Festivals of South India

The southern region of India comprises of four states namely Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and the union territory of Pondicherry. The weather in these regions is mainly hot and pleasant during winters. The coastal areas are pleasant throughout the year with heavy rainfall during the monsoons. South India follows the Dravidian tradition and has different ways to celebrate their own festivals.
Famous for their passion for religion, tradition, customs and culture, people living in South India follow a very ritualistic lifestyle. Therefore, festivals of South India make them popular all over the globe.  The tourists visiting South India during festive time will definitely try not to miss the celebrations of the festivals.
Andhra Pradesh represents cosmopolitan nature and varied customs and cultures are prevalent here. Hyderabad being the capital of this state, which was ruled by the Nizam, has seen the state celebrating the Id festivals with great fervour. Biryani and Haleem preparations are the specialty of Telugu Muslims during Ramzan. The festival of Makar Sankranti or Pongal holds special place in Andhra community. This harvest festival is celebrated for 3 days in Mid January. The New Year falling in the month of April is called the Ugadi and celebrated with new clothes and sweets. The birthday of Lord Ganesh, Vinayak Chaturthi, falling in September is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Rayalseema Food and Dance Festival and Lumbini Festival are unique to Andhra Pradesh. Tirumala Brahmotsavam is celebrated annually at Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple at Tirupati around September and October. 
Karnataka has a multi religious and multi cultured population. Hence there is a lot of variety in the festivities and celebrations. The most famous of them all is its special Dushera, popularly known as the Mysore Dushera. The Kannadigas celebrate this festival with pomp and glamor and dedicate the festival to Goddess Chamundeshwari. It is a 10-day long festival which falls in the month of October. On the last day of Vijaya Dashami, a colourful procession of caparisoned elephants carrying the idol of goddess Chamundi is taken through the gaily-decorated streets of the city. The festival was started by the Maharaja of Mysore and is being continued till date.
Another unique festival of Karnataka is the Karaga festival which is celebrated in Bangalore in the honour of the queen of Pandavas, Draupadi. Karaga is celebrated on the full moon day of April, the first month of the Kannada calendar. Yugadi is the New Year celebration in Karnataka. This usually falls on the day after the new moon day in the month of March or April.Hampi Festival is organized in November-December in appreciation of the ruined city of Hampi, which was once the capital of the Vijaynagar empire. The city comes to life during this festival, which consist of dance, drama, music, fireworks, puppet shows, and marvelous processions, which adds to its great attraction among the tourists.
The Rajyotsava Day is a state festival celebrated November 1st every year to commemorate the formation of the state.
Kerala, famous as God’s own country, is famous for its back waters and boat races. This small state has nearly equal population of Hindus, Muslims and Christians staying and celebrating their festivals in harmony. Vishu is the New Year of the Malayali people, which falls every year on 14th of April. Another important festival is the Onam. Onam falls in August – September. This day is celebrated in the honour of the King Mahabali who once ruled Kerala. Trichur Pooram is celebrated in the sweltering heat of the summer season at the Vadakkunathan Temple in Trichur. It is believed that on this day the respective deities of other temples visit Vadakkunathan temple.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race is Held every year on the second Saturday of August. This water carnival is the biggest snake boat race in the world. The colorful boats with loads of spectators is a marvelous treat for tourists. This annual regatta is held on the Punnamada Backwaters of Alappuzha and is the most famous of all. A complete magnificent occasion to visit Kerala and explore its riches.
Pongal, the harvest festival is the most popular festival of Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated over 4 days in the month of January. On the First day of fest (Bhogi), people clean up their places and homes taking out each and every wastage and unusable item and burning them up in the bonfire. The second day (Surya Pongal) marks worshiping and offering prayers while paying homage to Sun God. On the third day they pay homage to cattle, which are decorated and given food. The fourth day is biggest day, people gather at various places and celebrate the last day with dance, music and feast.
Natyanjali Dance Festival is organized to mark respect and importance to the lord of dancers, Lord Nataraja. This famous fest is organized annually in the month of February during the beginning of Mahashivratri. The Meenakshi Kalyanam is a ten day festival, which takes place in April – May at Madurai. On this day the Goddess Meenakshi is wedded to Lord Shiva. The Karthigai Deepam festival can be termed as an extension of Diwali in Tamil Nadu as it falls just after the main festival of Diwali. It is the festival dedicated to the immortal light created by lord Shiva. Many houses add one lamp for the day from Diwali and by this day the houses are full of Lamps. The lamps are worshiped and they burn day and night also on the streets.
The Masimagam festival in mid March is a huge celebration when deities of around 50 odd temples from nearby reach Pondicherry. A sanctimonious sea bath is then held on the beach. Thousands come to witness and participate in this festival. The Veerampattinam and the Villianur Car Festival are held in July and May respectively. The deities of these temples are taken out on carriages, which are drawn by devotees. Masquerade, held in March – April, is a popular mask festival, during which brilliantly costumed and masked people of Pondicherry, dance down the streets to the music of trumpets and accordions. During the Eve of the Bastille Day in July, retired soldiers parade the streets in war finery, singing the French and Indian National Anthem.

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