Lucknow : Traditions, Customs And Festivals



Lucknow Mahotsav is a ten day fest which is celebrated in the month of November-December. This fest portrays the unique and scintillating culture of Lucknow. The city of Lucknow is culturally very rich and this fest is a showcase of the same.

Lucknow, also known as the ‘City of Nawabs’, wears grand and royal look which makes the whole city come alive. It is a very joyous occasion which is celebrated with much fervour in the Awadhi City.

The Lucknow Mahotsav boasts of an array of Lip-smacking food stalls, traditional goods from all over India and arts and crafts of the local peasants. Lucknow Mahotsav is a hot-spot for food-lovers coming from all over the State and beyond. Visitors get to gorge on the native delicacies of Lucknow which include Galawati Kebab’s, Saffron Makkhan and Lucknavi Biryani.

Colourful processions, traditional dramas, Kathak dances in the style of Lucknow Gharana, Sarangi and sitar recitals, Ghazals, Qawalis and Thumri produce a cheerful atmosphere during the ten day long festival. Exciting events like Ekka races, Kite flying, Cock Fighting and other customary village games re-establish an ambiance of the bygone Nawabi days.

How it all began: 1975-76 was declared an observed as the TOURISM YEAR by Southern Asians. The same year, with the motive of promoting art, culture and tourism, LUCKNOW MAHOTSAV was initiated.

Lucknow Mahotsav is the largest organized fair of Uttar Pradesh. In the recent years, Lucknow Mahotsav has been graced with the presence of many Bollywood celebrities like Hritik Roshan, Sunidhi Chauhan and Ameesha Patel. Many local folk artists are also given an opportunity to showcase their talents during the Mahotsav.

In my hometown, Lucknow, this Mahotsav is the greatest festival that is celebrated with the most unity and enthusiasm.

Traditions And Customs:

The ‘Nawabs of Awadh’ are to be credited for propagating and beautifying the culture of ‘hookah’. Earthenware hookahs with subtle designs and intricate carvings are a speciality of Lucknow.

The popularity of hookah can be gauged in the old areas of Lucknow such as Nazirabad, Akbari Gate and Chowk where people could be seen smoking hookah over lengthy conversations on local and political affairs. Some people in the city smoke hookah with traditional ‘Khamira’, which is a mixture of rose petals, ripened fruits, tobacco and a variety of condiments.

Many Hookah parlours in Lucknow are traditionally themed and they are very popular amongst the youngsters. In Lucknow, you will find Hookah’s at most weddings, parties and events. Generally, the young generation prefers the flavored hookahs whereas old people smoke traditional hookahs. Hookah, the symbol of royal luxury, has become an intrinsic part of the party circuit in Lucknow.

The ‘PEHLE AAP’ Custom:

Lucknow is heavily influenced by the Nawabi Culture and Urdu is a prime language. The people are generally very polite and courteous. Lucknowites follow the custom of ‘Pehle Aap’ meaning ‘You First’. This is a humane gesture which is not so prevalent in any other part of the country.

Lucknow is a hallmark of cultural extravaganza. The ‘tehzib’ or mannerism is still prominent and a topic of great appreciation in the city. Lucknow still speaks the language of “aap-janab” and the dictum of “pehle aap”. Also ‘Aadab’ or salutation, which has its own sophistication and style, gives a feeling of family and warmth.


Lucknow is immensely popular for its ‘Chikankari’. Chikankari has been the delicate and traditional embroidery practised in Lucknow and its environs.

Chikan is a unique craft involving delicate and artistic hand embroidery on a variety of textile fabrics like Cotton, Muslin, Silk, Chiffon, Organdy, Organza and Doriya. Though it originated as the court craft, today it is a practiced tradition and an important commercial activity.

Any tourist visiting Lucknow, makes it a point to drop by in the by-lanes of Chowk and splurge on a delicately embroidered Chickankari item.

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