Uttar Pradesh has traditional, religious and state festivals organized and celebrated throughout the state. These festivals are full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions. Many of these festivals such as Deepavali, Dasara, Mohurrum, Shivratri, etc. are celebrated nation wide. Some of the popular festivals especially celebrated in U P with pomp are briefed below.
Kumbh Mela (Jan. - Feb.)
The month long Kumbh Mela of Allahabad is one of the largest fairs of the world and is attended by millions of pilgrims from all over India as well as the devout from the world over. Maha Kumbh is held after a gap of twelve years where as Ardha Kumbh is held in the Sixth year after Maha Kumbh, in the months of January-February, on the banks of the holy confluence (Sangam) of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
The Kumbh Mela is generally held every three years in rotation at Allahabad, Hardwar, Ujjain and Nasik. The period of Kumbh Mela is Magh (Jan-Feb) month of Hindu calendar.
Ardh Kumbh Mela (Jan. - Feb.)
Held in the 6th year after Kumbh Mela, i.e. it falls between two Kumbh Melas. It has got the same religious value and attracts millions of people. It has the same main bathing days as in Kumbh Mela.
Magh Mela (Jan. - Feb.
Magh Mela (The Annual Mini Kumbh) is held every year on the banks of Sangam. Magh Mela is held in the month of Magh (Jan-Feb); hence Magh Mela. During this period about two or three million of devotees throng here.
Kampil Fair (Mar.)
It was the birthplace of the 13th tirthaiikar Brahlan Vimal Nath and was graced by the visit of Lord Mahavir. The neighbouring ruins and mounds contain the relics and sculptures of Jain period. Every year a Jain Mela is held for five days in the month of March thronged by devout Jains.
The month long Kumbh Mela of Allahabad is one of the largest fairs of the world and is attended by millions of pilgrims
Holi heralds the beginning of spring and is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over India. Holi thus signifies the triumph of good over evil and is marked by grand festivities all over India and particularly in the Braj area where it is celebrated with great gaiety and fervour. Holi celebrations last for more than a week and are marked by people sprinkling colour water & smearing colour powder on each other. The playful teasing of the Gopis by the Gopas (cowherd boys) is enacted by groups of men and women through special Holi songs and dances, called Rasiya.
Ramnavmi Mela (April)
Ayodhya, the holy city of the sacred pilgrim centre of Hindus plays host to the Ramnavmi Festival in the month of April. Thousands of worshippers gather to venerate the Lord at Kanak Bhawan.
Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion in the August/September months, on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon, in the whole of north India. Special celebrations are held in Mathura and Vrindavan.
Rambarat (Sep. - Oct)
The marriage procession of Sri Ram is held every year during Ramlila celebrations at Agra. Every year a new locale of the town is chosen as Janakpuri, which is elaborately decorated to perform the royal wedding. The Rambarat (marriage procession) starts from Lala Channomaiji Id Baradari for Janakpuri passing through different parts of the town. The barat is a large procession of Jhankis followed by the swaroops of Ram-Lakshman mounted on elephants.
Deva Mela (October)
The annual urs of Haji Waris Ali Shah is celebrated during Oct.-Nov. months at Deva 10 km. from Barabanki. This fair attracts pilgrims from as far as Pakistan and the Middle East countries. The shrine of the Sufi Saint is much revered by Muslim pilgrims all over the world.
Bateshwar Fair (Oct. - Nov.)
Situated at a distance of 70 km. from Agra on the banks of river Yamuna, Bateshwar is an important spiritual and cultural centre.
The place is named after the presiding deity of the region, Bateshwar Mahadeo and has 108 temples dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. During the months of Oct. & Nov. a large fair is organized from Shashthi of Kartik month to Panchami of Agrahayan month. Devotees congregate here in large numbers to worship Lord Shiva and take holy dips in river Yamuna. A livestock fair is also organized and owners and buyers conduct serious business combined with the gaiety of a market place.
Krishna Leela (Oct. - Nov.)
The Tulsi Ghat at Varanasi is the venue for the 20 daylong Krishna Leela celebrations. Nag- Nathaiya Leela, one of the episodes in the celebration is extremely famous. Lord Krishna enacted by an artist, jumps into the river as the play reaches its climax and emerges on the serpent hood of Shesh Nag. Lakhs of people gather on the ghats of Ganga to witness this special enactment.
Kartik Poornima (November)
Varanasi is the land of festivals. Kartik Poornima celebrated in the month of November, is the sacred day, when the ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly lit earthen lamps. Visitors throng in large numbers to watch this spectacular event, famous as Dev Deepawali.
Lolark Shasthi, Dala Chhath, Rang Bhari Ekadasi, Burhwa Mangal and Annakut are among the other important festive occasions for Varanasi.
In addition to the traditional festivals, State Government organizes the following festivals accompanied with cultural and religious programmes.
- Ayurveda-Janshi Mahotsava: In November at Jhansi.
- Ganga Mahotsava: In November at Varanasi.
- Lucknow Mahotsava: In November at Lucknow.
- Buddha Mahotsav: In December at Kapilavastu.
- Buddha Mahotsav: In May at Sarnath, Shravasti, Kaushambhi& Sankisa.
- Water Sports Festival: 26-29 November at Allahabad & Varanasi.
- Taj Mahotsava: From 18 Feb. to 27 Feb. at Agra.
- Kajari Mahotsav: In August at Mirzapur.