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This International Tolerance Day, Re-visit The Biggest Instances Of Social Tolerance In India

By Somdutta Mazumder

Updated - Nov. 14, 2019 10 min read

To say India is a diverse country, is a bit of an understatement. With a terrain stretching across Himalayan peaks to the Indian Ocean coastline and a history dating back 5 millennia, with the second largest population in the world and 28 states coupled with 7 union territories, with over 120 languages and 230 mother tongues and with over 2,000 ethnic groups, the diversity in India is tremendous, expansive and awe-inspiring. However, what's more inspiring than these statistics is the cohesion with which we Indian folks, hailing from manifold communities, ethnicities and states, live, survive and thrive together! 


Image Courtesy - Pexels 


16th November every year, has been globally recognised as International Day for Tolerance. This day commemorates the strengthening of tolerance by fostering mutual understanding and respect amongst cultures, areas and individuals. And speaking of tolerance, while India has definitely had its share of issues and feuds, there is no denying the basic acceptance we practice towards differences between individuals and groups. 


Image Courtesy - Pexels 


So, this World Tolerance Day, we would like to tell you about the biggest fests, fairs and events that happen in our country, which stand tall as apt examples of celebrating unity in diversity. These events attract diverse individuals from every nook and cranny of the country, who come together, accept each other for their dissimilarities and celebrate with the unifying, all-encompassing spirit of Indians! 




1. Kumbh Mela 

Reputed to be the world's largest peaceful human gathering, and organised every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela bears testimony to one of the biggest instances of cultural tolerance. Bearing in mind the giant crowds that gather in one area at one point in time, as well as the distinct differences within that crowd, the unfailing success of the Kumbh Mela speaks volumes about the tolerance and acceptance within the Indian community. 


Image Courtesy - Fortune India 



2. Pushkar Mela 

This annual festival in the state of Rajasthan is one of the most harmonious livestock trading and religious events in India as well as a point of commonality between individuals across borders. Competitions, races and an abundance of cultural events witness individuals from various Indian states and global countries, discarding thoughts of their differences, and participating together as one large mass of human beings celebrating!


Image Courtesy - Travel Rajasthan


3. Gangasagar Mela 

The fact that differences exist only in the spatial world and not within our spirits is the primary message delivered by the Gangasagar Mela. People from various Indian communities join hands with the sole intention of purifying their souls and achieving spiritual bliss. The holiness of the Ganges is not viewed as differentiating between ethnicities or religions but rather is deemed spiritually uplifting for humans of all castes and creeds. 


Image Courtesy - Gangasagar


4. Sonepur Cattle Fair 

Also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela, the Sonepur Cattle Fair attracts visitors from all over Asia. The best part about this fair is the absolute irrelevance of your cultural and ethnic background. Regardless of whether you have flown in from Japan or hail from a southern Indian district, if you love animals, you are welcome here. You can also buy a variety of goods in this fair, which have been manufactured by craftsmen from the various nooks of the country. 


Image Courtesy - India TV


5. Surajkund Crafts Mela 

A celebration of Indian folk traditions and cultural heritage, the Surajkund Crafts Mela is nothing short of a big splash of colours. After all, the fair is about celebrating the diverse shades of different states of the nation through the richness of our traditional handicrafts, handlooms and cultural fabrics. With the event inviting participation from 20 countries and all Indian states, the fair is a colossal expression of tolerance for cultural differences that factually divide us but unite our spirits!


Image Courtesy - D For Delhi 


Art & Culture Festivals 

1. Rann Utsav 

This grandiose annual jamboree organised on the unique terrain of Rann of Kutch is one of the biggest occasions of unity in diversity within our nation. People from all walks of life as well as diverse geographical areas, gather at this stunning location to celebrate the sheer magnificence of life on one particular stretch of Indian land. Multiple cultures participating in the mutual appreciation of one culture, it does not get more tolerant than this!


Image Courtesy - Travel Trikon


2. Jaipur Literature Festival 

The biggest annual literary event in the country calls for the large-scale assembling of people from the most unifying religion in the world - a love for books! It doesn't matter what part of the country you are from or what religious figure you hold faith in, or even if you don't believe in the notion of religion at all, the Jaipur Literature Festival will bring you together with a diverse bunch of people who harbour an ardent attachment to the written word!


Image Courtesy - The British Library


3. Ellora- Ajanta International Festival 

This magnificent festival lures in visitors from all over the nation and globe and enthrals them with splendid rhythmic harmony. The Ellora Festival provides a common platform to talent in the world of traditional music and dance, all of which have no universal language or geographical territory. Not only are individuals from one region tolerant towards the artistic expressions of other regions, they also look beyond the superficial and factual differences to appreciate the beauty of their music and dance forms. 


Image Courtesy - Time Of India


4. International Kite Festival 

Marking the season transformation, the joyous and vibrant kite festival of Uttrayan is nothing short of a colourful dream unfurling. If you are attending this festival and get a chance to glance up at the sky, your eyes will be met with the imagery of strikingly vivid kites fluttering away in the air, nameless and boundary-less. Your cultural background makes no difference as long as you're a pro kite flyer, and the competition does not discriminate; Hindu, Muslim or Christian, your kite will be attacked!


