city mesmerises vacationers with rich and colourful history.
Malta Car Show: You can’t deny liking a car show if you are a real car lover. Malta should be the place when it comes to watch a good car show. Perhaps, this is the reason or an excuse to visit the country. Watch the car show here and compare the ones that you have seen at other places. Malta Car Show is definitely better than others.
Annual Sports Exhibition: This particular sports exhibition at the Gozo Sports Complex is the reason why thousands of kids and school teachers make their way to Gozo, Malta. The annual sports event allure visitors and make them participate in various mainstream, gymnastics, karate and sports. Children will learn sportsmanship and disciplines. They will further know the importance of exercise, thus improving skills in various fields.
Valletta Photography Festival: The main motive of this popular festival is to spread and improve awareness Malta’s contemporary photography. The festival showcases incredible works of photography that create curiosity among international visitors to appreciate the high quality of the works.
One of the greatest events in 2015 is Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. Also known as Nabakalebar Rath Yatra, the festival is likely to attract more than 10 lakhs devotees around the world, who will be immerged in the chant of ‘Jay Jagannath Swamy’.
What is Nabakalebara?
Nabakalebara is an ancient ritual of replacing the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra with new set of wooden image idols. This periodical renewal or replacement of gods takes place in most Jagannath Temples around the world in every 12 – 19 years. This time, it is going to happen in 2015, after 19 years – 1996. The festival is really a special one for all Jagannath devotees.
Best Time of Nabakalebara:
According to Hindu calendar, a year that has two months of Ashadha is ideal for celebrating this much awaited event. This usually occurs every 12 to 19 years and 2015 is the best time for this celebration. Lord Jagannath Himself comes in the dream of the main priest of the temple and gives him hints about of the located of the sacred Neem Trees or Margo Trees, from which the idols of deities are made up. The idols will be made up from no ordinary need trees unless they are mentioned by the Almighty. The trees are otherwise known as “Daru Bramha”. Each deity will be made up from different Daru.
To have the best glimpse of this festive carnival, head out to Puri. A splendid holiday destination, Puri will surely mesmerize you not only with its world famous Jagannath Temple, but also with its miles of stunning sandy beaches. Book a hotel or a holiday rental in advance to enjoy a hassle free vacation with family.
Fireworks are selling like hotcakes, sweet stalls are getting overbooked, mothers have already got the menus ready and homes are dazzling with vibrant looks- when you see this picture in India, one can say Diwali is round the corner. Yes, this year Diwali falls on 23rd October, Thursday. The Festival of Lights signifies victory of good over evil, light over darkness, hope over despair and knowledge over ignorance.
Traditional and one of the most awaited festivals in India, Diwali is observed by everyone – irrespective of caste, creed, age and religion – with full gaiety, zest and enthusiasm. This further brings people closer to their near and dear ones and unite for the grand, national festival. Although home is definitely a great place to celebrate Deepavali, you cannot miss the following places to mark this if you are traveling.
West Bengal & Odisha: West Bengal and Odisha are the prominent states that observe the festival in their most unique way. They not only illuminate their houses with earthen diyas, but also light candle in the memory of their ancestors. Sweet dishes are distributed among the neighbors. Particularly in Odisha, there is a traditional practice of burning jute stems to brighten the path that supposedly their forefathers choose to go back to the abode of the Almighty.
Assam: Doing aarti, burning diyas, bursting crackers, decorating entrance of the house with mango leaves, marigolds and flower garlands and making mithais, Assamese have different spirit and essence of celebrating Diwali. Be a guest of an Assamese family, you will be given a distinctive welcome – they draw rangolis to give a warm welcome to guests.
Jammu & Kashmir: Apart from decorating houses with diyas and lights, people, mainly Kashmir Pundits, follow the tradition and keep fast and worship Goddess Lakshmi on this auspicious occasion. The festival starts on Ekadashi and ends on Amavasya.
Delhi: Diwali celebration in Delhi starts right after Dussehre when people without wasting time purchase new clothes, wash their house and participate in various street shows depicting mythical story of Ram killing Ravan. You will also have an opportunity to witness the tradition of burning the evil King Ravan’s effigy. Delhiites do fireworks to demonstrate the annihilation of evil.
Varanasi: Effigies of Ravan are burnt everywhere as a part of tradition. You should not miss the sizzling sight of ghats of Benares. They come alive with hundreds of burning candles.
Punjab: Known as Tikka, Punjabis have another reason to celebrate this grand festival. Guru Hargobind Ji was released from prison on this day.
Bihar: Don’t get surprised if you come across women of the house adorning their doorway and courtyard with gorgeous rangolis and making footprints of the Goddess Lakshmi (signal of prosperity).
Maharastra: Unlike other states, Maharastra observes Diwali for five days. Visit a typical Marathi family only to see the festival starting from Vasubaras, according to Marathi calendar. On this day, cow and its calf is worshipped as vasubaras symbolizes the relation and the love of mother and children.
