The aura of Uttarakhand lies in its rugged mountains, deep valleys, dense forests, and winding paths. The vast natural paradise is home to several national parks like Jim Corbett, Rajaji National Park, Nanda Devi Reserve and National Park, Valley of Flowers, and Gangotri National Park. These parks, among others, are also the location where adrenaline-pumping enthusiasts gather to engage in paragliding, white water rafting, bungee jumping, and skiing. Uttarakhand is known for its edgy side, but for years this serene bastion is steeped in heritage. There are several religious places, sprinkled across the state, that hold important significances. That is where the festivals come in. Uttarakhand festivals celebrate these places – the history and tradition.
The events in Uttarakhand are centred around the major temples that are based in the state. They include Kedarnath Temple, Har Ki Pauri, Badrinath Temple, and Mata Mansa Devi Temple. The festivities draw people, in millions, from India and other countries. Devotees throng to the festivals with great fervour and deep faith. Below are various festivals in Uttarakhand that celebrate religion and history. SOTC has deals on Uttarakhand tour packages that offer devotees, and the curious, a well-planned itinerary. Enjoy the celebration and leave the hassle of travel to SOTC.
Let us narrow down some of the biggest festivals in the state.
Yoga has swept the world. People are turning to yoga not only for its physical benefits, but also for improving mental health and reconnecting with one’s soul. The biggest exporter of yoga is Rishikesh. The town that the Beatles introduced to the world, and ever since has attracted Indians and foreigners. So, it is only fair that this town hosts the largest festival – International Yoga Festival.
This Uttarakhand festival is a week long event that starts at 4.30 am and proceeds through the day, ending at 9.30 pm. 70 hours of yoga, covers disciplines like vinyasa yoga, bhakti yoga, Kundalini yoga, raja yoga, Iyengar yoga, ashtanga yoga, Bharat yoga, deep yoga and shintoh yoga. Besides these classes, you can participate in learning mudras, Sanskrit chanting, meditation, reiki, etc.
Training is incomplete without food. Throughout your journey get energised and strengthened with sattvic food.
Since 1999, thousands of yoga enthusiasts attend the International Yoga Festival, making it one of India’s biggest international event.
It is a visually and spiritually enriching experience, held on the banks of the Ganga River. The festival commemorates the day when the river descended from heaven to earth. The celebration spans for 10 days, in May or June, and takes place at Haridwar and Rishikesh. This Uttarakhand festival is about cleansing the soul and washing away the sins. Devotees take a bath in the Holy river and then meditate on the banks.
In the evening, head to the banks for a spectacle of lights and a reverberating feeling in your body. An aarti is conducted, and earthen lamps float out in the river, as devotees sign reverential melodies. Interestingly, River Yamuna is worshipped on the same day.
This religious town is one of the holiest places for Hindus. It is a place where the Ganges River leaves the mountain and flows downstream. Haridwar is one of the places in India that organises the Kumbha Mela, Ardh Kumbh Mela, and Maha Kumbh Mela that is held every 3, 6 and 12 years respectively.
The Kumbha Mela is known as Intangible Cultural Heritage, by UNESCO, and is considered as the world's largest religious human gathering. This festival is celebrated across three months and millions of men, women, and religious figures assemble to take a dip in the river. The air resonates with chants and melodies, making every muscle ripple with excitement and reverence.
The origin of the festival is uncertain, but there are a few things that are recognised. In Pithoragarh district, agricultural and pastoral labourers come together to celebrate the Hilljatra – paddy planting festival. There are three parts to the festival, first one being - worship of the White Clothed deer and the animal sacrifice to appease the Gods. Then the festivities take a light tone, where plays are performed with pastoral and agricultural activities kept in mind. Lastly, the cheer goes on through the night with singing and dancing.
The festival celebrates the flower, Kandali, which blossoms every 12 years. The celebrations take place between August and October in the Pithoragarh district. The valley echoes with the songs of festivity, music, and dance all through the night.
In this unique festival, the men and women are dressed in their traditional outfits, marked with ethnic gold and silver jewellery, colourful fabrics, and head pieces. Special meals are prepared, and liquor prepared with barley and buckwheat is served on this occasion.
There are various legends surrounding this festival. One states that when the men were away from the village, the women braved attackers (saving the village). Victory cries can be heard through the valley. This festival takes you back in time as the villageRs and locals are adorned with their ethnic best.
The Jaunsari tribe organises Bissu Mela in the Chakrata Block of Dehradun. Their history can be traced back to the Pandavas. In the week long celebration, villagers from all over come to worship Santoora Devi who is an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The festivities include wearing colourful traditional outfits and participating in folk music and dance. It is a cultural experience that gives the younger generation a glimpse into their heritage.