Be a Part of these Festivals in Kashmir
Considered to be one of the most exotic travel destinations in India, Kashmir offers an array of things a visitor can experience. The reasons for visiting Kashmir are far and wide but the right way to experience the true nature of Kashmiris is to be a part of the many festivals that the people celebrate. The cultural and religious diversity of Kashmir is truly unique and intricate to the region. The festivals that are hosted in Kashmir, be it cultural, religious, or celebrating foods or flowers, it is one exceptional way to enjoy the Kashmir experience by being a part of it. Here are a few festivals that you would want to add to your bucket list on your next trip to Kashmir.
One of the most renowned flower festivals in India, the Tulip festival is celebrated every year for the first fifteen days of April. It is held at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden in Srinagar which is also the largest tulip garden in Asia. Tulip flowers are in full bloom during the festival and the array of colors and luscious growth of flowers for stretches on end is what makes this festival worth visiting. The sights of the garden are utterly breathtaking. Apart from the flowers, several other showcases of handicrafts, cultural programs and traditional Kashmiri food also make this festival an exciting prospect.
A fiesta spanning over eight days, the Saffron festival is celebrated with cheer in Pampore, Kashmir. The festival marks the reaping of Saffron where visitors are allowed to directly harvest Saffron from the fields with the farmers. During the festival, tourists and visitors can buy authentic and high-quality Saffron from the farmers. Along with plucking Saffron, various other cultural programmes like traditional Kashmiri folk dances like Kud, Bhand and Dumhal are showcased during the festivities.
When: Mid-October to the first week of November
One of the most notable outdoor activities in Kashmir has to be the Shikara ride in Dal Lake, Srinagar. Due to its immense popularity, the government of Kashmir started the festival in 2016. During the festival, the Shikaras are hand-painted in designs and decorated beautifully by the owners. Another spectacle during this festival is the Shikara race which attracts a lot of visitors. You can also enjoy other activities like shopping on the floating markets.
When: July or August
A charming and peaceful valley decorated with stunning mountain ranges, a luscious spread of meadows, and the sparkling river of Kishanganga flowing through it, Gurez valley is one of the most beautiful villages. Here, in this small village, the Gurez festival is held. The festival isn’t one with loud fanfare and festivities but rather subdued in its nature. It is celebrated to mainly enjoy the traditional and calm lifestyle of the village. Visitors are introduced to the talented side of the locals as they showcase their cultural aspects like folk songs and dances, intricate handicrafts, local cuisines, and other activities like trekking, river rafting, horse riding, and cycling are all part of the festivities.
When: July to August
Another festival that is celebrated with anticipation and enthusiasm in Kashmir is Lohri. The festival marks the end of winter and the arrival of longer days. Lohri celebrates the harvest of the sugarcane crop. During this festival, a bonfire is lit and people sing and dances around the fire. Various winter delicacies like corn, jaggery, sesame, and peanuts are eaten during this time.
When: 13th January
Eid Ul Fitr
Marking the end of the month-long fasting of Ramzan, Eid Ul Fitr is celebrated on the last day of fasting. Muslims celebrate it all over Kashmir with extravaganza and lavish means as part of breaking their fast with magnificent feasting. Since the major religion of Kashmir is Islam, the scale of celebrations is notably luxurious. The festival is also marked by every Muslim wearing new clothes, exchanging sweets and gifts, giving to charity and indulging in delicious food.
A prominent festival of Sikhs, Baisakhi is celebrated in Kashmir with a grand reception. It marks the end of the harvest season and the celebrations are far and wide. This festival is of importance to and great significance to farmers. It is an ancient festival of Hindus as well and the celebrations include sharing festive food, processions are held, and people gather to socialize, dance and sing.
When: 13th April
The culture and tradition of Kashmir are closely interwoven with the lifestyle of the locals and this makes the experience of festivals even more exciting and special. So, on your next visit to Kashmir, if you happen to be in the valley during the festival make sure you immerse yourself and become one with the people and its vibrant culture.