Mumbai has traditional, religious, state and national festivals organized and celebrated in the city, depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions. Many of these festivals such as, Dasara, Mohurrum, Shivratri, Christmas, Budha purnima etc., are celebrated nation wide. Some of the popular festivals are briefed below.
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.
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 marks the end of the monsoons and is celebrated by Mumbai'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 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)
Pateti in 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 Mumbai and 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 of Mumbai carrying the idols of Ganesha, to be immersed in the sea. This immersion is accompanied by drumbeats, devotional songs and dancing and marks the end of the festival.
Bandra Feast (Sep)
The feast day of Virgin Mary is celebrated in Bombay for a week beginning on a Sunday closest to the birthday of the Virgin Mary (Sep 8). The feast is held at the Basillica of Mount Mary in Bandra. A fair is held with huge Ferris wheels, amusements and rides, bands and shows. The devout trudges up the stairs of the church to light their candles.
Diwali, celebrated on the 13th day of the month of Ashwin (Oct-Nov), is 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.