CHRISTMAS, various places across India
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and conveys his message of love, tolerance and brotherhood. It's a celebration of humanity and mankind. Though Christmas is primary a festival of Christian calendar, it is celebrated as a universal festival through out India. Christmas is the most important festival of Indian Christians, but celebrated with equal joy by non Christians as well. In India, people decorate banana or mango trees instead of traditional pine trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches and homes with red flowers. Gifts are exchanged between near and dear ones, prayers are held in the church, followed by a grand feast. Unlike their western counterparts, Indians are not big turkey eaters; so, don’t be surprised to see a grand Christmas feast that is pure vegetarian! Although at most places turkey, chicken, lamb or fish will be served.
Goa remains one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in India. The state has a large Christian population, and its many beautiful old Portuguese style churches overflow with people and Christmas cheer. Christmas decorations and trees adorn houses, streets, and market places. Christmas carols are sung and many of the churches hold midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Beach parties also abound.
HORNBILL FESTIVAL, Nagaland
To encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of Nagaland, the Government of Nagaland organizes the Hornbill Festival every year in the first week of December from 01 - 10 December. This colourful festival is organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments.
Hornbill Festival is held at Naga Heritage Village – Kisama, which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its cultural extravaganza and traditions. This is a great opportunity to understand the people and culture of Nagaland, taste the local food, experience local songs, dances and customs of Nagaland. The weeklong festival unites all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food, local games and ceremonies. Traditional arts such as paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display. It is interesting to see the opening ceremony of the festival held on 01 Dec every year.
KOCHI CARNIVAL, Kochi
Kochi Carnival is held in the last week of December, in Kochi, every year. Fort Kochi is decorated and tourists flock to this lovely port city to participate in the festivities. Inception of the Kochi carnival can be traced back to the Portuguese New Year revelry, held here during the colonial days.
Preparations generally begin months in advance for hosting the carnival, which involves unique activities such as Kalam Vara (floor drawing), tug-of-war, bicycle race, swimming in the sea, beach volleyball and a variety of north and south Indian dance performances. The highlight of the carnival is the massive procession led by embellished elephants accompanied by drums and music. Color white dominates the concluding 10 days of December, during the Kochi Carnival. The festivities and revelries continue till midnight of December 31st with fireworks marking the grand finale.
CAMEL FESTIVAL, Bikaner
The Camel Festival is held in Bikaner in Rajasthan, every year in the month of December or January. It is a festival when the ships of the desert are seen at their best - camels fascinate tourists from all over the world! The Bikaner camel festival is a spectacle of unusual camel performances including camel races, camel dances, and the bumpy, neck shaking camel rides. The festival starts with the procession of beautifully decorated camels, heading towards open sand grounds. The Camel Pageant is held on the first day where the camel owners show off their decorated camels. Competitions are held for best decorated camel, camel milking and the best camel haircuts. Camel dance performances are also held, where camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their drivers. Camel races take place on the second day, with thousands of locals and tourists cheering the camels. On both days, the evening ends with a rendezvous with the folk music and dances of Rajasthan. The jubilant, skirt swirling dancers, the awe-inspiring fire dances and many other equally interesting performances entertain the visitors. The grand finale is a magnificent display of fireworks, illuminating the desert city of Bikaner.