Gujarat: Compared to the rest of India, Gujarat celebrates this grand festival pretty earlier. The verandas of Gujarati families are depicted with stunning pictures of deities relevant to Diwali. The second day sees Lakshmi and Ganesh Puja. If you can see the entire area from above, you will surely be awe-struck. The whole area is brightened and light and fireworks cover streets, playgrounds and colonies.
The southern part of India has its own style of celebrating the festival. Naraka Chartudashi is said to be the main day of celebration after Lakshmi Puja is performed. Homes are cleaned and oil lamps are lit up on new moon day. The next day is Balipadyami where it sees firecrackers and fireworks. Diwali is the traditional festival of Kannadigas. Kerala observes Diwali in a fascinating style as men, women and kids dressed up beautifully and visit temples to offer pujas to deities.
Diwali is anything but celebration, joy and gaiety. And to be a part of this merriment, you don’t have to be a local. Stay in any corner of India, you are sure to enjoy the Festival of Lights with immense liveliness and passion.
A plenty of things are waiting for you besides the pristine beaches, the soaring, snow-covered mountain ranges, the golden triangle tour and the Kerala Backwaters. September is the month that celebrates the maximum number of festivals in India. If you are visiting India this September, here are the best things to do to make it a lifetime memory.
The festival season has begun, and it starts with Onam, one of the biggest festivals in South India.
A traditional 10-day harvest festival, Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala observed with full zest and enthusiasm. The festival welcomes the mythical King Mahabali. It is believed that the spirit of the king pays a visit to Kerala during Onam. People are seen decorating the ground in front of their houses with various colors and flowers. The rich in culture festival also adorns the locals with chic clothes. A 4-day state holiday is also observed from Uthradom, the Onam Eve to the third Onam Day. This year, the festival falls on 7th September. If you want to be a part of this dazzling festival, head to Kottayam, Trivandrum and Thrissur.
Aranmula Boat Race:
Onam is not the only festival in Kerala to celebrate in September. There is another popular occasion forming a part of Onam – the Aranmula Boat Race. It is the oldest boat race festival in Kerala during Onam. People in large number gather around the banks of the Pampa River to encourage the participants. The snake boat race is performed at Aranmula and remembers the day Lord Krishna crossed the river. The Aranmula Boat Race falls on September 1o, 2014.
Onam Pulikali Tiger Play:
It seems like Kerala is not in a mood to release you from its clutches. On the very next day of the Aranmula Boat Race i.e. September 11, Onam Pulikali Tiger Play is celebrated where the trained artists dressed up and painted as tigers and hunters and play to the beats of instruments like Thakil and Udukku to entertain an excited crowd. In Malayalam, Puli means ‘tiger’ and Kali means ‘play’, so its literal meaning is ‘play of the tigers.’ Swaraj Round in the district of Thrissur is the best place to be a part of this quirk festival where Pulikali troupes from different corners of the district assemble to put their skills on the show.
This year, the Ladakh Festival is commencing on 20th September and will continue till 26th September. This cultural extravaganza that boasts Thanka painting exhibition, music concerts, polo match, motorbike expedition, folk songs and river rafting is taking place in the Leh region.
Dedicated to the Hindi Goddess, Durga, Navaratri, a 9-day festival sees the Maa Durga in all her manifestations. The festival starts on 25th September and ends on 3rd October. The tenth day is known as Dussehra or Vijayadasami. Navaratri stores a plenty of fun things, including feasting, dancing and merrymaking.
Like Navaratri, Mysore Dasara is celebrated on 25th September, 2014. It is a state festival and sees a huge crowd turning up to honor the Goddess Chamundeswari. The entire city is transformed into a fairyland with palaces being lit up and the streets are gorgeously decorated.
Jaipur Shopping Festival:
Keep your wallet in your pocket and make sure it is full of bucks because Jaipur Shopping Festival, India’s biggest shopping carnival, is round the corner. Returing for the third time for the third consecutive years, this year it is assumed that it will simply be huge. Undoubtedly, you will come across the most traditional item to the most modern one. It is estimated that over 7,000 retailers around the city will be featured during the festival. It is a one-month festival where you are likely to be entertained through fireworks, photography competition, folk singing, folk dancing, fashion shows and polo.
Half of August has already gone. It saw people celebrating many popular festivals, including Nag Panchami, Monsoon Festival in Delhi, Snake Boat Race in Kerala, Raksha Bandhan, etc. If you didn’t have an opportunity to plunge into these activities, never worry. I bring to you an array of things to do in the remaining half of August. This monsoon month has no dearth of famous festivities to keep visitors busy. Let’s have a quick glance at the following to see what latter half August has preserved for you.
What better way to start with than celebrating Happy Independence Day? Observed annually on 15th August, Independence Day is observed across India in remembering India’s independence from the British. Be a part of nation’s biggest celebration at the historical site of Red Fort. The Prime Minister of India gives his speech on this very day, highlighting India’s past glory, paying tribute to the great leaders of the past and raising various important issues. If you can’t make it to the Red Fort, Delhi, you can even be a part of similar events taking place in state capitals.
