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Festivals of the month: April

Bihu festival is celebrated with great fervour in Assam
Image courtesy: ©Flickr/rajkumar1220/CC BY 2.0

As the spring season continues to add splashes of colour at every turn, a number of joyous festivals are celebrated across the country- from Nagaland’s Aoling to the boisterous Baisakhi in Punjab and Bohag Bihu in Assam, among many others. We take a look at some of the festivals that the month of April brings along.

Aoling Festival
Where: Nagaland
When: April 1-6

One of the major festivals of the Konyak Naga tribe, once famous for its tradition of head hunting, Aoling attracts many visitors to Nagaland’s Mon district. As the sowing of seeds begins- and this coincides with their New Year- the Konyaks, who have now turned mainly to agriculture, pray for a good harvest.

Sankat Mochan Music Festival
Where: Varanasi
When: April 4-9

One of the most famous of Indian music festivals, the Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh is held in the holy town of Varanasi. Celebrated on Hanuman Jayanti, this ticket-free event is held in the precincts of the temple of Hanuman, where music lovers assemble to hear renditions of some of the country’s top artists who take pride in performing here. Among the regulars here are music maestros Pt Vishwamohan Bhatt, Pt Pandit Jasraj, Pt Rajan and Sajan Mishra and Kumar Bose, among others.

Tulip Festival
Where: Srinagar
When: April 1-15

A mantle of magic envelops the valley of Kashmir when the magnificent tulips start to bloom. And this is when the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, situated in the foothills of the mighty Zabarwan range in Srinagar, close to the Dal Lake, comes alive with Asia’s largest tulip flower show attended by people from across the world. Enjoy the beauty of over 50 varieties in colours ranging from pinks to oranges, whites, reds and yellows besides the hybrids and the dark hued Night Queen varieties.

Where: Punjab
When: April 14

As boisterous cries of ‘Jatta Ayee Baisakhi’ ring out in Punjab, this festival harks back to the day when the tenets of the Sikh religion were laid down by Guru Gobind Singh. It is also about celebrating a good harvest with the entire state, especially villages, springing to life with colourful fairs full of dance and music programmes. The piece de resistance of the day is the beautifully lit Golden Temple that offers a divine experience as devotees throng to offer prayers.

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Bohag Bihu
When: April 15-21
Where: Assam

This festival celebrates not just the New Year of the state but also welcomes the onset of spring. Although an air of festivity lasts for over a week in the Assamese month of Bohag- that’s how the festival gets its name- it’s celebrated over a period of three days. The first day sees their main source of livelihood cattle being cleaned; the second day is spent having special feasts while the last one is dedicated to the worship of deities. The celebrations are not complete without the graceful Bihu dance during which rice beer is served to all.

Goa Food and Cultural Festival
Where: Panaji
When: April 17-21 (Tentative)

When talking about Goa’s food and culture, many can never have enough of it. This festival unveils a variety of cuisine including that of Goan Christians with its Portuguese influences. Cooking competitions, exotic cocktails and live feni distillation processes also offer interesting experiences. The culture chapter includes many Indian and foreign music bands that put up fun-filled shows.

Thrissur Pooram
Where: Kerala
When: Apr 26

This festival is any shutterbug’s delight starting with the parade of about fifty elephants that takes part in the 200 year old festival held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur. It’s a treat watching these caparisoned pachyderms bring in temple deities from the surrounding areas to this one where Lord Shiva is the chief deity. The entire ceremony is a 36 hour non-stop celebration accompanied with the lilting sounds of the pancha-vadyam, that is, music created with trumpets, drums, pipes and cymbals.

Mount Abu Summer Festival
Where: Mount Abu
When: April 29-30

Rajasthan, known for its desert sands also houses a beautiful hill station, which, on Buddha Purnima, becomes the go-to destination for its Summer Festival. Held against the picturesque backdrop of rocky mounts and tranquil lakes, this two-day do offers an amalgam of folk and classical extravaganzas, interesting races and a CRPF band show, other than fabulous qawwali sessions.

Buddha Purnima and Buddha Jayanti
Where: Sarnath
When: April 30

As the full moon day in the Hindu month of Vaisakh draws near, devotees gather at the various Buddhist sites. It marks not just the day when Gautama Sidhartha was born in 563 BC, but also one when he achieved enlightenment and nirvana, thus marking his death anniversary as well. The celebrations at Sarnath, where he delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, are special and these include Buddhist teachers conducting prayers, sermons and meditation sessions through the day.

AUTHOR'S BIO: After close to three decades in mainstream journalism, it's back to freelance writing for Purnima Sharma who enjoys writing about people, places... and just about anything that touches the heart...