A whirling dervish of people, culture and religion, Delhi offers a feast of festivals
for every imaginable taste. This city celebrates harvests, seasons and celestial
mangos, worships holy books and sacred stories, burns the devil and pays homage to
light, and throws birthday parties for the founders of Islam, Hinduism, Jainism,
Hare Krishna, Sikhism - and India.
Holi, in February or March, is one of the most exuberant Hindu festivals. To mark
the end of winter, people chuck large quantities of coloured water and powder at
one another - tourists are not excluded. In March or April, Hindus celebrate the
birth of Rama by reading the Ramayana at temples throughout the city. In April or
May Sikhs have a similar celebration, Baisakhi, where their holy book the Granth
Sahib is read, followed by feasting and dancing.
If you're in Delhi in July don't miss the International Mango Festival, when Talkatora
Stadium hosts hundreds of varieties of the heavenly fruit. August and September are
happy festival months - during Ganesh Chaturthi, the elephant-headed god gets heaps
of attention, while on Janmashtami, Krishna's birth is celebrated with plenty of
mischief-making. Ram Lila, India's most popular festival, runs over 10 days in September
or October. The Ramayana is acted out and huge images of the demon Ravana are burnt.
In late October, Hindu households light oil lamps to guide the god Rama home from
exile, during the festival of Deepavali, which is also known as the festival of sweets.
Delhi's Muslims celebrate the usual Islamic festivals. During Ramadan, the most important,
Muslims fast from dawn to dusk to commemorate the revelation of the Qu'ran to Mohammed.
When Ramadan ends, Muslims celebrate Id-ul-Fitr by eating a great deal and praying
at the Jama Masjid.