5 Top Monsoon Festivals In India And Their Celebrations

 In Festivals, India, monsoon

Well, India is a diverse country, not just in terms of culture or heritage but also in terms of climate. However, you would notice that the major part of the nation is tropical and receives ample amounts of rainfall throughout the season.

The monsoon season brings gifts of happiness wrapped in earthly essence, among which are festivals. As per the old saying the dialect and culture of India change every 100 km. These festivals, celebrated nationwide, often feature varying rituals and customs. 

Holi for instance, is celebrated across India. Still, every city has its own essence like Pushkar Ki Holi, Lathmar Holi in Mathura, Ranga Panchami in Maharashtra, and the list goes on. However, the reason to celebrate any festival is the same, but the way to celebrate these festivals differs so much. In true essence, India is a diverse but a united Nation.

So, let’s explore the festivals in India during monsoon that are celebrated differently in every state.

Monsoon Festivals In India

1. Krishna Janmashtami

Let’s start off with Krishna Janmashtami which is one of the monsoon festivals in India and is celebrated as the birthday of Shri. Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapad (August and September). The number eight holds another auspicious significance as Lord Krishna was the eighth child of his mother Devaki. It is one of the major festivals in India during monsoon.

krishna-janmashtmi

Story 

After the celestial voice, the eighth child of Kamsa’s sister Devaki would become Kamsa’s Death. Outraged, Kamsa rose to kill Devaki just to be stopped by Devaki’s Husband Vasudeva, begging and agreeing on a condition that he would give all the children of Devaki to Kamsa, whom he would subsequently kill. 

When Devaki delivered the eighth child the divine form was soon known to both the parents. The divine form ordered Vasudeva to take him to Gokul. While Vasudeva carried Lord Krishna in a basket over his head all the prison guards came under a spell of slumber and the prison gates were also opened. While taking Lord Krishna to the other side of the Yamuna to reach Gokul in heavy rain, Lord Vishnu’s Sheshnaag sheltered the infant Krishna and helped Vasudeva to reach Gokul.

Vasudeva swapped Krishna with Yogamaya, the daughter who had been born to Nanda and Yashoda on the very same day and returned to the cell. After the spell was worn out Kamsa stormed into the prison chamber of Vasudeva and Devaki, unaware of the fact that the children had been swapped he tried to kill Yogamaya, then Yashoda’s daughter transformed into an eight-armed goddess, and stated, “Fool, your destroyer has already been born elsewhere.” She subsequently vanished into the heavens.

How is It Celebrated In Different Places

In Mumbai

A two-day celebration of Janmashtami happens on the streets of Mumbai. On the first day of Janmashtami fast is kept by the devotees and is released at midnight. 

The second day is a major, monsoon season celebration which is celebrated as Gopal Kala where ‘Dahi Handi’ (pot of curd) is hung at a height and people make a human pyramid to break the handi (pot), resembling Shri. Krishna’s love for butter and the comic tales of him stealing butter from the earthen Pots. 

You would see many groups from Mumbai roam on the streets of Mumbai to break these pots, many of the Dahi Handi have crazy cash prizes and awards. 

Fun Fact – A group from Spain comes to Mumbai every year to participate in the competition of Gopal Kala to form a human chain. 

In Mathura And Vrindavan

Being the birthplace of Shri Krishna and one of the major Festivals in India during Monsoon celebration starts 10 days before Janmashtami with various cultural activities like Rasleelas, Bhajans, Kirtans, and Pravachans performances. The streets of Mathura and Vrindavan are decorated with lights and flowers. Rasleelas are dramatic adaptations of Krishna and Radha’s life and love stories, as well as those of his other Gopis. 

Devotees flock to the Krishna temples on the eve of Janmashtami, especially the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan and the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple in Mathura which is one of the best temples to visit in Mathura, where he is believed to have been born. The temples are beautifully decorated with enchanting floral arrangements and lighting.

