15 Monsoon Festivals in India

Posted on August 10, 2019 by

Monsoon Festival

India is a land that stands for ‘Unity in diversity’ and one of the ways in which this diversity show is in its festivals. It’s being historically dependent on Agriculture makes monsoon season most important of all seasons – often it has proven to be a life-saver for farmers. From the smallest farmer to Amir Khan in Lagaan to the national bird of India, Peacock, we all lose ourselves to mirth at the sight of rain loaded clouds. Even the king of gods in Hinduism is Lord Indra, the god of rain. The monsoons are this a season filled with festivities throughout India. The monsoon season is generally considered to last between June to September or early October in Georgian calendar and in and around the month of Saavann in Indian traditional months.

India’s amazing diversity means that the monsoons are celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country and different sections of our community – though they are all marked with a lot of singing, dancing, and feasting.

To celebrate the season of rains and to indulge in the exhilarating festivals, take a look at 15 of the most important monsoon festivals in India that you must attend.

1. Teej

The first in our list of 15 monsoon festivals of India is Teej. Celebrated sometime in August or September, it is a festival centered around the married women and marks the mythologically important day when Goddess Parvati was reunited with Lord Shiva after over 100 years of separation.

The festival is celebrated in North, North-East and North-western parts of the country under different names – Hartalika Teej, Kajari Teej, Hariyali Teej, etc.

Rajasthan is the best place to be in to celebrate it – especially in Bundi and Jaipur. During the celebration, women would pray for happiness in their married life. They would get together, dress up in traditional bridal wear, decorate their hands with henna, sing folk songs earmarked for this festival, dance, swing on swings (traditionally decorated with flowers and tied to the branches of trees). In the Pink City, Jaipur you can watch a beautiful possession of Goddess Parvati held by the local women. Like with all festivals of India, it is marked with feasting on delicious food items like Ghewar, kheer,  dal bati churma, etc.

2. Nag Panchami

The festival of snakes, Nag Panchami is second in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India. The word ‘Nag’ means snake and ‘Panchami’ means the fifth day of a fortnight. Celebrated on the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha (the fortnight leading from new moon to full moon) of Saavan month, it is celebrated by worshiping snakes and snake god, Shesh Nag and offering milk to them.

The celebration is supposed to pray that snake god Shesha Nag should protect them from all evils.

3. Onam

A list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India can’t be complete without a mention of Onam. The ten-day-long harvest festival is, for those who celebrate it, synonymous with the bliss of monsoon. It is also identifying marks of Kerala – God’s own country and often considered one of the paradises on Earth where you should be if you truly want to experience Onam in all its majesty. The festival falls either in August or September.

Onam is centered around farmers as they are in ecstasy overseeing the rain reward their hard work in the form of beautiful green fields. Kerala smiles in all its Glory during the festival as there are spectacular carnivals of elephants, religious rituals held in temples, traditional music, folk songs and of course, Kerala’s trademark Kathakali dance. People also wear traditional dresses, use flower patterns called ‘Pookalam’ to decorate their houses in beautiful ways and there is a feast of twenty-one homemade incredibly delicious curries and sweet payasam made and served in all traditional homes on plantain leaf on Thiruvonam, the second day of the festival.

Though what takes the cake in Onam celebrations is Vallam Kali – the  Snake boat races, that are held on backwaters during this time. The participants sing songs as they race to keep up the spirit. The races area display of teamwork, strength, fitness, and cleverness. The Nehru Trophy Boat race which is held in Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha, Kerala is the most famous of these races.

4. Raksha Bandhan

Probably one of most unique festivals for it’s being centered around the brother and sister relationship and a natural favorite to be included in our list of  15 Monsoon Festivals in India is Rakhsha Bandhan. The words ‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means a tie. It is thus the day when sisters tie silk apply tilak on foreheads of their brothers, tie thread called ‘Rakhi’ on the wrist of their brothers to bless them with long life and, in return, seek protection from all possible dangers and often get protection. Sisters will prepare dishes for brothers and receive gifts from them in return. Held in the monsoon season, in the full moon night in the month of Shravan (July-August).

