13 Festivals of Jammu & Kashmir (2023)
If there is paradise on Earth, we can say it is the exquisitely beautiful Kashmir! The lush greens, enchanting valleys, and snow-capped mountains provide a breathtaking view to the visitor. But, this is not all. The exciting and colorful festivals of Jammu & Kashmir add to its beauty.
People here get together; put their communal tensions and fears aside to enjoy the festivities happily with gusto. The people of Kashmir, hand in hand, rejoice and get pleasure from these moments of happiness.
This beautiful scenic state, often called Kashmiriyat, is enriched by the rich cultural heritage of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist families living together. In fact, the holy land reverberates with the richly diverse cultures. Thus, celebrating festivals lile Holi, Diwali, and Eid come naturally and enthusiastically to the people.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir also celebrates local rituals, fairs, and ceremonies, to add an extra zingy flavor to its beauty. People from all over the globe ensure a visit to Kashmir at these times, to be a part of the delightful festivities. Hand in hand, they indulge in the celebrations with peace and harmony!
Kashmir is the land of diverse cultures. Hence, there are different traditions prevalent in different sects. But, this diversity becomes one during festival times. It is difficult to explain this joyous unison, but a visit to Kashmir exhibits the region’s popularity and the outsider’s point of view.
Festivals of Jammu & Kashmir:
We list here the popular festivals of Jammu & Kashmir that are celebrated with great pomp and show. The zeal, feasts, fest, and merry-making put this State in a class of its own. Let us read on and experience these culturally rich fancy feast times:
Mostly celebrated on the 13th of January every year, Lohri indicates the end of the acute winter season. This is also the time of sugar cane and Rabi harvesting. During this festival, people especially farmers, light a bonfire and beat drums. Peanuts, rewri, and gur are distributed amongst people to be eaten and thrown into the holy fire as a religious offering.
Kashmiris, Muslim, and Hindus excitedly and exuberantly dance together to the drum beats playing in the background. Delicacies prepared out of jaggery, peanuts, sesame seeds, and corn are served. As people munch on these delicacies and sing dance to music and the Dhol, they celebrate the sugarcane harvesting with great spunk and excitement.
2. Ram Navami:
Ram Navami, in reality, is a Hindu festival celebrated in reverence of Lord Rama. On the ninth day of Navratras, this festival ends with divine songs, Ram Katha, and recitals in temples. This celebrates the birth of the Hindu God, Lord Rama. Henceforth, after the 9 navratras, on the auspicious day of Ram Navami, devotees fast and worship Lord Rama and Shiva.
3. The Urs:
Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus participate in Ziarats or Urs festivals. During this festival, the whole community gets together to commemorate the memory of Bahauddin, Batamol Sahib, and Meesha Sahib, the famous learned Muslim saints.
At the time of the Urs festival, the weather is bad. But, it is not a deterrent for the people. People from all walks of life and religions gather to attend this huge celebration.
4. Eid Ul Fitr and Bakra Eid:
After fasting for thirty days in the month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid Ul Fitr. During this month, Muslims offer Namaaz, six times a day. They, then break their fast at the end of the day, with a huge feast. People celebrate this festival by meeting relatives, dressing up in new clothes and exchanging sweets.
Bakra Eid or Eid Ul Azha is another festival that comes in the last six months of every year, and it is celebrated with great pomp and show. In Muslim households, sheep, goats, or camels get sacrificed in the form of “Kurbaani”. Eid ul Azha falls in July and Eid ul Fitr normally comes in May.
These festivals are extravagantly celebrated in Kashmir with great enthusiasm, by the Muslims and people from other communities as well. Kashmir lights up brightly with a unique charm of this day. Although, people do good deeds throughout the year, an act of charity and a religious routine is a norm on Eid.
If you want to experience the real magic of Kashmir, then plan your trip to this glorious heaven, in May or July. This is in fact, the perfect way to experience, the culture and traditions, prevalent in the State.
This festival is popular amongst the Sikh community in Kashmir and falls on the 13th of April. Moreover, it marks the beginning of the New Year in India. The day also embraces and welcomes the harvesting season of the country. In fact, the valleys of Kashmir resound with the welcoming and warm culturally-rich celebrations on Baisakhi.
This auspicious day also indicates that the winter season is passé. Now is the time to welcome the warmth of summer through a prominent ceremony. People, love this vibrant and energetic harvest festival and often visit Gurudwaras, the holy shrine, for worship and “Langar”. Langar is the food prasad distributed at this place of worship.
6. Shikara Festival:
Book the dates from the first week of March to the second week of March, to experience exciting competitive boat games at the Shikara Festival. The tourists love being a part of the Dragon Boat race, Canoe Polo Match, and Shikara race. Shikaras are the most famous sight on Dal Lake, and help promote tourism in Kashmir. Besides this, there are cultural programs to keep travelers busy during the Kashmir holiday.
This is a great endeavour to spread the rich cultural heritage and traditions alive. The boats or shikaras are decorated beautifully with flowers and painted with bright colors to attract visitors. The flamboyant carnival activities can keep the visitor busy for hours. So, join in on the fun and frolic of the festivities.
7. Tulip Festival:
As April approaches, Kashmir lightens up with the bright exotic colors of the eye-catching Tulips. Every year, travelers from different parts of the world come to Kashmir to take part in the tulip festival festivities.
