Harvest Festivals of India

- May 17, 2023

By Kayva Gokhale 

What are harvest festivals?

Historically an agrarian country, India is also a land full of vibrant festivals. Since farming and agriculture have always been an integral part of our country’s culture and economy, harvest festivals are ubiquitous events, occurring throughout the year in different parts of the nation. A harvest festival is generally a festival containing religious and folk traditions, which is meant to celebrate a successful harvest, signalling a time of prosperity and plenty. These festivals are highly variable, with celebrations changing across regions. However, most of them also include certain common themes such as thanksgiving, community bonding, and celebration of prosperity.  

Illustration: Ritoparna Hazra
Harvest festivals of India

According to the various cycles of harvest, these festivals are celebrated during different times in the year. Festivals like Makar Sankranti in Maharashtra, Pongal in Tamil Nadu, and Lohri in Punjab, usually take place in January. On the other hand, festivals like Bohag Bihu in Assam, Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, Baisakhi or Vaisakhi in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, and Vishu in Kerala usually take place in April. Interestingly, other festivals like Onam in Kerala, and Wangala in Meghalaya, take place in August or September.  

Harvest festivals are typically full of joy, with lots of singing and dancing. People usually clean and decorate their homes, dress up, prepare tasty delicacies and visit friends and relatives to increase community bonding. They also contain spiritual and religious aspects such as worship of certain deities and offerings dedicated to them. The joyful and celebratory nature of harvest festivals make them a favourite for all! 

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Dasharatha, the prince of Ayodhya, was out hunting when he heard the sound of an elephant drinking water. Aiming his bow, the prince shot in the direction of the sound. Tragically, the arrow killed a youth who was filling water in a pitcher for his old and blind parents. The anguished father cursed Dasharatha that one day he would die grieving for his son. Dasharatha's son was the valiant and unparalleled, Rama.

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