10 Uncommon And Unusual Festivals In India

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India is a nation that comprises of glorious diversities and it is clearly evident in the myriad of festivals that we celebrate. But only a few of us know about the unusual practices and festivals in India that are carried out even today. Dating back to ancient times, most of these festivals are truly bizarre and would leave you completely bewildered. Take a look of 10 most bizarre festivals in India!

1- Thaipoosam in Tamil Nadu

Image source: Thaipoosam in Tamil Nadu

The festival is primarily celebrated by Lord Muruga’s devotees. The devotees pierce their lips with spears, pierce mouth with sharp metal objects, and hook their skin to chains as they try to pull the chariot in order to pay regards to the deity. Celebrated in Tamil Nadu mostly in the temples of Lord Muruga Thaipoosam Thaipusam is another unusual festival of India. The temple authorities appoint priests and other chosen ones who are required to perform activities like walking on burning coal.

Marking the celebrations, devotees bathe and smear themselves in turmeric. During the proceedings, the priests of the temple are required to carry the decorated images of the deities over their head, all covered in the colourful umbrella and acting as a shelter. The festival also organizes a lot of events that are a must-watch for the onlookers.

2- Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu

Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu

Believed as one of the fiercest festivals in India, Jallikattu is a South Indian festival which involves bull-taming. More like the tauromachy festival which is organized in Spain, Jallikattu attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. The festival can be mainly seen in Palamedu and Alanganallur, the towns in Tamilnadu. believed to be practiced from the 3rd century AD,

Jallikattu is a popular bull-taming festival where bulls are bred to entertain the spectators and not get tamed easily. Until last year, the Supreme court had put a ban on the festival because of the sufferings that animals had to endure. As of now, the ban has been lifted and the festival is being celebrated in Kerala.

3- Muharram across India

Muharram across India Image source

Muharram means mourning the death of Imam Hussain Ali. This festival is rather popular as the mourning festival when followers of Imam, especially the Shia Muslims inflict wounds with a sharp object. Celebrated on the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram is another unusual festival of India celebrated across the country by Shia Muslims.

The festival indicates mass mourning over the death of Hussain Ali- the third Imam of the Shia community. The death of Imam symbolizes the struggle against tyranny and injustice. The festival is mostly celebrated in the month of September or October.

4- Nag Panchami across India

Nag Panchami across India Image Source

The festival is dedicated to Nag Devta and is celebrated across India during the month of July or August. This tradition of worshipping snakes dates back to prehistoric times when Aryans used to worship the snake considering them as the god. The festival is primarily celebrated in Bengal, Maharashtra, and South India. Nagas have been associated with Lord Brahma and they are considered auspicious in Hinduism. Commemorating snake on the eve of this festival is an unusual yet important act considered by the devotees.

5- Thimithi in Tamil Nadu

Thimithi in Tamil Nadu

One of the most unusual festivals in India, Thimithi is rather a dangerous festival that involves walking on a wire. The ritual is carried out carried as a religious vow in exchange for blessings from Draupadi who was the wife of the five Pandava brothers from epic Maharashtra. During the occasion, various scenes are enacted by the devotees of the lord as they walk on the burning coal and endure the pain. This supports the fact that the god gets pleased with such an act.  

Held in between October and November in Tamil Nadu, the Thimithi festival is another unusual festival in India, which also includes bathing the Mariamman with milk. There is also a silver chariot procession carried out to commemorate the victory of Pandavas.

6- Theyyam in Kerala

Theyyam in Kerala

Theyyam is an unusual festival in India celebrated in South India festival which includes dangerous feats from highly trained devotees. Among others, the feats include dancing while wearing a crown of hair of length 10-12 meters, walking fire embers, wearing coconut fronds, and performing with burning wicks of wire tied around the waist.

With all the fire and burning logs around, this unusual festival is a major crowd puller in South India. The festival of Theyyam celebrates the 800-year-old tradition. October-May is the right time when this festival is celebrated in India.

7- Snake Boat Race Festival in Kerala

Snake Boat Race Festival in Kerala

Celebrated during Onam Festival which further depends on the phase of the Moon, the Snake Boat Race is the perfect way to watch the spirit of Kerala. The festival is marked by a boat race in which the boats are designed as a snake. As the racing time approaches, there is an unusual fierce competition among the participants. The boat racing in Kerala dates back to 400 years and still considered as one of the most popular festivals in South India. The races during Snake boat racing festival takes place in the Kerala backwaters.

8- Puli Kali in  Kerala

A popular yet unusual festival celebrated in Tripunithura in Kerala, the Puli Kali Festival celebrates the century-old tradition of Kerala. Puli Kali is said to have originated over 200 years back when a Maharaja of Cochin decided to celebrate Onam retracing the wild and macho spirit of the force.

Today Puli Kali is a striking feature of Onam where performers dress up in readymade masks, cosmetic teeth, tongues, beards, and moustaches. The festival includes different forms of folk, art, dance, and music. A must-visit festival is during the month of August – September.

9- Madai Festival in Chhattisgarh

Madai Festival in Chhattisgarh Image source

A popular tribal festival in Chhatisgarh, Madai festival is yet another unusual festival which is not widely known across the country. Celebrated in parts of Kanker, Bastar, and Dantewada. Among several rituals that take place during the festival folk dance and music, prayers, and sacrifice of goats are the most popular ones. During the festival, one can easily witness a bright gala affair with shops and eateries. December to March makes for the perfect time to visit the festival.

10- Bhagoriya Festival in Madhya Pradesh

Bhagoriya Festival in Madhya Pradesh

Organised in the West Nimar(Khargon) and Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, the Bhagoria Festival is incredibly unusual as it includes the marriage of tribal boys and girls. Quite interestingly, the Bhil and Bhilala tribes of the region put red powder on the face of the girl they want to marry. And thus their marriage is done.

If the girl refuses the proposal, the boy gets another chance to woo the girl. February/March is the time to attend the Bhagoria festival.

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