Kumbh Mela boasts of one of the largest congregations in the world and is observed with great enthusiasm and devotion. It is organised every 12 years and millions of assembled devotees take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganga after performing certain rituals and meditation. This ritual bathing is practised during Kumbh Mela following the worship of Lord Surya or the Sun God. This fair is also conducted in Ujjain, Allahabad and Nashik, alternatively. It is held from January till February.
Considered to be the greatest yearly festival, Kanwar Fair attracts over 3, 00, 000 devotees and is organised from July till August, in the Hindu months of Shravan and 'Phagun'. Several devotees of Lord Shiva accumulate in Haridwar to pay homage to this deity at Kanwar Mela. The sacred waters of Ganga River are collected by tourists and pilgrims who attend this fair.
Considered to be the brightest Hindu festival observed in October, this festival of lights is celebrated with immense gaiety throughout the region of Haridwar. Numerous kinds of fireworks, 'diyas', candles, clay lights, lamps and many other decorative and illuminating objects adorn the entire area of Haridwar. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during Deepavali or 'Diwali' and sweets are purchased and distributed amongst regional residents of Haridwar. Local people buy new utensils and jewelleries, and visit their relatives.
Holi is also referred to as the 'festival of colours' and is celebrated during spring season, particularly the period from February till March. Powdered colours known as 'gulal' are merrily thrown at one another during Holi, and coloured water are sprinkled with joy at passers-by on the streets of Haridwar. This is amongst the most important regional festivals of Haridwar.
Observed in the month of June, which implies the Hindu month of 'Jayestha', Ganga Dussehra takes place on the 10th day of this period. This festival is conducted in order to pay tribute to Mother Ganga, as it is said that Ganga River had made her holy descent on the earth on the same day. Hindus believe that the waters of Ganga during this time are quite pure and are an effectual as medicine. Generally, Hindus offer water drops of Ganga River to patients of physical ailments.
Kartik Purnima is observed about 15 days following the festival of Diwali, during the month of November, which is the Hindu month of 'Kartik'. This time is believed to be the holiest month by the Hindus and Kartik Poornima occurs during a full moon night. People light up Deepavali lamps and send them afloat, over the waters of Ganga River. Innumerable diyas are lighted up on the banks of Ganga River.
Other Festivals of Haridwar District
Apart from these fairs and festivals, Haridwar also witnesses the celebration of numerable other attractive religious festivals which involve 'Somvati Amavasya', 'Makar Sankranti', 'Ram Navami', 'Baisakhi', 'Maha Shivaratri', 'Ganga Saptami', 'Ekadashis', 'Surya Grahans', 'Chandra Grahans', 'Urs', 'Ayurveda Mahotsava' and others. 'Haridwar Mahotsav' is a major festival which continues for about 3 to 4 days and is organised by the district administration of Haridwar.