Northeast India is known for its rich culture and diverse festivals. Festivals of Northeast India celebrate agriculture, Buddhism, and the start of the new year. Many of these festivals are multi-day events that showcase the unique customs, traditions, and art forms of the various tribes in the region. From folk and tribal dances to music and delicious local cuisine, these festivals offer a glimpse into the vibrant and colorful life of the Northeastern states.
Here is a list of some of the most popular festivals in Northeast India that are a must-see for anyone interested in experiencing the cultural diversity and natural beauty of these states:
1. Bihu, Assam
Bihu is a popular cultural festival celebrated in the Indian state of Assam. It is held three times a year during the Hindu months of Bohag Bihu in April, Magh Bihu in January, and Kati Bihu in October. Bihu festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and features traditional Assamese dance, music, food, and rituals. It is a time for farmers to give thanks for a good harvest and for people to come together to celebrate and renew relationships with friends and family. Bihu is an important cultural expression of the Assamese people and holds deep spiritual and social significance in the region.
2. Ambubachi Mela, Assam
The Ambubachi Mela is a yearly Hindu gathering held at the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. The festival takes place during the monsoon season in June and marks the celebration of the goddess Kamakhya’s yearly menstruation. Millions of pilgrims from all over India, including sadhus, aghoras, Baul minstrels, Tantriks, and sadhvis, as well as foreign visitors, flock to Guwahati to take part in the festival and seek blessings from the goddess. The nearby Brahmaputra River also turns red for three days during the festival.
3. Losar Festival, Arunachal Pradesh
Losar, the Tibetan New Year, is celebrated in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh with great enthusiasm for three days. Despite its misunderstanding as a devil’s dance, it holds great significance for local residents and is performed to bring prosperity and happiness. Preparations and religious customs accompany the celebration, including lighting lamps and offering morning prayers to local deities.
4. Mopin Festival, Arunachal Pradesh
Mopin is a widely celebrated agricultural festival of the Galo tribes in East Siang and West Siang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. It features a local traditional dance called Popir. The central aspect of the celebration is the sacrifice of the Mithun (Gayal), a bovine native to North East India and Burma. The Mopin Festival takes place on April 5, with preparations beginning on April 2 and concluding on April 7-8 after a visit to the paddy field (RIGA ALO).
5. Nyokum Festival, Arunachal Pradesh
Nyokum is a festival celebrated by the Nyishi tribe in Arunachal Pradesh, India. The name is derived from “Nyok,” meaning land, and “Kum,” meaning collectiveness or togetherness. The festival has strong ties to agriculture and involves invoking the Nyokum goddess, the goddess of prosperity, for blessings on food production and protection against famine, drought, flood, and crop damage. The festival seeks to strengthen and regenerate humanity and prevent unnatural deaths. The Nyokum Yullo Festival takes place from February 23-27, with the main celebration on February 26 recognized as a state holiday in Arunachal Pradesh.
Ziro Festival of Music is a music festival held in the Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh, showcasing independent music in India. It attracts music lovers from across the country and is an outdoor celebration filled with energy and enthusiasm. The festival not only showcases the talents and music of Northeast India but also promotes tourism in the state. The Ziro Festival of Music is known for being eco-friendly and using locally sourced materials for its infrastructure.
7. Lui-ngai-ni, Manipur
Lui-Ngai-Ni is a seed-sowing festival observed by the Naga Tribes in Manipur. The word means “seed sowing” and is a time to honor the crop gods and pray for well-being. The festival features cultural activities such as dances, songs, cultural attire shows, fire lighting, drum beating, traditional folk dances, and songs. It is celebrated in all Naga-inhabited areas in Manipur and takes place on February 15 to mark the start of spring.
8. Yaosang, Manipur
Yaosang is a 5-day festival in Manipur celebrated during spring on the full moon day of Lamda (February-March). It is the most important festival in Manipur, originating from the Meitei people’s indigenous traditions. The festival features singing, dancing, and traditional performances and is celebrated by people of all ages and genders with high spirits. Yaosang symbolizes the celebration of love among children, adults, and all ages.
9. Nongkrem Dance Festival, Meghalaya
10. Wangala Festival, Meghalaya
12. Chapchar Kut, Mizoram
13. Anthurium Festival, Mizoram
Anthurium Festival in Mizoram is a widely celebrated event aimed at boosting tourism. Organized by the Tourism and Horticulture Departments, this 3-day festival takes place annually at Tourist Resort Reiek in the scenic village of Reiek, an hour’s drive from the capital city Aizawl. The Anthurium Festival truly embodies the state, celebrated in the midst of nature during the peak of the beautiful anthurium blooms. It’s a cultural extravaganza featuring music, dance, games, fashion shows, handloom/handicraft exhibitions, and traditional cuisine, all set against the majestic green backdrop of Reiek Mountain covered in colorful anthurium flowers.
14. Moatsü, Nagaland
Moatsu is a 3-day community bonding festival celebrated by the Ao People of Nagaland in May. Villagers show their friendship by exchanging gifts, making new friends, feasting, and lighting a bonfire. The symbolic Sangpangtu features a big fire and men and women in their finest attire, with women serving wine and meat. Village witch doctors predict the village’s fate by reading the Moatsu celebration.
15. Aoleang Festival, Nagaland
17. Losoong Festival, Sikkim
Losoong, also known as Namsoong by the Lepchas, is a Sikkimese festival celebrating the end of the harvest season every year in December. Though mostly celebrated privately by families and friends, there is a festive atmosphere throughout the region. The festival offers much-needed relaxation for hardworking farmers and a chance for visitors to experience traditional folk dances, religious rituals and ceremonies, and delicious Sikkimese cuisine. Losoong has become one of the most sought-after festival destinations in North East India, attracting thousands of tourists from around the world every year.
18. Saga Dawa, Sikkim
19. Kharchi Puja, Tripura
Kharchi Puja is a Hindu festival celebrated in Tripura, India, typically in July or August in Agartala. It involves worshiping the fourteen gods of the Tripuri dynasty. This week-long, royal Puja is one of the most popular festivals in Tripura and falls on the eighth day of the new moon in July. Thousands of people attend the celebrations held at the temple of the Fourteen gods in Puran Agartala. Legends surround the festival, which lasts a week and features ceremonies on the temple premises.