5. Nariyal Purnima

Next in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India is Nariyal Purnima. The words ‘Nariyal’ means coconut and ‘Purnima’ means full moon. The place to be in to worship the coconut festival in Maharashtra and is a festival celebrated mostly by the local fishing community known as Koli. The festival falls on the same day as Rakhsha Bandhan. The festival is the occasion for the coastal community for showing their gratitude to the god of the sea, Varuna on whom the fishing community is dependent on their livelihood.

6. Adiperukku

Adiperukku is another waterbodies related festival that has found its place in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India. Celebrated in Tamil Nadu during the mid-July-August 18th day of Tamil month of Aadi by the women, it pays tributes to waterbodies – rivers, water tanks, lakes, wells, etc to mark their importance in the sustenance of human life. In moderns times, when water scarcity has become a crisis, the festival has a lesson that can be learned from our rich culture.

7. Hemis Festival

The monsoon (July-August) season is also one of the best times to plan a trip to Ladakh. It is one of the driest months during the monsoon season and also the time when one of it’s most important festival Hermis takes place. The festival is named Hemis Gompa which is one of the oldest, largest, most important and culturally richest Buddhist monasteries of the world. This 2-day festival celebrates the birth of Lord Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche) that falls on the tenth day of Tibetan Lunar month Tse Chu which is around the middle of July every year. Lord Padmasambhava introduced the people of Tibet to the practice of Tantric Buddhism and is regarded as the founder of the Nyingma tradition which is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

It is also a celebration of the victory of good over evil. The most important feature of these five days long festival is Cham, a fundamental a part of Tantric tradition of Buddhism. Monks get dressed in colorful dresses with huge animals masks and elaborate jewelry and give a beautiful dramatic dance performance in the premises of the monastery creating an aesthetically brilliant atmosphere that reverberates with the sound of musical drums, longhorns, cymbals, etc. The festival is the best occasion to visit Ladakh in order to enjoy its unique local cuisine and rides on yaks and camels.

8. Minjar

The eighth festival in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India is the Minjar Festival of Himachal Pradesh. It is celebrated during the July-August at Chamba and is another version of a thanksgiving ceremony to the god of rain  Varuna and a prayer for a good harvest. This seven-day long harvest festival has Minjar Mela as one of its chief features.

9. Hareli

The ninth festival in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India Hareli derives from Hindi word for greenery – Haryali. The festival is celebrated on the new moon day of the month or the Sravana Amavasya which falls during the monsoon months of July and August.

The place to be in for the celebration of this festival is the tribal state of Chattisgarh. The harvest season marks the occasion for worship of Goddess Kuki, farming equipment, bullocks, and cows, in hope for a good harvest. The most striking feature of the festival is bull races.

Hareli is also celebrated in some parts for Madhya Pradesh while Raja Parva is a monsoon festival celebrated by women in the state of Orissa

10. Behdienkhlam

The tenth member of our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India takes us to Middle East India. There are several monsoon festivals celebrated in northeast India such as Nongkrem Dance, Reh Festival, Cheiraoba festival, Moatsu, and Ambubasi Mela; however, the festival that makes it to the list is Behdienkhlam.

Behdienkhlam is celebrated in North-western state Meghalaya where, like so many other monsoons festivals, it marks the victory of good over evil. The word  ‘Behdienkhlam’ means ‘chasing away the Demon of Cholera’  in the local language. Every year the annual festival marks the day of cleaning. This Jaintia tribes’ festival has become a great occasion for local people for dancing, singing, and feasting. Communities come together to make delicious food, and events for dancing, music, and sports are held. This festival is also an invocation to God, seeking His blessings for a richer harvest.

How could a state named Meghalaya (figuratively ‘abode of clouds) fail to celebrate the arrival of monsoons? It is, in fact, the best time to visit Meghalaya. The festival that falls in the month of July is best experienced at Jaintia hills where the Pnar tribal people celebrate it with young men make symbolic gestures of driving away of the evil spirit and dance in the muddy pool of water.

