Jammu and Kashmir is the crown state of India(The state is divided into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir to the west and Ladakh to the east.) It is rich in culture and diversity. Although it is known for Islamic culture, Kashmir also has a fair population of Hindus, who celebrate their festivals with much joy and ado. Along with celebrating national festivals like Diwali and Holi, Kashmir has its own local festivals. These are conducted by the local groups and people irrespective of their religious views take part in them. Some of these festivals like the Hemis festival is treated as a national holiday to ensure everyone takes part in it. Such is the importance of festivals to bring people together. In this article, we shall explore some of the popular festivals in Kashmir.
List Of Festivals Celebrated In Kashmir:
1. Holi Festival:
The festival of Holi is celebrated with much enthusiasm in the state of Jammu and Kashmir Holi is known as the festival of colours. It is celebrated in the month of March every year and it spans for two days. The first day starts off with fasting and prayers. In the evening, bonfires are lit in celebration of the triumph of good over evil. This also symbolises the end of the harsh winters. The second day commences with people playing with colours and coloured water.
2. Lohri Festival:
Lohri is also known as Maghi festival. This festival is celebrated annually in the state of Jammu and Kashmir sometime in the middle of January. This festival commemorates the last day for the sowing of the rabi or winter crops. This day generally marks the middle of winter. This festival is celebrated by community bonfires, dances and folk songs. The Chajja dance is an important part of this festival. The youth prepare chajjas with coloured paper and dance to drum beats on the street.
3. Baisakhi Festival:
Baisakhi festival is a very important festival celebrated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is held on the 13th day of the month of April. It commemorates the first day of spring or the first “Baisakh” and it celebrates the passing of winter. It marks the New Year for Sikhs. This is mainly a rural festival. This festival celebrates the sowing of new crops. People take dips in the Ganga on this day. There are different village fairs held which introduce and combine Bhangra dancing, wrestling, and archery. This day is auspicious for marriages.
4. Sri Rama Navami:
“Sri Rama Navami” marks the birth of Lord Rama, who was the king of Ayodhya and the protagonist of the ancient epic “Ramayana”. He is also called “Kalyanotsavam”. Navami also marks the marriage of Rama and Sita. The festival is celebrated for ten days. Devotees fast and pray at various temples to Lord Rama. The temples are decorated with flowers and Rathyatras are organised across the towns and cities. The religious epic “Ramayana” is all over the state. People consider this time auspicious and buy new clothes. They decorate their houses with lamps and flowers. “Bhajans” are sung in praise of Lord Rama.
Navratri in Hindi means nine nights. It is celebrated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir annually and is known as the festival of nine nights. This festival honours the Mother Goddess or the Divine Shakti or Force of the universe. During this festival, colourful costumes are worn and folk dances are performed. Offerings are made to Durga Devi and Mauli is worn by little girls.
Diwali or Deepavali is known as the Festival of Lights. This festival commemorates the killing of the demon Ravana by the king of Ayodhya, Ram. On returning after his victory, the kind was welcomed with the lighting of crackers and light. In Jammu and Kashmir, this is a major festival celebrated with lamps, crackers and fireworks. It is celebrated on Amavasya or new moon day in this state.
7. Hemis Festival:
The Hemis festival is celebrated at Hemis Gompa, which is the largest monastery in Kashmir. It is celebrated to remember the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, who is the founder of Buddhism in Tibet. This festival is celebrated every year in the fifth lunar month of Tibetian calendar. During this festival, the government declares a state holiday. The highlight of this festival is the ‘Chaam’ dance which is performed with a lot of musical instruments.
8. Tulip Festival:
Kashmir has India’s best Tulip gardens. With hundreds of Tulips in full bloom during the spring season, Srinagar, the capital city of Kashmir celebrates the Tulip festival. This is the time when tourism is at its peak after the snowy winters. Tulip Festival, one of the most visited Kashmir festivals attract a lot of filmmakers, who make it a point to shoot many romantic songs, without having to visit foreign locations.
9. Shikara Festival:
Shikara festival is celebrated on the Dal lake of Srinagar. This festival was started in the year 2016 with an intention to promote tourism. The Shikaras or the boats, are beautifully painted and decorated during this festival. A number of races like the Dragon race, Canoe Polo matches are conducted between the Shikaras. This festival happens during the months of July to August.
10. Sindhu Darshan Festival:
The Sindhu darshan festival is conducted every year on the day of Guru Purnima, a full moon day. It is held at Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. This festival was first conducted in the year 1997 and still holds the same importance. The festival is to honour the river Sindhu and worship her. It is an important festival to all the Hindus of Kashmir and holds significant religious importance.
Kashmir might be a land of constant conflicts with the neighbouring countries. Although known for unrest, this beautiful land never ceases to celebrate the beauty of life. Festivals are a time of joy and togetherness. They unite people together and create a strong bond between them. Kashmir’s local festivals are celebrated with the same intent of uniting the locals together and stand as one community. They also attract a lot of tourism, which can bring in substantial income to the state. Kashmir festivals are symbols of Cultural harmony in the state.