Fairs and festivals are an inherent part of Uttar Pradesh; these festivities form an important part of the culture and traditions of the state and are epitomes of the rich cultural heritage. One can see amalgamation of several religions, beliefs, and costumes on these colorful occasions. Festivals of Uttar Pradesh are celebrated with much fanfare and exhibit the thrilling charm of the folk-lore.
Since time immemorial, numerous festivals and fairs have been celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm. The robust culture and age old traditions are reflected in the celebrations. These occasions are made alive with music and dance performances by the artists; the soul stirring festivities reflect the spirit of the state. These attract the tourists from all over the world and offer ample opportunities to take part in such occasions.
Among the major festivals of Uttar Pradesh, Diwali is one of the most important one and is celebrated with ardent zeal and sacred devotion. The importance of this Hindu festival is insurmountable; it marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after spending 14 years in exile. The joviality and vigor of people is worth-watching. The festival is celebrated by firing crackers. Holi is another important festival of Hindus that marks the advent of spring season. Joyful sprinkling of colors and water marks this joyous occasion.
Badri-Kedar is a festive celebration that is stretched over eight days; artists from all parts of the country gather and exhibit their artistic skills. Navratri is among the most sacred festivals of Uttar Pradesh it is celebrated in reverence to goddess Durga. The idols of the deity are embellished with ornaments and placed on altars in temples. At the end of the festival, the idols are immersed in water.
Janamashtmi celebrates the birthday of the famous Hindu deity, Lord Krishna. This deity is highly revered by the Hindu devotees, the enchanting stories of his childhood and his amorous alliances with a number of gopis are quite popular in Uttar Pradesh. These stories and incidents of his life are depicted in the celebrations of this festival. The images of Krishna and his consort Radha are installed at temple premises and are worshipped with devotion. Children are made to dress like the deities; people play Ras-Lila and enact the legends that happened in the life time of their sacred God.
Teej festival marks the beginning of the Shukla Paksha of Shravan. During this festival, women-folk adorn themselves in green clothes and bangles, embellish their palms with mehendi and sing songs while taking rides on swings. A number of delicious food items are prepared during Teej; married women celebrate this festival at their parents' homes.
The colorful celebrations of Taj Mahotsav are well known. The festival is the true representation of art, culture, music, dance, cuisine, and costumes. Celebrated in the city Agra, this annual festival is the showcase of the skill and craftsmanship of the artists.
Celebrated in the months of August and September, Raksha Bhandhan is the one of the important festivals of Uttar Pradesh; it symbolizes the love of brothers and sisters. A thread is worn around the wrist of brother by his beloved sisters. The thread is like an oath taken by brother to protect his sisters at the time of need and assure her protection. Lucknow Festival is held during November and December; it exhibits the rich cultural heritage of Awadh. The artists from all over the state gather to exhibit their talent. It is marked by colorful processions and enchanting dance performances.
Ganga festival celebrates the glory of River Ganges at Varanasi. Thousands of devouts gather on the banks and pay their homage to the sacred river. Among the other festivals of Uttar Pradesh that occupy an important place in the hearts of Hindu devotees is Shivratri. This festival celebrates the sacred union of Lord Shiva and Parvati who got married on this day. On this special occasion, the devotees keep fast during day and worship their deity at night by offering milk, honey, and other food items to Shiva lingam. Chanting of the sacred "Om Nama Shivay" can be heard from temples.
Makar Sakranti or the Bhogi Festival marks the advent of New Year is one of those festivals that carry a special significance for Hindus. As sun changes direction and shifts to northern hemisphere, a new life is enthused in people. It is on this day that devotes pay oblation to the departed souls.
A number of other festivals of Uttar Pradesh that are celebrated with enthusiasm are Ram Lila, Garhwal Festival, Kartik Poornima, and Vasant Panchami.