Image Courtesy - Holidify


5. Bishnupur Festival 

Organised to mark the end of the agricultural season, the Bishnupur Festival forms a connecting alliance between people with an affinity for cultural celebrations, notwithstanding their demographics. The rich legacy of this sanctuary town is lauded, appreciated, and marvelled at by people belonging to dissimilar regions but similar hearts! This magnificent melodic convention draws a diverse crowd, with everybody co-existing and co-celebrating in peace and harmony!


Image Courtesy - Youtube



Shopping & Food Festivals

1. India International Trade Fair 

One of the biggest trade events of the country, during the India International Trade Fair week, the capital city transforms into a giant marketplace. With people from West Bengal rushing to purchase the best artefacts from the Madhya Pradesh exhibition, and Orissa handloom being purchased by folks from Punjab, the IITF does not pay heed to geographical distance. The atmosphere progresses from tolerance to acceptance and to appreciation during this festival!


Image Courtesy - Whats Up Life



2. Great Indian Food Festival 

What borders keep at bay, tastebuds bring together! United by the pervasive love for food, crowds from all over the country rush to this fest for some multi-cultural appetite quenchers! The richness, flavour and idiosyncratic elements in food from various parts of the nation are widely admired and praised, without any regard for the exact source point of the dish on the map!


Image Courtesy - Events High 


3. National Street Food Festival 

When you are busy devouring the spicy pani-puri at your favourite road-side stall, do you ever pause to pay attention to the cultural background of the person standing next to you? No, right? That's because, in the face of sharing delicious, flavoursome experiences, demographics really don't matter. And that is precisely what unites people at the National Street Food Festival! This event witnesses foodies from different locations in the country joining forces to get the next best taste! 


Image Courtesy - D For Delhi


4. Sula Fest 

Indians don't whine about differences, they wine together! That is the spirit that dissipates across the air over Nashik when Sula Fest comes to town. An event for great music, better alcohol and the best, most surreal experiences, clans of wine-lovers fly in from different corners of the country to share meaningful moments of pure, unadulterated joy, fuelled by scrumptious food and aromatic wines! Not only are differences in demographics not fussed over, people tend to look forward to socialising with individuals from diverse backgrounds!


Image Courtesy - Holidify


5. Ahare Bangla Food Festival 

This 4-day long food festival calls for the gathering of diverse individuals with a penchant for East Indian food. With the objective of promoting Bengali cuisine, the Ahare Bangla Food festival collects a heterogenous crowd with no specific roots except for a common appreciation for the uniqueness of the Bengali food palette. 


Image Courtesy - IBG News



Music Festivals

1. Sunburn Festival

Music is the glue that binds dissimilar people together! One of the biggest music festivals in the world, Sunburn Goa assembles a disparate crowd brimming with individuals separated by physical boundaries but united by a common passion for electronic music! As the horde of music lovers spend the night swaying to bangers at Sunburn, what is evident to the naked eye is the harmony in an otherwise heterogeneous crowd!


Image Courtesy - Sunburn


2. NH7 Weekender

If there is a universal language for love, it has to be in the form of a song! A celebrated Indian music festival, popularised because of its quality music and world-class artist line-up, NH7 Weekender comes bearing a significant reminder that differences are to be celebrated, not augmented! Metal-heads grooving to lo-fi beats and pop enthusiasts dancing to folk music, distinctions are thrown to the wind!  


Image Courtesy - Loudest 


3. Ragasthan

Amidst the expansive sand dunes of Rajasthan, the cultural festival of Ragasthan attracts free spirits unbothered by demographic disparity to celebrate all things art, film, music and photography! Those who truly appreciate familiarising themselves with other cultures are spurred on by polarity rather than being deterred. An exemplary event of social tolerance and mutual respect, Ragasthan promotes delving into the richness of other societal groups! 


Image Courtesy - Four By Four


4. World Music Festival

The annual World Music Festival in the city of Udaipur enchants visitors scattered all over the planet! Featuring live performances by celebrated international artists from over 12 countries, this music festival is organised with the penultimate objective of celebrating cultural diversity! Regardless of your cultural identity, if you have a knack for discovering the finest acts in the field of music, this festival is your ideal play-ground!


Image Courtesy - Oh My Rajasthan


5. Echoes of Earth Festival 

When a music festival is curated for the sole purpose of cherishing our planet, it is almost a moral obligation to remind ourselves as well as others, that we are humans sharing a common home first, and citizens of different countries later! Coined as India's greenest music festival, Echoes is replete with surreal experiences enhanced by quality music, that have no birthplace! This music festival considers the entirety of its crowd as holding on to one homogenous identity - Earthlings!


Image Courtesy - Festival Sherpa

So now that you've reached the finishing point of this article, we hope that you will move ahead with a new-found enthusiasm to mingle with people different from you! This World Tolerance Day, revel in the rich compassion our motherland is brimming with, and remember, it's easy to be intolerant, sensitivity is what takes effort! 

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