Get details on national festivals and public holidays observed in India.

National Festivals


National Festivals of India

Central to our country's political and social framework is the observance of several important days of historic importance collectively called national festivals. In India Republic Day, Independence Day, and Gandhi Jayanti are gazetted public holidays. Teachers Day and Children's Day also come within the ambit of national integration as they honour distinguished political leaders of our country with a nationwide celebration. Apart from these, there are other important days such as those dedicated to freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and important personalities such as B. R. Ambedkar and Sardar Patel. These can be considered festivals of national integration as they bring together the whole nation in a shared experience. As such, the universal message of love and solidarity resound throughout the length and breadth of the country.

National festivals in India have a distinctive quality which sets them apart from other festivals. The government recognizes and attests to the overriding importance of these red-letter days. It steps up preparations to mark the occasion, mobilizing all of its resources at each level of administration.

Republic Day and Independence Day are both national holidays of supreme importance. Both these uphold the pluralism and diversity of India and are celebrated in that very spirit. Flag-hoisting tradition is carried out in state capitals, constituencies, district headquartersand every level of administration. All government offices, government institutions, agencies and educational institutes hold a similar ceremony with stately pomp and show. The grand celebration in New Delhi presents a kaleidoscopic view of the country's composite culture as well as a showcase of India's military might. Not only is the wholly-encompassing nature of the festivals important, the underlying relationship of the country to its citizens as its guardian is effectively brought out. Awards and honours are given away with much fanfare. The mass media is put to efficient use. People wish each other by sending messages and cards, watching documentaries, enjoying picnics and shopping.

Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti celebrated on 2nd October is also an important day. Though it is a national holiday, the celebration is not on the same scale as Republic Day and Independence Day. Yet it has caught the imagination of the entire nation as this day carries a strong message of peace and harmony that resonates with every Indian. Mahatma Gandhi, who led by example, Gandhi's values and belief in Satyagraha (truth) and Ahimsa (non-violence) have stood the test of time. On this day, by attending lectures about Gandhi and listening to devotional songs, every Indian strengthens his belief in the actuality of an equal society and a peaceful and uncorrupted world. Mahatma Gandhi's vision was exemplary, vast in scope and deeply powerful in impact for human societies. As such, Gandhi's relevance makes this day very special for everyone.

To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, the President, Prime Minister and other dignitaries pay homage to Gandhi at Raj Ghat, New Delhi where he was cremated. Also, events, such as paintings, creative writing, and essay competitions are organized to create a better understanding about the life of Gandhi. The song 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram', which was close to his heart has a spiritual quality is sung at various places. Perhaps the best way to celebrate this day is to make a resolution to imbibe Gandhian values in our lives and come good on it. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a nationwide 'Clean India Drive' on Gandhi Jayanti.

Republic Day
On Republic Day, held on 26th January, the President of India pays tribute to the Indian martyred soldiers at India Gate in New Delhi.

The importance of Republic Day is that on this day, India became a sovereign Republic, with the right to form its own government. The grand formation of tableaus, the breathtaking display of the folk dances of each state celebrating the diversity of each state, the decoration, the display of weapon systems are integral part of India's Republic Day celebration. To witness the event, a foreign dignitary is also invited as Chief Guest every year. Gallantry and bravery awards are given away to armed forces personnel and to civilians. The award ceremony is a proud moment for all Indians. Republic Day is also celebrated at all the district and sub-divisional headquarters of the state. The Governor takes the salute at the march-past led by the Armed forces. At the state level, the Governor unfurls the flag in the state capital and also gives a speech highlighting topical issues facing the respective state. The Chief Minister of the state hoists the flag in the district headquarters.

Independence Day
The same spirit of fervour accompanies the celebration on Independence Day on 15th August every year. It is a joyous occasion for every Indian as it reminds us of the martyrs of the freedom struggle of India. In New Delhi, the national flag is hoisted by the Prime Minister and by Chief Ministers in their respective states and by other officials at different levels of political hierarchy. India's Prime Minister hoists India's flag and gives a speech at the Red Fort in Old Delhi and highlights focus areas for future, while also reviewing the past achievements. The Chief Ministers of different states also unfurl the national flag in their respective states.

In educational institutions such as schools and colleges, the day is commemorated with parades and cultural events, for which preparations begin much in advance. On this day, government offices and buildings are illuminated and adorned with elegant decoration. National flags are hung at suitable places to show people's deep respect and commitment to the country.

The tableaus have distinct themes that are as varied as the cultural and heritage legacy of the state to safety of women to renewable energy to Jallianwala Bagh. Schools participate in skits and dance events, debates and compete in sports events. Various NGOs and residential societies put up programmes. Overall, the activities strengthen the bond that ties citizens of the country. In what is an increasingly new trend, people paint their faces in colours of the national flag to make a visible show of their patriotism.

The TV, radio and other media show patriotic films, songs and documentaries. People fly kites and spend the day with relatives and close friends.

Besides the above mentioned days, there are other important days that honour Lala Lajpat Rai, Bhagat Singh, Rani Laxmi Bai and many others for their vital role in India's freedom struggle. But the celebration is more at the state level, while at the national level, tributes are paid by the Prime Minister or the President of the country. The celebration is low-key, but in the past, memorials have been built and awards have been instituted in their honour. Though these are not government holidays except in specific states, it hardly takes away the import of the martyrs and the statesmen that led the country in the march to independence. Overall, it will hardly be an overstatement to say that India as a nation has several unifying festivals to bind its diverse culture and socio-economic hierarchies nationally.