The idyllic charm of Pondicherry is always heightened by the festive fever. Come to celebrate the unique and diverse festivals of Pondicherry with friends, family, and special ones. There will be food, fun, crowd, and gala on the expansive beaches, in the beautiful places of worship and breathtaking historical sites, during the festivals. What more can a holiday offer? The festivals will bring to you, what is sacred and cherished about Pondicherry, and its multicultural flavours and rich heritage. Pondicherry is the reason for a holiday.
Pongal - January Mid Pondicherry celebrates the four-day-long Tamil Hindu festival, Pongal, as a testimony to its strong Tamil heritage. Pongal, also celebrated as Sankranti in other parts of India, is the festival of harvest where one comes together to fete, pray and thank the abundance and prosperity that the year has brought. The vigor of the celebrations can be seen as throngs of people crowd the Bharathi Park and the Promenade Beach, spending quality time with friends and family. As a tourist, the most attractive part of the occasion would be to relish the rich brown, syrupy Pongal, a dessert made of rice, milk, and jaggery.
Masi Magam - March Ist Pondicherry is a beautiful confluence of what is traditional and modern. The city ardently celebrates its past and culture not only in its daily life but also in its festivities. One of the most iconic traditional Hindu festivals celebrated here is the Masi Magam. Masi Magam is a Tamil festival during the “Masi” month of the Tamil calendar when the idols of the temples go on a procession across the town to be finally bathed in the sea, or a special pond or a lake. Devotees flock to take bath in the holy water touched by the idols to rid themselves of sins. The overwhelming crowds following stately idols carried in chariots make an immersive experience.
Mother’s Birth Anniversary - February 21st Mira Alfasa, called by her devotees the Mother, was the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, the freedom fighter who turned into a spiritual leader. She came to Pondicherry for the first time in 1914, during the Second World War, and met Sri Aurobindo. The Mother settled in Pondicherry in 1920 and eventually founded the Ashram with Sri Aurobindo in 1926, to establish a living practice of their philosophy. The Ashram remains an intriguing and important aspect of Pondicherry, continuing to attract tourists and devotees throughout the year. On special occasions of the Ashram, people flood the streets of Pondicherry to visit the Ashram. One of the most important dates in the Ashram is the birthday of the Mother, 21st February. Owing to the tradition of devotees seeking the Mother’s “darshan” in her room, there is a day-long visit held on this day.
Auroville Day - February 28th Auroville is an international community, founded on 28th February 1968, by the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Auroville offers a harmonious city experience aimed to have collective spiritual growth. The township continues to attract people across the globe, who are spiritual who are aspiring to spirituality and the ideal of human unity envisioned by the Mother. Auroville is characteristic of the meditative atmosphere of Pondicherry and integral to its multiculturalism. Auroville Day, also known as Foundation Day in Auroville, celebrates the beginning of an ongoing cultural experiment that has enhanced the international ethos of Pondicherry. This day is celebrated with much fanfare in Auroville with several cultural events, seminars, and exhibitions. The highlight of the celebration is a morning meditation held around a bonfire, at the amphitheater near Auroville’s iconic Matrimandir.
Regional New Years Spread across 4 different regions the ethnic culture of the Union Territory is spread across three language and cultural identities: Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. With this multicultural identity comes celebrations of festivals of each cultural component. The Indian New Years are marked with prayers and celebrations and often mark the start of new business cycles in the respective traditions. Along with Puthandu, the Tamil New Year, Pondicherry celebrates Ugadi and Vishu, the Telugu and Malayalam New Years with equal fanfare in Yanam and Mahe. Make a complete trip to the entire Union Territory during these festivals and absorb their vibrant cultures.
Holi Festival Keeping up with its colourful spirits, Pondicherry is a riot of joy during Holi, the festival of colour, celebrated across India during spring. Playful friends chasing around to put colours on each other, the exchange of sweets and prayers are an integral part of the celebrations. Holi is celebrated for 2 days. The first day is called Choti Holi or Kama Dhanam, where a bonfire is lit in the evening, representing the burning of a demon Holika; this ritual is symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. On the second day, people throw coloured water and powders at each other, get drenched in the colours without any reservations, and celebrate with abandon.
Villianur Car Fest - May 20th The Villanur Temple Festival is centered on Sri Gokilambal Thirukameshwara Temple, also known as Villianur Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The temple built during the Chola Empire in the 12th Century carries the rich cultural legacy of the region forward. Every year during the ten days of Brahmotsavam devotes flood the temple for prayers and rituals. It is also believed that this temple has a touch of French heritage in its customs, giving it a unique historical interest. The annual Temple Car Festival, held between May and June, revolves around hordes of devotees pulling the deity’s chariot as a form of worship. The temple not only is important for its religious importance but also commemorates the historical glory of the 12th Century.