Head out for Mumbai to see how the festival of Janmashtami is celebrated with much zeal and devotion. It is the festival that marks the bird of Lord Krishna. The locals not only prepare mouthwatering dishes, but celebrate it in a unique way. In each street and corner of the city people form a huddle and then climb on each other’s shoulders in order to break the matki that is hung high up. It is, further, followed by the dance and music – govinda aala re aala jara matki sambhal brijbala. This year, it falls on 17th and 18th August.
This August drive for 132 kilometers from the capital of West Bengal till you reach Bishnupur, a nondescript town in West Bengal and feel what it is like to be with snakes and tribal people. Jhapan Mela, commences on 17th August this year in Bishnupur, is obviously a lesser known Indian festival where snake charmers from different corners of the state unite to mesmerize the onlookers with their fascinating tricks. Guess who takes part? Giant snakes like King Cobra. Isn’t it great to witness this enchanting snake exhibition than visiting a serpentarium? The festival came into public eye by a tribe named Jhampanias, worshipper of Goddess Manasa – Lord Shiva’s daughter.
Rajasthan remains on top of the list of India holiday for its majestic forts, impressive castles, beautiful lakes and spectacular deserts. Here’s another reason to visit Rajasthan in August. Gogamedi Fair is a popular festival in the largest Indian state of Rajasthan. Music and lively traditional dance is the center of attraction. Apart from that visitors will find local attractive handicrafts, livestock and village crop. Buy a handicraft item and admire the excellent craftsmanship of the local Rajasthani people. Get ready for 19th August this year. It takes place at Gogamedi village to commemorate Gogaji, a Chauhan Rajput.
Athachamayam Festival at Tripunithura:
The date is 29th August. Athachamayam Festival marks the beginning of Onam, the yearly harvest festival of God’s Own Country. Kerala, known for lush greenery, tropical climate and tranquil backwaters, attracts more and more visitors during this monsoon festive season. The surrounding of Thripunithura is reverberated with vivid, colorful folk arts, awe-striking jig and live parades of caparisoned floats, elephants and artists.
This is one of such festivals that the entire nation is waiting for. Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayak Chaturthi, is a 10-day festival celebrated as the birth of Lord Ganesh. Maharastra is the ideal place to witness this massive festival. Statues (both small and big) of Lord Ganesh are installed on podiums of each street. The festive carnival ends on the day of Ananta Chaturdashi. Ganesh Chaturthi is observed with great devotion.
Eid or Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated by Islamic community across the world just the next day of seeing the moon. The very festival, which is also known as Feast of Breaking the Fast, bids goodbye to the Holy month of Ramadan. In India, Muslims adorn themselves with new clothes, distribute sweets and share hugs among families, friends and relatives. It is a three-day celebration with a national holiday. The atmosphere is reverberated with firecrackers that sometimes give feeling of entering into a different world.
The following are India’s top places that give perfect vibe to mark the festival in style.
• Delhi: Undoubtedly, Delhi is a leading destination where Muslims gather at the largest mosque of India to offer prayers. Jama Masjid and its surrounding areas come to live as huge number of people throng to the mosque in the morning. It sees one of the largest gatherings of Muslims in the world. What make the day more special are the dishes. From the delectable kababs to Sewai, the shops showcase their best to entice people. Try at Gali Kababiyan, close to Jama Masjid, for Haleem, Ramzan special dish.
• Lucknow: Aishbagh Eidgah is the biggest prayer ground in the city. The Aasif Masjid is another place to offer prayers in Lucknow.
• Srinagar: Are you in Srinagar? If so, you will probably be attending the biggest congregation at the historic Eidgah. Take a break from your busy life and head to Lal Chowk to buy new clothes, shoes, sweets, jewelry and many more on the eve of Eid. Also, try your hands at Goni Market, Zaina Kadal and Regal Chowk if you are fascinated by apparels and jewelry. Dargah Asar-e-Sharif hazratbal is also a renowned spot where special prayers are offered.
• Hyderabad: Thousands of devotees make their way to Mecca Masjid or Makkah Masjid. It is one of the oldest and largest mosques in India surrounded shops that remain open throughout night during the festive month. Some of the shops are more than a century old. Golcondaidgah, Masab Tank, Mir Alam Tank, Madannapet and Secunderabad are equally popular for offering prayers.
• Mumbai: Why don’t you pamper yourself with the special Ramzan delicacies in the Dream City of Mumbai? Home to Bollywood, Mumbai allows people to make their way to Mohammad Ali Road at Masjid Bunder. From sweets (falooda, phirni, mawa jalebi, malpua and rabri) to various meat dishes (goat leg soup, goat brain gravy and roasted quail bird), people can indulge in a wide variety of foods. Eye-catching stained glass and superbly painted wooden windows make Minara Masjid so gorgeous. Azad Maidan, Juma Masjid and Anjuman-i-Islam are to name other popular venues for prayers.