You may think you know India – after all, it features in countless films and television shows, Bollywood style is conquering the world, and its cuisine has become loved in every corner of the world. It's not until you go to India, however, that you realize you didn't really know it at all. This country of over a billion people is the most vibrant, colorful and exciting on earth, and there's never a better time to experience it than at one of these incredible, and at times mind-blowing, festivals.
New Delhi Grub Fest
We all love to eat curry, but there's a whole lot more to Indian cuisine than simply kormas or tandooris. If you want to experience the very best of Indian cuisine in all its diversity, then New Delhi's Grub Fest in October is a must visit. The gourmet action is centered upon the huge Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, but you'll find restaurants and street vendors taking part across the city. There's food of every kind available from some of the world's best chefs, but there's more to this festival than amazing tastes and aromas. There are also pop up nightclubs, cookery competitions and dancing demonstrations.
Mumbai Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights, also known as Diwali, is a sacred festival of the Hindu religion, but you certainly don't have to be a Hindu, or even religious, to appreciate its incredible splendor. Diwali marks the victory of light over darkness, or knowledge over ignorance, and so you'll find everywhere a profusion of lights during the festival, from lamps outside shops and homes to spectacular fireworks. It's the world's biggest party and celebrated across the globe, but for a particularly spectacular festival of lights head to Mumbai. The celebrations last for five days here, and you'll see a number of colorful processions including performers in costumes and the customary distribution of sweets. With an extended vacation in India you can even take in both the Grub Fest and a Mumbai Diwali as the Festival of Lights starts at the beginning of November. Book your Delhi to Mumbai flight tickets early, and get ready to enjoy two incredible events.
Indian Festivals with a Difference
India is a huge country with the second biggest population in the world, so there's also a vast number of festivals to choose from. Some of them may seem a little quirky to American eyes, but visiting them is a once in a lifetime experience. The festival of Holi is perhaps the best known and is celebrated across the country; men chase women, and participants are traditionally covered in paint. It's certainly a messy festival, but just as striking visually is the Puli Kali festival in Kerala. It's a celebration of the tiger, and features parades of vast numbers of people in elaborate tiger costumes. If you're of a squeamish nature, it's best to avoid Kerala's Garudan Thookkam festival, where dancers pierce their bodies with hooks and are then suspended upside down by them – it's not one to take the children to.
India is the land of a billion smiles and a thousand festivals, and you can experience everything from great food to dazzling fireworks and men dressed as tigers. These festivals, and more, make a vacation you'll never forget, and taking into account the cost of living in India and the availability of great value flights, visiting one can cost a lot less than you think.