Fairs and festivals are an important part of any Indian state. It is not just about grand celebrations and massive festivities, it’s also about bringing people together and remembering our ancestors. It is also the best way of paying honor and homage to our incredible ancestors who have always spoken about respecting our culture, traditions, and heritage. Other than the religious and spiritual values, fairs and festivals in India are all about having fun and creating an aura or an environment of acceptance, love, and respect for each other. Jammu and Kashmir is a culturally homogenous state which is home to numerous tribes and communities. This means that every now and then this heaven on earth springs to life with color and vigor.
Here are some of the most popular and important fairs and festivals of Jammu and Kashmir
Saffron festival celebrates the supreme quality of this spice that is exported throughout the world. Saffron cultivation is an age-old tradition and custom in the valley of Kashmir which has been initiated by the locals residing here. This festival is an attempt by the local Kashmiri government to rekindle the tradition and amplify the value of Kashmiri saffron. You can experience folk and traditional dance and songs taking place along with saffron picking activities and shopping at traditional markets and trying out Kahwa.
If you go to Kashmir and not live in a houseboat or go for a refreshing Shikara Ride, then did you even have a complete and real Kashmiri experience? This tourist favorite festival was another successful attempt by the government of Kashmir to make sure that Kashmir remains enticing enough for the visitors and boost tourism, which is a major source of economy and revenue. It involves a snake boat race, dragon boat race, canoe polo match, and shopping at the floating shops. It’s all about fun times!
Galdan Namchot is a festival that is mainly celebrated in the very selective few regions of the Himalayas like Ladakh, Tibet, and even Mongolia. It celebrates the birth, life and mourns the death of the great philosopher Buddhahood of Je Tsongkhapa whose constant hard work and activities kickstarted a brand new school of teaching known as the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. This day even marks the beginning of the New Year in these parts.
Jhiri Mela is a fair which takes place in the village of Jhiri which is situated about 20 kms away from Jammu and Kashmir. This annual Mela takes place during the event of Kartik Purnima that according to the Hindu calendar falls during the final week of October and early November. The meal is sort of an ode to the great martyr Baba Jitto a humble farmer who had laid down his life about 500 years ago to protest the oppressive regulations that were being brought about by the landowners.
Maha Shivratri has to be one of the most widely celebrated festivals in the entire Indian subcontinent. Being a melting pot of different traditions and religions which is bound by a common thread of religious beliefs, Maha Shivratri is known by different names and Purmandal Mela is one of them in Kashmir. It takes place during the months of February or March and is mainly held in a place called Purmandal village located near the town of Jammu. The celebrations pan out to the temples of Peer Koh, Ranbireshwar Temple, and Panjbakhtar Temple.
Bahu Mela is a very auspicious fair that takes place in Jammu and Kashmir which is celebrated during the holy eve of Ram Navami according to the Hindu calendar. The name of this fair is drawn from the place where it takes place called Bahu Fort. In fact, the meal also takes place twice a year with one of them taking place during the time of Navratras. There is a kali temple located within the fort premises which is the center stage of this fair. Devotees come in huge numbers to the temple and offer their prayers and take blessings of the goddess.
This festival seems like one of the most surreally stunning festivals you could be a part of. Just like its name the festival is all about flowers, tulips, and beauty. The focal point of the festival is a tulip garden in Srinagar. Each year during the months of March to May, tourists throng the tulip garden and witness the gorgeous tulips just blooming to life and glory. It is a sight to behold and which cannot be described in words. To make it even more pretty the garden is surrounded on all sides by different gardens and a lake.
Hemis festival is one of the most iconic festivals that takes place in Ladakh, near Jammu and Kashmir. It is a great idea to plan a trip to Ladakh if you are already in J and K to learn all about the culture, tradition, and belief systems of the locals residing in these regions. The festival is all about elaborate and magical masked traditional dance processes and unfurling of various traditional thangkas or Buddhist paintings which are considered to be extremely holy. The festival celebrates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava in one of the most famous monasteries of Ladakh called Hemis Gompa.
Held on the 13th day of April, Baisakh is one of the most important, massively recognized, and celebrated festivals in Jammu and Kashmir. Just like the rest of India, this festival is dedicated to mark the first day of the spring season or in other words, the passing of the winter months. People celebrate by sowing a fresh batch of new crops, take a dip in the holy river of Ganga or any other life-giving river they consider auspicious and the locals even indulge in fun activities like archery, wrestling, traditional dancing and so much more. This is a great time to visit Kashmir and create a lifetime of memories because every village and every town of JandK celebrate Baisakhi with great vigor and color.
Kashmir is not just about natural beauty, its history, beliefs, and heritage goes back to centuries ago making it a vital part of Indian history. The festivals and fairs are filled with utmost harmony, love, and affection. Try planning a trip to Kashmir during the time of some festival or the other and you will never feel like going back!