The serene and picturesque beauty of Jammu and Kashmir is indubitable. Other than this visual beauty, you cannot argue on the cultural beauty of the state as well. The region is an amalgamation of diverse cultural communities. The best way to understand the love among these communities is by looking at how they celebrate their festivals. The people of Jammu and Kashmir forget all the communal tensions when celebrating the awe-inspiring fests. The fascinating diversity among the celebrations and how these festivities take place in the state with love and lively vibes radiating in the air is a remarkable feature of the state.
Festivals are a charm of this northernmost state of India, and they add up extra flavor to the cultural beauty of the state. The festivals here consist of religious festivals and non-religious festivals—the religious festivals allying to specific religions. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the religious festivals resort predominantly to Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh religions. The non-religious festivals are a recent development in the state. These festivals began as a strategy to attract tourist attention and celebrate the region’s social and socio-cultural region.
In this article, you will find festivals exclusive to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. So, let’s dive in!
1. Hemis Festival
The people of the state celebrate the Hemis festival, which is a prime festival of the state. The celebration commemorates the birth anniversary of the great founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava is locally known as Guru Rinpoche. The two-day festival takes place in the Tibetan lunar month or the fifth month of the year. The venue of the celebration is the courtyard of the grand Hemis Gompa monastery.
On doom’s day, people traditionally celebrate the festival. The function begins with the Lama ‘Chaam’ dance and men playing drums, horns, and cymbals. The Chaam dance showcases the culture of Tantric Buddhism preserved in Ladakh. The commoners relate the ceremony to the spiritual and physical well-being of the family.
2. Tulip Festival
The Valley of Kashmir is famous for its beautiful and vast tulip gardens. The region has the largest Tulip Garden in the entire continent, Asia. This is the inevitable reason that people of the area celebrate this beautiful festival, the Tulip Festival. Each year, during the spring season, Srinagar plays the role of the host of this famous festival. The prime venue of the celebration is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden.
The festival is famous among tourists. Many visitors come to Kashmir to experience this floral feeling among hundreds of tulips blooming in the garden. The locals also showcase their handicrafts skills, cuisine, and culture programs. You can become a part of this graceful festival in April.
3. Shikara Festival
The annual festival is another tourist-attracting festival of the state, and this is the relatively latest festival in the region. In 2016, the Government of Kashmir set its mind on celebrating the festival to promote tourism in the state.
The event comprises Shikara race, Dragon Boat race, and Canoe Polo match, among other cultural programs. The lifeline of Kashmir, Dal Lake, works as the host venue for these cultural programs. The locals beautifully paint the Shikaras. Along with this, the soft Sufi music playing the shikaras is total bliss.
4. Gurez Festival
The Gurez festival of Jammu and Kashmir highlights the culture and cultural heritage of the region. Like other recent festivals, the Gurez festival also set out as a fest to attract attention towards the region’s local culture. The people of Gurez valley celebrate and organize the festival to exhibit their cuisine, handicraft, and culture. The festival includes fun activities like river rafting, trekking, zorbing, and others.
5. Saffron Festival
It is yet another festival unique to Jammu and Kashmir in India. The state is known worldwide for its high-quality saffron. The age of tradition of celebrating the process of reaping saffron dates back to the pre-Mughal era. In recent times, the tourism department of the state rekindled this traditional festival.
The annual festival serves the dual purpose of first, celebrating and applauding the efforts of the cultivators, and second, promoting the tourism of the state. The activities that are part of the celebrations include the saffron plucking activity, followed by people playing traditional folk music of Kashmir and performing the folk dance. The most prestigious part of the festivities is the saffron kahwa sipping ceremony.
6. Shiv Khori Festival
The religious Hindu festival, Shiv Khori, marks the celebration of the broader scale Maha Shivratri every year. The venue of the cave shrine is on the hillock in Ransoo village of the Udhampur district of Jammu. The Pilgrims travel up to this holy shrine to seek the blessings of the almighty Lord Shiva.
The Shiv Khori festival marks the convergence of Lord Shiva and Shakti. In simple words, on this day, the devotees celebrate the marriage of lord shiva and Goddess Parvati. The state organizes the Shiva Khori Mela for the pilgrims, and this mela is one of the most significant socio-religious events of the state.
7. Bahu Mela
Bahu Mela is one of the most important festivals of Jammu. People organize the bahu mela on the occasion of Ramnavmi. The colorful and cheerful festival begins with people going to the Goddess Kali temple to seek blessings. This Goddess Kali temple is inside the grand Bahu fort of Jammu. The festival takes place twice a year. First, in March-April and second time during the months September-October.
Other than the festivals mentioned above, there are a plethora of celebrations of the state that the people celebrate fondly. The common festivals like Baisakhi, Lohri, Urs, and Eid also form a part of the zealous festivities of the state. Although the festivals are common, the way of celebration is unique to Jammu and Kashmir. Like other states of India in Jammu and Kashmir too, you would see some celebration going on, no matter which month you visit the place.