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As seen in the Transitions Abroad Webzine August 2008 Issue
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Festival Travel

Festivals in Asia from September to December 2008

Compiled by Volker Poelzl

Festivals in Asia 2008
A group of men lower a clay idol of the goddess Durga into the river from Honoring the Warrior Goddess: The Durga Puja festival. Photo @Volker Poelzl.


Bonn Om Touk Festival (Water Festival), Phnom Penh (late November) is a hugely popular festival marking the time when the Mekong river returns to its normal levels after the summer rains. There are celebrations, boat races, a lit up flotilla of boats, and fireworks.

Ancient Culture Festival, Xi’an (September) is a performing arts festival of music, opera, and dance, held in the city of Xi’an.

Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival (September) is a popular festival not only in China, but in Chinese communities all over Southeast Asia. It is a festival of the fall harvest moon, celebrated by lighting colorful lanterns and eating the traditional moon cake pastries.

Suzhou Silk Festival, Suzhou (September 20-25) is an annual festival that celebrates all aspects of silk making in Suzhou, one of China’s main centers of silk production, with exhibits of silk clothing and various recreational activities.

Shanghai Tourist Festival, Shanghai (Sept/Oct) is a large festival in Shanghai, with folkloric performances, music, parades, and fireworks.


Onam Festival, Kerela State (Aug/Sep) is the largest festival in the state of Kerala, commemorating the  visit to Kerala by the legendary king Mahabali, who is said to have ruled Southern India in prehistoric days. The festival lasts for ten days and is celebrated with food, music, dancing, colorful flower decorations, and boat races.

Ganesh Chaturthi (September) is a popular festival, especially in Mumbai and Southern India, celebrating the birth of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god. Local communities build idols of Ganesh, which are later paraded through the streets and immersed in river.

Durga Puja (also known as Dussehra and Navratri) (Sept/Oct) is a popular ten-day long festival celebrated all over India celebrating the victory of good over evil . It commemorates the victory of the goddess Durga over a demon. Temporary temples are built, where Durga is worshipped for nine days, after which the images are paraded to a river and immersed in the water. There area also processions, plenty of good food, music, and dancing. See my article on the Durga Puja festival for more.

Pushkar Camel Fair (November) in a small lakeside town of Pushkar, in the State of Rajasthan, hosts an annual camel fair that attracts large crowds of camel traders, as well as local and foreign tourists;

Kartikai Deepam Festival in Tiruannamalai, Tamil Nadu, (Nov/Dec) is a popular festival in Southern India commemorating a fight between the gods Vishnu and Brahma to see which one was strongest. However, Shiva intervened and revealed himself in a pillar of fire which ended the fight. The festival includes processions, parades, celebrations, and music.

Konark Dance Festival, Konark Sun Temple (December) is a popular dance festival, held at the Konark Sun Temple in the state of Orissa.


Mid-Autumn (or "Mooncake") Festival, Singapore & Malaysia (September) is a popular celebrated by Chinese communities all over Asia, including Malaysia and Singapore. It is a festival of the fall harvest moon, celebrated by lighting colorful lanterns and eating the traditional moon cake pastries. There are also processions.

South Korea

Jeonju Sori Festival, Jeonju (September) is a music festival showcases traditional music from Korea and around the world, with special emphasis on Korean folk music, epic folk tales, and operas.


Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Sept.28-Oct.7, 2008) is a ten-day festival is celebrated by Phuket’s Chinese communities, when they observe a strictly vegetarian diet, organize parades and perform sacred rituals;

Illuminated Boat Procession (October) is a festival is celebrated in northeastern Thailand. Richly decorated boats (‘fire boats’) carrying offerings, lanterns, and candles, are sent down the Mekong river.

The Sakhon Nakhon Wax Castle Procession (6 - 13 October 2008) is a festival which marks the end of the Buddhist lent (Ok Pansa), with a procession of carved wax castles, cultural performances, and other festivities.

Loi Krathong Festival (Festival of Lights) (November) is a popular festival in Thailand, and one of the country’s oldest, when thousands of floats (called krathong) made of banana leaves or coconut shells, decorated with flowers and candles, are set adrift on rivers all across Thailand. There are also fireworks, dances, and music.

Surin Elephant Roundup, Surin Province (November ) are festivals which center around the performance skills of elephants, including processions, battle reenactments, and games.

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