The Rishikesh in the Himalayas is not just an enclave whereby nature gifts you peace whilst traveling alongside the breezy rivers but rather a family feeling that is portrayed throughout its festivals with culture and spirituality. This is why this beautiful town is never short of colours as it is a vacation ground for most of the year and as such for those who would want to lavishly celebrate the annual festivities of the various colourful personalities. In the Ganga Dussehra, it is tranquil while in the Holi, it is bright, and for each festival, Rishikesh has its style. The respective festivals have different ideas and intended purposes – either to achieve spiritual cleansing or just to immerse the participants in the local culture.
Here is a list of popular festivals of Rishikesh
1. Basant Panchami:
According to Hindu beliefs, Basant Panchami is a festival that occurs during spring; traditionally, this festival is celebrated in February. It is perhaps one of the most popular festivals in Rishikesh as well as other parts of India. This auspicious day is worshipped in honour of the goddess Saraswati (the goddess of knowledge, music, and learning). The day is celebrated in different schools, colleges, and other studies institutions all over India. Students pray to goddess Saraswati in the hope of doing well in studies, art, and music. It is usually assumed that by celebrating this festival, one is celebrating prosperity and good fortune. It is believed that spring starts from Basant Panchami, which is another good time for cultivation and harvest.
Although different states in India might celebrate the festival in different ways, several trends remain consistent. Yellow is the favourite of goddess Saraswati; women are often seen in yellow sari. The mustard crop is generally harvested during festivals and hence, the colour yellow is important. The day of Basant Panchami is also called Vasant Panchami; this day is a very good omen to start various new things in one’s life. Apart from being the day to start a new firm and perform important projects, people also shift to a new house.
2. Kanwar Mela:
The Kanwar Yatra is a legend of churning the ocean of Amrit or Samudra Manthan in the month of Shravan as described in the Hindu Puranas. It is said that in ancient times, the churning of the sea caused the appearance of poison or Vish before the Amrit appeared during Amrit Manthan. To save the planet from being poisoned, Lord Shiva consumed the poison and all the gods received Amrit or Nectar of Immortality. The act of consuming the poison in turn resulted in Lord Shiva’s throat turning blue and the tag named Neelkanth and he was left with a burning sensation in the throat. Gods and devas offered the Ganga Water to Lord Shiva to avoid the deadly effects of the poison.
Kanwar Mela begins in July or August, the end of Sawan Month according to the Hindu calendar. They throng over the holy river Ganga in a bid to draw water during this ceremony during the festival. During the Kanwar Yatra, the devotees of Lord Shiva use both shoulders to carry the ‘Kanwar’. Since this took place during Shravan, Shiva followers to date perform this Yagya. They meditate and invoke Shiva, and pouring of Holy Ganges water on the Shiv Linga every year in this month. It is, then, over a month-long pilgrim trek where the devotees are clad in their saffron clothes. The people wear clothes and traverse barefoot from the desired place towards Haridwar, Gangotri, or Gaumukh to gather the holy water of the Ganges.
In Holi, Rishikesh transformed into a world of colours, where people in jolly mood, shower colours one upon the other. The sounds of laughter, jollity, and much joviality are everywhere making the environment quite infective with fun. In Rishikesh, Holi is far from being a purely provincial phenomenon, it attracts people from around the world – and foreigners sometimes join in the celebration together with local people. The colourful festival of Holi takes place in the month of Phalguna, which is usually in March in the Hindu calendar. It is one of the most beautiful festivals of enjoyment, love, unity, and inclusivity in Rishikesh.
4. Ganga Dussehra:
Ganga Dussehra in Rishikesh is celebrated to worship the holy Ganga River. This event marks the arrival of the holy Kamandal on earth from Lord Brahma. During Ganga Dussehra, all kinds of pilgrims gravitate towards holy areas like Rishikesh, Haridwar, and even districts around it in search of spiritual salvation through holy ablutions and rites. On Ganga Dussehra, the devotees flood the riverside, believing that bathing in its sacred waters redeems them from sins. It is a time dedicated to meditation; worship and seeking divine grace. As the darkness settles in, the banks of the Ganga River look beautiful with floating lamps and devotees sing many devotional hymns. Going back to their homes, devotees return with the holy Ganga water in containers to purify their homes spiritually so that they obtain both physical and spiritual protection.
5. International Yoga Festival:
The International Yoga Festival serves as a guiding light of yogic philosophy. It is one of the most popular festivals in Rishikesh. Until its start in 1999, the host city in Rishikesh has been inviting yogis from diverse origins. The festival is a seven-day getaway where people perform multiple yoga practices with help from the world masters. Yet it is not simply about achieving perfection in the Asanas; meditation workshops are also a vital component of the festival. This occasion has become publicly known and it continues to attract tourists from all parts of the world. It is much more than a yoga festival since it is a spiritual and cultural festival held in the magical setting of Rishikesh.
6. International Kayak Festival:
The Ganges River Kayak Festival is a festival for those seeking to enjoy thrilling adventure activities. If you are an adventure lover who craves the adventure of challenges such as paddling through rapids and cascading waters, then the Ganges River Kayak Festival is just the right outing for you. It doesn’t matter whether you are an expert paddler or a beginner, there is something for everyone. On the breathtaking background of nature around Rishikesh individuals of any level of skill can dive into the fun of kayaking. In addition, given its emphasis on eco-friendliness, this festival offers not only the thrill of an exciting adventure but also encourages responsible management of our valuable natural resources.