You’re in luck if you happen to be in Ahmedabad or Gandhinagar during festive periods such as Uttarayan, which are celebrated with much gusto across the state. The cities swing into action with plenty of music, dance and tasty treats.
Gujaratis celebrate the Uttarayan festival on 14 January every year, to mark the winter solstice. The festival is dedicated to flying kites on rooftops where people engage in spirited battles of trying to cut each other’s kite strings. 24-hour kite markets in Dariapur, Kalupur and Sarangpur swing into action days ahead as people rush to buy colourful and sometimes uniquely designed kites. Undhiyu, jalebi, chiki-tal papdi combo, khichdo, sherdi, bor, shingoda and jamfal are some of the sweet and savoury snacks that are essential to the Uttarayan menu.
Saptak Music Festival
The Saptak Annual Festival of Music is a 13-day Indian classical music jamboree, organised by the Saptak School of Music from 1st to 13th January every year. Aficionados eagerly await concerts where legendary Indian artists as well as promising newcomers showcase their talent.
A melting pot of performing arts by folk artists from across the country, the Sanskruti Kunj festival is celebrated over 10 days on the banks of the River Sabarmati. Usually held in late February, the festival hosts a variety of performances from different states of India.
Vasant Utsav, Nikol
In spring (March/April), buses to Nikol are crammed with people going to the Vasant Utsav. Situated on the outskirts of Ahmedabad the town is the hotspot for Raas performances, parades of men dressed as gypsies, gods and demons and general revelry. The festival commemorates the Banjara tribe, said to be the architects of a reservoir that was built almost 200 years ago to address the paucity of water in the region.
Read More: Unique rituals during Navratri
Swarms of people congregate at the Jamalpur Darwaza area in July/August to pull a mammoth chariot, on which idols of the divine siblings, Krishna, Balram and Subhadra, are seated. The procession emulates the larger festival held in Puri, and is themed after the legend of Krishna leaving Mathura for Dwarka. Caparisoned elephants and folk artists lead the procession, until it reaches the Sabarmati River, where the idols are immersed.
Nine nights of dancing seem to be the main agenda in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar during Navratri.
These commemorate the Mother goddess who slayed Mahishasura, an evil demon. Legends and mythology apart, in the modern context, Navratri is synonymous with endless feasts and organized dance sessions of garba and raas in fairgrounds. Head to Gheekanta Road, Swaminarayan Temple, Nagori Sharda and Madhupura Market to see the festival in full gusto.
Ahmedabad Heritage Festival
Guided walks, films, workshops, live music and lectures fill the week of 19–25 November to celebrate the city’s rich heritage.
Shah Alam Urs Festival
Miracle healer and saint, Shah Alam is remembered on his death anniversary with devotees cleaning his tomb with sandalwood paste and lighting oil lamps to seek his blessings. Visit Shah Alam Roza to listen to the soulful qawwalis on this day, which occurs during the Islamic month of Jamadi-ul-Akhar.