Unusual and Uncommon Indian festivals you should know about

Oct 2, 2021

We all know how diverse India is and it reflects in its numerous traditions, languages, customs, and festivals. Every other day in India is a festival, but some of them are pretty unusual. Despite their unusualness, they are still celebrated with the same enthusiasm as the other known festivals of India. Of many such unusual and uncommon festivals, here are some that are practiced in various parts of the country.

1. Puli Kali in Kerala: this typical event is the most popular festival celebrated in south India, Onam. It is based on the theme of tiger hunting and is a form of art, music, and drama. In this festive drama, performers paint themselves as tigers and hunters using black, white, red, and yellow colors. Instruments like Thakil and Udukku are played on the beats of these instruments performers enact their roles. Recently ready-made masks and dresses are also used in place of paints. This festival is organized every year by the Pulikkali coordination committee and held in Thrissur. Puli Kali was first celebrated 200 years ago when the king of Cochin decided to celebrate Onam in a way that will preserve the wild and macho spirit of his army.

2. Sume-Gelirak festival in Odisha: this festival is considered the most important celebration in Koraput, Odisha. It is a ten-day festival full of rituals and customs. There is a practice of animal sacrifice in this festival which is believed to please the tribal gods. Alcohol is also a significant part of this occasion. The locals can be seen in their traditional attires singing tribal songs and dancing to them. The amazing part of this festival is that the tribal females can choose their life partners while dancing and celebrating.

3. Agni Keli in Karnataka: this is a festival celebrated in Kateel Durga Parameswari Temple in Mangalore. It is mostly celebrated in April. This festival gets many travelers due to the customs it follows. During the festival, hundreds of bare bodies of devotees hurl flaming palm fronds towards one another and the devotees who suffer burns are sprayed with water.

4. Madai Festival in Chhattisgarh: Despite being a very popular festival in the State of Chhattisgarh, this festival is little known to the other parts of India. Madai festival is celebrated by performing various traditional rituals including folk dance, tribal songs, prayers, and animal sacrifices. It is dedicated to one of the tribal deities, goddess Kesharpal Kesharpalin Devi. An add-on to this festival is its gala affairs with small stalls of eateries and tribal handicrafts. It is mostly celebrated in Baster, Kanker, and Dantewada regions from December to March every year. Other than these festivals some other festivals which I find unique are Bhagoriya Festival, Madhya Pradesh which is celebrated before the Holi festival; Mim Kut festival, Mizoram which is celebrated after the harvest of maize; Sekrenyi festival, Nagaland; Bija Pandu festival, Odisha; and many more.