Public holidays in India

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India, being a culturally diverse and fervent society, celebrates various holidays and festivals. There are three national holidays in India: Independence Day from 15 August, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday from 2 October and Republic Day from 26 January. States and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popular religious festivals include the Sikh festivals like Guru Nanak Jayanti, Hindu festivals of Makar Sankranti, Maha Shivaratri, Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi, Dussehra, Islamic festivals of Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Mawlid an-Nabī and Christian festivals of Christmas and days of observances such as Good Friday are observed throughout the country.

Muharram, the starting of the Islamic new year is observed by many sects of Islam. In addition, the Sikh festivals such as Guru Nanak Gurpurab, the Christian festivals such as Christmas, Good Friday and Jain festivals like Mahavir Jayanti, Paryushan are celebrated in certain areas where these religions have a significant following.The annual holidays are widely observed by state and local governments; however, they may alter the dates of observance or add or subtract holidays according to local custom.

National holidays[edit]

Soldiers of the Madras Regiment during the annual Republic Day Parade in 2004

National holidays are observed in all states and union territories.

India has three national days.

They are:

Date English name Commemorates
26-January Republic Day Adoption of the Constitution of India[1] (1950)
15-August Independence Day Independence from British Empire (1947)
2-October Gandhi Jayanti Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary

Hindu holidays[edit]

People celebrating Holi in Delhi.

Hindus celebrate a number of festivals all through the year. Hindu festivals have one or more of religious, mythological and seasonal significance. The observance of the festival, the symbolisms used and attached, and the style and intensity of celebration varies from region to region within the country. A list of the more popular festivals is given below:-

For dates see:

Main article: Hindu festivals
Holiday Observed in
Bhogi/Lohri Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra (as Bhogi), Punjab (as Lohri)
Makar Sankranti/Pongal/Maghi/Magh Bihu Andaman & Nicobar, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam (as Magh Bihu), Gujarat (as Uttarayan), Karnataka, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal (as Makar Sankranti), Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu (as Pongal), Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh (as Maghi)
Thiruvalluvar Day Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Uzhavar Thirunal
(Farmers' Day)
Tamil Nadu
Vasant Panchami (Aka, Saraswati Puja) Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra
Ratha Saptami Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka
Maha Shivaratri Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chandigarh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal
Holi (Aka, Dol) all states and territories except Kerala, Nagaland, Mizoram, Goa, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/Puthandu Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Ram Navami Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal
Hanuman Jayanti Maharashtra, Orissa, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh (as Bada Mangal)
Akshaya Tritiya/Maharishi Parashurama Jayanti Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh
Rath Jatra Orissa
Nag Panchami or Guga-Navami all states and territories except Goa
Raksha Bandhan (Aka, Rákhi Púrńimá) Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana, Orissa, Punjab, Maharashtra
Krishna Janmashtami Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal
Ganesh Chaturthi Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka
Onam Kerala, Pondicherry
Raja Parba Orissa
Mahalaya Karnataka, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa
Dussehra (Aka, Durgá Pujá) all states

holiday for 2 days in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh
holiday for 3 days in Orissa, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, and Tripura
holiday for 6 days in West Bengal
11th day Bhashani Utchhav in Orissa

Kumara Purnima (aka Kojaagari Pornima) Maharashtra (as Kojaagari Pornima),Madhya Pradesh, Odisha,Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, West Bengal.
Diwali (Aka, Káli Puja and Diipávali) all states and territories

observed for 2 days in Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Orissa,
observed for 5 days in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh
observed for 6 days in Maharashtra

Vasu Baras (aka Govatsa Dwadashi) Maharashtra
Dhan Teras (aka Dhan Trayodashi) Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh
Naraka Chaturdashi all states
Lakshmi Puja Maharashtra, Orissa, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Tripura
Goverdhan Pooja all states
Bhai Duj (Aka, Bhau-beej, Yama Dwitiya, Bhai Phota) Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh
Devotthan Ekadashi Uttarakhand,Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,and some parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
Hartalika Teej Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
Jagaddhatri Puja West Bengal
Visvakarma Puja Orissa, West Bengal
Nuakhai Orissa
Chhath Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh
Bathukamma Andhra Pradesh
Bonalu Andhra Pradesh

