19 Most Popular Festivals of Northeast India

Festivals of Northeast India

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

Festivals of Northeast India
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons | Creator: Diganta Talukdar

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

Ambubachi MelaThe 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

Getting ready for Losar scaled e1675016543907
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons | Creator: Ailiajameel

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
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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 festival Nyishi
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons | Creator: Prashanthns

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.

6. Ziro Festival of Music, Arunachal Pradesh

Ziro Music Festival
Courtesy: Instagram| Creator: @atokina

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

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
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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

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Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: @clivedrew
The Nongkrem Dance Festival is a yearly event of the Khasi tribe in Meghalaya, lasting 5 days in November. It takes place in Smit, a cultural hub of the Khasi hills near the capital Shillong. The festival honors the powerful Goddess Ka Blei Synshar for bringing good harvest and prosperity to the community. A highlight of the festival is virgin women in traditional attire and heavy gold jewelry performing a dance in the festival field. The central aspect of the Nongkrem Festival is the dance performed by young, unmarried Khasi girls and men. The female dancers wear bright yellow Jainsem costumes featuring intricate embroidery, tassels, and a silver crown headgear adorned with flowers.

10. Wangala Festival, Meghalaya

Wangala
Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: @meghtourism
Wangala Festival is a popular celebration among the Garo people of Meghalaya, India. It is a harvest festival honoring Saljong, the sun god of fertility. The festival marks the end of the harvest season and the onset of winter. Known as the “100 drums festival,” it’s a time for the tribe to offer sacrifices to Saljong and preserve their cultural identity. The festival lasts for two days and can sometimes extend to a week. It’s a way for the Garo people to showcase their culture and traditions.

11. Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival, Meghalaya

Shillong Cherry Festival
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Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual festival held in Shillong, Meghalaya, India, that celebrates the blooming of the cherry blossom trees. This festival usually takes place in the months of November or December and attracts tourists and locals alike to witness the breathtaking beauty of the cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The festival features a range of activities such as cultural performances, food stalls, photography competitions, and nature walks. The Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival is an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the region, as well as to promote tourism and local culture.

12. Chapchar Kut, Mizoram

Chapchar Kut
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Chapchar Kut Festival is a featival celebration in Mizoram, India, that takes place in March after the end of the jhum operation (jungle-clearing). It is a spring festival that is celebrated with joy and excitement. Chapchar Kut refers to the time when cutting down bamboos and trees dry, waiting to be burned for jhumming. During this break from jhumming, Mizo ancestors had time for themselves. People dance, perform skits, and play musical instruments to bond and celebrate the festival. Chapchar Kut is one of three annual agricultural cycle festivals celebrated by the Mizos.

13. Anthurium Festival, Mizoram

Anthurium Festival e1675020870131
Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: dendrophileme1

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

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Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: easternmirror

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

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Aoleang festival is a significant celebration in the Mon district of the Konyak tribe of Nagaland. It takes place in early April, marking the arrival of spring and wishing for a bountiful harvest. The festival involves animal sacrifices as a way to ask for blessings from the divine. The Mon district, which has a high concentration of Konyaks, is the main location for the festival, which is widely regarded as one of the most popular festivals in Nagaland. The Konyak tribe has a unique cultural heritage, including a history of headhunting, but during Aoleang, the entire tribe comes together in celebration and prayer.

16. Hornbill Festival, Nagaland

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Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: @needlessnomad
The Hornbill Festival in Nagaland, known as the “Festival of Festivals,” showcases the state’s cultural richness. It is organized by the government in the first week of December annually to promote inter-tribal interaction and protect Naga heritage. The festival features Naga Morungs exhibition, arts & crafts sales, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, flower shows, cultural performances, fashion shows, Miss Nagaland beauty contest, traditional archery, Naga wrestling, indigenous games, and musical concerts. The main venue is at Kisama Heritage Village, 12 km from Kohima. All ethnic groups of Nagaland participate to preserve and display the state’s cultural traditions.

17. Losoong Festival, Sikkim

Losoong

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

Saga Dawa
Saga Dawa, also known as the Triple Blessed Festival, is a significant event for Sikkim Buddhists, with prayers held in monasteries throughout the month. The main celebration is on the full moon of the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar, which is Buddha Purnima. This day marks the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of the Buddha. Gangtok and other towns and villages in Sikkim hold a vibrant procession with monks playing instruments and devotees carrying Holy texts, Buddha portraits, and statues. People gather in the streets to touch their heads with the Holy Scriptures for blessings.

19. Kharchi Puja, Tripura

Kharchi
Courtesy: Instagram | Creator: @naturography14

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.

Visiting the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, and Mizoram would require Inner Line Permits (ILPs) while foreigners including Overseas Citizens of India require Protected Area Permits (PAPs) for Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Obtaining an Inner Line Permit (ILP) is not required for visiting Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura for Indians or foreigners.

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