At Pondicherry, life is a celebration. The people are easy and happy-going. Every faith has a festival. And besides, Pondicherrians of different origins and beliefs merrily gather together for public festivals, all around the year.
The harvest festival for rural Pondicherrians. Houses are spring-cleaned and adorned with intricate, colourful patterns. Old clothes and mats are ritually burnt. The mouth-watering Pongal dish is a pot-pourri of rice, jaggery, sugar and raisins, served in new pots. Interestingly, herds of cattle are washed, decorated their horns painted and fed the Pongal dish. People dress up and visit each other. There is no busier day in the Park or the Beach Road.
International Yoga Festival (4- 7 January)
Yogis and yoginis from the world over assemble in Pondicherry from the 4th to the 7th January every year. Through live shows and talks, through the display and sample of the varied yogic food and through Indian dance and music, they keep alive the art of yoga. Its science. And its philosophy.
Maasi Magam (March)
The Maasi Magam festival has been celebrated just north of the fishing village at Kurichikuppam, for well over a century now. Deities from as many as 38 temples are brought in a procession to Pondicherry and taken around town to the loud accompaniment of Nadaswaram (horns). Then, the images of chakra (the discus -symbol of Vishnu) and the trisul (the trident -symbol of Siva) are chosen for ablutions in the sea.
The Mangani Festival (July)
Karaikal breaks into a month-long festivity which accompanies this feast dedicated to Karaikal Ammaiyar. When for 4 days, the ground-breaking events from her life are reenacted. The image of Lord Siva, is taken out through the streets, in a decorated palanquin, at which the townsfolk throw mangoes from rooftops, much to the delight of the crowd gathered below.
Bastille Day (14 July)
On 14 July, Bastille Day, Pondicherry witnesses an Indo- French pageantry. Uniformed war veterans march through the street singing `Marseillaise`. Heart-warmingly, the French flag can be seen flying alongside the Indian flag on many housetops.
Fete De Pondicherry (15-17 August)
A cultural pageant, coinciding with the Liberation Day and the Independence Day. The brilliantly lit Park Monument makes for a marvel1ous sight.