Bastille Day - July 14th Bastille Day is synonymous with democracy, freedom, and equality. The French ties of Pondicherry have brought the celebration to town. The day marks the historical breaking of the Bastille prison, symbolic of anti-feudal sentiments and equality which would go on to have an immense impact on the French Revolution as well as the structure of modern society. The day known as the National Day in France is celebrated in Pondicherry as a tribute to freedom and Indo-French relations. The fireworks on the occasion present a breathtaking sight against the dark sky and the foaming sea. It is a gala for all in Pondicherry.
Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Anniversary - August 15th Sri Aurobindo, a freedom fighter turned spiritual leader founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram with the Mother, his spiritual collaborator. The Sri Aurobindo Ashram, being a primary attraction for those visiting Pondicherry, overflows with devotees who often travel exclusively for the Ashram. The institution adds to the town an aura of spirituality and brings a diversity of backgrounds in Pondicherry, uplifting the cultural ambiance. In the Ashram the 15th of August is not only significant as Independence Day but also as the birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. Following the tradition of people being allowed to visit Sri Aurobindo on his birthday, the spiritual leader’s room still opens for “darshan” on this day, for those seeking his blessings.
Fete de Puducherry - August 15th Festival of Puducherry - a cultural pageant – coincides with Liberation Day and Independence Day. The Government of Puducherry organizes free evening cultural presentations in various places of the city.
De Jure Transfer Day - August 16th For Pondicherry, De Jure Transfer Day, 16th of August, is the day of its current identity. Pondicherry was under French control well after 1947, even when the better part of India was a free nation. Soon protests rose against the colonial government demanding a free government, culminating in Indo-French dialogues on the issue. March 13, 1954, the talks on settlement of French territories began, and the process ended with the signing of a treaty for cessation of French control, in May 1956. The treaty was cemented in the French parliament in May 1962. On 16th August 1962, there was a complete surrender of Indian territories after the exchange of instruments of ratification between the two nations. Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe, and Yanam unified as the same Union Territory, from July 1st, 1963.
Veerampattinam Festival - August A lush village with beautiful rivers flowing across it, Veerampattinam, is the biggest coastal village between Puducherry and Cuddalore. The expansive beaches and the clear water attract visitors to Veerampattinam round the year. What brings the village truly back to life is the bustling crowd during the famous Car Festival, during which countless devotees come to the ancient Shri Sengazhuneer Amman Temple for a 6-week long festivity. The congregation of people and several idols from the temples around makes for a grand sight at the beach during the Masi Magam, held between February and March.
Vinayagar Chathurthi - September Vinayagar Chathurthi, also known as Ganesh Chaturthi, is an auspicious day on which the Hindu god Ganesh was born. Ganesh is associated with success, wisdom, and prosperity, and is venerated by Indians across the country. The most characteristic feature of this festival is the grand parades held around the welcoming and immersion of the idols.
Deepavali Known as the festival of lights, Diwali truly lights up the ambiance of Pondicherry with a shopping spree, tourists pouring into the city to spend holidays, sweets, firecrackers, and gifts. The festival symbolises the victory of light over darkness. On this occasion, people decorate their houses with beautiful earthen lamps. Across India, Diwali is coupled with a host of auxiliary festivities making almost a week of gala and bonhomie.
Karthikai Deepam Strings of lamps are lit on the festival of Karthikai Deepam, also known as Karthika Deepam, held during the auspicious month of Kathikai. The lamps are a form of prayer to ward off evil and bring home wealth and happiness; the lamps are central to the celebrations. This is also an occasion celebrating the beautiful bond between brothers and sisters; the sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers, during the festival. Similar rituals are done across India to offer prayers for a good trade as the season marks a major sea-trading season in the ancient business calendar. Much like other traditional festivals, Karthikai Deepam links Pondicherry to an ancient heritage.
X Mas Eve and New Year Christmas is not only the celebration of the holy birth of Christ but also a reason for food, gathering, and a good time for Christians and non-Christians alike. Pondicherry’s cosmopolitan environment is enlivened by the festive vibes and gatherings of thousands seeking to party, shop, and gorge on the delicacies. What separates Pondicherry from other places in terms of celebrations during this season is the sea and the beach activities and the wide range of cuisines available. The New Year is celebrated with equal gusto in Pondicherry as the feast has never ended since Christmas. The parties, the food, and perhaps a beautiful sunrise at the beach could make the perfect start to the year.
© Bonjour Media. All Rights Reserved.