Festivals are one of the most important signifiers of cultural relations between people. Most festivals spring from ancient religious texts, while others have a more contemporary advent. For instance, Dussehra, or the burning of Ravan, the ten-headed demon’s effigy has its origins in the Ramayana. On the other hand, Raksha Bandhan recognized communal harmony at its inception. In this article, we will learn about some lesser-known festivals of south Asia that hold significant cultural value. Take a look at our travel tips and decide your next trip!
- Ravan Worship (India, October)—Surely, the popularity of the Dussehra is quite well known. However, not many people can claim to know that on the same day, the antagonist, Ravan, is also worshipped! Although seen as a remnant of Brahmin reverence, the ritual is fascinating. The charge against the demon is severe—that of the abduction of Sita. However, the demon is respected for his knowledge of the religious scriptures. Falling on the same day as Dussehra, this alternative voice of the same people celebrates pluralism.
- Kukur Tihar (Nepal, November)—This festival in Nepal celebrates the friendship of dogs (Kukur). The rituals recognize the companionship and loyalty of these furry friends. The dogs’ foreheads are marked with a red tika to venerate them. The police and the military also recognize the contribution of dogs on this day.
- Kataragama Festival (Sri Lanka, July/August)—This triumph of secular festivals is observed at the same time as the Buddhist festival of Esala Perahera. This enigmatic celebration is marked by emphatic showmanship and self–infliction. People from diverse religions come to witness the congregations. The rituals entice introspection and self-improvement.
- Hungry Ghost Festival (Malaysia, 22 August)—This festival serves a dual purpose—reverence to the long-dead and peace for the recently dead. The Taoist festival is in regard to the Hereafter. The Taoists believe that the souls of the dead resurface on the seventh month of the year when they must be venerated. Old paintings of the deceased and incense are common items that are required. People seek the blessings of their ancestors on this occasion.
- Tazaungdaing (Myanmar, November)—Myanmar can be one of the best travel destinations due to this awesome festival. This festival ends the robe offering and almsgiving season (Kahtein) and marks a new beginning through weaving robes. This festival is also known as the festival of lights. People take part in various joyous activities, like flying colorful balloons and lanterns.
- Nyepi (Indonesia, March)—If Indonesia is among your best travel destinations, then you should not miss the Nyepi. This festival is celebrated on account of the Balinese New Year. People observe penance by typically fasting and meditating. They pray for a happy and prosperous beginning of a new page in their life.
- Miraj-un-Nabi (Pakistan, March)—This Islamic event observes the journey of Muhammad to Jerusalem and then his transcendence to heaven. It is an auspicious occasion on which people remember their guide, the great Muhammad. This event also commemorates the expedition of Tabuk led by Muhammad himself.
- Rocket Festival (Thailand, June/July)—As the name suggests, the point of the festival is to build elaborate rockets and launch them. The rockets are launched throughout the week and gambling takes place on their performance. The objective of such merrymaking is for the Gods to notice the people and shower them with blessings.
- Matsutake Festival (Bhutan, August)—If you trust our travel tips, you should not miss this opportunity to get the essence of Bhutan. This festival is the best opportunity to taste the best of Bhutanese cuisine. Plus, it is mushroom picking season, and you would get to taste certain unique dishes. The Bhutanese are extremely friendly people, so expect great hospitality.
- Ekushey (Bangladesh, February)—Although not exactly a festival but a solemn remembrance of martyrs, the ambiance is worth experiencing. Fought over the right of speaking their mother tongue, Bangladeshis observe this day with various cultural events.
We hope that we could enlist ten unique festivals that represent the soul of the people who celebrate them. We wish you a happy and enriching journey, and hope you return home with great memories!
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