Islamic holidays[edit]

Mawlid or Eid-e-Milād-un-Nabī being celebrated in a town in Uttar Pradesh.
Holiday Observed in
Eid ul-Fitr
Eid/Ramazan Id
End of Ramadan
all states and territories
Eid al-Adha
Bakr-Id
Feast of the Sacrifice
all states and territories

Christian holidays[edit]

Shops selling Christmas decorations in Kolkata.
Date Holiday Observed in
April 18 (2014) Good Friday all states and territories except Chhattisgarh
20 April (2014) Easter Sunday all states and territories except Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Tripura
3 July Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle Kerala
8 September Feast of the Blessed Virgin Tamil Nadu, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka
3 December Feast of St. Francis Xavier Goa
25 December Christmas Day all states and territories

Sikh holidays[edit]

A number of Sikh holidays are Gurpurbs, anniversaries of a guru's birth or death; marked by the holding of a festival.

Holiday Observed in
Guru Gobind Singh Ji Gurpurab Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji Punjab
Vaisakhi Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal
Guru Nanak Gurpurab Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Orissa, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Jharkhand

Buddhist holidays[edit]

Holiday Observed in
Losar Sikkim, Ladakh
Buddha Purnima Andaman & Nicobar, Arunachal Pradesh,Tripura, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal

Jain holiday[edit]

Holiday Observed in
Mahavir Jayanti Andaman & Nicobar, Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh,

Other religions and denominations[edit]

Parsee (Zoroastrian) holidays[edit]

Note: The Parsis in India use a Shahenshahi calendar, unlike the Iranians who use a Kadmi calendar. The North American and European Parsis have adapted their own version of the Fasli calendar. This is however looked down upon by a lot of the Parsis in North America, who continue to use the Shahenshai calendar. These differences cause changes in the dates of the holidays. For example, the Zoroastrian New Year falls in the spring for the Iranians but in the summer for the Parsis.

Holiday Observed in
Nowruz
(Parsee New Year)
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Punjab

Ravidassia holidays[edit]

Holiday Observed in
Guru Ravidass Jayanti Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan,Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh.

Ayyavazhi holidays[edit]

Holiday Observed in
Ayya Vaikunda Avataram Tamil Nadu[2]

Secular holidays[edit]

In addition to the official holidays, many religious, ethnic, and other traditional holidays populate the calendar, as well as observances proclaimed by officials and lighter celebrations. These are rarely observed by Central government and businesses

Date Holiday Observed in
1 January New Year's Day Most of India
23 January Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Jayanti Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal
19 February Chatrapati Shivaji's Jayanti Maharashtra
15 March Kanshi Ram's Jayanti Uttar Pradesh
22 March Bihar Day Bihar
30 March Rajasthan Day Rajasthan
1 April Utkal Dibasa
(Orissa day)
Orissa
14 April Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's Jayanti Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal
2nd Day of Chaitra, March–April Cheti Chand
(Sindhi New Year)
Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh
15 April Bihu
(Assamese New Year)
Assam
15 April Maha Vishuva Sankranti / Pana Sankranti
(Oriya New Year)
Orissa
14/15 April Pohela Boishakh
(Bengali New Year)
Tripura, West Bengal
1st Day of Chithirai, March–April Vishu / Varusha Pirappu or Puthandu
(Malayali & Tamil New Year)
Kerala, Tamil Nadu
1 May Labour Day (not a Gazetted holiday)[3][4] Assam, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, West Bengal, Orissa, Rajasthan
1 May Maharashtra Day Maharashtra
1 May Gujarat Day Gujarat
16 May Annexation Day Sikkim
15 June Maharana Pratap Jayanti Rajasthan
Purnima of Ashvin Month Valmiki Jayanti Karnataka
26 October Accession Day Jammu and Kashmir
31 October Sardar Patel Jayanti Gujarat
1 November Andhra Pradesh Foundation Day Andhra Pradesh
1 November Madhya Pradesh Foundation Day Madhya Pradesh
1 November Karnataka Foundation Day Karnataka
1 November Kerala Foundation Day Kerala
1 November Chhattisgarh Foundation Day Chhattisgarh
3rd Day Of Kartika (month) Krishna Paksha (November) Kanaka Jayanti Karnataka
14th Day Of Kartika (month) Krishna Paksha Naraka Chaturdasi Karnataka
15th Day Of Kartika (month) Krishna Paksha Diwali Throughout India
7 December Armed Forces Flag Day Indian military

