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Festivals of the month: December 2018

Christmas is celebrated all over India with great fervour
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/Anna_Pustynnikova

As December comes, while some people complain about the biting cold weather, others enjoy the chill that the low temperatures bring along, for that, gears them up to enjoy the beautiful festivals that this month is packed with. Do get set to enjoy ’em all, for they are quite an interesting mix of fun, revelry, colour and magic.

International Sand Art Festival

When: December 1-5

Where: Bhubaneswar

A beautiful sight unfolds on the Chandrabhaga Beach as it turns into a huge exhibition ground with gigantic sculptures created by sand artists from India and other countries. It’s fascinating to walk around on the golden sands and see artists working painstakingly using wood, stone, bronze and other materials to create spectacular sand sculptures including not just human and animal forms but also castles, forts and abstract figures.

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Kumbhalgarh Festival

When: December 1-3

Where: Kumbhalgarh

The mighty Kumbhalgarh Fort offers another reason for luring tourists- this is the colourful festival organized in its vicinity. Visitors are sure to be fascinated by this three-day extravaganza complete with folk dance and music performances by local artistes, puppet shows, shopping experiences and, of course, getting the opportunity to taste the variety of exotic cuisine the state offers. What’s more, those interested can learn the art of puppet making at the art mela here.

Konark Festival
When: December 1-5
Where: Konark

Image courtesy: ©Sobhan Mohanty/Lonely Planet

This is the time of the year when the 13th century Sun Temple at Konark resounds with the magical sounds of the ghungroos. Dance lovers from across the world gather to watch performances by renowned artistes as they showcase the country’s varied dance forms such as Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Sattriya on a magnificent stage called the Konark Natya Mandap. Also part of the festival are some exquisite gourmet delights and varieties of handicrafts that the craftsmen of Orissa are known for like patachitra, applique and filigree work, and paintings on palm leaves.

Hornbill Festival
When: December 1-10
Where: Nagaland

Image courtesy: ©India Picture Budget

In one of the most picturesque regions of India, this festival is a must-visit for music and dance lovers. Through the day, vibrant dance and martial art performances by tribal groups not just from Nagaland but also from neighbouring states, all dressed in their colourful traditional gear, keep visitors enthralled. Also on offer is a beautiful ‘village’ created in the exhibition area that gives you a peek into the life of the different tribes and helps you understand their unique culture better.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018
When: December 12 – March 29
Where: Kochi

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is one of the biggest exhibitions and contemporary arts festivals in Asia. The programme includes exhibitions by artists from across the world together with talks, seminars, screenings, music shows, workshops and educational activities for students. Some of the artists whose works are part of the Biennale are Aernout Mik (Netherlands), Akram Zaatari (Lebanon), BV Suresh (India), Guerrilla Girls (USA), Jitish Kallat (India), Madhvi Parekh (India) and Nilima Sheikh (India).

Chhau Mask Festival
When: December 14-16
Where: Purulia

Few can resist the charms of the fascinating masks that are made by artisans of Purulia district in West Bengal. And these can be seen in all their glory at the annual Chhau Jhumur Utsav that showcases a number of martial dances, mostly by men, depicting characters and tales from mythologies like Mahishasurmardini, battle between Rama and Ravana, etc.

Chennai Music Festival
When: Mid December to mid-January
Where: Chennai

Image courtesy: ©KR Vinayan

Also called the Madras Music Season, this festival that is organised at different venues brings the curtains up on a number of large and small kutcheris, (Carnatic music concerts) performed by competent musicians, both seasoned as well as the new talents on the horizon. Visitors converge to enjoy the innumerable performances together with workshops, seminars and discussions on Carnatic music.

When: December 25
Where: All over India

Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/amberto4ka

Among the most awaited festivals for most Indians of all communities is Christmas that brings in a great deal of joy and excitement for all, especially children. All the major malls and markets in cities come abuzz with colours and lights with Santa Claus walking around, offering sweets and shaking hands with the little ones. After the beautiful mass ceremony at churches that are all decorated with poinsettia flowers, candles and lights, it’s time for families to get together for a fun-filled feast, sing carols and exchange gifts.

Mamallapuram Dance Festival
When: December 25-January 25
Where: Mamallapuram

This ancient centre of art and culture hosts a magnificent dance festival that sees exponents of Indian classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Mohini Attam and Kathakali perform against the backdrop of Arjuna’s Penance, the famous monument carved on rock here. The sound of the sea waves adds a magic that will long remain with you.

Mount Abu Winter Festival
When: December 29-31
Where: Mount Abu

Mount Abu Winter Festival is where the rich, colourful culture and traditions of the Rajasthan are on offer. While days can be spent shopping and enjoying the variety of sports events, the evenings are replete with classical folk dances such as daph, ghoomar and gair. One of the most spectacular sights is the deepdan ceremony in which the waters of Nakki Lake look ethereal as thousands of earthern lamps are set afloat.

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...