Where? Pan India in different ways but mainly in the north
Celebrated all over the country, Makar Sankranti is the oldest and the most colorful harvest festival in India. As per Hindu mythology, this festival marks the end of an unfavorable phase and the beginning of a holy phase. Particularly in villages of Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Himachal, West Bengal, and Punjab, people celebrate the harvest of new crops with bonfire, carnivals, songs, dances, kite flying, and rallies.
Key attractions of Makar Sankranti festival: Kumbh Mela and various sumptuous sweet dishes made of sesame and jiggery.
Where? Punjab and Haryana
People of Punjab and Haryana celebrate Baisakhi or Vaisakhi by thanking God for the good harvest. And the farmers of the country express their happiness and delight through this Indian harvest festival. People wear their best colorful dresses, sing the happiest songs, and dance to the melodious beats of Dhol. Baisakhi fairs are also organised where acrobatics, wresting, algoza, and vanjli performances can be seen.
Key attractions of Baisakhi festival: Bhangra by menfolk and Giddha by women
3. Ladakh Harvest Festival
Where? Ladakh, Zanskar, Kargil
Ladakh Harvest Festival has gained immense popularity and fame all over the world. Ladakh looks bright, beautiful, and absolutely stunning with the commencement of this harvest festival. Monasteries and stupas are decorated and pilgrimages to Thangka of Kyabje Gombo are mandatory things as a part of this celebration. Archery along with old social & cultural ceremonies and art & handicrafts are the other features of the event.
Key attractions of Ladakh Harvest Festival: Dramas or ‘Chhams’ are performed to display life and teachings of Buddha and different dance forms of Tibetan culture
Lohri is a renowned harvest festival in Punjab that showcases traditional dance and songs. To kill the chills of winter, the entire family and neighbours gather around the bonfire and sing together and offers grains, corns, and nuts to respect and appreciate the grand harvest of sugarcane crops.
Key attractions of Lohri festival: The Punjabi folklore Sunder Mundriye sung by everyone
5. Basant Panchami
Basant Panchami marks the onset of spring season. Celebrated in different states of North India, it is considered an auspicious day. This festival is associated with yellow color, which is a color of spirituality. One can see the magnificent mustard crop fields in the countryside, especially rural areas of Haryana and Punjab.
Key attractions of Basant Panchami festival: Indian cuisine like Meethe Chawal, Maake ki Roti, and Sarso Ka Saag
6. Bhogali Bihu
Every year in January, the entire state of Assam showcases enthusiasm and delight in celebrating Bhogali Bihu. The farmers of Assam celebrate and cherish the efforts of cultivation and reap the benefits. The celebration starts one night before with Uruka—the community feast. On the day of Bihu, the mejis or pavilion made of clay and hay are burnt. Local women wear stunning mukhlas and participate in group songs and dance. Also known as Magh Bihu, this is an exotic and most vibrant name on the list of harvest festivals of India.
Key attractions of Bihu festival: Bihu dance, bullfight, bird fight and Sunga Pitha, Til Pitha and Laru
Where? Meghalaya and Assam
Wangala is the merriment of 100 drums played by Garo tribes of northeast India. This is one of the popular harvest festivals of India marking the onset of winter. During this festival, Sun God is worshiped with immense devotion and zeal. Women wear their traditional colourful clothes and dance while men rhythmically drum their fingers on the traditional drum pads.
Key attractions of the Wangala festival: Musical extravaganza with drums, flutes, and gongs
8. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem
The inhabitants of Khasi hills worship Goddess Ka Blei Synshar and celebrate the plentiful harvest with vigour and excitement. Ka Pomblang Nongkrem brings ultimate joy and happiness to the community. The celebration comprises of animal sacrifice and Nongkrem dance with sword in one hand and yak hair whisk on the other.
Key attractions of Ka Pomblang Nongkrem festival: Pemblang ceremony and Ceremony of Tangmuri
Nuakhai is an age old harvest celebration in Odisha. Locally ‘nua’ means new and ‘khai’ means food. This is not only a popular harvest festival in India, but also celebrated to appreciate the passing away of the past and evil days while welcoming the new and beautiful with open arms. The festival is also known as Nuakhai Parab or Nuakhai Bhetghat.
Key attractions of Nuakhai festival: The delicious Arsaa Pitha (sweet pancakes)
10. Gudi Padwa
Gudi Padwa is a grand festival in Maharashtra marking the beginning of an auspicious New Year. People make rangoli designs at the entrance of their homes and decorate it with flowers and a handmade doll . Folks meet friends and relatives, exchange wishes, and women cook sweets like Puran Poli, Shrikhand, and Sunth Paak.
Key attractions of Gudi Padwa festival: Local people make Gudi (bamboo doll) using mango and neem leaves and hang them at the entrance.
Where? West Bengal
This is one of the most celebrated traditions of Bengal, where new rice is harvested with sheer joy and stocked in homes. Farmers from Bengal cheerfully participate in this harvest ritual in the Bengali month of Agrahayan and offer the first grains to Goddess Lakshmi while thanking her for all blessings.
Key attractions of Nabanna festival: Payesh (Kheer) made from the newly harvested rice and Nabanna fair.
Onam is a legendary harvest festival of Kerala celebrated with great enthusiasm in different parts of Kerala. The festival is celebrated for 10 days with the arrival of Mahabali. To relish the successful harvest, Malayalee people decorate their house entrance with floral rangoli, wear new traditional clothes, women cook delicious food, and celebrate with traditional music and dance.
Key attractions of Onam festival: Traditional Malayalee recipes like Rasam, Payasam, Avial, brown rice and parippu curry are offered to guests in traditional green leaf, snake boat race and tiger dance are also exciting to watch.
Where? Tamil Nadu
Pongal is another name for Makar Sankranti, which is celebrated during the same time in various cities of Tamil Nadu. This is a thanksgiving celebration where people express their deep gratitude to mother nature for the produce of the year. This is one of the most colourful harvest festivals of India celebrated for 4 days. The first day is the Bhogi Festival devoted to Lord Indra for abundance of rain. On the second day, newly harvested rice and milk is cooked outdoor and offered to Sun God. Third day is for cattle worship and on the fourth day, Pongal or traditional coloured rice is offered with turmeric, betel leaf, and betel nuts.
Key attractions of Pongal festival: Decorated houses with Kolam, bull taming contests, bonfire with agricultural wastes and worship for the family’s prosperity
Where? Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
Ugadi is a regional New Year celebration for people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This harvest festival is considered auspicious to start new work and ventures. On the day, local people take oil bath, wear traditional clothes, decorate homes with earthen lamps and rangoli, and perform Ugadi puja at home.
Key attractions of Ugadi festival: The Ugadi delicacies like Ugadi Pachadi, Pulihora and Bobbatlu are prepared with raw mango, jaggery, neem, and tamarind.
Where? Kerala and Karnataka
Grand worship of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna, elaborate family lunch, evening prayers, and fireworks sum up the complete picture of Vishu festival. This is an interesting harvest festival celebrated on the first day of Malayalee New Year. Women of the house prepare Vishukkani—varieties of traditional cuisine to offer to Gods—, with rice, golden lemon, golden cucumber, jackfruit, yellow konna flowers, and betel leaves.
Key attractions of Vishu festival: Kani Kanal—the first holy sight of Vishnu and the Sadya—the grand mid-day meal spread