The Strand Book Festival
Where: Sunderbai Hall, Near Churchgate Station, Behind Income-tax Office, New Marine Lines, Mumbai 400020
Yearly book sale at the most loved and well-known book store in Mumbai. Discounts of up to 80%.
Mumbai International Film Festival
Twice a year, Mumbai hosts a festival presenting flicks from around the world as well as some homegrown Indian “indie” films. Tickets are a cheap at only Rs. 100 per person. Check online for this year’s venues and showings.
Each February there is a two-day festival on Elephanta Island to celebrate classical Indian music and dance within cave temples. Come to enjoy the dances, music, and local food. Rs 300 for a roundtrip boat ride from Colaba.
When: March 20, 2011
Holi commemorates the death of Holika, a demoness in the Hindu religion, and is referred to as the Festival of Colors. Holi is perhaps the most photographic and psychedelic of Indian holidays, as people gather in the streets to throw colored water and powder at each other. The variegated participants indulge in bhang-laced food and drinks (bhang being a type of marijuana) making the colorful people even more interesting to look at.
When: April 24, 2011
Christian holiday marking the resurrection of Christ. Sweets and Easter eggs are sold and enjoyed.
When: September 1, 2011
Ramzan is a religious holiday in which Muslims fast all day and then feast at night after 7:00 pm. The fasting/feasting pattern lasts for one month. In the evening, Muslims can be seeing enjoying food in the streets. Bhendi Bazaar in particular comes to life with people and food.
When: September 1, 2011
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates Lord Ganesha’s birthday. Chowpatty Beach is the best place to witness all the lively and colorful action of this most spectacular Hindu festival. Preparations begin two to three months before the event by creating hundreds of plaster models of the elephant-like Lord, ranging from small and basic figurines to giant and elaborate statues. Huge canopies are set up to shelter the idols, and streets bustle with devotees worshiping the Ganesh. After one and a half, three, five, seven, or ten days, the idols are reverently carried to and immersed in the sea with cries of “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya!” or “Oh, Father Ganesh! Come again early next year!”
Navrati and Dussehra
Final day, Dussehra, falls on October 6, 2011
Navrati is a Gujarati festival counting down the nine nights before Dussehra, the day Ravana was killed by Lord Rama. Huge dances take place during each night of Navrati; and on Dussehra, sculptures and representations of the demon Ravana are burned.
Bakri Id or Eid ul-Adha
November 7, 2011
Muslim holiday to celebrate the end of Ramzan. Referred to as the festival of sacrifice, in which Muslim families slaughter either a sheep or a goat. Many Muslims feel all families deserve to have a meat based meal on this day, and feel obliged to give the poor a share of the sacrifice.
When: October 26, 2011
Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians. Be prepared for fireworks galore, which give off more noise than anything, and distributing Diwali cash gifts to staff and anyone else who might ask you for it. Diwali gifts should be doled out in odd numbered denominations inside an envelope. Sweets are also traditionally made or bought and given to friends and family.
December 24-25, 2011
A Mumbai Christmas is celebrated the same way as it is in western countries, with mass on Christmas Eve and presents opened on Christmas Day. The major difference of course is the weather. It’s hard to rev up a Christmas spirit in flip-flops and 30 degree heat, unless you’re used to that already. Nevertheless, ornaments and decorations start going on sale about a month prior so decking the halls is possible. You can even order a turkey for a holiday feast through certain international food stores like Santé in Bandra West.