Devotees in huge numbers put beautiful apparel on the idols of Shri. Krishna along with Radha Rani and Balarama. Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan and Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple in Mathura which is considered the birthplace of Shri. Krishna is decorated beautifully with floral arrangements and lights.

In Dwarka

Being one of the Indian rainy season festivals, Devotees come to Dwarkadhish Temple to pray the infant idol of Shri Krishna during Janmashtami. Dwarka is considered the kingdom of Shri. Krishna. The Dwarkadhish Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Dwarkadhish (name given to Lord Krishna), the idol is embellished with gold and precious jewels.  On the occasion, women from all over Gujarat sit together to play cards. 

2. Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh-chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is dedicated to the elephant-headed god Lord Ganesha who is prayed for prosperity and wisdom. It begins on the fourth day (Chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar, and is one of the most celebrated festivals in India during monsoon.

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on a large scale in Maharashtra. However, many people celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi in other countries like the USA, Canada, Pakistan, etc. Yes, you read it right, there is still a Hindu-Maharashtrian community living in Pakistan that celebrates Ganesh Chathurthi.

Every year during Ganesh Chathurthi you would see Lord Ganesha’s idol established on a raised house platform. The platform in the house is decorated beautifully, and the offerings of fruits and sweets are kept in front of the established idol. The most famous sweet you would find here is Ukdiche Modak (a steamed dumpling stuffed with jaggery, freshly grated coconut, and dry fruits).

People host Lord Ganesh for one and a half days, some for 5-7 days, and some for 10 days straight.

Story Time

The reason for celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi is not confirmed, also Lord Ganesha’s birthday is not during Ganesh Chathurthi, his birthday is on Ganesh Jayanti. To establish Lord Ganesha in your house is one of the oldest monsoon rituals in India.

However, establishing Lord Ganesha’s Idol communally was done in 1892 by Bhau Rangari, Vishvanath Khasgivale, and Ganesh Ghodavdekar which was praised by Lokmanya Tilak in one of his articles in 1893. In the following year, this communal event gained a lot of popularity after the article. 

He wrote that if all the people from the society irrespective of their caste and religion come together to celebrate such an event then it should be addressed and appreciated. He then established and started the Communcal Ganesh Chathurthi festival in 1894 at Vinchurkar Wada in Pune and from then we could see Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with pomp and grandeur every year. 

How is It Celebrated In Different Places

In Maharashtra

Well, if you truly want to see the spirit of a Mumbaikar you should come to Mumbai during Ganesh Chaturthi which is one of the major monsoon festivals in India. Attending Ganeshchathurthi in Mumbai is one of the best things to do in Maharashtra during monsoon Ample number of Ganesh Pandals where Lord Ganesha idols are established and innumerable people visit these pandals to offer prayers to lord Ganesha. 

Some of the famous Ganesh pandals in Mumbai are Lalbaug Cha Raja, DGSBS Seva Mandal – Gold Ganesha of Mumbai, Khetwadicha Ganraj, Girgaon Cha Raja, and the list goes on. 

In Pune, the size of the Idols of Lord Ganesh Murti is not that huge as there is no sea to immerse the idol on the last day, but some of the beautiful pandal decoration is done in Pune. 

Being the major monsoon festival in India Ganesh Chathurthi is also celebrated in Konkan, Maharashtra as one of the major monsoon festivals. Here, the people of Konkan host Ganpati Bappa for 30 days straight.

In Canada And America

Being one of the favourite monsoon festivals in India, Indian-origin Canadians and Americans haven’t forgotten their culture and celebrate Ganesh Chathurthi in pomp and grandeur. 

You could see many Indians celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi in Canada and America. Many procession chanting bhajans and Ganesha songs happens on the streets of Canada and America.

3. Raksha Bandhan

raksha-bandhan-festival

Raksha Bandhan is one such festival that is celebrated throughout the nation and is one of the most happening festivals in India during monsoon. Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shravana, which typically falls in August. 

