List of Harvest Festivals of India

India is the home of festivals, a vibrant country filled with happy events and fascinating mythological stories. Harvest celebrations are events that take place during a region’s primary harvest. Because of differences in climate and main crops, each of India’s 28 states celebrates its harvest festival at various times of the year. 

Bihu, Pongal, Makara Sankranti, Lohri – the names and places vary, but the meaning is the same: to be thankful for a plentiful harvest. A sizable proportion of the Indian population is actively engaged in agrarian activities. The first harvest of their new crop is a happy moment for them. It is a moment to celebrate the food that has been cultivated.

In this article, we will cover these festivals in brief. If you are an IAS aspirant and preparing for UPSC CSE, the topic is very significant from the exam’s point of view.

The topic is also relevant if you are preparing for various Government Exams.

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List of Harvest Festivals in India 

Harvest festivals may be found at various times in different places across the world due to differences in climate and crops. The following are the important harvest festivals celebrated in India:

S. No. The Harvest Festival States in which it is celebrated
1 Makar Sakranti Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Himachal, West Bengal, and Punjab
2 Baisakhi/ Vaisakhi Punjab and Haryana
3 Ladakh Harvest Festival Ladakh, Zanskar and Kargil
4 Lohri Punjab
5 Bohag Bihu Assam
6 Wangala Meghalaya and Assam
7 Ka Pomblang Nongkrem Meghalaya
8 Nuakhai Orissa
9 Nabanna West Bengal
10 Onam Kerala
11 Pongal Tamil Nadu
12 Vishu Kerala and Karnataka
13 Gudi Padwa Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

Find the List of Indian Festivals, by clicking the link attached.

Key Facts about Indian Harvest Festivals 

Makar Sakranti:

  • Makar Sankranti is India’s oldest and most colourful harvest festival, celebrated across the country. 
  • People in Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, and Punjab, in particular, celebrate the harvest of fresh crops with bonfires, carnivals, music, dances, kite flying, and rallies.
  • Makar Sankranti marks the sun’s arrival into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) as it moves along its celestial route.
  • According to Hindu mythology, this festival signifies the end of a bad phase and the beginning of a good one.
  • It is celebrated in different states with different names: 
    • Uttarayan in Gujarat- International Kite Festival is celebrated since 1989, as part of the official celebration of ‘Uttarayan’.
    • Maghi in Punjab- Bathing in a river in the early morning hours of Maghi is essential.
    • Magha Saaji in the Himachal Pradesh- This day marks the beginning of the month of Magha.
    • Kicheri In Uttar Pradesh– It involves ceremonial bathing in the river.
    • Pongal in Tamil Nadu- It is celebrated over 4 days at harvest time.
  • The Kumbh Mela and many delectable sweet foods consisting of sesame and jaggery are the main attractions of the Makar Sankranti festival.

Onam:

  • Onam is a historical harvest festival in Kerala that is celebrated with tremendous zeal in various regions of the state. 
  • With the advent of Mahabali, the festival lasts ten days.
  • People celebrate the successful harvest by decorating their house entry with flower rangoli, wearing new traditional costumes, cooking wonderful food, and celebrating with traditional music and dancing.
  • Traditional Malayalee foods such as Rasam, Payasam, Avial, brown rice, and parippu curry are served to guests in traditional green leaf, and the snake boat race and tiger dance are extremely enjoyable to witness.

Baisakhi/ Vaisakhi:

  • Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is celebrated in Punjab and Haryana by thanking God for a bountiful crop. 
  • The farmers express their joy and enjoyment by celebrating this Indian harvest festival.
  • People dress up in their brightest outfits, sing the happiest tunes, and dance to the melodic sounds of Dhol. 
  • There are also Baisakhi fairs where acrobatics, wresting, algoza, and vanjli acts are also witnessed.
  • Men’s Bhangra and women’s Giddha are the main attractions of the Baisakhi celebration.

Lohri:

  • Lohri is a well-known harvest celebration in Punjab that features traditional dance and music. It heralds the conclusion of the winter season and is historically said to usher in the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. 
  • It is celebrated the night before Makar Sankranti 
  • To beat the winter chill, the entire family and neighbours congregate around a campfire and sing together, offering grains, corns, and nuts to honour and appreciate the spectacular harvest of sugarcane crops.
  • The Punjabi traditional Sunder Mundriye, which is sung by everyone, is one of the festival’s main attractions.

Ladakh Harvest Festival:

  • The festival is celebrated in Ladakh, Zanskar and Kargil. 
  • With the start of this harvest festival, Ladakh seems bright, lovely, and incredibly stunning. 
  • The Ladakh Harvest Festival has acquired worldwide acclaim and popularity. 
  • As part of this festival, monasteries and stupas are adorned, and pilgrimages to the Thangka of Kyabje Gombo are required. 
  • The celebration also includes archery, historic social and cultural events, and art and handicrafts.
  • Dramas, or ‘Chhams,’ are performed to depict Buddha’s life and teachings, as well as other dance styles from Tibetan culture. They are the main attraction of the festival.

