The Indian festival calendar: March – April 2016

Holi - festival of colours

It’s time to recharge the travel spirit and take on the great Indian summer. Here’s your roadmap to the months of March and April.

MARCH

International Yoga Festival

When: 1 March – 7 March

The first week of March has a more sedated atmosphere where Rishikesh is concerned. The International Yoga festival has been a constant on the town’s calendar for the 16 years and counting. The stepped ghats make for the stunning backdrop for workshops, talks, yoga classes and holistic healing sessions under the guidance of world famous yoga Gurus.

Holi

When: 23 March

India’s most colourful festival should be reason enough to book tickets to hot spots like Barsana, Varanasi or even Delhi. Dry and wet colours, bhaang, music and dancing consume the atmosphere on this day. Make a choice between more contemporary Holi parties in the city or head to more traditional grounds to get the real flavour. If you happen to be in Rajasthan, look out for elephant processions on the eve, where the pachyderms are bedecked with ornaments and a dash of try colour.

Shigmo

When: 28 March

Goa’s answer to Holi, this festival marks the arrival of spring. History suggests the festival started as celebrations when Goan warriors arrived home after months of battle. Some attribute the celebrations to commemorate the arrival of pleasant weather. Expect folk songs and dances, like Ghode Modni and Fugdi, in the interiors.

Thirunakkara Arattu

When: 15 March – 23 March

The festival is organized at the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple in Kottayam, Kerala. Be prepared to be mesmerised by Kathakali, Mayilattom and other dance performances. The highlight of the festival is the nine-elephant procession. The nights of the festival are equally interesting as the day rituals so don’t retire too early.

Godwar Festival

When: 21 March – 22 March

Rajasthan can easily be given the moniker of ‘land of festivals’ in the first few months of the year. The Godwar festival adds to the inventory of festivals that the state has in store. During the event the backdrop of Ranakpur temples is privy to folk dances, musical performances and cultural activities like turban tying, bullock cart rides and a fair.

APRIL

 

Baisakhi celebrations at the Golden Temple in Amritsar are a sight to behold
Image courtesy: ©Matt Munro/ Lonely Planet

Godwar Festival

When: 8 April– 9 April

Rajasthan can easily be given the moniker of ‘land of festivals’ in the first few months of the year. The Godwar festival adds to the inventory of festivals that the state has in store. During the event the backdrop of Ranakpur temples is privy to folk dances, musical performances and cultural activities like turban tying, bullock cart rides and a fair.

Baisakhi

When: 13 April

A harvest festival, it also commemorates the beginning of the Sikh religion. Folk music, dance, food and fairs make for the carnival like atmosphere. If you want to decide on which part of Punjab to visit, combine this with a trip to Amritsar and witness the celebration at the Golden Temple. If you happen to be in Assam, the Baisakhi equivalent, Bihu, is celebrated with tremendous fanfare in the state.

Ram Navami

When: 15 April

Mid-April is reserved for the wedding of Ram and Sita in all parts of India. The festival is dedicated to the hero of the epic Ramayana. Temples in north India, Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh and Rameswaram see much more momentum than any other part of the country.

Thrissur Pooram

When: 17 April

One of Kerala’s most famous elephant festivals it’s held in the Swaraj ground at the Vadakkunnathan Shiva Temple. The close by Bhagavathy and Krishna temples also participate in this. The highlight of the festival is the elephant face-off that happens between the two sides (Bhagavathy and Krishna) at the Shiva temple; midnight fireworks and day long festivities amp up the energy in the air.

Text by: Supriya Sehgal

Dates/times are subject to change by the organisers of these events. It is recommended that you contact the organisers before booking travel.