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Planning to visit India in 2019? Get the most out of your experience! Learn here about the most important holidays in India - fast and easy with HindiPod101!

2019 Holidays in India

January 14, 2019 Lohri
January 15, 2019 Makar Sankranti
January 26, 2019 Republic Day
February 10, 2019 Vasant Panchami
March 2, 2019 Holi
March 4, 2018 Maha Shivratri
April 14, 2019 Vaisakhi/Baisakhi
April 17, 2019 Mahavir Jayanti
May 1, 2019 May Day
May 19, 2019 Lord Buddha’s Birthday
June 5, 2018 Ramzan\ Eid -ul-Fitr
July 4, 2019 Chariot Festival of Lord Jaganath
August 12, 2018 Eid ul-Adha
August 15, 2019 Independence Day
August 15, 2019 Raksha Bandhan
August 24, 2018 Celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna “Janmashtami”
September 2, 2019 Ganesh Chaturthi
September 11, 2019 Onam
September 17, 2019 Lord Vishwakarma puja
September 20, 2019 Navratri
October 2, 2019 Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti
October 8, 2019 Dussehra
October 17, 2019 Karaka Chaturthi
October 27, 2019 Diwali
October 29, 2019 Bhai Duj
November 12, 2019 Guru Nanak Jayanti
November 14, 2019 Childrens’ Day

Must-Know Indian Holidays and Events in 2019

How well do you know holidays in India?

In this article, you learn all about the top India holidays and the traditions and history behind them. Check the must-know Hindi vocabulary for popular holidays in India too!

That way, you can easily talk about Indian holidays while improving your vocabulary and overall speaking skills. You will pick up key vocab, phrases, and cultural insights you won’t find in a textbook.

Perfect for any student interested in learning more about Indian culture. We will teach you the what, why, when and how of India holidays.

Indian Holiday List

January 14, 2019: Lohri

Lohri is a harvest festival. According to the traditional Hindu Calendar, the month spanning from mid-December to mid-January, called Paush or sometimes just Poh in Punjabi, is the coldest of the year. The last day of the month of Paush or Poh is celebrated as Lohri in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana (Northern India). On Lohri night, people gather and light up the traditional pyre together. They make revolutions around the fire, called Aag in Hindi, distribute a snack made of sugar and sesame seeds called Rewris, and enjoy traditional Punjabi meals. Food is accompanied by traditional folk dance of Punjab. The dance performed by men is called Bhangra and the women’s dance is Gidda, both of which are danced to the beats of the very famous punjabi musical instrument, the Dhol.

January 15, 2019: Makar Sankranti

Kumbh Mela, an event that takes place once every four years between January and March, starts with the Makar Sankranti day in January and continues for forty-five days until Maha Shivratri.

January 26, 2019: Republic Day

A young Indian state adopted its new constitution (Samvidhaan) on January 26, 1950, which established India as a republic. Before its Independence in 1947, India was made up of separate kingdoms and regions, and was under British rule for nearly 200 years. In 1950, India officially became a republic (gantantra). The celebration of Republic Day is also a celebration of India’s huge cultural diversity.
The celebrations begin each year with the President saluting the Amar Jawan Jyoti, meaning “The flame of the immortal soldier,” which is below the ramparts of the India Gate located in the capital. This is followed by a festive parade on New Delhi’s famous Raj Path, which means “Royal Road.”

February 10, 2019: Vasant Panchami

Basant Panchami or Saraswati Puja is the Festival of the Goddess Saraswati, and it marks the beginning of the spring season. Depicted holding a musical instrument called the Veena in her arms, Saraswati is the goddess of education (Vidya), music (Sangeet), arts (Kala), and knowledge (Gyan). The verdant and colorful spring, along with the Puja of the Goddess Saraswati, create a festive atmosphere. Homes are decorated with art and several art competitions are organized for the occasion. Religious rites are conducted in schools and homes, and Prasad, meaning “food offerings,” of spring fruits are offered to the Goddess.

March 2, 2019: Holi

The Festival of Colors is celebrated exactly forty days after Basant Panchami in the spring season. Though Holi is an ancient Hindu festival, these days most Indians celebrate it irrespective of their religion (Dharm). Holi is celebrated on the full moon day, which in Hindi is called Poornima in the Indian month of Phagun. The day before the Festival of Colors, a huge bonfire is lit in the evening, called Holika. On the day of Holi, people gather outside their homes and enjoy themselves by throwing the color powder gulal at each other and spraying each other with colored water using water pistols and water balloons. Traditionally, gulal was prepared from flowers, but nowadays it’s produced synthetically with chemicals.

