Tamil Nadu is a great land of festivals, many festivals are observed throughout the year. People celebrate festivals with joy and enthusiasm.
Few important festivals are listed here so that tourists can know when to visit and where to visit in Tamil Nadu. People visit from different parts of India and the world to be part of the festivals, even the tourism department has taken care to attract more visitors.
Many festivals in India are celebrated throughout the country but still if you go to the main place where it started, it gives a different kind of experience likewise Tamilnadu also has festivals which have started there and are special to Tamil people.
List of Festivals in Tamilnadu
It is the foremost importance of all festivals for the people of Tamil Nadu. it’s often called “Tamilar Thirunal” or the Prosperity Day of the Tamils. It arrives in mid-January. Celebrate the arrival of the fresh harvest and everybody appears in new clothes greeting with the smile one another on the day.
A brand new clay pot is placed on a fireplace in a very central place in an open corridor and newly harvested rice and milk are cooked. When the milk overflows, people shout in chorus “Pongalo Pongal! Pongalo Pongal!” Pongal literally means boiling.
The day before Pongal is called “Bhogi”. It means Bogam or pleasure and was originally dedicated to Indra, who is the Bogi or the supreme seeker of pleasure. Today unwanted old things accumulate in the middle of the road and a bonfire is built. Children play hand drums and walk the roads hitting the drums and shouting “Bhogi Bhogi!”.
It is a 3-day festival. The second day is named Mattu Pongal. The Bullocks and cows cared for that day and worshiped and given nutritious food called “Sarkarai Pongal”. The third day is named “Kanru Pongal” or Calf Pongal. On this day, the calves are fed. people visit elders’ places to take blessings from them.
2. Jalli Kattu – Bullfight
The second day of Pongal, i.e. the day of Mattu Pongal, Jalli Kattu, or bullfight competition takes place in the majority of villages of Tamil Nadu. The young and energetic people come forward to tame the bull as they come ferociously rushing on them.
It is a traditional and terrifying fight. The winner gets the prize money attached to the horns. Alanganallur near Madurai is known for this sport.
3. Republic Day
Republic Day falls on 26th January. It is a national festival. Spectacular march past, cultural mark the celebrations in the capital city of India along with a special guest from different countries every year. It is celebrated to remember the date of the constitution came into force on January 26, 1950.
A tableau represents the culture and tradition of Tamil Nadu displayed on Delhi’s biggest event of the Republic Day Parade. Similarly, even as a state responsibility Tamil Nadu also conducts cultural events, hoist flag, and more…
4. Tourist Fair – Chennai
Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation conducts Tourist Fair at Island Grounds in Chennai during the month of January.
All Government and Public sector enterprises arrange folk dances, dramas, etc. Not only that all the tourist places will be organized with cultural events, food shows, exhibitions, entertainment for kids, and a lot more… to attract more visitors to Tamil Nadu.
5. Dance Festival – Mamallapuram
Mamallapuram Dance Festival is a famous festival in Tamil Nadu conducted by the Department of Tourism which is organized on the open-air stage at the place where monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallava kings that are built beside the shore.
It’s a very colorful event showcasing the Indian Dance culture of different states like Bharatha Natyam of Tamil Nadu, Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh, Kathakali of Kerala, Odissi dance of Orissa will be performed by well-known artists. The connectivity to reach this place is good, it takes just 58km from Chennai to Mamallapuram.
(February, March & April)
6. Maha Shivratri
Maha Shivaratri festival is very significant in India, the entire day will be celebrated with special worships in temples, fasting and chanting ‘Shiva’ is done the entire night without sleep.
In Tamilnadu, people celebrate this festival with great participation, especially at the ISHA foundation because of Adiyogi Lord Shiva Statue, it is one of the Tallest Lord Shiva Statues In India here, people gather all around the world to participate in the festival celebration.
7. Chithirai Festival
The Brahmothsavam or Chithirai festival is the main festival that is celebrated in all temples for 10 days. Every day, ‘urchavar’ or the processional divinity is carried in procession in different vahanas (vehicles) such as the horse, the bull, the swan, the lion, the sun, the moon, etc.
Madurai is spectacular with Lord Vishnu landing on a golden horse for his sister Meenakshi’s marriage. An important day of the 10-day festival is the day of the “Arubathumoovar Festival”, the day that the 63 Saivaite saints are led in procession with Lord Shiva.
The one at the Kapaleeswarar temple, Chennai, is very famous. The 63 Saivaite saints (bronze idols) are taken in the procession, a magnificent spectacle. Thousands of people gather in crowds during this festival.
8. Tamil New Year’s Day
This festival comes in mid-April, during the spring season. The sun rises from the 1st constellation Aries on the day. People will be curious to know the year’s astrology at the same time people worship their family deities and visit temples.
The neem flower is used in one form or another as a garnish and consumed with sweet kheer called payasam. Huge queues will be found at all major temples in Tamil Nadu on the day.
