Festivals of the month: January 2019

Image courtesy: ©India Picture Budget

As the month of January takes over the almanac, temperatures continue to remain low, but enticing. This is, what many visitors to India would say, the perfect weather not just to visit its tourist destinations but also to get immersed in the colour and spirit of the enjoyable festivals. Let’s take a look at some of the major ones.

Sun Splash Music Festival

Goa, January 12 – 13

The sun-drenched, sandy beaches of Goa come alive with the spirit of this festival that’s all about creating a holistic lifestyle through the magic of music, art, dance, wellness programs and social forums. With reggae being a big feature of the festival, roots music too makes its presence felt. The line-up of artistes this year includes Anthony B & House of Riddim, Dub Fx, ZJ Liquid, Earl Gateshead and Kibir La Amlak.

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Bikaner Camel Fair

Bikaner, January 12 – 13

 

Image courtesy: ©Pete Seaward/Lonely Planet

Seeing camels stand tall silhouetted against the orange orb of the evening sky is among the most amazing sights that this festival offers. This two-day mela dedicated to the majestic ‘ship of the desert’ is packed with many such wow moments! Setting the ball rolling is a fun filled parade against the backdrop of the historic Junagarh Fort. It’s a festival of folk music and dance shows, camel races and competitions, village fair, puppet shows etc. A spectacular firework display brings the festivities to a close.

Lohri
All over Punjab, January 13

A popular winter festival, Lohri, marks the end of winter and onset of the harvest season. Observed the night before Makar Sankranti, this joyous festival comes into its own in the villages of Punjab where the rabi crop stands in all its splendour. In the evenings a bonfire is organized and everyone sits around for some fun-filled rounds of bhangra and gidda dances. The Lohri following the birth of a baby or a wedding in a Punjabi household becomes extra special.

International Kite Festival
Ahmedabad, January 6-13

Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/espies

From days before Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan, the day believed to herald the harvest season, kite makers spring into action. That is the day when resplendently coloured kites vie for attention as they fly high in the sky. Kite-flying competitions amidst much merriment are held not just on the Sabarmati River Front where many international teams participate but also all across the state of Gujarat. Feasts of undhiyu, a local vegetable, and jalebis are savoured through the day. A visit to the Kite Museum that houses a massive collection of unique kites from across the world is a must.

Pongal
Tamil Nadu, January 14 – 17

This traditional sweet is prepared on the day of Pongal
This traditional sweet is prepared on the day of Pongal
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/SMDSS

This festival is celebrated as a form of thanksgiving to the Almighty for a good harvest. The four-day festivities include decorating the house, discarding old things to make way for new, dancing around a bonfire that is believed to burn away all evil, cooking of a sweet made of rice and milk that is offered to the Sun God and worship of the household cattle. Families get together and prayers are performed for brothers and their families.

Rajarani Music Festival
Odisha, January 18 – 20

Strains of classical music echo all across the magnificent Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneshwar when it’s time for this festival that promotes some of the major classical music traditions of India. As evening descends, a mesmerising atmosphere is created as guests from across the country get together to see maestros of the Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi genres take to the stage set against a beautifully lit backdrop of this ancient edifice.

Modhera Dance Festival
Gujarat, January 19 – 21

The Modhera Temple in Gujarat becomes venue of a music and dance festival
The Modhera Temple in Gujarat becomes venue of a music and dance festival
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/NavneetKaushal

The Modhera Temple in Gujarat becomes venue of a music and dance festival. With psychedelic hues of red, yellow and green illuminating the nooks and corners of the intricately carved temple dedicated to the Sun God, each evening here is a memorable one. Besides witnessing this celebration of art and performances by renowned artistes, visitors also get a chance to taste the varied cuisines of Gujarat.

Jaipur Literature Festival
Jaipur, January 24 – 28

This is one event that is on the must-do list not just of litterateurs but also those who love reading and students of literature. The focus of the festival this year is scientific temper and thinking genre of science fiction. Among the authors of this genre who are taking part in JLF are Venki Ramakrishnan and cosmologist Priyamvada Natarajan. Besides the author of ‘Life of Pi’, Yann Martel, some of the other big names attending the festival are Colson Whitehead, Andre Aciman, Jeffery Archer and Germain Greer, the author of the famous feminist book, The Female Eunuch.

Republic Day
Delhi, January 26

The spectacular presentations during Republic Day parade
The spectacular presentations during Republic Day parade
Image courtesy: ©JeremyRichards /Shutterstock.com

This special day is a salute to not just all those who fought for India’s independence but also those who worked to give her its Constitution. Right from the morning, the spotlight is on the majestic Rajpath where a spectacular parade gives a salute to the President of India as it marches down this beautiful pathway in Lutyens’ Delhi showcasing not just the country’s defence capability but also its diverse cultural heritage. At the Amar Jawan Jyoti under the historic India Gate, the Prime Minister lays a floral wreath in the memory of the martyred soldiers.