Bohag Bihu:

  • Every year in April, the whole state of Assam celebrates Bohag Bihu with zeal and joy. It represents the beginning of the Assamese new year.
  • This is an unusual and colourful name on the list of harvest festivals in India, also known as Magh Bihu.
  • Farmers in Assam rejoice and enjoy their harvesting efforts and receive the benefits. Uruka, the communal feast, kicks off the festivities the night before.
  • On Bihu, the mejis or pavilions, built of clay and hay, are burned. Local ladies dress in magnificent mukhtars and take part in group singing and dances. 
  • Bihu festival highlights include the Bihu dance, bullfight, birds battle, and Sunga Pitha, Til Pitha, and Laru.
  • It is thought that the event began when the valley’s inhabitants began tilling the ground. Bihu is thought to be as old as the Brahmaputra River.

Ka Pomblang Nongkrem:

  • It is mainly celebrated in Meghalaya.
  • The people of the Khasi hills revere Goddess Ka Blei Synshar
  • It is believed that Ka Pomblang Nongkrem provides the community with the most joy and happiness. 
  • People celebrate the abundant crop with great enthusiasm and zeal. 
  • The two main features of the Ka Pomblang Nongkrem festival are the Pemblang ritual and the Tangmuri ceremony.
  • The event includes animal sacrifice and the Nongkrem dance, which is performed with a sword in one hand and a yak hair whisk in the other.

Nabanna:

  • The festival is celebrated in West Bengal.
  • This is one of Bengal’s most recognised celebrations, in which fresh rice is harvested with glee and stored in households. 
  • Farmers from Bengal joyfully engage in this harvest rite during the Bengali month of Agrahayan, offering the first grains to Goddess Lakshmi and thanking her for all benefits.
  • The main attractions of the Nabanna celebration are Nabanna fair and Payesh (Kheer) cooked from freshly harvested rice.

Nuakhai:

  • Nuakhai is an ancient harvest festival celebrated in Orissa.
  • Nuakhai Parab or Nuakhai Bhetghat are other names for the harvest festival.
  • ‘Nua’ means new in the native language, while ‘Khai’ indicates food. 
  • This is not only a famous harvest festival but it is also held to honour the passage of the old and wicked days while embracing the new and lovely with open arms. 
  • The delectable Arsaa Pitha (sweet pancakes) are prepared to celebrate the festival.

Pongal:

  • Pongal is another name for Makar Sankranti, which is celebrated in many cities in Tamil Nadu at the same time. Pongal means ‘overflow‘ or ‘boiling over.’
  • This is a thanksgiving festival in which people show their heartfelt appreciation to Mother Nature for the year’s rice harvest. 
  • This is one of India’s most colourful harvest festivities, lasting four days.
    • The first day is the Bhogi Festival, which is dedicated to Lord Indra in exchange for an abundance of rain. 
    • On the second day, newly harvested rice and milk are prepared and presented to the Sun God outside. 
    • The third day is dedicated to cow worship.
    • The fourth day is dedicated to Pongal, or traditional coloured rice flavoured with turmeric, betel leaf, and betel nuts.
  • Tamilians mark the event by creating traditional patterns known as kolams using rice powder in their houses.
  • Pongal celebration highlights also include bull-taming contests, a bonfire made of agricultural waste and prayers for the prosperity of the family.

Vishu:

  • Vishu is the festival of Kerala and Karnataka.
  • This is a fascinating harvest event held on the first day of the Malayalee New Year. Women in the home cook Vishukkani, which consists of rice, golden lemon, golden cucumber, jackfruit, yellow konna flowers, and betel leaves.
  • The festival is characterised by grand worship of Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna, extravagant family lunches, nighttime prayers, and fireworks. 
  • The main attractions of the Vishu festival are Kani Kanal, Vishnu’s first sacred sight and Sadya, the big mid-day food spread.

Gudi Padwa:

  • Gudi Padwa is a grand festival celebrated in Maharashtra to mark the start of a prosperous New Year. The festival is also celebrated in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and is called Ugadi.
  • Gudi Padwa is also considered the harvest festival, which shows that the rabi crop has ended for the season. This is the time when mangoes and other fruits are reaped. People create rangoli patterns and adorn them with flowers and a handcrafted doll at the entrance of their homes. 
  • People gather with friends and family to offer greetings and women prepare sweets such as Puran Poli, Shrikhand, and Sunth Paak.
  • Locals build Gudi (bamboo dolls) out of mango and neem leaves, which they hang at the entryway.

Wangala:

  • This festival is celebrated in Meghalaya and Assam.
  • This is one of India’s most celebrated harvest celebrations, celebrating the arrival of winter.
  • Wangala is a festival of 100 drums performed by Garo tribes from northeast India. 
  • The Sun God is adored with great love and enthusiasm throughout this festival. 
  • Women dress in traditional colourful attire and dance, while men play their fingers rhythmically on traditional drum pads.
  • Drums, flutes, and gongs are used in this musical spectacle, which are the main attractions of the festival.

Note: As UPSC 2022 approaches, use BYJU’S free Daily Video Analysis of The Hindu Newspaper to augment your preparation.

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