On this day you could see peace settling at the frontier with sisters tying Rakhis to their brothers depicting the protection of the sisters. During the Indian rainy season festivals like Raksha Bandhan make the whole family come together and rediscover the bond they have with their family, especially with their siblings. The most nostalgic thing about one of these monsoon festivals celebrated in India is the courier with Rakhi inside it coming from sisters who now live far away.  

Story Time

So, there are two famous stories of Raksha Bandhan one of the major monsoon festivals celebrated in India. Let’s start with the first one. After Shri Krishna killed Shishupal by striking his Sudarshan Chakra when he crossed all the limits and kept on saying bad words to Shri Krishna. In a fit of anger, Shri Krishna’s finger was cut by the chakra and blood started gushing out, after seeing this Draupadi tore a piece of her saree and tied it to Shri Krishna’s finger. After seeing this Krishna got emotional and promised her that he would always protect her. 

When Duryodhan and Dusshasan were pulling the saree of Draupadi after winning the bet over Pandavas, Shri Krishna fulfilled his promise by protecting Draupadi’s respect with an infinite saree.

Being his prime devotee Maharaj Bali obeyed Lord Vishnu and penance even in Patallok. Pleased with his devotion Lord Vishnu asked for a boon. On this, King Bali requested Lord Vishnu to become his gatekeeper as he wanted to see Lord Vishnu all the time. Fulfilling his wish Lord Vishnu becomes his gatekeeper. 

After becoming the doorkeeper of Maharaj Bali in Patallok, one day Maa Lakshmi reached Patallok in search of Lord Vishnu on the day of Shravan Shukla Pournima and tied Rakhee on Maharaj Bali’s wrist, considering him as his brother. 

As soon as Bali asked Maa Lakshmi what gift he could give her, Maa Lakshmi then asked King Bali to take Lord Vishnu with her back to Vaikhunta. Since then on this date, a beautiful relationship between brothers and sisters has been celebrated with huge affection. 

How is It Celebrated In Different Places

In Coastal Maharashtra

One of the monsoon season celebrations Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated as Narali Pournima by the Koli people (indigenous people of Mumbai) the celebration starts by offering coconuts to the sea as fish is the main business of Koli people and during this time the breeding of the fish happens in the sea.

Furthermore, delicacies made from coconut are made. One of the favorite delicacies is Narali Bhaat (Coconut rice) made of coconut and jaggery and is sweet. 

Suggest Read: Top Places Near Mumbai For A Perfect Monsoon Season Getaway!

In Jammu

Although Raksha Bandhan is one of the Indian rainy season festivals. In the Jammu region of India on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan Kite flying festival happens which begins a month before the main festival with the active participation of the locals. People fly a wide range of kites that are of different shapes, colours, and designs. These kites are also flown with special strings by the people.

In Gujarat

In Gujarat ‘Pavitropana’ is celebrated alongside Raksha Bandhan. Women worship the Lord Shiva by pouring water and placing offerings on the Shivlinga. They visit the temples on this day and ask forgiveness for their past sins.

4. Teej

teej

Teej is an important monsoon festival in India and one of the major Monsoon season celebrations, Teej is celebrated on the third day of the waxing moon in the month of Shravan (Hindu calendar). Teej is celebrated mostly in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Nepal with pomp and grandeur. It is one of the major Monsoon Festivals in India. There are three main Teej festivals, namely, Haryali (green) Teej, Kajari/Kajli Teej, and Hartalika Teej.

On the occasion of Teej women mostly observe fast at night and pray throughout the night. The highlights of this festival are the swings fixed to the branches of large trees, which women take turns to enjoy on swings. They gather together and sing songs dedicated to this festival.

Story Time

Teej represents the relationship between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. As the legend goes Lord Shiva was grief-striking after Goddess Sati’s self-immolation, after which he went into a meditative state. It is believed that it took Sati 108 subsequent births to bring back Lord Shiva out of his meditative state.

