Located on the serene banks of the River Ganges, Haridwar is one of the best custodians of India’s traditions and cultural heritage. The city captivates the tourists and pilgrims not only for its spiritual heritage but also for its vibrant festivals. From the divine allure of Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious gatherings, to the delightful Ganga Dussehra Festival, every festival reflects the timeless heritage and rituals that offer a chance to understand Hinduism and the rhythm of India’s spiritual soul.
Here is a list of the most popular festivals of Haridwar:-
1. Kumbh Mela
Every twelve years, Haridwar, a city nestling on the holy banks of Ganga finds itself becoming the focal point for one of mankind’s largest congregations on Earth; a gathering swelling up to nearing sixty million strong at its peak-The Kumbh Mela. Full of Hindu mythology and spirituality this sacred event is visited by millions not only from India but many come from other parts of the world. Accurate dates as per the Hindu calendar captivates a certain glance of an enigma to the Kumbh Mela event.
The massive gathering of the Kumbh Mela is incredible, with millions upon millions of pilgrims pitching tents river-side creating what is effectively a tent city that has an energy and devotion to it like no other. With everyone ranging from humble sadhus to rich traders at one point and co-exist in a spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood free of boundaries such as class, religion, or economic status.
2. Ardh Kumbh Mela:
The Ardh Kumbh Mela in Haridwar takes place every six years, alternating with full Kumbh Mela. This festival attracts devotees from all over the world, congregating to perform the worship of their Gods, seeking spiritual purification and blessings. Thousands of devotees take a holy dip into the Ganges waters to wash off their sins, this is the most notable feature of the festival. Ideally, the period of occurrence commences around March or April. It is a truly sacred destination to visit to achieve spiritual fulfilment. Devotees get an unparalleled opportunity to experience the spiritual whirlwind and feel the spiritual energy in sacred sites.
3. Kanwar Mela:
Kanwar Mela begins in July. This entire festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Devotees from all over India take part in Kanwar Mela to seek the divine blessings of Lord Shiva. This is one of the biggest Hindu celebrations. In Haridwar, the festivities are concluded with a grand fire ritual offering dedicated to the holy river Ganga. It begins at Gomukh near Nanda Devi in the Himalayas where the Holy Ganga River originates. People carry with them little vials of Ganges water and use them in their homes as mementos of their visit and indications of their piety. Devotees take a longer trip of about 405 kilometres. This pilgrimage journey to Haridwar attracts millions of people annually.
4. Kartik Purnima:
In November, we observe the festivity of Kartik Purnima dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This festival takes place during the full moon giving the whole stretch of the river side the warm glow of moonlight. In Haridwar, along the River Ganga, as night falls, you will be mesmerized to see thousands of lamps seemingly floating on the water. It is very auspicious to bathe in the Ganges during this period.
5. Ganga Dussehra:
At the sacred site of Uttarakhand, Ganga Dussehra signifies a season for venerating and celebrating the river Ganges. Ganga Dussehra is a ten-day-long event held in May and June months where it is said that the goddess of river Ganges descended from heaven to earth. The festival begins on the Amavasya night (no moon) of the Hindu calendar and ends on the tenth day called Dashami. Devotees swarm the banks of the Ganges from start to end, where a series of elaborate rituals and sacrifices are conducted, praising the godly waters which impart good health and bring spiritual prosperity.
As for the highlights of Ganga Dussehra, one major event is Ganga Aarti which takes place on the bank of Haridwar and this cultural activity has left a lasting impression on whoever has witnessed it. Ganga Dussehra is the time to purify the soul through the holy dip in the river Ganga. People also ponder by the riversides. In the evening, float earthen lamps in the river, devotees sing devotional songs.
6. Khari Holi Festival:
Holi – the festival of colours is highly revered in Haridwar. The Khari Holi Festival is celebrated for two months duration over the region of Kumaon. The festival is all about inclusivity, joy, get-togethers, and showcasing the cultural legacy of the city.
When winter’s cool crystalline climates fade and warm winds of spring fill the atmosphere, Haridwar welcomes the beautiful festival of Holi. This festival is also a symbol of victory over darkness. The origins of this festival lie in mythology and folklore, especially in Holika Dahan behind which lurks righteousness’s triumph over evil. It is a day to sit and contemplate the age-old fight between the forces of light and darkness and the importance of goodness and compassion.
From the agricultural perspective particularly for farmers in Haridwar, Khari Holi holds a special place since this season opens up for sowing. It’s time for farming folks to celebrate nature and ask the gods to bless them with a good harvest. The farmers have deep respect for Mother Earth and they see this festival as a way of showing gratitude for giving abundance.
7. Dev Diwali:
Dev Diwali is a special occasion in Haridwar where it is believed that gods come down on Earth to bless the holy river Ganges. The entire city lights up with lamps in remembrance of ancestors. It is celebrated in Kartik Purnima, which usually falls in November. As per Hindu mythology, this day is considered very fortunate when Gods from heaven come to see the bathing ceremony on earth, while devotees seek darshan of the holy Ganga River. The city itself becomes a spiritual dwelling, buzzing with devotees and pilgrims waiting for an opportunity to see and be part of Earth‘s historic rendezvous with the skies.
8. Somvati Amavasya:
Somvati Amavasya is considered an important ritualistic festival celebrated in the town of Haridwar. It happens in the situation when the first day of the week, Monday, is also the first day of the lunar month. This repeats many times in a year. This day is considered to bring peace to the souls of the devotees’ ancestors through a holy bath in the sacred Ganga River. The bath serves as a cure to all their cares and assistance in growth and success.
This is one of the most famous Hindu festivals. The married women fasting on this day do so because they desire the long-term welfare of their husbands. It is the belief that fasting on that day would be as good as making a thousand cow donations separately. Even among married Hindu women, another deity known as the Peepal Tree is worshipped, where milk, water, flowers, Akshat, sandalwood, and a thread are tied around the tree more than once. Some customs also have an offering tradition to the Tulsi Tree.
This is because as per older manuscripts, Bhishma from Mahabharata elaborated on such an occasion to Yudhishthira. He stated that people bathing in the holy rivers on this day will be wealthy, healthy, and will have no sadness. It is also suggested that bathing on this day brings peace to the souls of one’s ancestors.