India's public holidays in 2021 will include gazetted and restricted days, as is the norm. The country’s holiday schedule is divided across three classifications: gazetted, restricted, as well as state and union territory. Commercial establishments should note the schedule for the respective states where they are located.
Many foreign human resource managers struggle with India’s holiday schedule. That is no surprise – the federal and state governments have acknowledged a number
of holidays every month to accommodate over 1.3 billion people spread over 36 diverse states and union territories and subscribing to different religious faiths, ethnic, and cultural traditions.
Although there are many ways to manage this schedule, most companies in India offer 10 to 14 public holidays, depending on the company’s past practices and industry norms, as well as the discretion of the concerned states.
Companies doing business with state and government authorities, however, must note their respective holiday calendars. For example, government offices in the National Capital Territory of Delhi will be closed for 33 days in 2021.
Overall, holidays in India are governed primarily through the following laws:
- The Weekly Holidays Act, 1942;
- The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946;
- The National and Festival Holidays Act, 1963;
- The Negotiable Instruments Act 1981;
- The Companies Act 2013; and
- The Shops and Commercial Establishments Act.
However, among these, The National & Festival Holidays Act is applicable to all establishments in the country, and mandates three holidays in India: Republic Day, January 26; Independence Day, August 15; and Gandhi Jayanti, October 2. Irrespective of the law a company, industry, or organization follows, or whether they are public, private organizations or MNCs, every entity must necessarily remain closed on these days. Organizations that need to work on those days need to take prior approval from concerned authorities.
Many businesses in India close offices on the gazetted holidays and grant employees several optional holidays that they may select to observe a non-gazetted holiday of their choosing.
Other businesses simply mirror the holiday schedule observed by the management of their office building.
Gazetted holidays for 2021
January 26, Tuesday: Republic Day
March 29, Monday: Holi
April 2, Friday: Good Friday
April 21, Wednesday: Ram Navami
April 25, Sunday: Mahavir Jayanti
May 14, Friday: Id-ul-Fitr
May 26, Wednesday: Buddha Purnima
July 21, Wednesday: Id-ul-Zuha
August 15, Sunday: Independence Day
August 19, Thursday: Muharram
August 30, Monday: Janmashtami
October 2, Saturday: Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday (Gandhi Jayanti)
October 15, Friday: Dussehra
October 19, Tuesday: Birthday of Prophet Mohammad
November 4, Thursday: Diwali
November 19, Friday: Guru Nanak's Birthday
December 25, Saturday: Christmas Day
Non-gazetted / restricted holidays for 2021
January 1, Friday: New Year's Day
January 13, Wednesday: Lohri
January 14, Thursday: Makar Sankranti/Pongal
January 20, Wednesday: Guru Gobind Singh's Birthday
February 16, Tuesday: Basant Panchami
February 19, Friday: Shivaji Jayanti
February 26, Friday: Hazrat Ali's Birthday
February 27, Saturday: Guru Ravidas's Birthday
March 8, Monday: Swami Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti
March 11, Thursday: Maha Shivratri
March 28, Sunday: Holika Dahan
April 4, Sunday: Easter Sunday
April 13, Tuesday: Chaitra Sukladi/Gudi Padava/Ugadi/Cheti Chand/Vaisakhi/Vishu
April 14, Wednesday: Mesadi Tamil New Year's Day
April 15, Thursday: Vaisakhadi (Bengal)/ Bahag Bihu (Assam)
May 7, Friday: Jamat-Ul-Vida
May 9, Sunday: Guru Rabindranath's Birthday
July 12, Monday: Rath Yatra
August 16, Monday: Parsi New Year's Day (Nauraj)
August 21, Saturday: Onam or Thiru Onam Day
August 22, Sunday: Raksha Bandhan
September 10, Friday: Ganesh Chaturthi
October 12, Tuesday: Dussehra (Maha Saptami)
October 13, Wednesday: Dussehra (Maha Ashtami)
October 14, Thursday: Dussehra (Maha Navmi)
October 20, Wednesday: Maharishi Valmiki's Birthday
October 24, Sunday: Karva Chouth
November 5, Friday: Govardhan Puja
November 6, Saturday: Bhai Dhuj
November 10, Wednesday: Chhat Puja
November 24, Wednesday: Guru Teg Bahadur's Martyrdom
December 24, Friday: Christmas Eve
State and union territory holidays
The list of state and union territory holidays is quite large. Please follow the hyperlink to review local holidays that apply to your place of business.
In addition to office closures, governments in the state and union territories often observe “dry days” or days when the sale of alcohol is not permitted, on gazetted and state and union territory holidays. Dry days also routinely occur on local election dates.