Festivals of India

Celebrations from the Sarmaya archive

When we attempt to express in English the reasons why we celebrate what we do in India, there’s a tendency to fall back on some cliched answers. We celebrate the harvest in our concrete jungles, or ‘the triumph of good over evil’, or the birth of a great soul, a mahatma. These are accurate reasons, but they’re ultimately inadequate in explaining why we have so many festivals in one calendar year and how they can continue to be a source of such unbridled childlike joy, come rain or recession. How we celebrate too doesn’t translate neatly. We light many lamps or just one big bonfire. We dance or we sit still. We feast or we fast. We’re digging into the Sarmaya archives to find as diverse an array of festivals as we can across India. Some are represented through the architecture that houses the festivities, others are embodied in art and yet others are portraits of people just happy to be alive and together on a beautiful  day—that’s reason enough to celebrate