9. Sri Rama Navami
This is the festival celebrated in all Vishnu temples and even at homes. It is the birthday of Rama, one of the Avatars of Vishnu. This very important day and people do one-day fasting, starting in the morning and continuing until the next morning.
They worship Lord Rama, listen to or tell the epic of the Ramayanam, performing the ceremonial marriage of Lord Rama and the goddess Sita and some lead the Rama Navami procession with chanting and dancing with bhajans in all the places of Tamil Nadu and other states as well.
10. Good Friday
Good Friday, also known as Easter Friday, it is a Christian holiday celebrated to commemorate the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and his death.
According to the Scriptures, the Lord Jesus sacrificed himself for the good of humanity. So the word “good” on Good Friday means holy. The date of Good Friday varies each year according to the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
The holy day of the Christians is observed throughout Tamil Nadu. Churches all over Tamil Nadu would conduct special masses on this day.
(May, June & July)
11. Summer Festival
The summer festival is held in Hill Stations such as Ooty, Kodaikanal, Yercaud, etc. It is mainly a tourist festival. It is called “Kodai Vizha”. Boat races, flower and fruit exhibitions are organized. Cultural programs are held.
Trekking is also done in the mountain range, a unique and exciting experience. There are competitions for flower arrangements, rangoli, and sculptures of fruits and vegetables, and more…
(August & September)
12. Aadi Perukku
Aadi Perukku is a unique Tamil festival held annually on August 3rd. It marks the beginning of the monsoon in Tamil Nadu, the main objective of this festival is to pay tribute to the vital properties of water.
People go to the bank of the Kaveri river and worship the river goddess and float their offerings in the river. They also carry different varieties of cooked rice and eat them on the coasts and spend their happy moments.
13. Independence Day
We got the Independence on 15th August 1947 from the British, celebrated every year with flag hoisting, processions, etc. Similarly, The flag hoisting ceremony at Fort St. George, Chennai, and the cultural apparatus mark the occasion. It is a public holiday and the public buildings are illuminated with bright colors on the day.
14. Krishna Janmashtami
It is the birthday of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated in all Vishnu Temples and at homes. On Janmashtami, people draw small footprints of a baby at the entrance to their home to mark Krishna’s arrival at their home. People prepare different delicacies food and offer them to Lord Krishna. Also, people fast all day.
15. Vinayaka Chathurthi
Vinayaka Chathurthi festival is the celebration of the birthday of Lord Vinayaka or the elephant-headed god. It is celebrated in all homes individually and even groups of people gather on the streets to celebrate by organizing various completion and activities for the people.
In all cities and district headquarters, giant Vinayaka statues starting from 10 feet tall to 32 feet are placed in public places. A special dish is prepared known as Modhaga or Kolukattai to offer the lord Ganesha and share as the prasadam with the people present there.
On the last day, which varies from the 3rd to the 10th day, large processions are held and the statue is submerged in the water available nearby it may be rivers, lakes, sea, or government-specified places. The procession will be colorful with various folk dances, singing songs, etc.
(September & October)
Navarathri is the special Festival of 9 nights: ‘ Navam ’ means nine and ‘Rathri’ means night. All 9 days are divided into 3 days for each goddess dedicated to Durga or Parvathi, Lakshmi, and Saraswathi. Each day has its own importance and has been celebrated throughout India.
Navratri in Tamil Nadu is a big festival in all parts of the country. Dolls of different deities along with the stories and significance will be displayed on wooden steps and people be creative in their arrangements marks the celebration as a little different from the rest of India.
In Tamil Nadu, we can see the Navaratri festival in each temple and house in a unique way of rituals and celebrations.
17. Velankanni Festival
The famous church in the Velankanni shrine near Nagapattinam has wonderful legends. The shipwrecked Portuguese sailors of the 16th century had built this sanctuary in gratitude for having saved and guided them to shore during a violent cyclone. Thousands of people gather at the place site during the festival.
The Church of the Virgin Mary is the “Courdes of the East” and has miraculous healing power. This festival attracts people of all faiths: Hindus, Muslims, and of course, Christians, it is more of a secular gathering.
18. Kanthuri Festival
The Kanthuri festival takes place at the Sanctuary of Saint Quadirwali in Tamil Nadu. One of the saint’s descendants is chosen as the spiritual leader of the celebration. The peer or spiritual leader of the celebrations is honored by the devotees.
On the 10th day of the festival, it is important the tomb of Saint Quadirwali is anointed with sandal paste and distributed to the people who are present there.
19. Mamankam Festival
This festival takes place once every 12 years. This period is called “Mamangam” in Tamil. This happens once every 12 years when the planet Jupiter enters the constellation Leo.
All of India’s holy rivers are believed to bathe in the holy reservoir here in Kumbakonam on this holy day to wash away the accumulated sins of the devotees who bathe there.