Issues with large number of holidays[edit]

While having so many Government Holidays kept in line with the idea of peaceful co-existence of all religions, there have been demands from various public bodies that the system of a multitude of religious holidays is hampering economic activities to a great extent. The past two Central Govt. Pay Commissions [1] have recommended the abolition of all Central Govt. Holidays on religious festivals, and instead, substitute with three national Holidays, i.e., Independence Day (15 August), Republic Day (26 January) and Gandhi Jayanti (2 October).

It was also recommended to increase the amount of existing Restricted Holidays (Optional Holidays) depending on one's religious persuasion from existing two to eight. The rationale being, 8 holidays can more than cater for the festivals of any particular religion. So there is no point in having more than these many number of holidays, since religion does not warrant a Hindu to celebrate Eid or a Muslim to celebrate Diwali.

With the proposed system, however, it was left to the individual to choose which 8 Holidays to celebrate, irrespective of his religious belief. However, this recommendation has not been accepted by the Govt. of India, fearing a loss of popularity[citation needed], and thus Indian Govt. continues with an unusually large number of religious holidays as compared to most other countries.

Holidays in government offices[edit]

Central & State governments in India annually issue list of holidays to be observed in respective government offices during the respective year.[5] List is divided into two parts:

  • Gazetted holidays (Annexure I)
  • Restricted holidays (Annexure II)

Apart from this local administration at district level also issue list of additional holidays known as local holidays, which are observed at district level.

Central government[edit]

Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training) on behalf of Government of India issues list of holidays to be observed in central government offices during the respective year. The list is divided in two parts i.e. Annexure I & Annexure II.[5]

Annexure I[edit]

Annexure I also known as Gazetted holidays, consists of list of holidays which are mandatory once decided.[5] This list consists of two parts:

  • Para 2
  • Para 3.1
Para 2[edit]

It consists of holidays which have to be observed compulsorily across India.[5] These holidays are:

  1. Republic Day,
  2. Independence Day,
  3. Gandhi Jayanti
  4. Budha Purnima
  5. Christmas Day
  6. Dussehra
  7. Diwali (Deepavali)
  8. Good Friday
  9. Guru Nanak's Birthday
  10. Eid ul-Fitr
  11. Eid al-Adha (Bakrid)
  12. Mahavir Jayanti
  13. Muharram
  14. Prophet Mohammad's Birthday (Id-e-Milad)
Para 3.1[edit]

In addition to the above 14 Compulsory holidays mentioned in para 2, three holidays are decided from the list indicated below by the Central Government Employees Welfare Coordination Committee in the State Capitals (if necessary, in consultation with Coordination Committees at other places in the State). The final list is applicable uniformly to all Central Government offices within the concerned State shall. they are notified after seeking prior approval of this Ministry and no change can be carried out thereafter. No change is permissible in regard to festivals and dates.[5]

  1. An additional day for Dussehra
  2. Holi
  3. Janamashtami (Vaishanvi)
  4. Ram Navami
  5. Maha Shivratri
  6. Ganesh Chaturthi / Vinayak Chaturthi
  7. Makar Sankrantili
  8. Onam
  9. Sri Panchami / Basanta Panchami
  10. Vishu / Vaisakhi / Vaisakhadi / Bhag Bihu / Mashadi Ugadi / Chaitra Sakladi / Cheti Chand / Gudhi Pada 1st Navratra / Nauraj

