Makar Sankranti (Jan). Marks the end of Dakshinayana (the southward movement of the sun) and the start of Uttarayan (the northward movement of the sun; kite-flying, bathing in sacred rivers and/or with sesame oil, lighting oil lamps to honour ancestors, and exchanging sesame sweets all feature in the festivities.

Ratha Saptami (Jan). This festival heralds the start of spring and the harvest, when offerings are made to the sun god, Surya.

Gudhi Padwa (usually March). Hindu celebration marking the start of the new year, the day Brahma created the universe. People raise a bright green or yellow flag outside households and kick off festivities by eating a paste made from neem leaves and jaggery.

Narali Purnima/Raksha Bandhan (Aug). The “coconut festival” marks the end of the monsoon, and heralds the start of the fishing season – it is celebrated enthusiastically by communities on the Konkan coast.

Ganesh Chaturthi (Aug/Sept). Dedicated to one of Hinduism’s most popular deities, this ten-day festival finishes with a procession and the immersion of large Ganesh effigies into rivers, water tanks or the sea.

Marabats and Badgyas (Aug/Sept). Celebrated with particular fervour in Nagpur, where effigies personifying evils such as corruption and bribery are taken on a procession and then burned.

Navarata (Sept/Oct). The “Nine nights” festival dedicated to the worship of Shakti, the mother goddess, and by extension the importance of women generally. A Maharashtran characteristic of the festival is bondhla, folk dances performed by girls each evening.

Tripuri Purnima (Nov). The most important Shiva festival after Shivrati, Tripuri Purnima marks the god’s victory over the demon Tripurasura. Celebrations include ritual bathing, and in places such as Nasik lit candles are floated on the Godavari River.

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