Mahamagam’s reservoir is located in the temple city of Kumbakonam. Legend has it that a few drops of divine nectar “Kumba” fell into this tank. Thousands of people take a sacred bath that day.
The peculiarity is that residents from all over the city visit this place. Lord Shiva called Adhi Kumbeswara is worshiped here, the name is taken from”Kumba” or the pot.
(October, November & December)
Deepavali festival is the festival of lights, this is also called “Naraka Chaturdashi“, the day the fearsome giant Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna. The festival is celebrated for 5 days and each day has its own importance.
The whole country celebrates this festival by wearing new clothes, bursting crackers, decorating the home with lights, sharing sweets with family and neighbors a lot more.
Similarly in Tamil Nadu people celebrate this festival without any differentiation between poor and rich, they participate in the celebration, visit temples, gather their family members, and enjoy the happy moments, moreover, Tamil Nadu produces more Crackers for the people of India.
21. Vaikunta Ekadasi
This festival is a Vaishnavita festival and the gates of paradise are believed to be open that day. In all the Vishnu temples, a decorative door called “Vaikuntha Vasal” or the threshold of paradise. Thousands of people have crosses the setup door. The bhajans are held and the people day fast the whole day.
During the night, most people stay awake and end their fast in the next morning. The Srirangam temple of Srirangam near Tiruchirappalli and the Parthasarathi temple built by the Pallavas at Triplican in the city of Chennai attracts hundreds of thousands of people.
It is interesting to see groups of bhajans called ‘Bhajanai Koshti’ chanting the names of Lord Vishnu out loud and dancing in a trance around the temple.
22. Natyanjali Festival
It is a dance festival at the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. It is a tribute that all dancers pay to the cosmic dancer, Lord Nataraja(Shiva). It is celebrated near the hall of a thousand pillars of the temple where 108 dance poses of Lord Siva are represented.
The poses are from Tamil Nadu Bharatha Natyam’s classical dance. Dancers from all over India pay tribute by performing dances such as Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Odissi, and Kathak.
23. Karthigal Deepam
It is one of the oldest festivals in Tamil Nadu. We have references to this festival in Sangam literature. It is the Tamil Nadu festival of lights. Deepam means light. Rows of ground lamps light up in front of the houses at night.
Traditional snacks called Appam, Pori, and Adai are made and offered to deities. The festival is celebrated in all Shiva temples. Thiruvannamalai Temple is the most famous and the deepam name is Annamalayar Deepam.
A large lamp is lit on the rocky summit of the mountain. A large wick is prepared, 100 liters of ghee are poured and the lamp is turned on. It glows all night. Despite the heavy rains, the light will burn.
Lakhs of the faithful people gather for this festival from across India. Thiruvannamalai is one of the places of five elements of life that is fire. A large bonfire is built in front of the temples. This festival marks the end of the rainy season in Tamil Nadu.
24. Saral Vizha
It is a unique festival of recent origin. It is celebrated in Kuttalam or Courtallam, where there are a series of waterfalls.
During the season, the water will be abundant and thousands of people will gather there to take a bath. Water has healing powers when it passes through various medicinal herbs before falling. Courtallam is close to Tenkasi in the Tirunelveli district.
Saaral Vizha is a unique festival that energizes our body. Water flows down on us like a thousand slaps and relieves our pain and makes us feel fresh. Appropriate security arrangements are made and there are separate places for men and women.
25. Kavadi Festival
There are different types of Kavadies called kavadi Pal (milk), kavadi Panneer (rose water), kavadi Pushpa (flower), kavadi Mayil (peacock feather, etc.) carried on your shoulders and climb the mountain. This is a religious holiday.
The kavadi festival is very famous in Palani, Tiruthani, and Tiruchendur and in the other shrines of Arupadai Veedu or of the six Lord Muruga residences.
26. Music Festival
The music festival is held annually in the capital Chennai. In December, all the “Sabhas” or music clubs organize this Festival of Music. Annamalai Mandram, Narada Gana Sabha, the Indian Fine Arts Society, and other sabhas organize this festival in various places.
In Kalakshetra, a dance festival is also organized during this period. Music lover’s ultimate festival we can say. Renowned researchers and musicians give vocal and instrumental recitals on various sabhas even at late nights. It is a festival that reflects the culture of Tamil Nadu. Music lovers from all over the world participate.
People in Tamil Nadu celebrate all the religious festivals equally, each community respects other’s festivals and allow to celebrate festivals. Not only Hindu festivals, all the Muslim festivals like Ramzan, Bakrid, Milad-un-Nabi, etc., and all Christian festivals such as New Year Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Christmas, etc. are celebrated in Tamil Nadu. Therefore, Tamil Nadu is full of national, secular, and religious festivals of all kinds, and it is likely to call it “a land of colorful festivals and impartial joy”.