It’s believed that Goddess Sati’s 108th birth was in the form of Parvati, the reason why married women during this festival seek the blessings of Goddess Parvati on Teej festival for marital bliss.

How is It Celebrated In Different Places

Teej is categorised into three types Hariyali Teej, Kajari Teej, and Hartilaka Teej. Teej is one of the major festivals in India during Monsoon. 

North India

Hariyali Teej is one of the predominated festivals during monsoon in North India. “Hariyali” translates to “greenery,” symbolising the lush landscapes that come to life with the onset of rain. This is a festival of women where they are dressed in green sarees and vibrant green attire, adorn themselves with green jewelry, and participate in flower-sized swings. It is one of the major monsoon rituals in India.

Suggest Read: Places To Visit In Karnataka During Monsoon

Western India

Kajari Teej is one of the most celebrated festivals during monsoon in Western India. It celebrates the bond of mother and son. This Teej is characterized by songs depicting the pangs of separation mothers feel as their sons and husbands venture into the fields during the sowing season.

Eastern India

Women in Western India perform fasting and poojas seeking blessings for a happy marriage. The story of Hartalika, where a woman disguises herself to marry the man of her choice, adds depth to the celebrations. Intricate rituals, pujas, and folk dance performances mark this Teej.

5. Onam

onam

Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated in the god’s own country ‘Kerala’ and is one of the well-known Festivals in India during Monsoon. It falls in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam, which overlaps with August-September. It is a harvest festival in Kerala along with numerous other festivals. It is one of the ancient Monsoon rituals in India.

Story Time

As the legend goes, Maharaj Mahabali, a descendant of Prahlad, was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and wanted to perform 101 Yagas, all the demigods went to Lord Vishnu and told him that his King Bali kept on performing sacrificial fire like this, then one day he will steal the throne of heaven. 

After hearing this Lord Vishnu got an idea and disguised himself as a small Brahmin which was an incarnation also known as Vamana Avatar, and went to Maharaj Bali. After seeing Lord Vamana Maharaj Bali asked him to ask for anything. Lord Vamana asked for three steps of land to which Maharaj Bali agreed. 

Lord Vamana expended so much that in just two steps he measured the entire earth and heaven. Bali came to know that Lord Vishnu was in front of him and requested him to keep his third step on his head. Lord Vamana kept his third step on King Bali’s head and sent him to Patallok. By obeying Lord Vishnu Maharaj Bali settled in Patal Lok. 

Impressed by the devotion of Maharaj Bali, Lord Vishnu accepted his wish to let him visit his subjects once a year, and that day of his return has come to be celebrated as Onam.

How is It Celebrated In Different Places

In Kerala

One of the important monsoon festivals celebrated in India is the Onam which should be added to your itinerary. Apart from exploring Kerala in March, it is a magnificent heaven during monsoon. 

There are many fun activities you can find in Kerala on Onam including Vallam Kali (boat races), Pulikali (tiger dances), Pookkalam (flower Rangoli), Onathappan (worship), Onam Kali, Tug of War, Thumbi Thullal (women’s dance), Kummattikali (mask dance), Onathallu (martial arts), Onavillu (music), Kazhchakkula (plantain offerings), Onapottan (costumes), Atthachamayam (folk songs and dance), and other celebrations.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the most popular monsoon festivals in India?

 Some of the most popular monsoon festivals in India include Ganesh Chathurthi, Krishna Janmashtami, Onam, Teej, Raksha Bandhan.

When is the Teej festival celebrated?

 Teej is an important monsoon festival in India, on the third day of the waxing moon in the month of Shravan (Hindu calendar).

What is the significance of the Onam festival?

 Being one of the ancient monsoon rituals in India Onam is a celebration of the homecoming of Maharaj Mahabali from Patallok.

What traditional foods are prepared during Janmashtami?

 The traditional dishes for Janmashtami include meva ke ladoo, murukku, or chakli, and some very appetising dishes. Some of them include Makhana Paag, a concoction of foxnuts, coconut, milk, and sugar.

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