India is one of the countries with diverse culture, ethnicities, culture, languages, religions, and people. Indian holidays are broadly classified into two main categories: the National Holidays and the Religious Holidays. The National holidays are Public Holidays, and the entire nation has to observe this. The religious holidays are again classified as General and Restricted depending upon the discretion of the Government bodies.
The National holidays are associated with major events and their significance, and there are only three major National Holidays. Thus, declaring holidays on these days have been observed ever since India got its Independence. Here are the details on all the major Indian holidays.
- Republic Day – January 26th
This is the first national Holiday that is declared in India as the constitution of India came into effect on this day in the year 1950. Republic day in India holds a huge significance. The Rajpath road in Delhi witnesses’ grand celebrations where the nation’s cultural and armed forces talent are showcased.
- Independence Day – August 15th
After suffering from the clutches of the British, India became independent on August 15th, 1947. This is one of the days that take everyone back in time and reminds the sacrifices of all those brave hearts who took part during the freedoms struggle. The Red Fort would be lit up completely, and thousands of people take part in the parade and the flag hoisting ceremony followed by the speech of the Prime Minister.
You may notice children flying kites on this day. The kites were used to flag protest slogans during British rule, so the story goes and it has evolved as a traditional symbol to represent the spirit and freedom of India.
- Gandhi Jayanti – October 2nd
Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the ‘Father of the Nation’, and he had played an important role during the freedom movement. His birthday on October 2nd is declared as a National Holiday.
Apart from the National Holidays, there are a lot of regional and religious holidays that are observed in India, and they are as follows:
Labour Day is celebrated on May 1st, and most of the states across the nation declare a holiday on this date. Every state also has their State formation day and, on those days, people get to enjoy their holidays too. Kannada Rajyotsava on November 1st, Maharashtra Day on May 1st etc.… are some of the examples of the Regional Holidays.
Apart from the regional holidays, there are a lot of festivals that are associated with the tradition and the culture of the land. In Delhi, the most significant festivals are Holi in March and Diwali between October to November.
Holi or “Festival of Colours” is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of spring, harvest, love and basically, good times with friends and family. Aside from the religious rituals, which includes consuming drinking the intoxicating bhang (for those who like to see colours in a whole new dimension…) this festival is known for the Rangwali Holi, or better known “play Holi” by smearing coloured powder and throw water balloons at each other. There should be some fair warning to playing Holi but depending on where you are, random balloons and colour smearing come your way. Many schools or neighbourhood groups are known to organize a “safe” play so get an old white t-shirt and pants ready and join the fun.
Diwali is officially a public holiday in Delhi which celebrates the beginning of the Hindu New Year and often called the “Festival of Lights”. In Delhi, brightly decorated homes along with the warm light of diyas and beautiful rangoli art along the entrance light up the city. It’s also known to be the festival with the biggest fireworks party of India! Since 2017, Delhi authorities have banned the use of personal fireworks, but party goers seem to challenge this ban as you will still hear some firecrackers blasting off in the distance.
Those who follow Diwali usually celebrate with their families but these days, many use the days off to travel out of the city. The air quality tends to worsen as well during this time as temperatures fall so plan early if you wish to travel.
Several other holidays such as Makara Sankranti, Ganesha Chaturthi, Deepavali, Eid, and Christmas are celebrated in different regions or states of India.
There are a few general holidays that are declared by all the states as these festivals are celebrated across the country. Whereas Bhogi, Bakrid, and Easter are considered to be Restricted holidays. There are a few holidays like Buddha Pournima, Basava Jayanti, and Guru Nanak Jayanti that are celebrated in great fervour and gaiety in the respective states. These are also considered to be the regional holidays.
Being one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world, every holiday has its own importance and significance, and learning about them can be fascinating.