Karnataka is a vibrant state where you can immerse yourself in history and art and experience the beat celebrations. Karnataka festivals are why Karnataka is ranked as one of India’s most famous tourist states. Conducted in the name of religion, seasons and art, Karnataka festivals are known to represent the state’s culture and heritage beautifully. Participating in these festivities allows you to learn more about the festival’s significance and glimpse the state’s culture. When you visit the state, there is much to experience and explore, from patriotic events and pujas to festivals.
Therefore, attend at least some of the popular Karnataka festivals mentioned in this article if you ever find yourself in this state. Read on!
16 Famous Karnataka Festivals:
Once you arrive in Karnataka, exhibitions, performances, delicious meals and sweets welcome you with open arms. Next, go through the list of Karnataka festivals where you can participate in one or more to enjoy the state’s culture.
1. Ganesh Chaturthi:
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of Karnataka’s famous festivals celebrated vibrantly across India. The houses and temples across the state are decorated with flowers and leaves days before the festival as a welcome to Lord Ganesha. From the Shukla Chaturthi fourth day, people bring a clay Ganesha into the temples and houses to offer prayers. Some must-try food items during Ganesh Chaturthi in Karnataka are Kodambari, Payasams and Modakam with different fillings.
Dasara is the most famous festival in Karnataka, commonly called ‘Mysuru Dasara.’ Celebrated during October every year, the festivities span over ten days and which celebrated with grandeur in Mysuru. People from all over the state come to Myusuru to enjoy the festivities during Mysuru Dasara. The Mysore palace is adorned with 10,000 beautiful light bulbs creating a visual treat for people from all over the country. You can also enjoy various music and dance programs organized across the state. A massive procession (ambari Mysore Dasara) with elephants and dances helps on the city’s streets on the ninth day of the festival.
3. Makar Sankranti:
Makar Sankranthi marks the arrival of the harvest season and is the harvest festival of Karnataka which is dedicated to the sun god. This festival spans three days, where the first day is called Bhogi, where old clothing and articles are burnt. After that, you can spot colourful rangolis infront of every house to welcome the new month’s arrival, and people use new utensils to prepare traditional sweets. On the festival’s final day, prayers are offered to the cattle known as Kanu Pongal. Some dishes prepared during this festival are sweet Pongal, vade, payada, Sankranti yellu, etc.
4. Pattadakal Dance Festival:
Pattadakal dance festival is one of the dance festivals celebrated in Karnataka, which gains the attention of artists from all over the country every year. This festival is organized in January yearly to honour and celebrate the famous temples in Pattadakal village by the Karnataka Government. The Pattadakal village is famously known as the second capital of the Chalukya kings and for many well-constructed temples. This village is 20km away from Karnataka’s Badami.
Most of Pattadakal village’s temples are devoted to Lord Shiva, of which Mallikarjuna and Virupaksha are the most prominent temples. This festival features beautiful dancers from the entire country in addition to craft mela, which attracts people from all over the country.
5. Hoysala Mahotsava:
‘Hoysala Mahotsava’ is another famous dance festival of Karnataka conducted in Belur-Halebidu month of March or April annually. This festival is a celebration of rich Indian heritage and culture grandly. The glorious architecture of the Hoysala temples of Belur and Halebidu beautifully features this stellar festival of dance, art and music, and it marks the beginning of a new season, giving you a one-of-a-kind experience.
This commemorative festival is a prestigious event for Hindus, which is held to honour the Hoyasala King’s military achievements. The dance gala is usually followed by a great feast.
6. Hampi Utsav:
Hampi Utsav, also called Vijaya Utsav, is one of the famous folk festivals of Karnataka. This festival is celebrated with great pomp and grandiosity in the renowned tourist and heritage site Hampi, hence the name. The bygone era in Hampi’s traditions and culture is commemorated in this famous festival. Famous musicians and artists from all over the world showcase their marvellous spirit and talent at this festival.
One of the main attractions of the Hampi Utsav is a concert of folk songs called “Janapada Kala Vahini.” Furthermore, you can purchase little trinkets and handicrafts in the stalls lined in the streets. The celebration has a grand aura because of the colour, lights and excitement associated with the festival.
7. Gowri Habba:
Gowri Habba is another prominent Karnataka festival celebrated one day before Ganesh Chaturthi. This festival is celebrated to pay tribute to and praise the goddess Gowri. First, people decorate the idols of the goddess and homes while wearing new dresses. Next, the goddess’s temples are decorated with banana stems and mango leaves, where people pray to the goddess to bestow strength and courage. Then, devotees prepare an offering in a bhagina which consists of black beads, turmeric, a small mirror, kumkum, a comb, coconut rice, dal, bangles, etc. Finally, the puja is done, the goddess is mounted on the place, and the women bathe and wear new clothes to perform the puja.
8. Karaga Festival (Bangalore Karaga):
Karaga festival is one of the oldest festivals in Bangalore, which is celebrated by the Vashnikula Kshatriyas Thigala community with great enthusiasm. This festival is held at the Dharmarayaswamy temple in Bangalore in honour of Goddess Shakthi, which lasts nine days in March or April, starting on the Chaitra masam’s full moon day.
