Punjab is known all over the world for a number of things – bhangra, butter chicken and the best festivals. The Punjabi people are robust and hearty and take everything in a larger than life context. This of course, spills over into everything they do and celebrate such as festivals. With abundant natural resources such as fertile lands and gushing rivers, agriculture is a boon and their happiness at the prosperity is expressed through the numerous festivals celebrated in Punjab. One of the things that you should know is that most of these festivals are to commemorate a seasonal change in the state, such as the onset of monsoon or spring.
One of the best ways to ensure that you enjoy at least one of these celebrated events in Punjab is to plan your travel so that it falls during these festivals. While the best season to visit Punjab is in the winter, it’s also a great time to attend some of these festivals. Festivals are apt occasions when Punjab erupts into colour, noise and laughter and what better way to understand and be a part of this engaging and exciting community than on their special days? Here are some of the famous festivals of Punjab.
Lohri can be said to be the most important festival of Punjab. Celebrated during the winter solstice, or the last day of the month when winter solstice takes place, Lohri has a lot of cultural and historical significance. While it is the winter harvest festival, people celebrate it by lighting a bonfire which serves to warm them, but they also offer sesame seeds and jaggery to the fire, things which warm the body. People sing and dance around the fire and the air is filled with festivities. The commonly held belief is that after Lohri, days become longer and warmer. While the bonfire is certainly the key attraction here, another element that stands out here is the delicious feast that includes dishes such as til rice, makki di roti and the famed sarson ka saag.
One of the important festivals of Punjab is Baisakhi, a harvest festival that celebrates the occasion of harvesting the first crop of the year. People throughout the state enjoy and celebrate this festival, as it’s their turn to finally enjoy the fruits of their labour and the hard work they have endured through the winter months. Baisakhi is also the Sikh New Year and people decorate their houses, dress up in traditional clothes and participate in fairs that are held throughout the state. Everywhere you go in Punjab during Baisakhi, you can hear the sounds of the dhol and folk music, loud and clear. Baisakhi is celebrated in the middle of April and this is when you can be sure to enjoy delicious Punjabi food. Don’t miss Baisakhi if you happen to visit Punjab during early summer as it doesn’t get better than this!
This is one of the festivals of Punjab that is celebrated throughout the country but more so in the state of Punjab. The festival celebrates the onset of the very brief spring season in India. Considered to be an auspicious day when Goddess Saraswati is worshipped, it’s also considered to be one of the best days to get married, buy a house or starting a new venture. While all over the country, the festival is celebrated in honour of Goddess Saraswati, who is the goddess of learning and knowledge, one of the things that stands out about this festival in Punjab is the numerous colourful kites that can be seen bobbing around in the sky. People also wear yellow clothes which stand out and look beautiful.
Teeyan celebrates the onset of monsoon. It’s a women’s dance festival and women wear bright and colourful clothes. In every part of Punjab, you can see young women don shiny clothes, swing on beautifully decorated swings hanging from trees, perform folk dances etc. Although the festival now includes all women, earlier it was more significant for married women. Women used to celebrate this festival and pray for the safe return of their menfolk.
In Ludhiana’s Kila Raipur, this festival is celebrated every February. The fun and engaging part about this festival is that there are bullock cart and camel races and there are special cash prizes too. There are several professional sports events too such as archery, fencing, riding, gymnastics and aerobics display.
The Patiala Craft Mela is celebrated in the Sheesh Mahal Art Gallery premises where around 150 craftsmen from all over the country come to participate and display their wares for 15 days. Craft persons, performers and entrepreneurs come here to display craft from their states. There are also traditional stalls here, selling ‘phulkari’ and other traditional Punjabi craft and furniture during this festival.
This festival of Punjab usually takes place in March every year and is celebrated a day after Holi but can sometimes coincide with Holi too. The festival was founded by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru. There is a fair held at Anandpur Sahib, which is for three days but often participants come to spend a week and camp out, enjoying displays of fighting prowess, listening to kirtans, music and poetry. People sit together for the langars, vegetarian meals that are served to everyone. The festival concludes with a military style procession.
If you are keen to visit Punjab during these festivals, do check the SOTC website for offers and deals on Punjab tour packages.