Festivals of the month: September 2019

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From celebrations centred around the birth of Lord Krishna last month, the coming month puts the spotlight on welcoming Lord Ganesha once again into his devotees’ lives. That is not all! September lines up a number of festivals that not just give you a peek into a world of fascinating traditions but also lets you participate in many fun filled activities. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Ladakh Festival
When: September 1-4
Where: Leh

Against the backdrop of a surreal, rugged landscape, this four-day festival offers a kaleidoscope of colours for visitors. Shutterbugs, especially, will never have enough of this region’s fascinating flavours, be it the monastery’s traditional masked dances done by lamas or games such as polo and village archery competitions. The Ladakh Festival commences with an inauguration ceremony in Leh that sees a huge procession of cultural troupes from across Ladakh to gather at the Polo Ground for yet another fiesta of dance and music. This is also a great time to try out the traditional Ladakhi cuisine, such as mokthuk, thukpa, paba and tangtur, etc and pick up souvenirs such as thangka paintings, dragon pottery and turquoise jewellery.

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Onam
When: September 2-13
Where: Kerala

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While the annual harvest festival of Onam is celebrated by Malayalees across the country, the celebrations in Kerala assume a beautiful, festive air as everyone seems to get together to welcome the mythical King Mahabali who is believed to protect all his devotees. Right from the morning, homes are decorated with flowers in the traditional style. A feast of the delicious Onam Sadya comprising over 15 dishes and served on banana leaves is an important part of the festival, as are the piece de resistance of Kerala- the snake boat races- that are sure to leave you spellbound.

Ganesh Chaturthi
When: September 2-12
Where: Mumbai and all over India

Lord Ganesha has a special place in the hearts of all his devotees. And while his birthday is celebrated across the country, the state of Maharashtra springs to life with a special festive air at this time. Colourful clay idols of Ganesha are brought home 11 days prior and seated in the well decorated prayer areas in people’s homes. Special devotional songs in His praise are sung everyday and prasad distributed. On the final day, as boisterous chants of ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya…’ ring out, the idols are taken out in a colourful procession to be immersed in the sea waters.

Chakradhar Samaroh
When: September 2 to 12
Where: Raigarh, Chhattisgarh

Famous as the cultural capital of Chhattisgarh- especially under Maharaja Chakradhar Singh, a patron of the arts- Raigarh has always been hosting cultural events. The 10-day event that has seen performances by stalwarts such as Ustad Bismillah Khan, Teejan Bai, Ustad Rashid Khan, among many others promises an amazing line-up of performances this year as well. It’s a great opportunity for music and dance lovers to gather and savour the diverse cultural range that India has to offer.

Muharram
When: September 10
Where: All over India

Regarded as the first month of the Islamic calendar, the day of Muharram commemorates the Battle of Karbala fought in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar. Some Muslim devotees fast during the daylight hours and attend special prayers organized in mosques. Tazias, that are believed to be replicas of the tomb of Imam Hussain, the martyred grandson of Prophet Muhammad, are taken out in a procession. Those walking along, weep for those who died in Karbala and even injure themselves, in a bid to understand and empathize with the pain of Imam Hussain’s suffering.

Ziro Festival of Music
When: September 26-29
Where: Arunachal Pradesh

This four-day festival, hosted by the Apatani tribe belonging to this North-Eastern state’s Ziro Valley, brings alive the beautiful landscape of the Lower Subansiri district with some great music. Founded by Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty in 2012, this independent artists’ music festival features some of the best musical talents from across the country including Steve Shelley, Lou Majaw, Shaa’ir n Func, Indus Creed, Lee Ranaldo, Guru Rewben Mashangva, and Peter Cat Recording Co among others. Facilities for camp accommodation that are not too far from the venue can easily be availed.

Navratri
When: September 29 to October 7
Where: All over India

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Dedicated to three powerful goddesses of Hindu mythology- Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati- believed to be the epitome of power, purity and beauty, this festival is spread over a period of nine nights. Devotees fast and, in many homes, readings of the epic Ramayana are carried out through the days of the festival that culminates with offerings of puri and halwa that is especially made to be offered to little girls. What makes Navratri special are the fun filled, nine nights’ celebrations of Gujarat complete with the energetic garba dances that should be experienced to be believed.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Having long been a journalist with the mainstream media and a broadcaster with All India Radio, Purnima Sharma is now enjoying her stint as an independent writer. The Delhi-based journalist is happiest writing on people, places...and anything that touches the heart.