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India Festivals - Mumbai

Mumbai’s Top Three Festivals

Mumbai, the land of dreams and buzzing energy. Flooded with filmmakers, labourers, fishermen, artists and servants, they do know how to celebrate amongst all that chaos.

Here are the top three festivals you need to celebrate with them:


Nine equals Navratri

Dance all night long for 9 nights? Well, that is what Navratri stands for. You won’t want to miss out on the nine nights of exhilarating dancing, nine nights of electrifying music and nine nights of vibrant outfits. It’s sooo much better than your typical Saturday night out – trust us! 

Typically falling around September and October, Navratri is the celebration of the Hindu Goddess Durga. Legend has it she slayed a demon who was destroying the Earth. This relentless battle lasted nine days and nine nights, thus, this is why you’ll have the time of your life celebrating Goddess Durga’s victory.

Hindus believe the Goddess symbolises Mother Earth and the cosmic energy. So be prepared to tap into your zen and throw that energy onto the dance-floor. Garba is the traditional folk dance for this buoyant festival - very easy to learn. Clapping in a circle with a little-two-step is the crux of it. 

Streets glowing with lights on people dressed up to the nines in lively ensembles. Navratri is time of year where people fish out their best outfits and flaunt their traditional attire. 

To blend into the crowd, this is what you’ll need:

Boys – Grab yourself a long kurta shirt. Find them in bustling markets near the time of Navratri. Team a subtle kurta with a bright fiery red or sunny yellow shawl. Loose trousers are best for all that dancing.

Girls – Garba is made for elaborate chaniya cholis to be twirled around boasting vivid colours that dazzle the eyes. Think embroidered crop top adorned with tikki work, paired with a radiant yellow full-floor length skirt with a rich blue veil over the shoulder. Go for reds, yellows, blues, pinks and greens. Brightest colours are the best to stand out in the crowd.

Complete your look with oxidised silver jewellery to give you that tribal edge. 

Mumbai is a hotspot for Navratri. If you want to venture out, take a 2 hour train to Surat, Gujarat. The home of Garba - you're in for a treat!

Diwali

India is a captivating place to visit at any time of year but there’s no more perfect time to visit than the Hindu festival of Diwali. Witness India thrive during the festival of lights. The night sky filled with booming glowing pigments, miniature diyas (oil lamps) light up the luminous city with a riot of colour. Immerse yourself in one of the best examples of Indian culture. 

As Hinduism has been around for 4000 years (the oldest religion in the world), Diwali, originally known as Deepavali, is the biggest date in the calendar for Hindus. It’s believed Diwali, is celebrated on the Hindu god Lord Rama’s return home, after killing the 10-headed demon that kidnapped his wife, Sita. In the epic ‘Ramayana’, it’s noted Lord Rama and Sita went into exile for 14 years and the monkey-god, Lord Hanuman assisted Lord Rama in battling the demon. On their return home, the ancient kingdom of Ayodhya was lit with diyas, tiny oil lamps, to celebrate their victory. 

Now, every single bit of India is lit up on Diwali as the whole country is united during this festival. Usually in October or November, lasting for 5 days, the third day is where it all kicks off. Glittering fireworks flood the night sky and you’ll see children with sparklers running through the alleyways. Smell rose and sandalwood incense coming from people’s homes. It’s believed cleaning your home and keeping it fragrant with love and a pleasant aroma will invite the Hindu Goddess Laxmi - the goddess of health, wealth and happiness. Deities believe she only transcends the heavens on Diwali, so keep yourself in tip top condition and she’ll bless you too!

The festivities don’t stop there, get involved with drawing colourful Rangoli artwork on the pavements. Using coloured powders, crushed rice and flower petals to create traditional geometric or floral designs. But you can draw whatever you fancy, Rangoli will always make walking on the pavement more joyful.

From designs to tattoos, why not get a henna tattoo? Diwali is the perfect time to decorate your body. You’ll find henna artists at every nook and cranny drawing their elegant illustrations on locals’ hands. Try a peacock design or an Arabic pattern - simply beautiful. Henna jazzes up the hands and literally brings Diwali to your temple!

Ganesh Chaturthi

Brace yourself, during the time of Ganesh Chaturthi India goes wild! Idols that are literally larger than life, grand celebrations and you’ll find artsy modaks everywhere - (a steamed rice flour sweet filled with freshly grated coconut and jaggery). Make sure you have a sweet tooth at this monumental festival, as Lord Ganesha is known to be a major foodie.

As son of the Hindu God Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha is believed to be the remover of obstacles, the one who grants abundant boons and the Lord of great beginnings. Traditionally celebrated at home, the big celebrations began only in 1882. King Shivaji of Maharashtra thought it would be great to infuse the festival with cultural harmony and nationalistic feelings. Due to the British Raj, Ganesh Chaturthi was revived to be a social function in unifying Indians and create social oneness. The festival was used as a catalyst to deliver motivational speeches and fight against the British rule. However today, it’s a festival people cannot wait for. 

There is just something in the air when Ganesh Chaturthi is approaching. Artists are finishing up their last paint-strokes on the 15-feet clay idols that are about to parade the streets whilst sweet shops make modaks, ladoos (sphere-shaped sweet made from flour, sugar and ghee), banana sheera (banana, sugar, ghee and semolina), shrikhand (creamy sweet strained curd topped with saffron and cardamom), and these are just a few of them. You need to be there to experience the enormity and the food (of course) of the festival. 

Celebrated best in the state of Maharashtra, you have to visit Mumbai during the celebrations. Mumbai knows how to do Ganesh Chaturthi big! Mumbaikars are known to ride or die for Lord Ganesha. Witness their passion as they dance through the streets pulling enormous idols of Lord Ganesha, throwing coloured powder, banging dhols and lezim’s (native instrument of Maharashtra) ringing through the atmosphere. At the end of this 10-day festival, the idols are submerged into the Indian Ocean. Hindu’s believe it signifies the return to the ever flowing Universe and the clay idols dissolve in the water. 

There you go, from traditional outfits, blasting fireworks and dancing behind the idol of the elephant God, experience Mumbai to the fullest through its rich culture and most celebrated festivals. 


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