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Festivals of the month: March 2019

Image courtesy: ©Himanshu Khagta/Getty Images

As the weather turns delightfully pleasant, the magic of spring can be felt all around, and what better way to celebrate the colours of nature than with the multi-hued festivities that boast a delightful sprinkling of tradition together with modern music and beats.

International Jazz Festival, Delhi, March 1-3

In the serene environs of the sprawling Nehru Park, this popular music festival offers an interesting opportunity to hear both Indian as well as foreign artistes perform in an open-air, picnic-like setting where connoisseurs come with mats and blankets to spread on the grass and relax while listening to some great music. On the cards this year are performances by famous bands like Pulsar Trio from Germany, Fran Malina Trio from Spain, Go Back Project from Korea, Aziz Ozouss from Morocco and swing renditions by the Lucknow Experiment featuring Paddy from India.

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International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh, March 1-7


Image courtesy: ©SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

It’s that time of the year when enthusiasts from across the world gather for a week-long celebration of the holistic practice of yoga that helps attain harmony of the body, mind and soul. Started in 1999 by the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, the Festival offers sessions on Pranayama, Hatha Yoga and Yog Nidra by experienced yoga gurus for both beginners as well as serious practitioners. The day begins at 4.30 in the morning with lectures, seminars and workshops. Evening time is for relaxation with colourful cultural programmes.

Chapchar Kut, Aizawl, March 2

Celebrated to welcome the spring season, Chapchar Kut is when the arduous task of clearing the bamboo forests is done to make way for jhum farming. Fun filled festivities are then in order and everyone, in their splendid traditional attire, gathers enthusiastically at Aizawl’s vast open grounds. Among the plethora of cultural activities including dance, music (both folk and pop) and fashion shows is the bamboo dance done by women as they jump over bamboo sticks that are rhythmically tapped together in different patterns by men to the sounds of traditional music.

Maha Shivratri, all over India, March 4

Maha Shivratri is a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva. Through the day, worshippers fast to thank the Lord who is believed to have drunk poison in a bid to save mankind. Believed to be the day when Shiva married Goddess Parvati, women pray to them for blessings for a beautiful married life too. To the chants of ‘Om Namah Shivay’ and ‘Bum Bum Bhole’, devotees offer milk to the lord.

World Sufi Music Festival, Delhi, March 8-10

With a line-up of some of the biggest sufi musical treats, Jahan-E-Khusrau will enthrall music lovers against the backdrop of the historic Arab ki Sarai monuments. This year Satinder Sartaj, Javed Ali, Kanwar Grewal, Minu Bakshi, Roohani Sisters with many others will grace the stage. Among the highlights is the dance recital on the opening day called Ganganama, the circle of life, dedicated to the music and dance of the rivers and celebration of the evolution of civilisations.

Arattupuzha Pooram, Thrissur, March 19

Counted among the oldest of Kerala’s temple festivals, the Arattupuzha Pooram is held at the Sree Sastha Temple in Thrissur. Spread over a period of seven days, it is believed that a ‘conclave’ of all the major gods and goddesses takes place here during this time. As many as 23 deities from different temples in Thrissur are brought here and the various ceremonies organized are all a visual delight, including caparisoned elephants walking through streets.

Holi, all over India, March 20-21

Gujiya is a popular sweet relished during Holi
Gujiya is a popular sweet relished during Holi
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From days before Holi, a spirit of bonhomie can be felt in the air. The festivities begin the evening before when a huge bonfire signifies the burning of the demoness Holika and with her the annihilation of all evil. The next morning is the time for fun and frolic with colour and water, though the use of the latter is slowly being discouraged. People smear each other’s faces with different hues and sure enough, by mid-morning, it is difficult to recognize faces. Feasting is par for the course with sweets like gujiyas. And not to forget the drink bhaang prepared from the leaves of cannabis.

Shigmo, Goa, March 21

According to an ancient legend, when the brave heroes who had long been away at war were getting back home, the villagers rejoiced and broke out into joyous dancing and music to welcome them. The tradition has since continued with the Shigmo festival. The festivities include the village deity being bathed and dressed in saffron robes, playing with ‘gulal’ or red powder and the streets of Goa coming suffused with colourful parades and intricately crafted floats that form a major part of the festival. The specialty, of course, is the Ghode Modni and Fugdi dances.

Konkan Velas Turtle Festival, Velas Village, Anytime in March

In the serene environs of this small fishing village in Maharashtra, nature enthusiasts gather to watch an amazing phenomena- when hundreds of eggs laid in the sand by Olive Ridley Turtles in around the month of November start hatching. It sure is a delight to watch the tiny turtles painstakingly begin their baby steps and very naturally move towards the sea waters.