As the spring season draws near the month of March brings in a number of interesting fairs and festivals. It is time to get set and be a part of the myriad colours and cultural frenzy associated with them. Take a look at some of the most interesting festivals that lie round the corner.
International Yoga Festival
When: March 1-7
Organized by the Paramartha Niketan in the first week of March every year, seasoned practitioners as well as beginners come here to learn more about this holistic practice of wellness and health. This ticket-free event offers over 150 classes on the different styles of yoga, discourses by experts, meditation classes, Sanskrit chanting and reiki sessions, etc. Cultural dance and music programmes are on every evening. A must-watch is the ‘sandhya aarti’ on the banks of the River Ganga.
When: March 6-7
One of the major festivals of Mizoram, Chapchar Kut celebrates the coming of the spring season. Preparations begin for the festival that harks back to the time when bamboo forests would be cleared with jhumming and fields were made ready for the next crop. Post all this arduous activity, celebrations with a lot of dance and music would be the order of the day. Dressed in traditional Mizo dresses, people assemble in the centre of town for some dance and music programmes and, of course, fashion shows.
When: March 8
Where: Palakkad, Kerala
Shutterbugs love this festival that presents a spectacular sight of over 30 gorgeously caparisoned elephants offering obeisance to the gods at the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple. As music of the panchavadyam, the traditional Kerala orchestra, rings out, these revered beasts stand silently enjoying all the attention. After visiting the temple, people also sit here to enjoy presentations of traditional art forms such as theyyam, kathakali, kumbakali, thattinmelkoothu and shadow puppet performances.
When: March 8-9
Where: Matho Monastery, Leh
Celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, the Matho Nagrang festival comes alive with strains of melodious Tibetan music played by monks. It is only a matter of time when lama-dancers join in. Wearing long brocade robes and their faces covered with ornate masks, depicting gods and goddesses, they start presenting chhams or Tibetan dance-dramas. Two oracles also make their appearance at the festival to make predictions for society and give advice to those in need.
When: March 10
Where: All over India
This fun filled festival sees people at their exuberant best as it’s time to bid adieu to the harsh winter and welcome spring. On the eve of Holi a huge bonfire is organized that depicts the triumph of good over evil. The next morning, people get set to play with powdered colours and splash water on each other. Although celebrated across India, Holi assumes a beautiful hue in Mathura and Vrindavan.
When: March 21
Any time is celebration time in Goa and at Shigmo the joy goes up manifold as people remember to salute their intrepid warriors of yore who returned home after months of battle. A street festival now, Shigmo offers a smorgasbord of delightful music and spirited dancing. Attired in vibrant outfits, people walk alongside holding multi-coloured flags and playing large musical instruments. Folk dances such as ‘ghode modni’ and ‘fugdi’, that are an integral part of Goa’s tradition, complete the picture.
When: March 25
Gudi Padwa brings in the New Year for Marathi Hindus. It is believed that Lord Brahma created the universe on this day. One cannot miss seeing a kalash covered with a red or yellow cloth placed upside down near the entrance of homes. Spring cleaning and rangoli patterns that are believed to attract blessings and prosperity are a must. The other essentials are the preparation of prasad made of neem and jaggery, dressing up in new clothes and visiting relatives and friends.
When: March 27
Visitors never cease to be amazed by the colours they get to see in a procession dedicated to Gauri or Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Dressed in all their finery, women carry ghudilas or ornate diyas and earthern idols of the goddess on their heads as they pray that their husband always remains as caring and loving as Shiva. In the evening, the ghudilas are floated on the lake waters – a sight that never fails to mesmerize. Ghewar, a traditional sweet, forms part of a feast prepared at home.
When: March 27-29
The city erupts in a kaleidoscope of colour during this festival that celebrates the valour of Rajput warriors. It not just coincides with the Gangaur celebrations but also offers a dekko into the region’s colourful heritage including traditional folk music and dance shows. Beautiful fireworks light up the evenings.
Konkan Velas Turtle Festival
When: From early March to May
Where: Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
Those fortunate to be at Velas, a small fishing village that lies about 220 kms from Mumbai, at this time can witness a wondrous sight – of hundreds of just-hatched Olive Ridley Turtles emerging from their eggs and taking their first baby steps straight towards the waters of the Arabian Sea. The eggs were laid in the sand by their mothers in November. Home stays are available for those interested in being part of this turtle festival.