Lohri (13 January)
This festival heralds the onset of spring and is also known as Makar Sankranti . The whole region wears a festive look on this day.
Thousands take a dip in the holy rivers. 'Havan Yagnas' light up nearly every house and temple in Jammu. In the rural areas it is customary for young boys to go around asking for gifts from newly-weds and parents of new-borns.
A special dance called the 'Chajja' is held on the occasion of Lohri. It makes a striking picture to see boys along with their 'Chajjas' elaborately decorated with coloured paper and flowers dance on the street in a procession. The whole atmosphere comes alive with pulsating drumbeats.
Baisakhi (April 13 or 14)
The name Baisakhi is taken from the first month of the Vikram calendar. Every year, on the first day of ‘Vaishakh' , the people of Jammu, like the rest of northern India, celebrate Baisakhi. Also known as the "harvest festival", it is considered auspicious especially for marriages. Devotees who take a ritual dip every year, throng the rivers, canals and ponds. Many people go to the Nagbani temple to witness the grand New Year celebration.
The occasion is marked by numerous fairs and people come in thousands to celebrate the beginning of the New Year and watch the famous ‘Bhangra' dance of Punjab. For the Sikhs of Jammu, Baisakhi is the day their tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singhji, formed the Khalsa sect in 1699. The Gurudwaras are full of people who come to listen to ‘kirtans' , offer prayers and feast on the ‘prasad' from the common kitchen ( ‘langar' ).
Bahu Mela (March-April & September-October)
A major festival is held at the Kali Temple in Bahu Fort, twice a year.
Chaitre Chaudash (March-April)
Chaitre Chaudash is celebrated at Uttar Behni, about 25 kms from Jammu. Uttar Behni gets its name from the fact that the Devak river (locally also known as Gupt Ganga) flows here in the northerly direction.
Purmandal Mela (February-March)
Purmandal is 39 kms from Jammu city. On Shivratri, the town wears a festive look and for three days as people celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati. The people of Jammu also come out in their colourful best to celebrate Shivratri at Peer Khoh , the Ranbireshwar Temple and the Panjbhaktar Temple .
In fact, if one visits Jammu during Shivratri, one finds a celebration going on almost everywhere.
Jhiri Mela (Oct-Nov.)
An annual fair is held in the name of Baba Jitu, a simple and honest farmer who preferred to kill himself rather than submit to the unjust demands of the local landlord to part with his crop. He killed himself in the village of Jhiri, 14 kms from Jammu. A legend has grown around the Baba and his followers congregate at Jhiri on the appointed day from every corner of North India; they revere him for his compassion, courage and honesty.
Navratra Festival (Sept-Oct)
Though the yatra to the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is a round-the-year event, the one undertaken during the Navratras is considered the most auspicious. In order to showcase and highlight the regional culture, heritage and traditions of the area during this period, the State Tourism Department has instituted the Navratra Festival as an annual event to be held during September / October for all the nine auspicious days of the Navratras. A large number of tourists pay their obeisance to the deity during this period. This festival showcases the religious traditions as well as the popular culture of the region among the millions of pilgrims who visit the Vaishnodeviji Shrine during this period.