Festivals of Gujarat are known for their cheerful atmosphere, groovy music and food in abundance. They tend to capture the vivacity and the cultural richness of the state and its people and commemorate gleefully to other parts of the country and the world. Be it the world-renowned festivals like Janmashtmi and Navratri or the regional celebrations like the kite festival, all of them demonstrate age-old traditions and customs of this lively western Indian state of India.
Here are the 10 famous festivals of Gujarat that make you fall in love with the culture and traditions of this place and its people: –
Navratri and garba are the first few things that pop up in our minds when we talk about Gujarat. It is one of the most celebrated festivals that is spread across 9 days worshipping Goddess Durga and immersing her idol in the holy water on the 10th day. All these 10 days are loaded with dance and music performances, competitions, flea markets, exhibitions and savouries.
What to expect: One can expect lively celebrations that exhibit the colourful culture of the state through decorations, dance, music, and food when celebrating Navratri in Gujarat.
When is it celebrated: Navratri is a festival that is celebrated twice every year and in 2021, it is scheduled from October 7 to October 15.
2. Rann Utsav
Rann Utsav or the Kutch Festival is one of the famous festivals of Gujarat that is organized by Gujarat tourism. The festival is an opportunity for travellers to explore some of the unique places to visit in the state. The Kutch Festival includes cultural activities, food fiestas, handloom and handicraft exhibitions, wildlife, adventure sports and much more to celebrate the lively Indian state. Organized and celebrated at the Great Rann of Kutch spread over an area of about 7500 square kilometres, one can get the unique experience of staying in tents between the vast desert.
What to expect: Become a part of the Kutch Festival to experience the true essence of Gujarat through folk music and dance, food, artwork and much more to have a unique festive experience.
When is it celebrated: The Kutch Festival celebrated in Gujarat is spread across 3 months. In 2021, it is scheduled from November 1 to February 20, 2022. However, the dates may change depending on the prevailing pandemic situation.
Also known as Makar Sankranti, it is one of the main festivals of Gujarat that is dedicated to the deity of the Sun God. It is also known as the harvest festival of Gujarat as the time when the harvest season begins with the summer solstice. Preparations for the festival begin days ahead, with people visiting the famous patang bazaar to buy different kinds of kites. They not only buy readymade kites but also make their own unique designs to decorate the sky on the day of the festival. The craze of kite flying on Makar Sankranti is such that it is also named the Kite Festival in Gujarat.
What to expect: One can expect bonfires, fairs, worshipping the Sun God at the riverside, music and dance performances, arts and crafts, worshipping the cow and much more along with the beautiful colours of the winter season. Do not miss participating in the International Kite Festival and compete with talents across the world.
When is it celebrated: Makar Sankranti is next to be celebrated on January 14, 2022, as per the Hindu calendar.
4. Shamlaji Melo
Shamlaji Melo is one of the main annual festivals of Gujarat celebrated with great pomp and show. It is held on the day of Karthiki Purnima and attended by a large number of tribals and devotees who have great faith in Shamlaji. People from Gujarat as well as Rajasthan come together to gather at the Holy Shamlaji shrine and celebrate the festival dancing on folk songs and bathing in the holy Meshwo river.
What to expect: One can expect a grand pooja at the holy shrine of Shamlaji on the banks of river Meshwo. Besides, a fair is organized outside the shrine with singing and dance performances by locals and kiosks selling famous arts and crafts, savouries.
When is it celebrated: The festival is scheduled to be celebrated from November 12 to November 22, 2021 as per the Hindu calendar.
5. Vautha Mela
Vautha is one of the main festivals other than the Navratri festival in Gujarat. As weird as it may sound, the fair is all crowded with camels and donkeys decked up with clothes, ornaments and paints. Vautha is not merely a fair but a more pious festival than Diwali for the Gujaratis as the place happens to be where the seven holy rivers converge. Devotees from across the country gather in Vautha, a village in Gujarat to celebrate the festival and participate in the fair.
What to expect: One can experience living in tents, bathing in the holy river, witnessing the beautifully decorated and diya lit river at night, and enjoying the sweets and savouries. One of the main delicacies of this festival is Khichu.
When is it celebrated: The five-day festival is scheduled to begin on November 4 2021.
6. Modhera Dance Festival
The modhera dance festival is organized at the famous sun temple in Gujarat. As the name suggests, the festival is all about celebrations through dance, music and art to flaunt the culture of the Golden age of the Solanki era. A variety of unique traditional dance forms of Gujarat are showcased by local talent.
What to expect: The pomp and show of local art forms along with the beauty of the famous Sun temple.
When is it celebrated: The festival is usually celebrated in the month of January every year. The dates for the year 2022 are yet to be announced.
Janmashtami is a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva and celebrates his birth widely in Gujarat and the rest of the world. The celebrations begin a day prior with a faithful fast followed by the jhanki decorations that depict the entire birth scenario of Lord Krishna. The final celebrations begin at midnight when the lord is believed to be born. His idol is bathed with ganga jal, honey, and panchamrit, dressed with new clothes and jewels and rested on the flower bed. The next day, people offer prayers to the idol and break the fast. As the city is beautifully decorated and lit, Janmashtami is also the best time to explore different places to visit in Gujarat.
What to expect: Become a part of the joyful birthday celebrations and the famous dahi handi ceremony. Do not miss out on the grand celebration in Dwarka, where Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his childhood.
When is it celebrated: The festival will be next celebrated on August 18, 2022.
8. Rath Yatra
Next on the list of famous festivals of Gujarat is the Rath Yatra dedicated to Lord Jagannath. It is one of the most awaited festivals in the state and other parts of the country that takes place at four places, including Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad. The main highlight of the Rath Yatra is the possession that is led by an ornate chariot. The journey begins with the Pahind Vidhi where the entire route of the yatra is cleaned and the chariots make their way to different parts of the city.
What to expect: The traditional and cultural extravaganza of the Rath Yatra with dance and singing performances.
When is it celebrated: The festival will be next celebrated on July 1, 2022.
9. Madhavrai Fair
The Madhavrai fair is organized in a small village of Gujarat named Madhavpur that is located on the shore of Porbandar. The fair is organized to celebrate the wedding of Lord Krishna and Devi Rukmini and takes place in the Chaitra month of the Hindu Calendar. The strong belief of locals in Lord Krishna make Madhavrai Fair one of the main and most important festivals of Gujarat.
What to expect: The grandeur of the cultural fair and the pooja at the Krishna temple followed by music and dance performances.
When is it celebrated: The festival will be next celebrated in the month of March/April in 2022.
10. Bhadra Purnima
One of the biggest festivals of Gujarat, Bhadra Purnima fair is spread across three days and is dedicated to Goddess Ambaji. The fair is organized outside Ambaji temple in Gujarat. As there is no idol at the temple, a triangular object called Vishwa Yantra is used to represent the deity during the festival.
What to expect: Become a part of the Bhadra Purnima fair to worship the goddess and offer prayers for your health and well-being. Also, participate in the garba and bhavani dance performances in the evening.
When is it celebrated: The festival will be next celebrated on the Purnima (full moon days) of the month of September 2022.
Traditional festivals of Gujarat and the rest of the country are subject to the Hindu calendar and hence, have no specific date. Make sure to smartly plan your Gujarat packages to be able to attend these festivals and experience their distinctive grandeur.