Millions of tourists flock every year to Pondicherry to gaze upon the exquisite beauty of the heritage and beaches that together individuate the city with other southern Indian destinations. However, the cliched image of being a French settlement (which is obviously true) has always overpowered the cultural aspect of this beautiful city that includes numerous enthralling festivals and fairs. Not many know that the exquisite city of Pondicherry celebrates almost all the South Indian festival. The entire region of South India is dotted with numerous fairs and festivals, and the charismatic territory of Pondicherry is no exception to it. In Pondicherry, every special occasion is observed with fanfare and joy. Like most part of the India, Pondicherry too celebrates festivals to commemorate some great legends, kings, personalities and mystics. And these fair and festivals give tourists an amazing chance to discover this hidden hue of Pondicherry.
As the summer season starts setting off, the Christian community of the city congregate to mark the holy festival of Good Friday which is observed either during late March or early April. Just after a few days of celebrating Good Friday, the Tamil New Year knocks the doors of the city. Also known as Varusha Pirappu, the festival of Tamil New Year is celebrated on the first day of Tamil month - Chithirai (March - April). Another festival in Pondicherry which is celebrated in the month of April is the Akshaya Tritiya, which is also esteemed as ‘Akha Teej’. The festival includes a tradition where people purchase gold which is said to bring fortune and prosperity. Villianur Temple Festival and Bastille Day and Aadi Amavasai are two more popular celebrations that are observed in the month of May and July, respectively. The festival of Villianur Temple is celebrated for the whole long period of ten days whereas, the Bastille Day is the French National Day which commemorate the French Revolution.
As soon as the season of monsoon arrives in Pondicherry, the Hindu festival of Aadi Amavasai is all set to be celebrated. As a ritual of this festival, people offer food to appease the dead forefathers. However, during the season, some national festivals and anniversaries including Independence Day and Sri Aurobindo’s Birth are also celebrated throughout the city of Pondicherry. Both the events are observed on the same day which is on August 15. Coincidently, on the same day, a cultural pageant - Fete Du Puducherry is also celebrated at different parts of the city.
A week later these festivals, the entire city blooms up with the hues of Bakrid. The festival is celebrated with great fervour and zeal in the entire city. Another Islamic festival which is celebrated in the months of monsoon is Muharram. On this day, the streets of Pondicherry gleamed with a large procession of devotees carrying a large replica of Hazrat Imam Hussain’s tomb. With the auspicious festival of Vinayagar Chaturthi which is worldly-known as Ganesh Chaturthi, the monsoon season in Pondicherry bid an adieu. Now comes the winter spell which brings festive season not just in all parts of the country, and Pondicherry is no exception to it. Starting off with the biggest Hindu celebration - Diwali, the season commemorates various festivals with much devotion and ardour. Also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ - Diwali is the most renowned Hindu festival which brings a whole long five day of festivities.
This five-day celebration starts with Dhanteras (first day) and Naraka Chaturdasi (second day) followed by Diwali (third day) and Diwali Padva (fourth day) and ends with Bhau-beej (fifth day). Milad Un Nabi is a popular Islamic festival which is observed in the winter month of November. On this festival, the people from Muslim pay their reverence to Prophet Muhammad as the day of Milad Un Nabi marks their birth anniversary. Comes the month of December, the festival hues Christmas started oozing out in the air. Since the culture of Pondicherry has an influence from French, Portuguese, British and Dutch, thus, the worldwide celebrated festival of Christmas is also observed here with so much love and devotion. Following the celebration of Christmas, New Year marks its beginning. Both the festivals are commemorated with lavish celebrations which include fun parties, dance, music, food, and much more.
Undoubtedly, the most important of all the Tamil Hindu festivals in Pondicherry, Pongal is celebrated on January 14 every year. This 4-day festival lures a lot of tourists to Pondicherry from round the world. The festival of Pongal is nothing less than a spectacular cultural celebration. Following this, the festival of Shivaratri, which is also known as Maha Shivaratri, is observed throughout the city. As the winter season almost set to bid a adieu, the entire city cherish the life of one of the greatest disciple of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh - Mirra Alfassa. Thereafter, the city welcomes the most-awaited festival, Holi, not just in Pondicherry but in the entire country. The ‘Festival of Colors’ - Holi is certainly the second biggest Hindu celebration after Diwali. Since, the festival signifies love and happiness, it is celebrated by people of all communities.