Festivals of Madhya Pradesh


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The adivasis of MP have a zest for life that can be observed from the countless tribal fairs and festivals celebrated every year. Clad in their colourful best with loads of jewellery, flowers and fancy headgear, men and women set out days in advance to reach the site of the fair or festival. Let’s check out some of them.

Tribal Festivals

Madai Festival
The Madai festival is one of the unique attractions of different villages extending from Mandla to Bastar and is one of the famous festivals in Madhya Pradesh.This festival is particularly applied by the Gonds who come from the remotest corners of the state to meet their kith and kin and to purchase the necessary cooking items like salt and oil to meet their year long demand. The Madai festival is observed in the third or fourth week of February as a day of great religious importance. This festival is held in honor of the Mother Goddess and devotees with much veneration gather under the shade of a sacred tree to sacrifice a goat to the deity. The night is spent in unrestrained merry making.

This colorful festival of the Bhils and Bhilalas in the state of Madhya Pradesh is actually a marriage market held before the Holi festival in the month of March. The God of Dance, Bhagoradev is worshipped on this occasion with much devotion and dedication. This auspicious ceremony is presided over by the most respected village elder who also offers sweetmeats to the God. During this festival the young men goes on applying red colored powder or `gulal` to the girls they like. If the girl applies the powder in return that means she has granted the permission the young man needs to marry her. The mutual exchange of betel leaf is also considered to be the declaration of love.

This is another religious festival in Madhya Pradesh which calls for a huge celebration every year among the Korba tribes of Madhya Pradesh. On this special day devotees observe the religious rites and rituals fast for a span of 24 hours. Various sort of cultural activities are performed during the night around a branch from the Karam tree planted in the middle of an open ground.

Hindu Festivals

During the festival of Navaratri, the state of Madhya Pradesh comes alive with much fun and excitement. This festival usually falls in the month of September/October and the entire region of Ujjain comes alive with multitude of colours in the air. Thousands of people flock to the region of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh during this auspicious ceremony to take a dip in the sacred waters of Shipra River.

This is one of the much-awaited festivals in Madhya Pradesh. Held in the months of February/March this festival is attended by lakhs of devotees of Lord Shiva. The devotees of the Lord keep a fast for a period of 24 hours and also keep vigil throughout the night hours. After bathing with the water that is boiled with black sesame seeds they put on new clothes. Then they wash the lingam with milk and perform religious rites and rituals with much veneration.

Rang Panchami
This is a water festival held during Dol Purnima in the state of Madhya Pradesh. To celebrate the beginning of spring. The songs and dances that accompany this festive occasion add exuberance and ebullience to the lives of people from every walk of life. Early in the morning the residents of the state meet their relatives and friends and sprinkle colors on each other. Public representative joins hands in the festivities and also offer sweets to the residents. The residents also participate in the Panchami procession that is observed in the city.

Holi Equal amount of fun and excitement can be seen in the festive celebrations of Holi in the state of Madhya Pradesh along with the entire nation. The most popular ones are marked in the Indore region where this festival is celebrated continuously for a span of five days. The festival of Rang Panchami and Holi are inter-related and has a historic significance as well. It is universally believed that the Maratha Holkars who conquered the state brought along with them the Marathi tradition of Rang Panchami where the colors are displayed on the fifth day.

During the Diwali celebrations in this state of the Indian subcontinent it assumes a new color. The markets are decorated with lighting bulbs and prior to the day of the actual festival the shops remain open the whole night. Crumbled doughnuts are part of the traditional offerings at Diwali in Madhya Pradesh. The nights are illuminated with the flaming lights of fireworks creating stunning designs against the black canvas of the sky. The Baiga and the Gond tribes perform their traditional dances to celebrate the festival of Diwali.

This is one of the most important festivals in Madhya Pradesh and is celebrated by all the Hindus of the state on the tenth day after Navaratri, usually in the months of September/October. It is in fact celebrated as a day of Lord Ram`s victory over the demon king Ravana. The festivities of Jagdalpur are unique in both its perspective and significance and are a nice blend of the popular Hindu and tribal beliefs. Another important feature of the Dussehra celebration in the state of Madhya Pradesh is the participation of people from all walks of life irrespective of caste and creed.

State Festivals

Khajuraho Festival of Dances
This festival held in the months of February/March is a weeklong dance festival observed in the honor of the Indian classical dance. This dance festival of Madhya Pradesh is also a tribute to the festival of Maha Shivratri. It showcases all the various forms of classical dances and draws the best classical dancers in the country every year. These dancers perform against the spectacular background of the floodlit temples. It is believed to take place in a setting where the earthly and the divine create perfect harmony.

Tansen Music Festival
This festival occupies a significant position in the history of Indian music. Among all the arbiters of the classical style the Gwalior Gharana is regarded as the most prominent. Tansen, the great, one of the `nine jewels` in the court of the Mughal monarch, Akbar was regarded as the pillar in Indian classical music. This festival is held in honor of the great musician in the months of November/December. The popular classical singers from every nook and corner of the nation regale the audiences here through fine mesmerizing nightlong sessions of the much-loves classical sagas.

Buddhist Festivals

Chethiyagiri Vihara Festival
This is a Buddhist festival celebrated at Sanchi at the end of the November month according to the English calendar. This festival is celebrated with much veneration and is attended by thousands of Buddhist monks and scholars. These people attend the festival to view the relics of Buddha`s two initial disciples whose remains were discovered in the third Stupa in 1853.