India is a vast country with a rich history and culture, which makes it difficult to know where to start when you’re planning your trip. Where do you go first? What do you do? Today I’ve got a post from a guest writer for you all, who has rounded up five interesting Indian traditions you might like to experience to make your adventure unforgettable.
1. Fly a kite at the Ahmedabad Kite Festival
Held in Ahmedabad in Gujarat on 14th January every year, the kite festival is a national holiday that marks the end of winter and the awakening of the gods. People come from all over the world to fly kites they’ve made, or simply to watch the colourful display. Once the sun goes down, illuminated kites take to the sky.
This is a unique part of Indian culture that many Western visitors don’t know about – so coming to watch it for yourself will give you an authentic insight into the country’s way of life. Indian celebrations and festivals are almost always magical, and Ahmedabad’s kite festival is no exception.
2. Share a meal at a homestay
In India, the evening meal is the biggest meal of the day and is most often eaten with family members so everyone can enjoy each other’s company and conversation. The food, which is normally in bite-sized pieces, is scooped up by the right hand (the left hand is considered unclean) or by a small piece of bread.
In the south it is acceptable to eat with your whole hand, whereas in the north, where the foods are drier, it is impolite to use more than the first two segments of your fingers. Traditional Indian cuisine includes curries and rice, lentil daal, flatbreads, fruits, and exotic vegetables – 1Cover recommend trying thali, a platter which consists of a selection of traditional Indian food and is ideal for the indecisive or those who want to try a bit of everything.
You could also head to a homestay, to be directly involved in the making of the food itself. Towns such as Kerala offer multiple homestays where families open their doors to tourists. Staying in a homestay instead of a hotel will give you an unparalleled insight into Indian culture – and that includes cooking and eating traditional meals.
3. Experience the Holi Festival
Despite the Holi Festival being celebrated the world over, the celebrations are inarguably the biggest and most magical in the country where the festival originated.
Held at the beginning of spring – either at the end of February or in the first half of March – the Holi Festival sees mostly the northern part of the country come alive in a celebration of colours, food and love. Families and friends come together to exchange gifts and introduce the new season with two full days of festivities.
Delhi is arguably one of the best places to celebrate Holi, the big city coming more alive than ever for the few days of the festival. But for the biggest Holi Festivals of all, Mathura and Vrindavan extend their celebrations over an entire week.
4. Find peace at International Yoga Week
International Yoga Week happens every year at the beginning of March, with yoga devotees (and those who are simply curious) arriving in Rishikesh to take classes and enjoy cultural music and dance performances. There are lots of types of yoga to choose from, so grab your mat, breathe deeply, and feel the benefits of this ancient Indian practice.
Yoga is one of the most common exercises in India, and wherever you go you’ll find a place to do it. The spirituality of the country is applied to the yoga, with the aim of trying to find inner peace.
5. Haggle at a flea market
Why not pay a visit to the Bhendi Bazaar in South Mumbai? It’s one of the largest flea markets in India and sells nearly everything you could possibly want, from brightly coloured clothes to curious antiques, although it’s worth visiting for the atmosphere alone. The sellers will expect you to bargain with them, so be ready.
Haggling is definitely a daunting thing to do if you’ve never tried it before, but vendors often expect tourists to negotiate. That’s why they hike their prices up massively – if you know no better you may be mistaken into paying way too much, but look out for unreasonable prices and try your hand at haggling. You could end up scoring a bargain.
This is a collaborative post