April 2021 festival calendar: Is this holiday on your list?

April started off with a charming Easter long weekend. While there’s no other extended holiday this month, we were reminded of all the upcoming Indian festivals people are readying for at home. Yes, celebrations will be low-key this time—but it’s still a great excuse to bring together food, family and faith.

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April coincides with Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calendar, which is why you’ll see a lot of regional new year celebrations cropping up in this list. Most of the events are either gazetted or restricted holidays, which should help you take that much-needed day off 😉


Without further ado, here’s 13 major
Indian festivals in April 2021

Gangaur

Date: March 29 to April 15

Celebrated by Rajasthani women, Gangaur Puja symbolises spring, the harvest, and marital prosperity. Idols of the Hindu gods Shiva and Parvati are worshipped inside family homes, as unmarried women sing and walk around town carrying ghudlia (earthen pots) to collect money, sweets and ghee. 

Gudi of gudi padwa against the sky

The gudi (flag), found at Marathi households during Gudi Padwa

Gudi Padwa and Ugadi

Date: April 13

Marking the new year for Marathi and Konkani Hindus, Gudi Padwa normally sees street processions, rangoli decorations, festive foods, and the setting up of a gudi flag at home. The flag, topped with flowers, leaves and an upturned vessel, is an iconic symbol of the festival. 

Ugadi is southern India’s version of the Hindu New Year, and is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. Colourful floor patterns (muggulu), exchanging gifts, charity and making pachadi—a complex chutney with flavours symbolising the different experiences in the upcoming year—are some hallmarks of Ugadi. 

Rongali Bihu

Date: April 14

Bihu isn’t just one, but three festivals! The first is Rongali Bihu, also known as Bohag Bihu, which marks the Assamese New Year. Ethnic groups in and around the state unite to celebrate the harvest season in seven phases at this time. This includes playing traditional instruments and ritualistic games, joining in on folk dances, exchanging gifts and sharing of pithe (sweet dumplings and cakes). 

Ramadan

Date: April 14 to May 13 (tentative)

Ramadan is observed by Muslims as a 30-day period of fasting, prayer and spiritual reflection. Adults undertake the fast and preface it with a pre-dawn meal (suhur), followed by a grand nightly feast (iftar) after sunset every day. 

Also Read | Ramadan foods in India: the best of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Hyderabad

Ambedkar Jayanti

Date: April 14

An annual festival remembering Dr B.R. Ambedkar, this is a public holiday in several Indian states. Followers of Dr Ambedkar—who was noted for his civil rights activism and role in shaping the Indian constitution—pay tribute to the leader’s statues and writings, as do many Indian heads of state. 

Baisakhi, Vishu and Puthandu

Date: April 14

We’ve got three regional new year days in one go! Baisakhi is maintained as the spring harvest festival for Hindus and Sikhs in northern India, where revellers partake in bhangra, fairs, ritual bathing, kirtans and the raising of the Sikh Nishan Sahib flag. 

Vishu, on the other hand, is a solemn Malayali Hindu festival, marked by feasting on sadya at home, spending time with family, and creating a Vishukkani tray for the god Krishna.

And finally, Puthandu—the Tamil New Year. Also called Puthuvarusham, this festival sees a household spring cleaning, auspicious arrangements with fruits and flowers for the family puja room, and seeking the blessings of elders, until finally sitting down for a vegetarian feast.


Poila Boisakh

Date: April 15

Wish your Bengali friends ‘Shubho Noboborsho’ on this day, and see how they smile back! The Bengali New Year is a festive time for the people of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam’s Barak Valley, as Bengalis—irrespective of their faith—clean their homes, gift clothes to loved ones, and open new ledgers on the business front. Six to seven-course meals including vegetables, seafood and red meat are savoured slowly, along with folk fairs in rural areas. 

Ram Navami

Date: April 21

Recognising the day Lord Ram was born as the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Ayodhya, Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of Chaitra. Devotees observe this day with a fast and puja to Ram at home or at temples, along with attending readings of the Ramayana

Decorated elephants stand in a line for Thrissur Pooram

Elephants at the Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram

Date: April 23

Poorams are annual temple festivals in Kerala, and the Thrissur Pooram is undoubtedly the most well-known. Held at the Vadakkunnathan (Shiva) Temple in Thrissur, it sees 10 temples around this site organise grand elephant processions with fireworks, traditional musicians, and sacred decorations. Interestingly, this pooram is a secular festival, with Muslim and Christian communities joining in to contribute ornaments and other pandal works. 

Mahavir Jayanti

Date: April 25

This day marks the birth of Mahavir, the 24th and last tirthankara of what Jains believe is the present cosmic time cycle (avsarpini). A global event, it sees chariot processions, ahimsa rallies, hymns, pujas, charity donations, and temple lectures to highlight the tenets of Jainism. 

We hope you found this festival calendar useful! If you’re travelling home this month, please check your destination’s COVID-19 travel guidelines before making any bookings. 

Have a safe journey, folks!

Feature image credit: Subharnab Majumdar/CC BY 2.0/Flickr

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