Festive India Diwali and Pushkar


| April 9, 2014

There are many festivals in India, but probably the two most well-known are Diwali, ‘The Festival of Lights’, celebrated all over India, and the Pushkar Camel Fair, attracting over 400,000 people and over 11,000 cattle, horses and camels to the desert city.

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Diwali

The festival of Diwali is known as the Hindu festival of lights and is one of the most important festivals in India. Extending over five days, the festival is celebrated by families to commemorate the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the significance varies in different parts of India. The festival’s name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’ meaning ‘row of lamps’ after the small clay lamps known as diyas fuelled with mustard oil specially made for the festival. The light from the lamps is said to help guide the goddess of wealth Lakshmi into people’s homes, which are decorated with Rangoli, intricate patterns generally in a lotus design in honour of the goddess. Businesses also choose Diwali as the beginning of the financial year while worshippers wear new clothes for the duration of the festival. It is a time of giving and camaraderie, with people visiting friends and family with small gifts, a time for renewal and hope for the future all across India.

A leading Indian newspaper summed up the modern day significance of the festivals as: 'a religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple – and some not so simple – joys of life.'

Pushkar Camel Fair

Pushkar camel fair resized

One of the largest camel fairs in the world, the five-day event is held annually on the banks of Pushkar Lake. The event has become increasingly popular with tourists and features events such as the longest moustache, in honour of the camel traders dressed in their finery, and camel race which starts the festival. There are various events held throughout the day with the strangest featuring a cricket match between the local Pushkar club and a team of tourists. There are also jewellery and material markets, and a general hive of activity throughout the colourful event.

Cox & Kings' Forts and Palaces of Rajasthan tour has departures to match with each festival. Please see the tour page for more details.

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