Uttar Pradesh is one of the apex trip spots in India where you can find all sorts of multi-colored festivals celebrated by all communities’ people. These festivals are filled of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or earliest traditions. Many of these festivals such as Diwali, Dassehra, Muharram, Shivratri, etc. are celebrated country wide. Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populated states in India was the true cradle of the Indus Valley civilization. The festivals of Uttar Pradesh can be redefined as a religious canvas of soul stirring celebration. Since times immemorial the state of Uttar Pradesh has been attracting the whole world with her rich cultural heritages and spirituality. Festivals of almost all religions are celebrated with equal splendor and cheer in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Various communities of the Indian subcontinent celebrate as many as forty festivals with complete communal harmony. No one can shy away from the simple but the enthralling charm of the festive season of Uttar Pradesh. The festivals celebrated in Uttar Pradesh embody the robust and composite cultural heritage of the nation. The time of festivals is the ideal time to listen and watch the world’s renowned artists performing live; it will be a thrilling experience to listen the traditional music and folklore in the perfect ambiance.
Some of the well-liked festivals especially celebrated in Uttar Pradesh with pomp are briefed below:
Diwali: Diwali is truly the most special festival in this preponderantly Hindu state and is celebrated with great vigor and joviality. The state wears a vivacious color throughout the Diwali festival and almost seems to come alive with exuberance. This festival is celebrated in the memory of Lord Rama’s victory over the demon king Ravana and his subsequent homecoming to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile.
Makar Sankranti: Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival. It falls in the month of December-January. People celebrate Makar Sankranti by taking a ritual bath in the river and it is mandatory in Uttar Pradesh.
Maha Kumbh Mela: Kumbh Mela is the major Hindu pilgrimage where millions of people assemble together to take a religious dip in a holy river, generally known as ‘Sangam’. It is held at every third year at one of the four places namely Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain.
Janmashtami: The birthday of Lord Krishna which is popularly known as Janmashtami is celebrated in Uttar Pradesh along with the whole country with much vigor and enthusiasm. During this festival many legends of Shri Krishna’s life, including his exploits and his amorous dalliances with the gopis are enacted in the Raaslila. Bathing the image of infant Krishna and then placing it on a silver cradle are included in the ceremonies of midnight. Mathura being the birthplace of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan being his residence has a special place in the hearts of Krishna devotees.
Magh Mela: Magh Mela (The Annual Mini Kumbh) is held every year on the banks of Sangam. Magh Mela is held in the month of Magha (Jan-Feb); hence Magh Mela. During this period about 2 or 3 million of devotees swarm here.
Holi: Holi signifies the beginning of spring and is celebrated with great eagerness all over India. Holi thus signifies the victory of good over evil and is marked by grand festivities all over India and chiefly in the Braj area where it is celebrated with great cheerfulness and fervor. Holi celebrations last for more than a week and are marked by people sprinkling color water and smearing color powder on each other.
Navaratri: Navaratri is one of the most important festivals in Uttar Pradesh. Navaratri is the festival of nine days festival dedicated to Goddess Durga. An additional essential part of the Navaratri celebrations is the Ramlila. In the state of Uttar Pradesh almost every locality has its own group of actors enacting various episodes from the life of Lord Rama. This festival falls in the month of Ashwin or in the months of September or October. The tenth day of the festival holds special significance as offerings are made to Durgadevi.
Maha Shivratri: Maha Shivratri is a very popular festival in the state of Uttar Pradesh. This festival falls on the 13th or 14th day of the dark half of Phalgun or in the months of February or March. Maha Shivratri is observed in honor of Lord Shiva and it is believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Goddess Parvati. The ceremonies take place mainly during the night.
Ramnavami Mela: The sacred city of the holy pilgrim centre of Hindus plays host to the Ramnavmi Festival in the month of April. Thousands of worshippers meet to worship the Lord at Kanak Bhawan.