March 4, 2018: Maha Shivratri

Kumbh Mela, an event that takes place once every four years between January and March, starts with the Makar Sankranti day in January and continues for forty-five days until Maha Shivratri.

April 14, 2019: Vaisakhi/Baisakhi

Across most Indian states, the New Year is the first day of the month of Baisakh. This falls around mid-April and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by every community.
Baisakhi is important in Punjab for many reasons. This is the day that people begin to harvest crops sown in winter, and is thus a time of celebration and joy for farmers. They usually celebrate by taking a dip in the river (Nadi), in the morning, then going to the temple and praying to thank the gods for a good harvest.
Fairs are organized for the whole day and people, dressed in colorful clothes, take their families to see the celebrations. In Sikhism, the teachings of the ten Gurus, which form the scriptures, are a means of passing on wisdom (Gyan).

April 17, 2019: Mahavir Jayanti

Mahavir Jayanti or Birthday of the Founder of Jainism is one of the main festivals of the Jain religion. Mahavira was born in a palace (Mahal), and his parents were the king and queen. Lord Mahavira gave up his royal throne at the age of thirty to immerse himself in meditation and spiritual awakening, and spread the message of truth, renunciation, non-violence, celibacy, and forgiveness. Mahavira Jayanti’s deeds are celebrated each year with peace (shanti) and purity (Pavitrrta).
On this day, Lord Mahavira’s idol is bathed in milk (Doodh) and placed inside a chariot for a ride.

May 1, 2019: May Day

For India, May Day was first introduced and pronounced an official holiday in 1923 when the Communist leader Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar made it so by raising the red flag for the very first time. It was meant to signify the importance and vitality of a labor movement during this time in communism.

May 19, 2019: Lord Buddha’s Birthday

This Buddhist holiday is considered to be the most sacred, and is celebrated through prayer, meditation, worshipping the Buddha statue, and reading Buddhist scriptures. Many Buddhists wear white on this day, and common activities include giving to the poor and setting caged animals free. Ultimately, this is a day to promote peace through Buddha’s teachings.

June 5, 2018: Ramzan\ Eid -ul-Fitr

In Islam, the month of Ramzan or Ramadan is a month of meditation and penance. After this month comes Eid-ul-Fitr, which is known as Ramzan Eid in India.
The evening before Eid is called Chand Raat in India. People go out to make Eid purchases on this evening and women adorn their hands with henna, or Mehandi. On the morning of Eid, Muslims pray and listen to sermons. It’s required that every true Muslim offers food to the poor during this month, but those who can’t afford it for the whole month do it just on Eid day. Great feasts are organized on this day and gifts are offered.

July 4, 2019: Chariot Festival of Lord Jaganath

Every year, a massive festival is celebrated in the middle of summer (Grishm Ritu) in eastern India, where the Lord Jagannath is taken on a chariot ride. The Chariot Festival involves a journey comprised of three chariots carrying the statues of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balram, respectively. Lord Jagannath is a human incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This event is commemorated every year with his idol, in Hindi called a Moorti. Each year, three new chariots are made and decorated specially out of sandalwood for the occasion. After nine days, the chariots are taken back to the Jagannath Temple via the Mausi Ma Temple. At the Mausi Ma Temple, people eat special Poda Pitha sweets.

August 12, 2018: Eid ul-Adha

Eid-ul-Adha, which is known as Bakr-id in India, falls exactly two months after Ramazan. The story behind the festival is linked to the Prophet Abraham, though most traditions are the same as that of Ramzan Eid, including prayer, hosting feasts, distributing sweets among relatives and friends, and sharing greetings.
Across India, this festival is celebrated with great religious fervor. Markets are hives of activity at this time, and sell special sweets and dishes. This day is also considered to be the day the Quran was completed, driving many Muslims to embark on the Haj, the Holy Muslim pilgrimage, on this day.

