Gujarat is well known for being a prized destination to celebrate Navratri. That said, this colourful state isn’t only home of this Hindu festival, it’s also an amazing place to celebrate many other festivals and to take part of unique fairs, some of the best in India. Don’t just go to Gujarat for a quick stop between Mumbai and Rajasthan; instead, make the most of it and enjoy one of these 10 famous festivals in Gujarat.
Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about Navratri when talking about the best festivals in Gujarat. Although it is celebrated everywhere in India, Gujarat remains among people’s favourite place to celebrate it, if not the number one place to do so. Lasting for 10 days, this festival worships the Hindu goddess Durga and all of her incarnations. All around the state of Gujarat, you will be able to enjoy nine days of dancing on the best of Gujarati music.
Where : Anywhere around the state
When : Navrati is celebrated during fall, either in October or September.
Don’t miss it : If you can, also try to be there for the night after Navrati, called Dussehra. That’s when people celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana with fireworks, dancing nights and burning handmade effigies.
2. Rann utsav
Many people seem to forget that Gujarat is also home of an impressive phenomenon : a salt desert, known as the Great Rann of Kutch. Celebrate the nature’s beauty, a spectacular wonder, with Rann Utsav festival. During this celebration, you can take part of many different activities such as camel excursions, ATV rides, meditation, yoga and much more. It’s also the perfect moment to discover the best of Gujarati culture.
Where : Kutch, also known as Kachchh
When : The festival normally takes place during November and February
Don’t miss it : If you have the chance, stay the night in a tent to experience the festival at its best.
3. Vautha Fair
If you were hoping to see a big trading fair in India, this is your chance! Vautha Fair is the moment of the year where people in Gujarat set up tents and trade thousands of camels, cows and donkeys, most of them beautifully decorated and painted. Up to 25,000 people participate every year which is why it is considered as the biggest livestock fair around. The festival last few days and it takes place at one of the holiest location.
Where : Vautha
When : Every year, in November
Don’t miss it : Taste the great Gujarati cuisine and try some of the local food.
4. International Kit Festival
Celebrate the beginning of harvest season and play with handmade kites of different sizes. You have never seen the sky so colourful before! It’s truly fun to take part of this festival and you will see people being really enthusiastic about it. It’s your chance to learn how to play with a kite; It’s not as easy as it looks like. The festivities are not just in the sky, different activities are also taking place around the streets and it’s a great moment to try the yummiest local food.
Where : Anywhere around the state, but Ahmedabad is one the most famous place to go.
When : January 14th of every year
Don’t miss it : Wake up early and look at the sky waking up. People start playing with kites from 5 AM.
5. Modhera Dance Festival
Gujarat is home of more or less 200 festivals every year, but there’s no doubt that Modhera Dance Festival is among the most famous ones. Lasting for three days, it’s the best occasion to learn more about the traditional dances of Gujarat and of all India, but also to discover the classical Indian music. It attracts many tourists every time.
Where : Modhera Sun Temple, Modhera
When : Third week of January
Don’t miss it : Discover the Modhera Sun Temple and its great architecture. At night, with the lights, it’s simply magical.
6. Tanariri Festival
One year ago, in 2016, the Tanariri Festival of Gujarat made a new Guinness record : 640 harmonium artists played together the Indian National Athem. This festival is always celebrated in such grandiose ways because it is honouring an important story of Gujarati folk culture, the story of Tana and Riri. It is said that these two sisters were born in 1564 and were asked to sing in the court of Akbar, an important Emperor, to heal him. Some say they refused to and committed suicide instead, but others claim they sang and saved the health of the Emperor. Anyhow, the festival commemorates them every year with colorful festivities.
Where : Vadnagar
When : In November
Don’t miss it : Tanariri Festival is one of the best moment of the year to hear the folk music of Gujarat.
7. Rath Yatra
Ratha Yatra is an Hindu festival which honours Lord Jagannath’s journey to Gundicha Temple, located in Puri, on the west coast of India. Although there are different activities during this celebration, the true highlight is the three impressively huge chariots which represent the journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra to the temple. The main celebrations are mostly in Puri, but since there is an important Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad, it is also celebrated in Gujarat.
Where : Ahmedabad
When : In the summer, either in June or July
Don’t miss it : Take part of the impressive parade which is taking place all around the city.
8. Shamlaji Melo
Many people participate in Shamlaji Melo Holy fair, no matter their caste, religion or where they are from. This festival, also known as Karti Purnima Fair, gathers everyone, especially tribes, and this is also why it’s so interesting to take part of it. You will see many of the devotees arriving in groups, maybe on camels, singing devotional songs and holding religious banners.
Where : Shamlaji Temple, Shamlaji
When : Every november
Don’t miss it : It’s also a a great moment to buy handicraft souvenirs like jewels.
Also known as Lord Krishna’s birthday, the Janmashtami celebrations are taking place everywhere in the country, but Gujarat has its own way to celebrate it. Among the many activities, some people are doing impressive human pyramids competitions while others play “Teen-Patti”, a card game similar to poker. Devotees also follow the daily routine of Lord Krishna which includes brushing the idol’s teeth and washing his face with water.
Where : Anywhere in the state, but mostly in Dwarka and in Kutch district.
When : During the summer, either in August or September
Don’t miss it : Look at the temples and the houses beautifully decorated with ornaments and representation of Lord Krishna. A colourful set-up!
10. Dangs Darbar
Most certainly one of the greatest tribal festival of Gujarat, Dangs Darbar is famous among locals and tourists. People normally get dressed in traditional clothing, vivid costumes, and decorate themselves with beautiful jewels, which is all very interesting to look at. It’s also very impressive to watch them dancing traditional dances on the rhythm of the wind instruments. The festival is a true delight of its own.
Where : Ahwa region
When : One week before Holi, either in April or March
Don’t miss it : Since you are around, stay one more week and celebrate colourful Holi, one of the most important festival in India. The whole state of Gujarat is a great place to celebrate it.