Come October, the monsoons and humidity are replaced with pleasant weather throughout the country and India welcomes a fresh season of travel – be it the beaches of Goa, temples of South India or the intriguing East of the country. There are many local festivals and events happening in October offering the opportunity to enhance your trip with colour, fireworks, celebrations and dancing.
Festivals of Lights, Diwali
Unarguably one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India, the Hindu festival Diwali or Deepawali is a delightful addition to your travel plans. The festival commemorates the return of the legendary exiled King, Lord Rama from fourteen years of exile in the forests. Lamps are lit, sweets distributed and the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi is welcomed in houses. Many Indians look forward to a prosperous year ahead of this and get a complete overhaul of houses and clothes at this time. Markets are abuzz with discounts, shops and homes are lit by strings of small bulbs. The good part is that both South and North of India celebrate this with great vigour, so you can be part of the festivities easily.
While almost the entire country plunges into the festivities of Diwali, for many it is preceded by the famous Dusherra. Also linked closely with the epic, Ramayana, Dusherra is celebrated as the victory of Ram over the Lankan King and abductor of his wife, Ravana. Thus Dusherra is always a couple of days ahead of Diwali. While it is celebrated in many parts of the country, the Mysore Dusherra is extremely famous. For this city, the reason of celebration is slightly different – it honours the Goddess Chamnudeshwari, who killed the great demon Mahishasur. A large procession of dancers and singers, led by the current King, spill on the streets for 3 days. The elephants used for these processions cause much intrigue during this time of the year. These three days in October offer true cultural immersion in Karnataka. Many local artistes perform on the heavily barricaded streets, while visitors and locals take in the traditional splendour. Arrive in Bangalore and take a train to Mysore for one of the main days.
Ramlila in Uttar Pradesh
One of the most sacrosanct festivals in India, the Ramlila of Varanasi is an overwhelming experience. The month long festival of story-telling from episodes of the Ramayana, takes place in the town of Ramnagar, across the ghats from Benares. A large field, a school stage, a lake and the fort become part of the moving stages. Children, who play the part of the lead roles in the story, move from one stage to another, with the whole town in tow. The festival is almost holy for the locals here and these children are treated like the Gods for the entire month. If heading towards the holy city of Kashi, join the locals for a peep into the epical Ramayana.
The eastern part of the country is on a perpetual high in October – after all its time for the ‘pandals’ (temporary tents) to be set, new clothes to be bought and plunge into some indulgence. The festival of Durga Puja commemorates the powerful Goddess. While the celebrations go on for the month, five days are critical in this period and everything comes to a halt in the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam, Orissa and Tripura. On the last day, idols of Durga are submerged in water bodies across the country and the Goddess is bid adieu until next year. For many, this is an emotional moment and people break down in tears. A photographic delight, this is one riot of colours and energy that one must not miss.
Other festivals and events in October
Some of the other festivals to look out for are Navratri, the Marwar Festival in Rajasthan, the Folk festival in Rajasthan and the Rajgir Dance Festival. A new addition to the calendar this year is the first ever Formula One Grand Prix event on 28th October. This is happening in the capital city of New Delhi. Also, this season Metallica rocks the country in two cities – Delhi and Bangalore on 28th and 30th October respectively.
If you would like to join in with some Indian festivals in October yourself contact our reservations team who will be happy to help you plan a trip.
Homestays offer the perfect opportunity to get a local insight into festivals and your host family will be happy to provide guidance on the best way to experience the celebrations. Check out our Indian homestay collection.
Find out about the homestay experience and don't forget to check out our ideas on things to do in India or browse our India homestays.