How To Celebrate Cultural Events Like A Local When Visiting India

Cultural Events Like A Local When Visiting India

India is a land that’s been blessed with many different cultures, and all with their own celebrations and variations of celebrations. This is what makes India one of the world’s best destinations for those looking to soak up plenty of cultural events and activities.

Whether you desire to explore the more spiritual aspects of Indian cultures, try new types of cuisines and cultural foods, or even visit historical or cultural sites, India undoubtedly has some level of cultural enrichment instore for all kinds of travellers. Hidden between bustling cities and tranquil South Asian countryside, there truly is a world of bright festivals and festivities that are simply waiting to be explored for all culture-loving tourists.

So how do you experience all the cultural enrichment that India has to offer? We’ll be answering just that question today by sharing our top tips for celebrating cultural events just like a local whenever you visit India.

1. Show Genuine Interest In Places You’re Visiting

To get as much as possible from your experience in India, it’s best to start by reading up on the events and attractions you’d like to visit. Be sure to do a ton of online research, read a stack of travel books, and watch a bunch of travel documentaries, alongside of course reaching out to your Indian peers or coworkers for a helping hand by picking their brains on Indian traditions.

They may even have tips on how you can really get into the spirit and respectfully join the festivities as a tourist. For instance, if you’re looking to celebrate Dussehra in India, you could design your own Dussehra card to pass them out to fellow celebrators, inverting the practice of tourists sending postcards to people back home. You may even learn to cook some festival foods or foods from different parts of India so you can respect and participate in local foods and their cultures by preparing them yourself!

But you don’t have to stop there. We also recommend talking to your tour guides, local market vendors, or even other fellow tourists — locals are guaranteed to appreciate your interest and share their knowledge with you! Learning about the customs and festivals with your fellow travellers can help you learn whilst still ensuring you stay present. In other words, you’ll be able to truly appreciate your time instead of reaching for your phone to figure out what’s going on.

2. Participate In Rituals and Customs, Don’t Just Watch

Now that you’re all caught up with India’s amazing cultural events and festivals, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start prioritising all the festivals you don’t want to miss. This means making a list of not only calendar dates, but also events or activities that you want to be in the thick of to ensure you can experience all the action.

Sure, watching the Diwali fireworks from your hotel balcony can be an amazing experience on its own, but why not hit the streets and join in the celebrations by lighting Diyas, and spreading light and positivity around you. Participating in these sacred customs is more than just watching from the sidelines —  it’s a chance to become a part of the cultural traditions itself.

Similarly, when it comes to (incredibly) fun festivals like Holi, don’t just spectate — step out in your white shirt, make a colourful mess with vibrant powders and share the infectious laughter and joy that takes over the streets of India. It’s all about letting your hair down, celebrating without inhibitions, and forging bonds of camaraderie that transcend language and culture.

3. Be Respectful & Dress Appropriately

Amidst all the fun and games, it’s important to remember that as a tourist, you should always strive to be respectful and most importantly, dress appropriately when you attend local festivals and events. It’s no secret that India is a country that values modesty, so it’s important to be mindful of cultural sensitivities and refrain from behaviour or outfits that may be deemed inappropriate. Remember – you’re a guest, and the last thing you want is to offend the very people who have welcomed you.

As a general rule, always wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, particularly when interacting with religion such as visiting sacred sites, or partaking in religious rituals. You could go shopping at local bazaars to pick up some Indian attire for yourself (i.e. kurtas, saris, or headscarves) that will help you blend in with the locals.

Keep in mind that by respecting the customs and traditions of the host country, you are not only paying due respect to their heritage but also cultivating the spirit of cross-cultural understanding and appreciation. So, behave and dress respectfully, and let the rich tapestry of Indian culture unfold before you.

4. Indulge In Culinary Delights

There is arguably no better cuisine that paints a more complex flavour profile than Indian food. The explosion of flavours, aromas, and textures that Indian cuisine offers provides much complexity that even the most refined palates do relish to unpack. That’s why Indian cuisine is considered to be one of the most thrilling culinary challenges in western spheres.

And when you visit India, you get to experience all of these authentic tastes and flavours for yourself. Whether it’s fiery curries, pillowy naan, or sugary traditional desserts like gulab jamun, India is definitely the place to go if you’re a foodie.

But one thing you may discover only upon arriving in India is that there’s even more cultural complexity to Indian food than you may have anticipated. This is because Indian food greatly differs depending on the region — from the tangy chaats of Mumbai and the aromatic biryanis of Hyderabad, each region offers its own unique culinary delights that reflect its history, geography, and cultural influences. So, don’t be afraid to explore the local eateries, street food stalls, and family-run restaurants that offer a taste of authentic India. After all, the best way to experience a culture is through its food. It’s a universal fact!

5. Explore Local Markets and Bazaars

Another super exciting way to get involved in India’s vibrant cultural events is by visiting local markets and bazaars. These are places vibrating with colour, sound, and scent, all set out to daze you and wake up your senses. Think hundreds of people pushing for space in the narrow lanes of Chandni Chowk or the marketplaces of noisy Jaipur, a complete explosion of all things cultural with vendors selling openly coloured textiles, ornate handicrafts, varied spices, and bananas! Yes, lots of bananas.

Each market is a cradle of local cuisine and culture and offers you a sneak peek into what daily life is like for local folks. It’s even more fantastic to experience these places during a festival period, such as Diwali or Navratri, where excited shoppers fight the crowds to buy everything from decorations to confectionery and presents. You will get lost in the hustle and bustle, accompanied by a mix of colourful babble. So, don’t even think about skipping it.

6. Engage With The Locals

Last but not least, what better way to celebrate like a local than to make connections with those who are the heart and soul of these cultural events? Strike up a conversation with the local who sells you a snack or the store owner with the intricate wares on display. Ask them about their favourite festivals and what types of traditional customs and rituals they are most excited to take part in. You will be surprised at how much you’ll learn from everyday folk and how many stories the people of India have to share about customs that might seem strange to an outsider at first.

You may also want to attend community celebrations and partake in volunteer opportunities during your stay — whether helping set up for a community Diwali event or manning a food stall during a charity fundraiser, actively participating in local causes and events is a great way to make a positive impact on the cities you visit and bond with individuals who call them home. Not only will you experience what it is like to live as an Indian local, but you’ll forge memories and friendships that will last beyond your time spent travelling.

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And there you have it, — all the ways in which you can celebrate cultural events like locals when visiting amazing India. Whether it be the psychedelic colours of Holi, the twinkling lights of Diwali, or the rhythmic vibrations of Dussehra, each festival provides a sneak peek into the fabulous culture of the subcontinent.

So, the next time you find yourself in India, don’t just stand by the sidelines — hop right in and experience the magic for yourself.

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