Hyderabad is a multi-cultural and multi-religious city. People living here are of diverse cultures and faiths and celebrate festivals with joy and excitement. Every month comes a major festival celebrated by one or the other community in the Hyderabad city.
Festivals in Hyderabad attract a lot of tourists across the world. Not only Hyderabadis (locals of Hyderabad), but also the tourists enjoy these festivals. So, when you plan a visit to Hyderabad, look out for the popular festivals that are celebrated here and be a part of them. Some of these festivals are exclusive to Hyderabad, while some others are common to most parts of India.
Start of festive season (July-August)
The festive season in Hyderabad starts with Varalaxmi Vratham, it falls in the month of July/August. It is an important ritual performed by married women. Womenfolk believe that by performing this ritual, goddess Lakshmi would be graceful to give good to all in the family.
In Ashada (a month in Telugu calendar, which coincides with July-August), ‘Bonalu’, a famous festival specific to Hyderabad and nearby areas is celebrated. On every Sunday of Ashada, one area of Hyderabad celebrates the Bonalu. The celebration goes on for a month. Bonalu means offering a meal to the Goddess (Mahankali) for fulfillment of their prayers. Women come to temples with brass or earthen pots on their heads. The pots are decorated with small neem branches, kumkum (vermilion), haldi (turmeric) and limestone and on the top of the pot a diya (lamp) is lit. The pot contains cooked rice with milk, sugar or jaggery. They offer sarees, bangles and all the other items specific to married women. On Bonalu, you see men painted themselves as tigers in yellow with black stripes, they are traditionally called ‘potharaju’, and they dance to the beats of drummers.
Ganesh/Vinayaka Chaturthi (August-September)
Ganesh Chaturthi usually falls in August – September. It is celebrated because it marks the birth of elephant headed Lord Ganesha, the son of Hindu deities Shiva and Parvathi. In Hyderabad, the festival is celebrated with great passion and joy for 10 days. Ganesh idols (from two inches small to 40 feet tall) are placed in every street and even in narrow lanes. People from other religions also participate in the daily events such as the cultural programs that go on for 10 days. The festival ends with immersion of idols in water (on the 11th day).
Thousands of crowds carrying Ganesh idols, gather at Tank Bund (a stretch to Hussain Sagar lake in the city) for the immersion. The Ganesh idols are taken on procession in the streets. You can see people dancing to drumbeats, throwing colours on each other and playing loud devotional songs. Later, the idols are immersed in the Hussain Sagar lake and other lakes in the city. Around 1,00,000 idols are immersed every year in the Hyderabad city.
Dushera and Diwali are the biggest and important festivals celebrated in Hyderabad. The two festivals usually fall in the month of September to November. Dushera signifies the victory of good over the evil. The festival is celebrated for 10 days; for nine days, people worship Goddess Durga and on the 10th day, people celebrate Dushera by burning the effigy of Ravana, the demon king.
During Dushera, people in Hyderabad also celebrate Bathukamma, a festival exclusive to the city. Bathukamma, is a colourful floral festival. Beautiful flowers are arranged in concentrated layers or colourful pyramids like a cone (called as Bathukamma). Women in large numbers gather in their locality in the evenings and place their ‘Bathukammas’ on the ground and dance around them singing folk songs. Later, in the night the Bathukammas are floated in the water.
Diwali, the ‘Festival of Lights’, is auspicious for Hindus. People decorate their houses with flowers, clay lamps, and colourful electric bulbs. Regardless of age, gender, community people enjoy bursting crackers and colourful fireworks. Special sweet dishes are prepared. Children enjoy the most, as they are very excited to fire crackers.
During this festive season, you can experience the shopping extravagance of Hyderabad, as you get a variety of apparels, accessories, food and various other things, making the city a great place to shop, eat and enjoy.
Ramadan or Ramzaan
Ramadan is the most important festival of Muslims. It falls on the ninth month of Islamic calendar. During this festival month, Muslims fast for thirty days. The fast begins at dawn and ends at sunset. The festival is an occasion for goodwill and friendship. During this festival season one should not miss the shopping experience at Charminar, you can see people shopping throughout the night. One more thing you cannot afford to miss is Hyderabadi Haleem, a meat stew available only during Ramadan season. Haleem from ‘Pista House’ and ‘Shah Ghouse’ (local restaurants) is world famous.
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated on the last day of the fast. Early in the morning, prayer is offered followed by feast and visiting relatives and friends. ‘Sheerkhurma’, a special dessert is prepared and shared among friends and relatives on this day.
Christmas is celebrated on 25th of December. It marks the birth of Jesus Christ. Celebrated all over the world, this festival is popular in Hyderabad too. On Christmas, you can see a bright and vibrant Hyderabad – decorated homes and Christmas trees, children singing carols and Christmas stars hanging in front of the houses.
Makara Sankranti (January)
Makara Sankranti is also known as Pongal. It is celebrated for three days in mid-January. It is a harvest festival; it marks the onset of spring and farmers celebrate harvesting of crops. The first day is Bhogi, the second is Sankranthi and the third is Kanuma. On Sankranthi, you will see the sky filled with colourful kites.
The next time when you plan to visit Hyderabad, make sure that you are present for one or more of these festivals, you will enjoy your trip to Hyderabad.