The devotees honour Goddess Shakti; there is a grand procession during which devotees carry an earthen pot (Karaga) decorated with flowers on their heads without touching it. Many people believe the person holding the karaga dies if they drop it.
Yugadi marks the start of the new year per the Hindu calendar, also known as Gudi Padwa. This festival is celebrated enthusiastically in Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. According to Puranas, Brahma’s universe creation was initiated on this day. During this festival, houses are decorated with fresh mango leaves and flowers. In addition, family members visit a temple to pray to the deities by wearing new clothes.
One of the popular events conducted during Yugadi is the reading of Panchangam (the Hindu calendar), which bears the significant events that might happen throughout the year. Some special dishes prepared on this special day include mavinakayi chitranna, bevu bella, holige, and hesarubele payasa.
10. Kambala Festival:
Kambala festival is one of the popular Karnataka festivals, which is an annual buffalo race conducted by the farming communities in the Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka. This is a two-day sporting festival run for two days which is held between November and March to appease the gods. This unique Karnata festival includes more than 150 buffaloes groomed for this cause. Farmers guide the buffaloes to the race tracks during the festival. There is also an exhibition of the participating buffaloes in the beginning.
11. Vara Mahalakshmi Pooja:
Varamahalakshmi festival in Karnataka is an important pooja performed by women and celebrated on the full moon. Women wear a thread after pooja signifying protection on this sacred festival. Married women perform aarti and distribute sweets after the pooja. Devotes also visit the temple to pray for wealth and wisdom from the goddess Mahalakshmi.
12. Vairamudi Festival:
Another famous festival of Karnataka is the Vairamundi festival, held annually in Melukote town in the Mandya district and dedicated to Cheluvu Narayana. Lord Vishnu is adorned with jewels belonging to the former Maharaja of Mysore. This festival is Melkote’s important pilgrim centre. 4,00,000 pilgrims attend this festival every year. The unique attraction of the festival is the colourful procession of the idol taken throughout the city. The head priest of the temple places the diamond crown (vairamudi) on the deity’s head during the procession.
Diwali is not only popular in Karnataka, but it is also celebrated with great pomp throughout the country. The festival of lights is considered auspicious and essential, celebrating Lord Ram’s homecoming after his exile of 14 years. The entire state is decorated with lights which brighten every nook and corner. Furthermore, you can relish different types of sweets prepared during the festival of lights. People visit each other’s houses, distribute sweets, and burn crackers in the evening.
14. Groundnut Festival:
Groundnut festival, also called Kadalekai Parishe, is celebrated annually in Bangalore. People from the nearby cities come to the market by bringing their first harvest of groundnuts. Dodda Ganesha Temple in Basavanagudi, Bangalore, is where you can attend this festival. The first groundnut produce of farmers is dedicated to Lord Basava. You can visit the Dodda Ganesha temple and buy the best quality different kinds of groundnuts. Plan your vacation around the last Monday of Karthika masa to become a part of this festival.
15. Mahamastakabhisheka (Jain Festival):
Lakhs of pilgrims attend the famous Jain festival Mahamastakabhisheka at the Gomateshwara temple in Sravanabelagola town in Karnataka once every 12 years. Devotees offer the statue of Gomateshwara gold and silver coins while sprinkling holy water on the festival’s participants. The turmeric powder, vermilion, saffron paste and milk are used for bathing the statue. This festival has a prominent part of the Jain tradition.
16. Udipi Krishna Janmashtami:
Udipi Krishna Janmashtami is Karnataka’s major festival. People from all over the country come to Udipi to experience the same because the festival traditions in this place are pretty unique. The critical component in Udipi’s Janmashtami is the Shree Krishna Leelotsava which has tiger dances making the process attractive. The tiger dances are the exciting components of this celebration, also called Huli Vesha.
The Krishna temple’s traditions and architecture are akin to an ashram. The eight monasteries surrounding the temple recognize different customs and, during the festivities, a chariot is used to carry the idol in a procession. Another critical component of Janmashtami in Udipi is the Raas Leela. Devotees can get a glimpse of the idol inside the temple from a temple window which is called a worshipping window.
If you ever plan to travel to Karnataka, plan around the Karnataka festivals to enjoy the festivities and celebrations blissfully. You will surely get a glimpse of the vibrant culture of this south Indian state throughout the year. Therefore, participate in the festivals in Karnataka if you ever plan a vacation to the state. Don’t forget to let us know if you found the article helpful!
Disclaimer: The content presented in this article is based on research and not a replacement for a professional opinion. The website is not responsible for the authenticity and accuracy of the information.
1. What are the popular food items of Karnataka?
Ragi Ball is one of the traditional and famous dishes of Karnataka. However, Jowar, millets, wheat rotis, pickles, buttermilk and spicy curries are the staple food items in Karnataka.
2. What are the famous temples of Karnataka?
KukkeSubrahmanya in Subramanya and Shree Durga Parameshwari in Kateel are essentially two temples in Karnataka that attract tourists from all over the state and country in large numbers.
3. Which is the famous Karnataka dance form?
People in Karnataka perform Dollu Kunitha, a popular local dance, with high energy during major festivals and celebrations. This dance form is accompanied by beats of decorated drums and singing performed mainly by Kuruba caste men.