Maharashtra, the land of culture and tradition is also famous for its various fairs and festivals. Most of these festivals are religious and regional festivals, connected to some or the other legend.Religious ceremonies, enthusiasm paralleled with ample fun and celebration all marks the Maharashtra festivals.

Regional Festivals

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India - Maharashtra - Fairs and Festivals of Maharashtra

Fairs and Festivals of Maharashtra

Maharashtra, the land of diverse culture and traditions, celebrates many traditional, religious, state and national festivals. Apart from the traditional and religious fairs and festivals, there are many state festivals organized by the MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation). These festivals involving dance, music and other events are specially organized for the tourists. Some of the popular festivals celebrated in various parts of Maharashtra are given below.

¤ Ganesh Chaturthi (August - September)

The most important and popular festival of Maharashtra, Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the month of August - September. This festival marks the birth anniversary of Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom. The preparations for this festival begin months ahead. Idols of Ganesha are installed and detailed arrangements are made for lighting and decoration. The festival is held for 7-10 days. The last day of the festival is called Chaturthi, dedicated to the elephant-headed god. On this day the idols of Ganesha are immersed in the ocean or rivers, where thousands of processions meet. The immersion of idols is accompanied by drumbeats, devotional songs and dancing. This marks the end of the festival.

¤ Gudhi Padava (March - April)

Maharashtran New Year's Day is celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month Chaitra ( March-April). This festival is known as the Gudhi Padava in Maharshtra. This day marks the start of the Hindu solar year. On the day of the festival people get up early and clean their houses, decorating them with intricate rangoli designs. Bamboo staffs (gudhi) adorned with silk cloths and topped with a brass goblet or kalash are erected. It is said that these staffs drive away evil from the houses.

¤ Nariyal Poornima (August)

Celebrated in the month of August, the Nariel Purnima or coconut day is dedicated to the sea god Varuna. This festival marks the end of the monsoons and is celebrated by the fishermen of Maharashtra. The fishermen paint their boats and coconuts are broken against them as offering to the sea god. Little oil lamps are lit and set afloat amidst the waves and carried in the boats. Garlands made of flowers are also offered to the seas to mark the beginning of a new fishing season.

¤ Parsi New Year (August - September)

Parsi people celebrate their new year in August, which is also known as Pateti. It is an important festival because on this day the Shahenshahi Zoroastrian community arrived in India while migrating from Persia. This festival is celebrated at the fire temple and the Parsi community strengthens the bond through feasts, where they meet friends and relatives.

¤ Holi (March)

Holi, the festival of colors is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. This festival is not only celebrated in Maharashtra but all over the country with equal joy. This festival marks the end of winter season and the beginning of the spring season. It is also a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. All participate in this festival and play with colors. Dancing, singing and merry making are an integral part of Holi.

¤ Diwali (October - November)

Diwali is a popular festival celebrated all over India with great pomp and gaiety. It is celebrated for five days marking the home coming of Lord Rama and his consort Sita. Th festival of lights symbolizes the victory of good and driving away of spiritual darkness. The highlights of the festival are little oil lamps or diyas decorating houses and crackers and fireworks which are the integral parts of this festival. The Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi is worshiped on this day also marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year.

¤ Banganga Festival (January)

Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), the Banganga Festival is a musical extravaganza celebrated every year in the month of January. The venue of this festival is the Banganga tank at Walkeshwar. Here reputed artistes from all over the country perform live in the classical music concerts. The festival is a delight for culture lovers.

¤ Elephanta Cave Festival (February)

The Elephanta Festival is celebrated in the month of February every year and is organized by MTDC. The festival is celebrated on the Elephanta Island, which is the site of the brilliant Elephanta caves. These caves have beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple dedicated to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 11-km from Mumbai. Special performance by renowned dancers and musicians is the highlight of the festival.

¤ Pune Festival (August - September)

The Pune Festival celebrated in the months of August - September is again organized by MTDC. This week long festival is a celebration of art and culture. The Pune festival is a unique festival that provides platform for the budding musicians and dancers. The festival also promotes modern trends in the performing arts, notably the dramatic arts and the traditional art of rangoli. Visitors coming to Pune can enjoy themselves by participating in the events and shopping exquisite textiles and handicrafts. Originally, the Pune festival was conceived as a localized cultural event. But as it has evolved, it has been actively promoted abroad by the government of India, as a major tourist attraction.

¤ Kalidas Festival (November)

The Kalidas Festival celebrated in November every year at Nagpur is organized by MTDC. The festival is celebrated over two exciting days and nights. Kalidas festival commemorates one of the greatest poets of all times, 'Kalidasa' (4th century AD). He was a brilliant poet who enriched Indian literature with his works of 'Abhijnanasakuntalam', 'Meghadootham', 'Raghuvamsam' and 'Kumarasambhavam'. Some of the greatest performers of music, dance and drama display their talent in the picturesque setting of Ramtek.

¤ Ellora Festival (December)

Celebrated every year in the month of December, the Ellora Festival is organized by MTDC. The site of this festival is the Ellora caves near Aurangabad, where well-known artistes perform. These music and dance performances invoke a certain kind of vibrancy in the 1,400-year old caves and rock carvings. The beautiful Kaildas temple, sculptured out of one huge rock, provides a perfect backdrop for this event.

¤ Other Festivals

Apart from these festivals, Maharashtra also celebrates many other festivals. Some of these are, Maharashtra Day celebrated to commemorate the formation of the Maharashtra State on the 1st of May. Other festivals celebrated with great excitement and enthusiasm are Makara Samkramana, Sri Ramanavami, Sri Krishna Janmashtami and Raksha Bandhan. These are some of the Hindu festivals celebrated with equal pomp and gaiety in the other regions of the country. Along with Hindu festivals, Muslim festivals are also celebrated like Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Milad-un-Nabi and Moharrum. Other than these festivals, Christian festivals like Christmas, Easter, Good Friday etc are also celebrated along with the rest of the nation. Buddhist festivals like Buddha Poornima and Mahaveera Jayanthi are also celebrated in certain regions of the State.

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