Festivals and Events in Mumbai
Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city with diverse cultures. Find out about the religious and cultural festivals which are celebrated here…
This festival held on 14 January has various names and is celebrated across India. For certain castes, it is also the celebration of New Year. As well as following traditional rituals, Mumbai's citizens also fly kites, creating a sky that blazes with colour.
At the end of March the Festival of Colours is celebrated by lighting a holi or bonfire. It is believed that all evil is purged in the fire. The following day people celebrate further by throwing coloured powders and water on each other.
Gudi Padwa is the Maharashtrian New Year, which is also the start of the Hindi calendar in March or April. Celebrated across Maharashtra, new clothes are bought, and there are offerings and prayers, as well as a prasad made of neem leaves, gram pulse and jagerry.
Lord Krishna's birth is celebrated in August by fasting, and praying until midnight. The Dahi Handi ceremony is also performed: earthen pots filled with milk and butter are hung seven to 12 metres high. Groups of people form human pyramids to try and reach a pot and break it. The winning group is awarded a cash prize, which is distributed among the group.
On Lord Ganesh's birthday in September, celebrants worship idols of Lord Ganesh in their homes. Usually, these idols remain in homes for two to ten days; they are then immersed in water. Throughout Mumbai large idols are displayed by various groups and celebrations can last for up to ten days. On the tenth day, all kinds of people from various sects flock to see the idols immersed. Special arrangements are made by the government to regulate traffic.
Also known as 'Ramzan', this is the Muslim community's holy month. They fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset, culminating with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. During this period, there are all-night food festivals in Mumbai, especially in Mohammad Ali Road in South Mumbai, where there is a buffet almost a kilometre long offering various kinds of food, including vegetarian dishes.
This ten-day festival in October is celebrated throughout India in various ways. The first nine days are called Navratri where believers pray to the Goddess Durga. During this period, Mumbai hosts the Dandiya Festival, where men and women of all ages dress in traditional style and dance the Garba and the Dandiya Raas. The final day is called Dussehra: according to the epic Ramayan, on this day Lord Ram killed the evil Ravan and good triumphed over evil.
The Festival of Lights in November is celebrated by wearing new clothes, enjoying spectacular fireworks and eating a variety of sweets in the company of family and friends. Homes are cleaned and painted beforehand and rangoli (decorative designs in bright colours) are placed at the entrance. Both homes and shops are decorated with lights and lamps. Friends and relatives meet up and exchange sweets and gifts during this period.
Banganga Festival: Top Indian classical artists perform during the festival, which is organised annually in January by Maharashtra Tourism.
- At: Walkeshwar, South Mumbai
Elephanta Festival: Music concerts and dance shows are performed in front of the caves under an open sky. Organised by Maharashtra tourism, it takes place every year in February.
- At: Elephanta Caves, Elephanta Island
Kala Ghoda Festival: Every year, India's largest multicultural festival takes place over nine days from the first Saturday in February to the following Sunday. It involves music, dance, theatre, visual arts and literature, as well as heritage walks. Workshops are also organised. What started as a local festival now draws the attention of the entire country, and is also gaining international acclaim.
- At: Kala Ghoda area, South Mumbai
- For further information about the Kala Ghoda Festival: Click here
Further information about all three festivals can be found on the website of Maharashtra Tourism.