11. Janmashtami

One of most loved deities of Hinduism Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, has his birth celebrated during the monsoon season as Janmashtami, the eleventh member in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India. The word Janmashtami is made by merging two words – Janam (birth) and Ashtami (eighth day of the fortnight) as the festival falls on the 8th day of Krishna paksha (the fortnight from full moon to new moon) in the month of Shravan (that is, August-September). The festival marks the worship of Lord Krishna as an infant child.

The places to be in for best enjoying the festivity of these occasions are his birthplace Mathura and the town where he lived till he was adolescent – Vrindavan. In both these cities, as with much of northern India, the festival is celebrated by the decoration of temples, singing holy songs, prayers, etc.

Another equally best place to be in is Maharashtra where the tradition is to dramatically recreate the lord’s favorite pastime, stealing butter from pots set too high beyond his reach by making human pyramids amidst many festivities marked by food, drinks, music, and dance.

In a number of parts, little children are dressed like Krishna and Radha and some temples recreate different scenes from Lord Krishna’s life.

12. Puri Rath Yatra

Next in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India is Puri Rath Yatra. Celebrated in 900-year-old Jagannath temple which is one of four dhams of Hindus (the other three being Dwaraka, Rameshwaram, and Badrinath).

Jagannath is another name for Lord Vishnu only and figuratively means ‘the owner for the universe’. The festival is celebrated on the second day of the Ashadha month, which falls between June-July months. The Jagannath shrine is located in Puri on the Nilchala Mountains, which is just 60 kilometers from the state capital Bhubaneshwar.

On the day of the yatra, the idol of Lord Jagannath is carried in massive chariots that are as tall as 45.6 feet and have 18 wheels. These chariots are pulled by thousands of devotees. Lod’s sisters, Balbhadrd and Subhadra and his brother, Balarama’s chariots accompany this procession. They are taken through the streets of Puri to the Gundicha Temple, where they remain there for nine days. The chariots are pulled by the devotees during the yatra. The festivity, utter devotion, and bliss experienced, lure devotees from far ends of the world.

13. Ganesh Chaturthi

Thirteenth in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India is Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival much loved by Bollywood. Also known as Vinayak Chaturthi (Vinayak being another name of Ganesha), the festival marks the birth of elephant headers Lord Ganesha. The god whose name must be taken at the beginning of all prayers and religious ceremonies as well as all enterprises for the success of endeavor undertaken.

Every year during the season of monsoon, Lord Ganesha’s huge idols are worshipped for nine days. They are raised on huge podiums, while devotees might also worship the Lord in their homes. On the tenth day of the festival, the idols are given a majestic farewell when they are taken on a grand procession at the end of which they are immersed in the water bodies.

The place to be in for this festival is hands down Maharashtra in general and Mumbai in particular. Despite Mumbai’s excessive rain problems, It is the best time to see Mumbai. Lots of sweets, savory foods items, music, dance, colors, festivities, etc add to the colors of the festival. Modak, a sweet prepared from condensed milk is considered to be Lord Ganesha’s, favorite sweet.

14. Sao Joao

Sao Joao a characteristically Goan festival in penultimate festival in our list of 15 Monsoon Festivals in India. It is much like Goa – exciting, fun and full of cuisine, dance and music celebration, and honors St. John the Baptist. Celebrated on the 24th of June every year, it dates back to the Portuguese colonial days. Gifts such as delicious fruits, drinks, etc are exchanged,  people dress up in colorful outfits, sing songs, greet each other, exchange gifts like fruits or drinks and sing hymns. Also, one can find carnival-themed boats floating on the streams in a number of villages. Goa, in short, is a lot more Goa on Sao Joao and it is the perfect time to visit the state.

15. Ganga Dussehra

Last but not the least in our list of15 Monsoon Festivals in India is Ganga Dushera. It is celebrated at the very start of monsoon season, that is, the end of June and is usually celebrated by worshiping holy river Ganga and Lord Shiva and taking a dip in Ganga.


India has an incredible diversity of cultures and different parts do county celebrate different religious events in different ways. We have talked about some of the most important of the monsoon season festivals. All these festivals are unique and charming in their own way. We recommend planning your trip to different parts of the country according to festivals that are best celebrated there to get the best of your tourist destination. 🙂

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