Top Festivals in Bangalore you don’t want to miss!

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Bengaluru may have been westernised and modernised but its rich history and tradition is still preserved and celebrated along with the whole of Karnataka. The diverse culture in the Silicon city accounts for its vibrancy and unique energy that everybody loves. Given its diversity, you surely don’t want to miss the festivals in Bangalore. 

Bengaluru serves its diversity of rich culture, religions, food, weather, age-old traditions, music & entertainment, all on a silver plate and you can taste them in the festivals and events that happen often in the city. It will feel like home. 

People from all over the country come to Bengaluru and they bring their culture with them. Bengalureans are welcoming people and thus, they celebrate all sorts of festivals of all states in the country. Safe to say that Bengaluru is a cocktail of all these cultures and it celebrates every flavor in it. 

The festivals in Bangalore are nothing short of grandeur, generosity, warmth, and glory. They add colors and energy to the city’s life and balance the metropolitan atmosphere with that of country and rural. If you’re visiting the city or are new to it, then you need to experience all of Bengaluru’s splendor. You will find that the city has a lot to offer than just malls, pleasant weather and the infamous traffic. 

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Karaga Shaktyotsava - Oldest festivals in Bangalore

The karaga shaktyotsava in Bengaluru is the oldest festival which has been carried on every year since the time of Mahabharata years ago. It is the pride of Bengaluru and is celebrated without fail, every year by the Vahnikula Kshatriya Thigala community.

Top Festivals in Bangalore you don’t want to miss!
Image courtesy - Deccan Herald

Now, the roots of the karaga festival go back to the time of Mahabharata and it is dedicated to Draupadi. 

The legend has it that after the war was over, there was an asura (demon) called Thimirasura whom Draupadi fought with. To defeat him, she took the form of Adi Shakti and created thousands of warriors known as Veerakumaras.  After the defeat of the asura, Draupadi was returning to the heavens but made a promise to the veerakumaras that she would visit them every year during the first full moon of the first month in the Hindu calendar.

Top Festivals in Bangalore you don’t want to miss! 1
Image courtesy - Sunitha Shankar, Wikimedia Commons.

The Bangalore karaga festival is dedicated to this occasion and is only celebrated by the Thigala community, who are said to be the descendants of the veerakumaras. The karaga is carried by a karaga priest. Karaga is a tall floral pyramid carried on top of his head. During the procession, the priest wears women’s cloth and dances around. It starts from the Dharmaraya temple, and during the procession, the priest goes to the Dargah of Tawakkal Mastan to pray for the strength to carry the karaga and that it doesn’t fall.  This aspect of the festival in particular is the proof of secularity and brings people from all backgrounds together.

Kadelekai Parishe

Kadalekai in Kannada means groundnut and parishe mean fair. This groundnut festival in Bangalore is an annual event where groundnut vendors from all over south India come to sell huge heaps of groundnut. The big mounds of groundnut engulf the whole of the Basavanagudi area in south Bengaluru. The fair is dedicated to Lord Basava of the big bull temple where a part of the annual harvest is offered as a tribute by the farmers.

Top Festivals in Bangalore you don’t want to miss! 1
Image courtesy - Karnatakatourism.org

People from across the city gather for this 2-day event and buy heaps of groundnut for a very reasonable price. If you do happen to be in Bangalore around November-December, don’t miss it! You won’t just find groundnut everywhere, there will also be small street vendors selling bangles, trinkets, crafts, toys, accessories, street foods like bajjis, candies, corn, chats, and more. Must try the different flavors of boiled peanuts chats!

Come and experience the different flavors of harvest and witness a part of Bengaluru that has been seeing this tradition since it was founded by Kempe Gowda

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Image courtesy - Deccan Herald

You will also find music & entertainment in kadalekai parishe, so your day will be filled with interesting sights and refreshing activities. It’s best to go with your friends and just have a good day scouring the area and filling your tum with lots of peanuts!

Ugadi

Ugadi is the new year of the Kannadigas, Telaganas and Andhra Pradesh. It is also celebrated in Maharashtra and Goa as Gudi Padwa. Ugadi falls on the first day of the first month of Chaitra and marks the beginning of new year, new ventures, new beginnings, and new season. Yuga means era and adi means beginning, thus, Ugadi is the celebration of a new era.

 During Ugadi, the houses are thoroughly cleaned, sometimes repainted, the main door is decorated with mango leaves, flower garlands and the ground is decorated with beautiful rangoli designs.  New clothes are worn, gifts are exchanged and a grand feast is cooked. Traditional Ugadi dish called Pachadi is prepared with all the flavours combined – sweet, spicy, tang, bitter and bitter to remind us life will similarly have all kinds of flavours and we can overcome the challenges.