Tulips are in full bloom in Kashmir during the spring month, and the sight is a treat for the eyes. With an enchanting view, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip garden is a place worth visiting. The Tulip Festival is organized to celebrate the scintillating beauty of the flowers.
Besides, the rich glory of the flowers, there is a wonderful display of lip-smacking cuisine, handicrafts, and interesting cultural activities and programs. In fact, there are hundreds of brightly colored gardens full of tulips in full bloom in Kashmir. It is no surprise that the State hosts the tulip garden.
The show is attended by local people, tulip connoisseurs, and tourists from all over the globe. Furthermore, the sight is overwhelming and enthralling and showcases nature at its best.
8. Amarnath Yatra:
The Amarnath Yatra is very popular with Hindus and is the most awaited pilgrimage for many. The Amarnath cave is nearly 140 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
In the cave, ice collects together to form a stalagmite shape of the Lingum or Lord Shiva. The sacred linga represents Shiva. This symbol is held in great reverence and worshipped worldwide by Hindus. Once a year, the whole area opens for the public, and the authorities organize an annual pilgrimage to this region.
The glacial cave temple is a sight to behold. Furthermore, the whole ambiance is peaceful and serene. Thus, it is a great place to meditate and answer the call of the soul. The view of the snow-capped mountains and the white valleys is breathtakingly stunning. Normally, the Yatra or Pilgrimage opens from the end of June, and closes in the first week or mid-August.
9. Gurez Festival:
About 123 km away from Srinagar in Kashmir, lies a beautiful and vibrant valley called Gurez. Besides providing a spectacular and dazzling view of the Neelum River, river rafting endeavours on the water can enthral travelers immensely. The scenic valley lies on the historical Silk Route and provides the much-needed ancient brush to the visitor.
The Neelum River majestically flows through the middle of the mountains and lush green meadows of this valley. Actually, the mood here is meditative and exciting at the same time, because it is an ideal site for river rafters.
The Gurez Festival is organized annually by the people here. This festival is deeply influenced by the cultural heritage of the region. Moreover, there are exhibitions of different cuisines and beautiful handicrafts.
There are plenty of competitive activities such as cycling, trekking, river rafting, zorbing, etc., to keep the tourists on their toes. People here even organize drawing and painting competitions, and a gathering participates actively in them. Musical programs laced with the rich culture of Kashmir vibrate in the scintillating atmosphere of Gurez. Large crowds take part in this festival organized in July or August.
Holi is the festival of colors and is vibrantly celebrated with great pomp and show throughout the country. The first day of Holi is “ Holika Dahan” where a holy pyre is lit and people offer prayers. They keep a fast and light bonfire to celebrate the win of good over evil.
The next day the celebrations become brighter and more exciting. People throw colors and embrace each other to celebrate brotherhood and bid goodbye to the winter season. A special sweet dish called “Gujiya” is prepared and distributed amongst nears and dears. In fact, the zest and zeal of this festival are unmatched. The euphoria catches up and mesmerizes everyone with its auspicious ambiance.
11. Saffron Festival:
The highest amount of Saffron, the “rich flavourful spice”, comes from Srinagar in Kashmir. The Saffron produced here has a superb aroma, texture, and color. When added to gourmet dishes such as biryani and kheer, it adds an insurmountable flavor.
The Kashmir valley reeks of saffron or Autumn crocus when the Saffron flowers are in full bloom. The fields with these are in abundance in the region, and the spice gets harvested in the months of October to November. Travelers and local people love to see these widespread fields. Also, harvest times spread great rejoice and happiness all around.
12. The Kheer Bhawani Festival:
As the name suggests, Kheer Bhawani Festival is all about the yummy lip-smacking kheer. People from different religions and castes collect together and savor this favorite sweetmeat. The festival is celebrated in June on the birth and commemoration of Goddess Kheer Bhawani. For eight days people fast and offer intense prayers to the divine goddess. On the last day, diyas and flowers are offered to the “divine” God.
13. The Navroz Festival:
The Navroz Festival is a time of great merriment and happiness for the Shia Muslims. They celebrate this festival in Kashmir with 9 days of intense prayers, meeting friends’ families, and sharing gourmet savories. Two very famous delicacies of the Navroz festival are the rose faluda and flavored milk. The festival is scheduled to celebrate the birth of Prince Ali Muhammad. People make merry and have a great time during the enjoyment of the Navroz times.
The festivals are celebrated all over the State of Jammu & Kashmir and the people of Kashmir get together to celebrate these happy days in tandem. Make a memorable trip in this beautiful valley and enjoy auspicious moments. Book some days at a high-end resort or get a room at one of the budgeted hotels. For all those who want to savor the glorious valley for a while at a reasonable budget, it’s the bread and breakfasts!
Jammu and Kashmir stand prominently and regally on the world map. The beauty of Kashmir surpasses all and is often compared to Switzerland. There may be several political controversies surrounding the State. But, its stunning beauty and high-spirited enthusiastic festivals are a great attraction for the sightseer.
The hospitality of Jammu & Kashmir is unmatched. Besides, the pomp and show and loads of yummy food items, people of all classes and creeds get together to wear fancy clothes and jump and dance with glee. In fact, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, and all other Kashmiris join hands to pay respects to Gurus and Gods together during the festivals in Jammu & Kashmir!