Friday, March 1, 2024
Jammu and Kashmir


Festivals in Kashmir Province

Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan

Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan in northern India is the day for brothers and sisters to renew the affectionate ties that bind them. On this day, the Kashmiri Hindus in Srinagar climb the temple of Shankaracharya on a hill top. This is believed to be an abode of Lord Shiva. But the more revered abode is situated in the far off, glacier-bound cave-shrine of Amarnath where pilgrims from all parts of India behold sacred pigeons - believed to be incarnations of Shiva and Parvathi. Those who cannot trek to Amarnath make it to Thanjivara cave - 3 km from the town of Bijibrara - to worship the Shiva lingam. The belief is that three pilgrimages to this shrine equal the merit gained by the Amarnath yatra.

Janam Ashtami

Kashmiris also celebrate Janam Ashtami, in August, just  eight days after Rakhi. Hindus fast on this day, hold religious meetings to propagate the teachings of the Gita. The Ras Leela of Lord Krishna is staged at some places.


On the 13th day of the lunar fortnight of Bhadon (Aug-Sep), Kashmiris celebrate a festival named Vaitha-Vatur-Truvah which  literally means: 'Vaitha for the River Jhelum-source-thirteenth day'. It is held at an ancient temple at Verinag, the source of the Jhelum, in which Hindus coming from all parts of the valley , participate along with some local Muslims. A big Havana ceremony is performed on the occasion.


Diwali, the festival of light, is also celebrated in this area. It is an occasion for the puja of the new moon of Kartik (Oct-Nov).


The Muslim festival, Muharram, marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the prophet's grandson, who was murdered at Karbala. Huge taziyas made of paper and wood are taken out in procession.

Guru Nanak Dev

The Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev in November is a very auspicious day for the Sikhs. They visit Chati Patshahi, near Hari Parbat. Epistles from the Granth Sahib are recited throughout the day.


On the tenth of Asvin (Sep-Oct), Dussehra is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama.

Khichri Amavasya

A typically Kashmiri festival known as Khichri Amavasya falls in the month of Posh (Dec-Jan). Kashmir is believed to have been the abode of Yakshas in ancient times. The Yaksha spirit is invited to relish Khichri (rice cooked with dal and ghee). It is believed that during the night the yaksha comes and tastes the Khichri served neatly in the attic along with a fish.

Gori Trai

In the month of Magh (Jan-Feb) comes the Gori Trai, on the third day after the new moon. The family priest brings gaudy scroll paintings for the children. Saraswati Puja is offered on the day.

Basant Panchmi

Basant Panchmi , is another festival celebrated in Kashmir. During this time, bird-loving Kashmiris cook yellow rice, prepare small balls of it and throw them on the roof for crows and other birds.

Shivratri or Herat

The Shivratri festival or Herat, which falls in Feb-Mar is also celebrated by Kashmiris. It lasts for about a fortnight. Hindus spring-clean their houses during this fortnight, wear new clothes, and buy utensils. Women go to their parents homes to get the 'festival money', as they call it. The worship of Shiva and Parvati starts three days  before the festival. It is said that Shiva and Parvati were wedded on Shivratri. The offerings in this worship are walnuts soaked in earthen utensils. The four parts of the kernel represent four yugas. After some days, people are seen carrying baskets containing these nuts to be distributed among relatives and friends.