Buddha Purnima: The principal day in the life of a Buddhist, Buddha Purnima is celebrated across the Buddhist world as the day of birth, enlightenment and death of Gautam Buddha. India, the land of Gautam Buddha’s enlightenment and death sees great celebration of his life and teachings by the Buddhist temples and followers in the country. Spiritual Buddhists assemble around at their nearest temples with flowers and candle sticks, offering prayers and singing hymns. Bodh Gaya in Bihar is the best place to witness the enchanting celebrations of Buddha Purnima in India.
Hanuman Jayanti: Hanuman Jayanti is dedicated to the celebration of birthday of passionate devotee of Lord Rama, Hanuman. On this day devotees of Lord Hanuman visit Hanuman temples for worship and many keep fast. Hanuman Jayanti falls on the 15th day Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month.
Ganga Festival: Ganga festival is a much-awaited festival in the town of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. This festival is celebrated on the banks of the river Ganga to worship the river. This festival is held in the month of October- November.
Ayodhya Puja: Ayodhya Puja is falls in the month of September or October in Uttar Pradesh. On this day, people worship to Lord Rama because Ayodhya is the birth place of Lord Rama.
Shitla Ashtami: Shitla Ashtami falls on the eighth day after the ‘festival of colors’, Holi and is dedicated to the goddess of smallpox. This festival is followed by Ram Navami on Chaitra Sudi Navami, which marks the birthday celebrations of Lord Rama.
Bhai Dooj: Bhai Dooj is a popular festival in Uttar Pradesh when sisters apply vermilion tika (auspicious mark) on the forehead of their brothers to mark their long lives. In turn the brothers reward them with money and other gifts. On Bhai Dooj weapons, pen and inkpot are also worshipped.
Karva Chauth: Festivals of Uttar Pradesh, India. Another popular festival celebrated by the Hindus of Uttar Pradesh is Karva Chauth. It is generally celebrated by the married Hindu females for the safety and the prosperity of their beloved husbands. This festival falls 9 days after Dussehra and the day is spent on complete fasting and prayers till the rise of the moon after which they break their fasts.
Bharat Milap: Bharat Milap is celebrated during the months of October or November and is carried out at Nati Imli on the day following Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. It pertains to the episode of the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, and his reunion with his brother Bharat.
Yoga Festival: The importance of Yoga is unparalleled in the Indian civilization. This art of meditation and alternative medication has heavily influenced the Indian subcontinent and other parts of the world. The path of yoga is considered to be a perfect way to find peace of mind and solace without demeaning the soul. The yoga Festival held at Varanasi and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh marks the movement, which got popular in the west as a counter-revolution to the Hippie movement.
Ramlila: Epic Ramayana is represented in Ramlila. It shows the life and time of Lord Rama. Ramlila is connected with the Vijayadashmi and Ramnavami festival celebrations.
Eid-ul-Fitr: This festival occurs at the end of the month of Ramzan, is the gayest and falls on the first day of the 10th month of the Hijrah or Muslim calendar.
Eid-ul-Adha: This festival popularly known as Bakri-Id or Eid ul Adha or Eid Ul Zuha is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It is observed on the tenth day of the twelfth month in the Muslim calendar. The holiness of the day and the period preceding it makes this a popular time for undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Muharrum: The most solemn and colorful Muslim function held in the state of Uttar Pradesh is Muharram. This festival honors the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet. In all cities and towns Muslims take out impressive processions of colorfully decorated tazias, replicas of the martyr's tomb at Karbala. The most solemn and impressive Muharram is observed in Lucknow, where gold and silver replicas of old Nawabi times are brought out and men beat their breasts in mourning constantly until blood oozes out.
Apart from the above mentioned festivals, Uttar Pradesh celebrates many more festivals like Mauni Amavasya, Vasant Panchami, Nandotsav, Naag Nathaiyaa Leela, Shab-e-Barat, Govardhan Puja, Milad-Un-Nabi etc.