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Image courtesy - teluguhungama.com

A typical Ugadi lunch consists of a variety of sautéed vegetables, rice and rasam, chitranna or lemon rice with raw mango grates, curd rice, poppadoms, obbattu, pasayam, and sweets. This wholesome and soulful meal is quite satisfying to eat and is usually consumed together with the extended family members. People either invite their relatives or visit them on this occasion. They also visit temples and offer coconuts, bananas and flowers.

Ugadi is an important festival for many south Indians and since it is considered as an auspicious time, it’s good to start new endeavours, ventures, habits and practices in the hopes that they will bear fruitful and positive outcomes.

Grub Festival

Foodies, listen up! India’s premium food festival comes to Namma Bengaluru, so grab a bite of the most exotic, drool-worthy food & beverages of many cuisines at Jayamahal Palace.  The best restaurants from all over the country come and serve people with much energy, enthusiasm, and shared love for food.

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Image courtesy - Magicpin

The Grub festival is not just centered around food, it also hosts live music and performances by well-known artists, shopping stalls, meals, exhibitions, carnival, picnic zones, and games. The fest reflects Bangalore’s diverse culture and invites people to experience it. It happens in other cities as well and if it ever comes to Bengaluru, you’d be wasting your life if you don’t visit it! 

So, wear some loose pants, fill up your tum, and enjoy great music! After all, great food and music are the best things to celebrate life with!

Sankranti

An ancient tradition and a celebration of the harvest, Sankranti falls on the first day of the sun’s transit into the Makara Rashi (Capricorn), which is on January 14/15. The day marks the end of the winter solstice and the beginning of a new season. Sugarcane is the main staple of the festival and many parts of the city can be seen selling large bundles of sugarcane. The long stems are cut into smaller pieces and are offered to the gods. One of the fun aspects of Sankranti is ripping the bark off the cane with your teeth and eating the sugarcane with families and relatives. 

It’s quite an extraordinary sight, seeing people come together, with each other, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life while celebrating nature and the cosmos. Sankranti is celebrated to offer prayers to the Sun God and thanks him for all the energy he gives to sustain life on earth.

Image courtesy - Bangalore daily photo

During Sankranti, families meet, exchange ellu-bella, which is a mixture of white till, small cut dices of dry coconut, jaggery, peanut, and Bengal gram. Elders give a small amount of jaggery and neem to young ones while saying the words – ellu-bella thindu olled maataadu, which means, eat till and jaggery and speak well.

Image courtesy - Archana’s Kitchen

Like many festivals, during Sankranti, people wear new clothes, decorate their homes, and prepare elaborate meals. Young girls go to the neighbor’s house to give ellu-bella and receive blessings from the elders. Families go to the temples and offer prayers to the gods. This age-old tradition brings people together, families closer, and makes them appreciate the treasures of life.

Eid-ul-Fitr

Eid-ul-Fitr in Bengaluru is celebrated with much pomp and glory since it is the biggest and the most important festival for Muslims. It marks the end of month-long Ramadan fasting, so it is called the festival of breaking fast. It is celebrated after the crescent moon is first sighted, so the celebration varies with locality. People meet and greet each other and give way gifts.

Image source - newskarnataka.com

On the occasion of Eid, people wear grand new clothes, exchange greetings by saying Eid-Mubarak, distribute sweets and pay their respects to Allah for giving them strength and endurance during  fasting. They also give alms to the poor as one of the five pillars of Islam. 

On the Eid of 2018 in Bengaluru, Muslims gave gifts to strangers who mattered in their daily life – autowalas, police officers, bus drivers, conductors, temple and church priests, street sweepers, sewage collectors, etc. This act of generosity brings people of all religions together and closer, and they all celebrate the spirit of Ramadan.

Another aspect of Eid-ul-Fitr that brings people irrespective of their religion and castes together is food. Biriyani, the ever-favorite food of all, creates a frenzy in parts of Bengaluru. In some restaurants and local hotels that serve biryani, you can see a kilometer-long queue for the delicious dish. People will do anything to get their hands on this famous food. This shared love for the food brings Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and other religions together and spreads joy. 

Other delicacies that are prepared on Eid are sheer khurma, a special dish made of vermicelli, nuts, dates, and milk.

Chitra Santhe

This annual event is every artist’s and art lover’s paradise. It takes place on the first Sunday of the year in Kumara Krupa Road, near Chitrakala Parishat. On the entire stretch on the road, artists from all over the country come and display their paintings and artworks on the side of the road to sell them. 