Annexure II[edit]

Annexure II also known as Restricted holidays, consists of list of holidays which are optional. Each employee is allowed to avail any two holidays to be chosen out of the list of Restricted Holidays. The Coordination Committees at the State Capitals draw up separate list of Restricted Holidays keeping in view the occasions of local importance but the 9 occasions left over, after choosing the 3 variable holidays in para 3.1, are to be included in the list of restricted holidays.[5]

Central government organisations[edit]

Central Government Organisations which include industrial, commercial and trading establishments observe up to 16 holidays in a year including three national holidays viz. Republic Day, Independence Day and Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, as compulsory holidays. The remaining holidays / occasions may be determined by such establishments / organisations themselves, subject to para 3.2.[5]

Union territory administrations[edit]

Union Territory Administrations decide the list of holidays in terms of Ministry of Home Affairs letter No.14046/27 /83- GP-I dated 15 February 1984 by which they observe a total of 16 holidays including the three National Holidays viz. Republic Day, Independence Day & Mahatma Gandhi's birthday.[5]

Indian missions abroad[edit]

In respect of Indian Missions abroad, the number of holidays are notified in accordance with the instructions contained in Department of Personnel and Training's O.M. No.12/5/2002-JCA dated 17 December 2002. In other words, they have the option to select 11(Eleven) holidays of their own only after including in the list, three National Holidays and Milad-Un-Nabi or Id-E-Milad, Mahavir Jayanti, Idu'l Fitr, Dussehra (Vijaya Dashami), Guru Nanak's Birthday, Christmas Day included in the list of compulsory holidays and falling on days of weekly off.[5]

Banks[edit]

In respect of Banks, the holidays are restricted to 15 days in a year in terms of the instructions issued by the Department of Economic Affairs (BankingDivision).[5]

  1. Bank's Holiday
  2. Gandhi Jayanti
  3. Maharaja Agresen Jayanti
  4. Kashiram Death Anniversary
  5. Dussehra (Maha Navami)
  6. Dussehra (Vijaya Dashami)
  7. Deepawali
  8. Deepawali (Govardhan Puja)
  9. Bhai Duj/Chitragupt Jayanti
  10. Eid al-Adha (Bakrid)
  11. Guru Nanak's birthday/Kartik Poornima
  12. Dr. B R. Ambedkar's Nirwan Diwas
  13. Moharram
  14. Christmas

Restricted holidays[edit]

  1. New Year's Day
  2. Guru Gobind Singh Ji Gurpurab
  3. Makar Sankaranti
  4. Basanta Panchami
  5. Guru Ravidas Jayanti
  6. Chehalum
  7. Holi
  8. Istar Saturday
  9. Istar Monday
  10. Baishakhi
  11. Janmashtami
  12. Vishwakarma Pooja
  13. Eid ul fitr
  14. Anant chaturdasi
  15. Dussehra (Maha Ashtami)
  16. Maharshi Balmiki Jayanti
  17. Deepawali (Narak Chaturdasi)
  18. Eid ul Adha (bakrid)
  19. Guru Teg Bahadur Shahid Diwas
  20. Moharram
  21. Christmas

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Introduction to Constitution of India". Ministry of Law and Justice of India. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2008. 
  2. ^ Thousands take part in Ayya Vaikundar Avatar day - The Hindu, India's National Daily, 04-03-2012, ' " The government had also declared a restricted holiday on Saturday, for the first time, in the State in view of Ayya Vaikundar Avatar day. " '
  3. ^ http://india.gov.in/calendar
  4. ^ http://goir.ap.gov.in/CalenderYear.aspx
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Holidays to be observed in central government offices during the year Note the number given increments annually and old versions may not be available beyond one or two years previous