One thing you really have to know about every Indian state is that it has its own separate language and culture. As for religion, the populations in most cities typically have a majority of Hindus, with the biggest minorities being Muslims and Christians. This is pretty much the case in most cities across South India. One of the exceptions is Kochi, which is a true melting-pot of cultures and includes a large Jewish influence to go with the Hindu, Muslim and Christian cultures.
The point of all this is that there’s always a festival or holiday just around the corner, and the good people of South India need no second invitation to shut down the schools and offices to celebrate and enjoy a nice holiday. Obviously, there are all the festivals unique to each religion - Holi, Dussehra, Vinayaka Chaturthi and Diwali for Hindus, Eid for Muslims, and Christmas for Christians - all of which bring cities to a repetitive halt of public holidays. But each state also has its own important cultural festivals that may not be such a big deal in the other states.
You’d want to celebrate Pongal in Tamil Nadu and eat feasts with all kinds of delicious desserts and half a dozen different kinds of rice dishes in different colors. Onam (Harvest Festival) is Kerala’s biggest festival, and you’d be amiss not to enjoy the temple functions, parades with elephants and performers in ethnic costumes. Not to mention the snake boat races and the incredible feast of Onam sadya with up to 26 dishes served on a banana leaf.
Similarly, Makar Sankranti is the biggest festival in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana. The Dussehra Festival, celebrated across much of India, is a big deal in Karnataka and especially so in Mysore.
Although Mumbai is technically a Maharashtrian city, the Marathi culture has long since been mixed into a melting-pot of all the different cultures from every state and corner in India. All of Mumbai now celebrates Navratri, Krishna Jayanti and Holi just as enthusiastically as Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi.
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