Punjab is in the north of India. Colorful fields, plenty of festivals, warm people, and lovely food are what come to mind when you hear about Punjab.

Let’s have a look at some of the best festivals in Punjab.

1) Lohri

The festival name comes from the traditional name Tilohri which means Til (black sesame seeds) and Lorhi which means jaggery or gur. Over time, the name was shortened to become Lohri. Lohri is a harvest festival celebrated in Punjab and is of utmost importance to the farmers. They pray and chant “may honor come and poverty vanish” while going around a sacred bonfire. Not only for farmers,but it is also equally important for new brides and parents with newborn babies. Lohri is celebrated for seeking blessings for the coming year and paying gratitude to God. It marks the end of winters and the onset of spring and is celebrated on the longest night of the year known as the  winter solstice. Ever wondered why is fire worshiped? The significance of the Lohri fire is that the flames are believed to bring hope that warm days are ahead and crops will grow and flourish. After the flames die out, Lohri food which includes Makki ki roti, Sarson ka saag, Til burfi, Pinni, etc is feasted on by everyone.

Where is it celebrated– all over Punjab, India

When– 13TH January

What is the experience – The community gathers together to worship Lord Agni and offers food like black sesame seeds, puffed rice, jaggery, gajak, and popcorn are fed to the fire as a part of the ritual which is followed by song and dance to the dhol.

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Celebrations around the Lohri fire. Photo credit: tourmyindia.com

2) Hola Mohalla

The festival of Hola Mohalla is celebrated mainly by the Sikh community specially Nihangs which is an armed order. Dressed in blue robes and orange turbans, the community celebrates bravery, commitment, valor, and fraternity. Guru Gobind Singh created the Hola Mohalla festival in the 17th century to practice military exercises. Wondering how is Hola Mohalla celebrated? It is a 3-day long festival celebrated by performing martial arts, mock battles, and horse riding stunts. Community kitchens are available for anyone who wishes to have a meal. The meaning of the Hola Mohalla festival is Hola means military charge while Mohalla means procession.

Where is it celebrated– Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, India.

When– It is usually celebrated in March, a day after Holi.

What is the experience –The day starts with prayers and religious songs at the Gurudwara which commences the festival. Pure adrenaline and bravado are seen as the participants immerse themselves in  various skilled acts. Everyone later enjoys langar which is lavish meals prepared in the community kitchen as a form of service.

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Hola Mohalla is celebrated in the historical town Anandpur Sahib of Ropar. Photo credit: Indian Express

3) Baisakhi

Baisakhi is celebrated as the spring harvest festival in Punjab and marks the beginning of the Sikh new year. It also celebrates the formation of the Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh.Farmers thank God for a good crop during Baisakhi.  Gurudwaras have beautiful lights and  there are 48 hours of non-stop prayers and offerings. During the afternoon, Granth Sahib (Holy Scriptures) is taken in procession with chanting, music, and songs. There are Baisakhi fairs all over the city to promote local businesses. Baisakhi food includes sweet rice, Punjabi Kadhi, Sarson ka saag, Pindi cholle, etc

Where is it celebrated– All over Punjab, India

When-13th or 14th of April every year

What is the experience- Dazzling dance forms like bhangra and gidda are performed in the streets along with folk music performances, especially near the Golden temple area. There are many bazaars specially set up during this time with a vast variety.

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Baisakhi celebrations. Photo courtesy: wikimedia.org

4) Teeyan

The festival of Teej is known by its regional name as Teeyan in Punjab. This festival is celebrated at the start of the monsoon season. Teeyan is a festival celebrated mainly by daughters and sisters. It is a special time as newlywed daughters come to their parent’s home where they are greeted with sweets and gifts from parents and other male relatives.Traditionally, the festivities would continue for as long as the women wished to celebrate with song and dance.Kheer, Puri Halwa, and Gulgule is the food prepared during Teeyan and is relished by everyone.

Where is it celebrated– Punjab, India

When– during  July / August

What is the experience– Makeshift swing adorns the branches of the trees while women enjoy dancing gidda, swinging, and singing songs.

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Women enjoying celebrating Teeyan festival. Photo courtesy: wikimedia.org

5) Chappar Mela

Chappar Mela started around 150 years ago and had initially started as a religious gathering. Today, the mela gathers crowds of millions of people and has turned into a fair. There are various stalls and entertainment for everyone visiting. Chappar Mela is held to worship the snake embodiment of Guga,believed to have extraordinary powers over all kinds of snakes.

Where is it celebrated– In the town of Chappar, Ludhiana, Punjab

When– September

What is the experience- There is a variety of food, games, arts and crafts in the fairs conducted in the city. Everyone enjoys traditional folk songs and folk dance as well.

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Chappar Mela, Punjab. Photo credit: wimann-tours.de

6) Basant Panchami

There is so much to know about Basant Panchami. It is celebrated in Punjab to mark the initial preparation for the arrival of spring. The fields are in full bloom and are a sight to behold. Basant Panchami celebrations include wearing yellow colored clothes to mark flowering mustard fields. Yellow is believed to be the color of goddesses and is considered auspicious. Fairs organized sell bangles, clothes, dupattas, and edible items. There are processions of people dancing in the villages. Food eaten during Basant Panchami includes Makki ki roti and Sarson ka saag.

Where is it celebrated– Punjab, India

When– January or February.

What is the experience– Kite flying competitions are held during Basant Panchami. Colorful skies are a treat to the eyes coupled with the good cheer of people singing and dancing to bhangra to show their happiness.

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Women enjoying in the full bloom fields. Photo credit: spinonfestivals.com

7) Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan

Ever wondered what is special about Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan? It is the world’s oldest festival of Indian classical music. It has been going on for 131 years. Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan  is declared one of the National festivals by the Department of Tourism, Government of India. Classical music lovers from all around the world show up for this 3-day event. Famous artists like Zakhir Hussein and Pandit Ravi Shankar etc are associated with the festival over the years.

Where is it celebrated– Jalandhar?

When– December every year for 3 days

What is the experience– Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan musical mela starts in the afternoon with a lineup of talented musicians and performers with different instruments? It is a treat to the ears for true music lovers.

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Performers at Harballabh Sangee..t Sammelan. Photo credit: youtube.com