One of the most celebrated festivals of Gujarat, Navaratri is a ‘festival of nine nights’ and on the tenth day, Goddess Durga, who is worshipped throughout the 9 days, is immersed in holy water after performing a ceremony. This festival forms a special feature of Gujarat and during this auspicious occasion both males and females assemble in the squares and temples of their individual villages and indulge themselves in complete merriment. Dandiya nights, Garba songs, folk music, competitions, exhibitions, free flow of mouth watering foods, large crowds dressed in their best garbs and fineries and an overall spirit of carnival makes Navaratri a one of a kind festival of Gujarat.
The festival of Diwali in Gujarat is associated with the worship of the "Goddess of Wealth', Mother Lakshmi. The people of this state are of the firm belief that Goddess Lakshmi emerges on this day to bless the world with success and good fortune. It is also believed by the Gujaratis that the Goddess visits the homes, which are well lit so they delightfully take the initiative to decorate their houses with light, flowers and paper chains. The congregation of both men and women in the markets of Gujarat bears testimony to the fact that people are engulfed in the spirit of the festive celebrations.
Regarded as one of the national festivals of Gujarat, the Kite Festival is celebrated on Makar Sankranti, i.e. on 14th January. There are several colourful and uniquely shaped kites defying gravity by soaring high up in the air and dotting the skyline. The festival is also differently referred to as Uttarayan. Kites high up on the air battle with each other and the air around resound to triumphant cries of joy. People don special traditional attires and savour special foods on this day.
The spring festival of Holi celebrated in Gujarat is in the month of Phalguna, which is sometime between the months of February and March. The festival of Holi assumes an entirely new colour in the state of Gujarat and hence the people of the state reverberate with the chants of folk-song like, "Govind aala re, zara mat kisam bhal Brijbala". Fun and frolic is also redefined in various forms in the festive celebrations here. People greet each other with colours and thus enhance the feeling of harmony due to which happiness prevails. The tradition of breaking pots is celebrated with much gusto here. It is an extreme pleasure watching the human pyramid breaking the pot of buttermilk high up in the street. The lighting of bonfire also forms a special feature of the Holi celebrations in Gujarat.
The principal shrine of Goddess Ambaji in Gujarat and its origins have long been lost. In fact, annually Bhadra Purnima is one of the four most important festivals of Gujarat. During this festival the peasants go to the temple and celebrate all these four festivals with darshan, ohm havan and community performances of the traditional Garba dances. The devotees from all over the state come to the Ambaji Mandir and attend the readings of the Saptashati, the 700 years old verses written in the honour of the Goddess and also visit the temple for an auspicious view of hers. A big fair is also held during the celebration of this festival.
The widely popular festival Rath Yatra, also known as the 'Chariot Festival' is celebrated in the state of Gujarat in the months of June and July. A big procession is taken out from the Jagannath temple of Ahmedabad to mark the chariot journey of Lord Krishna into the city. When the chariot carrying the idols of Jagannath also believed to be the incarnation of Lord Krishna, Lord Balarama and Goddess Subhadra are taken out amidst much pomp and show, verses and hymns are chanted in honour of the Lords. The deities are adorned with colourful attires and ornamented with garlands. The commencement of the procession takes place from the Jagdish Mandir situated in the Jamalpur region of Ahmedabad city.
Another one of the most awaited festivals of Gujarat, Lord Krishna’s birthday is celebrated with unmatchable zeal and devotion in Dwarka, Gujarat. People celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna at midnight, placing an idol in the cradle and worshipping him. A thread tied with the cradle is gently pulled to make it swing. The festival is known for its Dahi handi ceremony, devotional singing, dances and feeding Lord Krishna his favourite food, butter. The idol of Lord Krishna is bathed and then placed on a swing. Rasila is performed to recreate incidents from the life of the Lord and to immortalize his love for his beloved, Radha.
This is one of the most popular festivals of Gujarat. It is observed in the honour of Lord Ganesh who is believed to be the destroyer of all obstacles. This festival is celebrated with impressive processions taken out carrying huge idols of Lord Ganesh.
This is the most popular Muslim festival celebrated in the state of Gujarat with much ardour. The major highlight of this festival is the Tazia procession, which has been in the city of Ahmedabad of Gujarat for centuries and includes drummers, acrobats and singers. The historic significance of this festival lies in the fact that the Mughal monarch Jahangir and his beloved wife Noor Jahan often watched it from the 'teen darwaza' or triple arches. This festival also reflects the true secular spirit of the state.
Modhera Dance Festival
Also known as the Uttarardh Mahotsavis, the Modhera Dance Festival is a three day festival to experience the essence of classical Indian dance and music. Organised by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat, the festival is celebrated at the Sun Temple of Modhera, which lies about 60 km south west of the Ahmedabad city.The temple is an epitome of brilliant architecture and elevates the whole grandeur of the celebration.
The tourism authorities of Gujarat organize this festival every year in the month of February according to the English calendar. This popular festival not only features folk dancing, poetry, music, ballads, regional handicrafts and jewellery but also brings the people from all over the state, to offer a whole fresh enunciation to the term "Communal Harmony". Rhythmic music, authentic handcrafted items, Bandini sarees, and traditional ornaments are some things that one will witness on the dazzling white sand. The festival reflects the culture in its purest form.
Vathua Mela is one of the primary animal trading festivals of Gujarat. Animals, mainly donkeys and camels are painted and dressed in fancy clothes elaborately to attract buyers. It is art in a queer from.