August 15, 2019: Independence Day

Swatantrata Divas, or Independence Day, celebrates the historic moment when India gained independence from British rule and established itself as an independent state on August 15, 1947—exactly two years after the end of World War II. The government (Sarkar) of India has commemorated this occasion every year in the Red Fort in the capital, New Delhi, since 1947. After the flag (Dhwaz) hoisting ceremony, the armed forces carry out a parade, followed by a display of the nation’s traditions and culture.

August 15, 2019: Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is “Brother and Sister Day.” The relation between a brother and a sister is of great significance in Indian culture. On this day, girls tie the Rakhi thread, known in Hindi as Rakhi on their brothers’ wrists. This is applicable not just to direct siblings and cousins, but to distant relatives and non-relatives alike. So a girl can even tie Rakhi on a friend (Dost) who she thinks of as a brother.
This Rakhi thread is a commitment from the brother (Bhai) that he will protect his sister (Behan), for life and take care of her wellbeing.

August 24, 2018: Celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna “Janmashtami”

Lord Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. According to the scriptures, he was born in present-day Mathura some 5,000 years ago. Janmashtami is celebrated with traditions related to the tales of his childhood. Many Krishna devotees fast on this day leading up to the moment of his birth, at midnight on Janmashtami. Small idols of the infant (shishu) Krishna are laid in a swing cot and the infant is worshipped.

September 2, 2019: Ganesh Chaturthi

A few weeks prior to this festival, earthen idols of the Lord Ganesh throng the market place. Small idols are placed in home altars (Mandir) while large ones are specially made and used to decorate pandals. Lord Ganesh is depicted as having the body of a human and the head of a white elephant. He’s worshipped as the god of wisdom, knowledge, and success. Ganesh Chaturthi marks the day of his birth.

September 11, 2019: Onam

Onam is an ancient festival of Kerala, which Malayalis, the word used to refer to the people of Kerala, of all faiths celebrate. It commemorates the Malayali New Year, the harvest of the rice crop (Chawal ki khetti), and the return of the ancient King Mahabali. The festival is spread over ten days, and the first and last day, called Atam and Tiruonam respectively, hold the most importance. The occasion is celebrated with a grand parade of decorated elephants (Hatthi), spectacular fireworks, and the traditional Keralite classical dance form, called Kathakali.

September 17, 2019: Lord Vishwakarma puja

This Hindi holiday is the day on which they worship Lord Vishwakarma, who they believe to have created the world. Skilled labor workers in particular find this a good opportunity for worship, and actually worship their tools due to their inability to work without such tools. The Hindu people also worship elephants on this day, as they’re associated with Lord Vishwakarma.

September 20, 2019: Navratri

Dussehra marks the tenth and last day of Navratri when the Goddess Durga finally killed Mahishasur after nine days of fighting.

October 2, 2019: Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti

On October 2 in India, people celebrate Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti, or simple Gandhi Jayanti. Typical activities include prayer, tributes, and other ceremonies honoring Gandhi and his accomplishments. People also choose to decorate Gandhi statues with flowers and sing his favorite Indian hymn.

October 8, 2019: Dussehra

Dussehra marks the tenth and last day of Navratri when the Goddess Durga finally killed Mahishasur after nine days of fighting. That’s why this day is also referred to as Vijay Dashami—the “Tenth Day of Victory.” On Dussehra, people come together to re-enact the assassination of the demon king Raavan. Raavan had been blessed by the gods with magical powers so he could take the form of a gigantic, powerful ten-headed demon. On this day, massive wooden idols of this ten-headed form are erected in fields, and a young man dressed as Ram comes down and lights the idol on fire with a flaming arrow.

October 17, 2019: Karaka Chaturthi

On this day, Hindu women who are married have the option to take a day off to honor Shiva (a Hindu god) and Parvati (a Hindu goddess). They do so by fasting, meditating, and worshipping the moon at the close of the day.

October 27, 2019: Diwali

On a moonless twenty days after Dussehra comes the celebration of light, Diwali, where people in homes across India light earthen lamps filled with mustard oil or clarified butter, called Ghee. Lamps (Diyye), candles (Mombatti), and lights can be seen everywhere. In the evening, whole families take part in praying to the Goddess Lakshmi, and afterwards they light firecrackers and sparklers together, lighting up the dark, moonless sky in every region.

October 29, 2019: Bhai Duj

Two days after Diwali comes a special day for brothers and sisters. This is Bhaiya Duj, which celebrates the relationship held between siblings. Sisters pray for the long life of their brothers, and apply a sandalwood mark on their foreheads.

