Maharashtracelebrates traditional, religious, state and national festivals. Other than the traditional fairs, recently established state festivals that involve dance, music and other events have been specially organised for the tourists. Some of the known fairs celebrated in different parts of Maharashtra are given below.
MTDC Organized Festivals
Banganga Festival (Jan)
The Banganga Festival is a musical extravaganza organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation in January at the atmospheric Banganga tank at Walkeshwar. Top artistes from around the country perform live classical music concerts and cultural enthusiasts attend the festival and feast the soul as well as the mind.
Elephanta Festival (Feb)
The Elephanta Island is the site of the magnificent Elephanta caves, containing beautiful carvings, sculptures, and a temple to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. These caves are located at a distance of 11-km from Mumbai.
In February Elephanta Island comes to fervour as the site of the Elephanta Festival. Organized by MTDC, every year, renowned dancers and musicians perform outside the caves, beneath a star-studded sky, to a select and appreciative audience. Special launch services and catering arrangements are provided for visitors.
Pune Festival (Aug - Sep)
The Pune Festival is a celebration of art and culture, song and dance, custom and tradition. Originally conceived as a localised cultural event, it has evolved into one of the few festivals that has been actively promoted abroad by the government of India, as a major tourist attraction. While Pune Festival has provided a unique platform for exponents of classical music and dance, keeping pace with changing times, it has also helped to promote modern trends in the performing arts, notably the dramatic arts and the traditional art of rangoli. The week-long Pune Festival provides a feast of entertainment for visitors who can participate in traditional and modern sports events, shop for exquisite textiles and handicrafts and rejoice in the colourful customs of Maharashtra.
Kalidas Festival (Nov.)
MTDC organize Kalidas Festival in November every year at Nagpur, to commemorate one of the greatest poets of all times, 'Kalidasa' (4th century AD) who had enriched Indian literature with his works of 'Abhijnanasakuntalam', 'Meghadootham', 'Raghuvamsam' and 'Kumarasambhavam'. some of the greatest exponents of music, dance and drama perform in the picturesque setting of Ramtek, celebrating its glorious heritage over two exciting days and nights.
Ellora Festival (Dec)
Every year MTDC organises the Ellora Festival in December, at Ellora caves near Aurangabad, where renowned artistes display their virtuosity in music and dance surrounded by 1,400-year old caves and rock carvings. Artistes perform in this magnificent ambience to enchant the gods, goddesses and human lovers of art. The Kailas temple, sculptured out of one huge rock, is one of the most beautiful backdrops for this event.
Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi has several traditional links with legends. It is also a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Holi announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. Young and old alike are drenched with colours. People in small groups are seen singing, dancing and throwing colours on each other. Men, women and children all participate in this merry making.
Gudhi Padava (Mar-Apr)
Gudhi Padava is the Maharashtran New Year's Day celebrated on the first day of Chaitra (Mar-Apr). This day marks the start of the Hindu solar year. It is a day of great festivity and rejoicing. People get up early and clean their houses, decorating them with intricate rangoli designs. Bamboo staffs (gudhi) decorated with silk cloths and topped with a brass goblet or kalash are erected. These are supposed to drive away evil from the houses.
Nariyal Poornima (Aug)
Nariel Purnima or coconut day in August is a festival to honor the sea god Varuna and it marks the end of the monsoons and is celebrated by Maharashtra's fisher folk. Boats are painted, little oil lamps lit and set afloat amidst the waves and carried in the boats, and coconut are broken against their bows as an offering to the Sea God and the seas are set afloat with garlands of flowers as the new fishing season begins.
Raksha Bandhan (Aug)
Raksha Bandhan is also celebrated on this day. On this day, sisters tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers to protect them against evil influences. This is also the day set apart for Brahmins to change their sacred thread they wear.
Parsi New Year (Aug-Sep)
Patetiin August is the Parsee New Year, significant because it was on this day that the Shahenshahi Zoroastrian community landed in India while migrating from Persia. The Parsees celebrate at the fire temple, and the community bonds are strengthened through feasts and the meeting of friends and relatives.
Ganesh Chaturthi (Aug-Sep)
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the month of Aug.- Sep., as the birth anniversary of Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom. The festival is so popular in Maharashtra that the preparations begin months ahead. Images of Ganesha are installed and elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration and celebrations are held for 7-10 days. The Chaturthi is the last day dedicated to the elephant-headed god, and thousands of processions converge on the beaches and river banks carrying the idols of Ganesha, to be immersed in water. This immersion is accompanied by drumbeats, devotional songs and dancing and marks the end of the festival.
Diwali is a five day Festival to celebrate home coming of Lord Rama and his consort Sita, a festival of lights symbolising the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Twinkling oil lamps or diyas light up every home and firework displays are common all across the country. The goddess Lakshmi who is the symbol of wealth and prosperity, is also worshipped on this day. This festive occasion also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Crackers and fireworks illuminate the sky and people pray for a prosperous coming year.
Maharashtra Day is celebrated in commemoration of the formation of the Maharashtra State on the 1st of May.
Makara Samkramana, Sri Ramanavami, Sri Krishna Janmashtami are some of the other Hindu festivals celebrated in devotion together with other regions of the country.
Like other regions of the country, Muslims celebrate religious festivals like Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, Milad-un-Nabi and Moharrum.
Christian festivals like Christmas, Easter, Good Friday etc are also celebrated along with the rest of the nation.
Buddha Poornima and Mahaveera Jayanthi are celebrated in certain regions of the State.