Fairs and Festivals in Kashmir

The rich and varied religious, cultural and social heritage of Kashmir has resulted in many fairs and festivals in the region. The main regions of the state, Kashmir Valley, Jammu Valley and Ladakh have their own way of celebrating these festivals, but all celebrations are about joy, as well as somber reflection, binding the three regions into the marvelous whole that is Kashmir.

Given below is a calendar of events in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. With Taj Mahal Tourism, visit as many of the fairs and festivals in Kashmir as you can, and get to know more about the culture, lifestyles and beliefs of the people.

Losar - January
Losar marks the onset of the Ladakhi New Year. The festival is marked by buying new clothes and jewelry, and holding large feasts. Celebrated by the Buddhists of Leh, it is not uncommon to see their Hindu and Muslim neighbors join the celebrations as well. The festival is one of the bigger fairs and festivals in Kashmir.

Lohri - January Lohri is celebrated in the Hindu majority Jammu Valley to mark the onset of spring. The festival is characterized by nighttime bonfires around which people dance and spend time in chatting with family and friends.

Purmandal Mela - February
Held in the pleasant month of February, Purmandal Mela celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva to his consort Parvati. Celebrated in the city of Purmandal, the colors and liveliness of this festival is a proof of the vibrancy of the fairs and festivals in Kashmir.

Shivratri -February
Celebrated with gaiety and fervor, the Shivratri festival of the Jammu Valley celebrates the union of the "jiva" (mortal) with Lord Shiva, the eternal. Dedicated to the Lord Shiva, the Shivratri is one of the biggest of the Kashmir fairs and festivals

Baisakhi - March
Celebrated by the Sikh population of Jammu, Baisakhi celebrates the harvest season. It also commemorates the formation of the Khalsa order by the 10 Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh ji.

Bahu Mela - April /October
The Bahu Mela is celebrated twice a year, in April and October, in honor of the Goddess Kali whose temple lies in the Bahu Fort.

Chaitre Chaudash - April
Celebrated in the month of April, the Chaitre Chaudash celebrations reach a crescendo at Uttar Behni, 30 kilometers from Jammu city.

Hemis -June
The Hemis festival is celebrated by the Buddhists of Ladakh Valley. The site of the festivities is the Hemis Gompha, 50 kilometers from Leh. It commemorates the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, the great Buddhist teacher. Monks perform sacred dances while others play the traditional long flute of Ladakh.

Id -ul-Zuha - July
Celebrated in July, this festival commemorates the faith of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians), who agreed to sacrifice his son to God. On this day, lambs and sheep are slaughtered to reenact the Prophet's act of faith.

Ladakh Festival - August
Held by the Department of Tourism, the Ladakh festival showcases the rich culture of Ladakh. The festival is marked by dance performances, music shows and much more. Ladakh is a little known place, and the Ladakh Festivals give outsiders a chance to know the culture of this modern day Shangri La.

Jhiri Mela - October
The Jhiri Mela is one of the more somber fairs and festivals of Kashmir. It commemorates the martyrdom of Jitu Baba, a farmer of Jhiri who killed himself because he was unable to bear the tyranny of the local landlord.

Id-ul-Fitr - November
Id ul Fitr marks the end of the austere fasting month of Ramadan. Muslims all over Kashmir can be seen buying new clothes and indulge in some well-earned feasting.

Diwali - November
One of the most important festivals of Hindus, Diwali is celebrated across the Jammu Valley in the month of November. The festival is an occasion to don new clothes, light earthen lamps to call the Goddess of Wealth, and burst firecrackers. If you are in Kashmir in November, be sure to witness the fervor and joy of this festival, a giant among the Hindu fairs and festivals in Kashmir.
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