The Indian Festivals

 Festivals are big celebrations in the Indian lifestyle. We can classify Indian festivals into three categories. 

1.   National Festivals like Independence Day or Republic Day.

2. Religious Festivals - Like Diwali, Holi for Hindus, Eid for Muslims, Christmas of Christian, Buddha Purnima for Buddhist, Mahavir Jayanti for Jains.

3. Regional Festivals - Like Lohri, Onam, Makar Sankranti, Bihu etc. These are mostly related to seasons and crops. 

In my childhood, I remember on national festivals, we used to have poori - kachori and accompanying vegetables, chutneys, and desserts in one of the meals. Poori- kachoris are significant in festive celebrations. They are served with an array of vegetables and curd preparations. Bigger the celebrations, more accompaniments. But these days, we see that restaurants design new dishes specially for these national days. As our national flag has three bright colours, most of the dishes are in these colours and have designer look. 

 Religious festivals are family celebrations. Even in these times, when people are leaving their home towns for better education, jobs, and careers, everyone goes back to their homes for festivals like Diwali, Holi, Eid, Christmas, etc. Traditional sweets like gunjhiya, jalebi, rasgulla, Kaju katli, laddoos to name a few are always part of the menu along with poori, kachori, aloo poori, meetha kaddu, paneer, dum aloo, Dahi vada, etc. form a glimpse of the food spread on Diwali or Holi. 

Eid menu mainly consists of biryanis and curries, Hara bhara kabab, Lebnani murgh kabab, galouti kabab, Awadhi dishes like bhuna gosht and desserts like firni and shahi tukda to round off the meal. 

Cakes and pastries are a grand part of Christmas celebrations. I had studied in a Christian missionary school for a few years. We used to go to our teachers’ homes to wish them Christmas. Homemade cakes, roasted nuts, and freshly made sandwiches were a few delicacies, which I can think of even after four and half decades. 

In regional festivals, Makar Sankranti which falls on 14th January every year has different names in different parts of India. It is called Lohri in Panjab, Bihu in Assam, Onam in southern India. In northern India, Lohri is celebrated with Sarson ka saag, Makki ki roti, til ki Rewari and groundnut. At night, the community meets over a bonfire and eats ground nuts, til laddoo, Rewari, and popcorn. 

Bihu is the main festival of Assam and is spread over 3 days. (Bohag, Kati, and Magh) On Bihu, traditional dishes like ‘Mohor Doi Aru Chira Jolpaan’, til pitha, coconut laddu, and poka mithai are always served. 

'Mohor Doi' means ‘Buffalo Yogurt’ and ‘Chira’ means a variety of ‘Flattered Rice’. Til Pitha and Poko mithai are made with rice flour, sesame seeds, and jaggery. 


Onam is a 10-day harvest festival in Kerala. It celebrates the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali The highlight of the festival is an elaborate meal called Onam Sadhya

Onam Sadhya, which in Malayalam means 'banquet' is a multi-course vegetarian meal that features over 24 dishes on a banana leaf.  Onam Sadhya is enjoyed without any cutlery and is usually eaten while sitting on the floor.

The usual items in an Onam Sadhya include: banana chips, yam chips, Jaggery coated banana chips, mango pickle, lime pickle, tamarind & ginger chutney, Gourd in mildly spiced yogurt,
pachadi (Pineapple in yogurt), ash gourd with black beans in a coconut-milk gravy, stir-fried vegetables with grated coconut, mixed vegetable gravy, mashed beans and pumpkin with coconut gravy, yogurt-based curry, black chickpeas curry, sambar, rasam, spicy buttermilk, bananas, papad and of course boiled rice.


With time, the celebrations have come from homes to restaurants. With more women going out to work, cooking at home is reduced. For any extravagant meal, we look to home chefs and restaurants. Thanks to applications like Zomato and Swiggy, it has become easy to order.