Kolkata Events, Things to Do and Festivals 2014 / 2015

(Kolkata / Calcutta, West Bengal, India)




Image of Chinese New Year in ChinatownKolkata's events calendar is riddled with festivals, and there's no better way to enhance your visit than to arrive during a colourful Hindu festival. Foreigners are generally encouraged to join in the festivities, which opens up a long list of things to do.

A little over 20 percent of the population are Muslim, so Islamic festivals add to the mix. In both cases, religious events in Kolkata typically coincide with phases of the moon, meaning that dates tend to shift around from year to year. Some of the biggest include Rath Yatra in July, Durga Puja in September, and Lakshmi Puja in October, while in November, the arrival of the Kolkata Film Festival sees thousands of movie buffs drawn to the city's cinemas.


Kolkata Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015



January


  • Dover Lane Music Festival - late January, this week-long event is the definitive Hindustani music fest and draws large crowds to the Nazrul Mancha open-air theatre. Expect lots of classical Indian music
  • Kolkata Boi Mela - late January / early February, Asia's biggest book fair, staged over a ten-day period in the Maidan Park, with many related attractions

February


  • Saraswatii Puja - early February, a fun state holiday in which the youngest daughter in a family dresses all in yellow. Children are especially enthusiastic about this observance. The religious festivities of Saraswati Puja pay tribute to the daughter of Shiva, a famous Hindu deity

March


  • Dol Purnima - welcomes the spring season by ignoring caste barriers. Celebrants spray coloured water on each other and drink bhang, an intoxicating beverage laced with marijuana

April


  • Pila Baisakh - in the first month of Bengali calendar, this harvest festival sees locals cleaning their houses, planning marriages and exchanging sweets
  • Nabobarsho - the Bengali New Year, celebrated with temple visits and plenty of fanfare

May


  • Eid al-Adha - the Muslim Quarter remembers the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to Allah. Devotees offer special prayers, spend time with family and offer alms

June


  • National Children's Theatre Festival - held in the first week of June. Children's theatre troupes have been coming to Kolkata to compete in this competitive event since 1990

July


  • Rath Yatra (Rathayatra) - the first festival of the monsoon season, with processions in villages on the outskirts of the city. Rath Yatra remains the principal annual event for those who follow Visnu and Krishna, and sees enormous chariots pulled through the streets of the city centre

August


  • Independence Day - August 15th, the day on which Indians celebrate independence from British rule with flag ceremonies, parades and cultural programmes in all state capitals

September


  • Navratri (Festival of Nine Lights) - a Hindu commemoration dedicated to the much-loved goddess Durga, who famously beheaded an evil demon. Expect lots of Indian folk music, dancing and partying
  • Durga Puja - late September / early October, an important Bengali event drawing people in from all over West Bengal. Kolkata is the preferred place in which to celebrate Durga Puja. Literally thousands of small statues of the goddess Durga are created by local craftsmen and displayed within 'pandal' tents, before being immersed in the waters of the Hooghly River

October


  • Lakshmi Puja (Laxmi Puja) - honouring the goddess of wealth (Lakshmi / Laxmi). This event prompts merchants to decorate their market stalls in a rainbow of colours
  • Bhai Phota - brothers and sisters honour one another through prayers and ritual ceremonies

November


  • Kali Puja - at midnight on the day of the new moon, locals light candles, explode firecrackers and pray to Kali, the goddess of destruction
  • Chaat Puja (Chhath Puja) - various religious Hindu festivities are staged, paying tribute to the Sun God named Surya
  • Kolkata Film Festival - second week each November, a major cultural gathering lasting around a week and seeing a multitude of Bengali and international films screened at cinemas all around the city, with short films being shown at the Nandan Complex on AJC Bose Road

December


  • New Year's Eve - December 31st, the Western New Year's Eve celebration is a major event in Kolkata and the main parades and celebrations are staged on Park Street until the early morning hours







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