While the weather may vacillate between hot and humid and pleasant after the rain showers, the fun and gaiety associated with festivals continues unabated. The month of August opens up an interesting medley of celebrations- from the worship of snakes in temples to snake boat races, Raksha Bandha and Janmashtami. Let’s take a look at some of the festivals that the coming month has lined up for us.
As the rain clouds shower their joy on the parched desertscape of Rajasthan, women get together to rejoice and celebrate the onset of the monsoon. Jhoolas (swings) are hung in the courtyard of their homes, and from the morning itself, women, after praying for a happy married life, decorate their hands with mehendi. Special feasts include ghevar feni and women dressed in all their finery, sing and dance and have a lot of fun.
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All over North India
Observed on the fifth day of the shravan month, this festival sees the worship of serpents that hold an important place in Hindu mythology. Images of snakes in temples are offered milk (believed to be the serpents’ favourite drink), water, sweets and flowers. Prayers and songs are sung in their praise as doing this is believed to keep devotees protected and away from snake bites. In many villages, fairs are organized to mark the occasion.
Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race
On the second Saturday of August every year, people from across the world gather to witness an enthralling spectacle. This is when the calm waters of the beautiful Punnamada Lake become the venue of a magnificent but fiercely fought snake boat race that commemorates the first Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Alappuzha. It’s a joy seeing the powerful yet beautifully synchronized movements of the boats as they race ahead to win the coveted trophy.
All over India
This special festival sees sisters tie rakhi (a colourful band) on the wrist of their brothers who in turn take a vow to protect them from all adversities. The serious part of the festival is followed by much fun and laughter as the siblings exchange gifts and then settle down for a grand family feast.
Covelong Point Surf, Music and Yoga Festival
Against the backdrop of the vast blue sea, pristine beaches and some great surf, the annual Covelong Point Surf, Music & Yoga Festival at the Kovalam village brings in enthusiastic participants from across the world. The event offers not just national and international level surf competitions but also a global music line-up spread across three stages, yoga, meditation classes and alternative healing workshops. The carnival-like atmosphere is complete with a vibrant flea market, food stalls, art installations and beach side activities.
On the fourth Saturday of August, the Divar Island that lies about 12 kms away from Panaji, comes alive with the celebration of Bonderam Festival. Setting the ball rolling is a brass band and a parade, the piece de resistance of which, are multi-coloured flags. The festival harks back to the time under the Portuguese when land disputes were common and multi-coloured flags were used to demarcate boundaries and settle disputes. The day also sees numerous fancy dress competitions, a traditional float parade, games and performances by many music bands.
One of the most important festivals for Hindus, Janmashtami, marks the birth of Lord Krishna. At his birthplace, in both Mathura and Vrindavan, festivities take on a splendid hue that’s sure to charm visitors with its intensity and fervour. It’s a joy seeing little boys and girls dressed as Krishna-Radha. Through the day, crowds visit the beautifully decorated temples to see the jhankis (installations) and acts from the life of Krishna. And close to midnight, Krishna’s idol is bathed in a mixture of milk, honey, yogurt, dry fruit and tulsi leaves, later given out as prasad to devotees.
Just a day after Janmashtami, the excitement of Krishna’s birth continues unabated with special celebrations organized in the streets of Mumbai. This is when clay pots filled with dahi (yoghurt) or butter are hung high up, even at a height of 30 feet, in the centre of streets or courtyards. At the assigned time, human pyramids are formed with agile young men climbing one on top of the other to get to the handi as the crowds assembled around cheer them on. This entire spectacle is a fun-filled affair accompanied with loud music and bhajans in praise of Lord Krishna.