It’s a paradise for the art collectors as well. It’s just a one-day event, so it’ll be jam-packed with crowds and artworks. However, for the year 2021 Chitra santhe will be held online in the interest of the safety of the people.

Image courtesy - Deccan Herald

You will find a variety of artworks – watercolor paintings, canvas paintings, traditional paintings, folk art, sketches, metal works, etc. In the middle of the road, caricaturists and portrait artists sit on a chair and offer live portrait services.  

Inside Chitrakala Parishat, you will find the students of the fine art college doing live performances, vendors with art material stalls, bookstalls, installations created by the college students, a food court at Kamat, gallery shows, and more.

Image courtesy - Newindianexpress

One of the things that make Chitra santhe an event worth visiting is the exposure to art – both consumers and artists develop a relationship by being exposed to each other through which art is promoted. Art becomes more accessible to the common man. The event is proof that you don’t have to be rich or an HNI to buy art or even appreciate it. So, support the artists with whatever budget you have and in return, you will get something to beautify your home forever.

Deepavali

A festival of lights celebrated over the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, Deepavali or Diwali is a favourite festival among many. The city’s sky will be lit up with fireworks, sky lanterns and the horizon can be seen glowing from all the diyas lit in all the houses. It’s a spectacular sight and there’s some so refreshing and reassuring about it. It gives hope that the days that follow diwali will be full of positive outcomes and good energy.

Image courtesy - timesnow.com

Bengaluru during Diwali will spoil you with Diwali melas and fleas in Whitefield, Chitra Kala parishat, Safina plaza near the commercial street, the night market at JW Marriott, Ashok Nagar, and more. You might as well indulge in them because there will be massive sales and crazy discounts going on in many parts of the city. It’s ok to pamper yourself as much as you want with binge shopping. Diwali comes just once a year. Thoda Jeelo (Live a little).

Image courtesy - scroll.in

As for binge eating, eat to your heart’s content without feeling guilty as there are Zumba classes available to help you shed those extra calories gained during the festivals.

Since Bengaluru is a mix of people from everywhere, Diwali is celebrated differently. However, the main highlights of Diwali in the city are the firecrackers and fireworks.

Christmas

Christmas in Bangalore can be just as grand as any other religious festival and people of all backgrounds celebrate it. 

Christmas is the merriest time. The city lights up and the malls dazzle with elaborately decorated Christmas trees that offer spectacular sights. Last year, India’s tallest Christmas tree of 75ft was decorated in Phoenix mall. It was an amazing spectacle and marked the grand celebration of the holiday.

Image courtesy - indulgexpress.com

Frazer town, MG road, and Brigade road are the best spots in the city to visit during Christmas. Christmas is quite special in Bangalore because there’ll be a lot of exciting events happening around this time. You can expect live music from great bands at the Hard rock cafe, a famous hangout on Saint Mark’s road. Do look out for other similar events for an amazing holiday.

Image courtesy - time magazine

If you want to visit churches in Bangalore, then visit St. Mary’s Basilica in Shivaji Nagar and infant Jesus church in vivek nagar. They will be quite crowded but it’s worth visiting them around the holidays.

Echoes of the Earth

Echoes of the Earth is the greenest music festival in India and is a celebration of earth’s life and all that it offers. Everything about this event is sustainable, eco-friendly and leaves no waste behind. The stages are beautifully designed and inspired by animals like lionfish and anglerfish, mandalas, etc.

Image courtesy - echoesofearth.com

The infrastructure of the event is made with eco-friendly materials, keeping their impact on the environment in mind. Enormous sculptures of animals are installed all around the venue. Some of the examples are giant mantis (like the one you see in the Goosebumps movie), huge hanging jellyfishes, monumental crab, seahorses, etc. They are created to raise awareness of endangered species. 

The event is an ensemble of international and national musicians playing a variety of music from folk to western and songs of the earth which are mainly instrumental. The event is also a safe space for artists of all disciplines to come and express their creativity and showcase their art.

Image courtesy - echoesofearth.com

Immerse yourself in different cultures of India all in one place at this beautifully curated event. 

Festivals are a way of bringing people together to celebrate life and all its glory. The festivals in Bengaluru are all this aspect, with a modern twist. It brings modern music to add zing to its culture, food, and activities that make the celebration all the more exciting. The culture of Bangalore can surprise you with every festival and celebration. They add zing and zest to your life experiences and make you appreciate the culture of the city even more. So, if you are in Bengaluru don’t miss these festivals!

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Nikhil Kumar

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