What’s your favourite rain memory? Splashing into muddy puddles, sailing paper boats in the street or piping hot chai and snacks? This year, don’t just sit there in your cozy corner — get out and experience the magical monsoons. If you are travelling, check out these five traditional Monsoon festivals in different parts of the country.
Inputs by TS Intern Avni Arora

Hareli

WHERE: Chhattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh
WHEN: 14th-15th august 2015

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“Hareli” (literally “greenery”) is the Gond tribe’s celebration of a new farming season. As they pray for a good crop, you can head straight to the table and sample some local delicacies. On the Menu? Kanda bhaji, Kochai patta, Chowlai bhaji, Lal bhaji, Muthiya, Bore Bassi, Bohar bhaji and Kohda for the main course; Doodh fara, Bidiya, Bafauli, Kusli, khurmi and Balooshahi for desserts. For entertainment, take front row seats for the Gedi race – the Gonda kids make walking on bamboo sticks look easy!

Minjar Mela

WHERE: Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh
WHEN:  Last sunday of July and continues for a week (26th July 2015)

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A grand flag hoisting ceremony at Chaugan marks the week long celebration.The locals show up clad in silk with a stalk of Minjar attached to their garments – a promise for a good crop. Get your dose of entertainment with Kunjari Malhar of folk dance and music performances. There will be a procession of deities on chariots too. On the final day of the festival, a parade is also held from the Akhand Chandi Palace.

Dree

WHERE: Arunachal Pradesh
WHEN: 4th July to 7th July 2015

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The Apatani tradition of Dree is celebrated to appease the Gods and avoid famines. The festival centre is decorated with branded bamboos and community feasts are held here. Try the Dree Taku and wash it down with Dree O, a rice or millet beer. Another must-try and a beverage every household prepares is the Apong, a rice beer. It’s not all about eating and drinking though – Pri-Dances, Daminda and other folk dances along with folk song competitions like Dree Biisi ar not to be missed.

Behdienkhalam

WHERE: Meghalaya

WHEN: 11th-14th July 2015

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The Jaintia tribe at Jowai celebrates this festival to chase away the demon of cholera and plague. The men dance to the tunes of pipes and drums in muddy ponds, while the women prepare sacrificial food. Tall-decorated structures called ‘Raths’ are then brought into the pool. Later the celebrations turn to a  game of a wooden football called ‘dad-lawakor’.

Nariyal Purnima

WHERE: Coastal areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa

WHEN: 29th August 2015

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Celebrated at the end of monsoon season, it marks the commencement of new fishing season.. People offer coconuts to the sea as a symbol of thanksgiving and adorn their boats with beautiful flags, paint and tiny oil lamps – a good scene for the cameras to capture. Pieces of broken coconut are given out as prasad. Don’t miss the festival dish – coconut rice – at a local’s home.

Got an interesting monsoon festival story to share? Tell us in the comments below.
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