November 12, 2019: Guru Nanak Jayanti

There are ten Gurus in the Sikh religion, and this festival celebrates the birthday of the first Sikh guru—Guru Nanak. He was the founder of the Sikh faith, dedicated his life to spiritual ends, and preached and taught methods to achieve enlightenment. A few days before gurupurabab, all Sikh temples, or Gurudwaras, are decorated with lights, and street processions move through cities and towns singing religious hymns. The day of gurupurabab starts with hymns and prayers. Throughout the day, people listen to religious sermons and spiritual (Dharmik) speeches.

November 14, 2019: Childrens’ Day

The birthday of the first Indian prime minister, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, is celebrated as Children’s Day in India. Pandit Ji was extremely fond of children (Bacche). Children would affectionately call him Chacha Nehru, meaning “Uncle Nehru.” As the first Prime Minister, he put much emphasis on the importance of children’s well-being and education, and thus, Children’s Day is considered an apt way in which to remember him.
On this day, special entertainment programs for kids are organized in schools throughout the nation, including competitions, musical performances, plays, feasts, and more.

Why You Need to Know Indian Holidays

You may ask why it is advantageous to know Indian holidays. There are a number of good reasons!

  • National holidays are most often celebrated to commemorate a specific cultural/historical event or ideology, and India is no different. Want an easy introduction into what is important to a society? Learn about their national holidays and why these are observed! Often, the locals observe special customs and rituals on these days. This could include anything from a private ritual at home, a religious service, or a colorful parade in the streets. Not always, but often travellers are allowed to observe, or even participate! How awesome and exciting! Therefore, booking your trip over a national holiday could well be a wonderfully rich, informative experience for the whole family.
  • The more you know about a person’s culture, the more you can show your respect towards him/her! This includes knowing when holidays are observed. This knowledge can be beneficial in ways you cannot foresee, because few things open doors such as true respect for another’s cultural ways. It shows you care about what’s important to them!
  • If you’re working in India, knowing exactly when holidays are observed is very important, for a very obvious reason! Unless you don’t mind arriving to closed doors at work in the morning, that is. Employers sometimes assume everyone knows it’s a holiday, so be sure to know the holiday dates of the country you work in, and get your well-deserved break too.
  • Having Indian friends on holiday when you visit him/her is probably an excellent reason to book your visit with care. That way you can connect meaningfully and enjoy holiday experiences with a native friend when they don’t have to work.

How To Learn Hindi With Holidays

If you’re keen to learn Hindi on your own, there are a number of ways to do this. Why not choose holidays as a theme? You can start by learning about the Indian culture, so find a video or TV program about holidays in India. Better still - find a video or program about holidays in Hindi, and watch it a few times! That way your ear will get used to the spoken language. You could also watch Indian movies without subtitles, as this too will train your ear to what correct Hindi sounds like.

If you’re more advanced in Hindi, you can practice your writing skills by writing a letter to your Indian friend about the holidays video. Or write a short review of the video, and post it on social media! Imagine how impressed your friends will be!

Practice your Hindi pronunciation, and record yourself talking about your holiday in India. Pronouncing words correctly in any language is very important, or you may find yourself saying things you don’t mean!

If you’re an absolute beginner, it would be best to start with a book, a CD series, free PDF cheat sheets and preferably your Indian friend who can help you. Or, you can start with HindiPod101, for free!

How HindiPod101 Can Help You

Holidays in India can also be the perfect opportunity to practice your Hindi! For the best experience, make sure to master at least Level 1 of your Hindi lessons here on HindiPod101 before you go on holiday to India. Then don’t be shy! Use it with every native speaker you encounter in every situation. Practicing continuously to speak a language is one of the most important habits if you want to become fluent. Or, if you’re a new subscriber to HindiPod101 in a hurry to get to India, study Absolute Beginner Hindi for Every Day to help you get by as a traveller - you will be surprised how far a little Hindi can go!

HindiPod101 is uniquely geared to help you master relevant, everyday vocabulary and phrases, pronounced correctly and in the right context - this will set you on the right track. Our courses are perfectly designed to help you in fun ways!

But do have a holiday first. Ideally you will enjoy a different culture with a visit, and enrich your life in ways you cannot imagine. Don’t wait till 2020 to learn Hindi through HindiPod101 though - it will open a whole new world for you!

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