Unity cannot exists without diversity as it is the natural urge of a human to not only find expression for its own identity but, seek the same through the many ways life manifests across the world. Certainly, this land has recognized these million aspirations as you see its blooming and busting into pure ecstasy in the form of festivals. Certainly, the Indian subcontinent has a festival dedicated to each day of your life. It not only celebrates the relationship that we have as humans with the creator but, with every animate and inanimate things on this planet from turtles, Snakes, prophecies to myths, whether it is puppets, yoga, quirky versions of Holi and one too many elephant festivals, we celebrate life wholesome and inclusive. Together, we welcome spring this March as various parts of the country, celebrates in their own way, hue, language, versions, heritage and traditions.
1. International Yoga Festival
When: March 1st-7th
Where: Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Though a Global event now initiated by our present Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi celebrated all across the world for better health and spiritual unity you can just experience the pure bliss by the banks of the Ganges to its utter magnitude, at the birthplace of Yoga celebrated for over a week, IYF sees beginners, seekers, explorers, Yoga trainers and experts from all global platforms, submit to this common goal of universalism. In the morning chants to the Ganga Arti, saints and sadhus pour all the knowledge they have gathered for the sheer welfare of the human kind in establishing Yoga,’ the union between yourself with your absolute self. It gives you the opportunity to witness how Rishikesh effortlessly turns from a religious hub to a cluster of gathering sites, cafes outlined by a hushed hippie culture, all adding there bit to this international event part by part as Holi peeps in only to add more color to the already playing symphony.
2. Lathmar Holi
When: March 18th – 19th
Where: Barsana, near Mathura, UP
As the legend goes Krishna, went to Radha’s village to tease her, and was chased away by the Gopinis(women) of Barsana, which today also host the only temple dedicated to Radha Rani. Hence, Holi here is celebrated not just as a festival of colors, but as an epitome of cultural triumph were women were independent to decide to reject even the God while the God is bound to listen and follow. The present tradition follows with women playfully hitting men with sticks, while the men cover their head and try to seek their attention by singing songs to ask forgiveness for any wrong they did to them and at the same time tease them. Of the countless versions of Holi that there are, this one is not to be missed to witness this amazing culture ladies!
3. Chinakkathoor Pooram
When: Feb 22nd
Where: Chinakkathoor Bhagavati Temple, Palakkad, Kerala
Gaja the animal of Knowledge, perseverance and a symbol to endurance in the hardest of times is the Celebrity in this festival. Entering in sparkling and extravagant fasion the elephants walk in processions like royalty itself, followed by a ritualistic shadow puppet show, Kerala orchestra and countless art and cultural practices that showcases our history and heritage both. Here is where the fun begins as if you stay another 4 days you will witness the state’s popular elephant festival, Paripally Gajamela.
4. Jaipur Elephant Festival
When: 22nd March
Where: Jaipur, Rajasthan
For a March, which apparently sees elephant festivals marked all over the month here is another colorful, grand and glittering one, just before the Holi. Though now it has stumble over multiple animal rights groups and has also been cancelled due to the same in the past. May, be with revival of the holistic Hindu view to safeguard and conservation of these wonderful life forms this tradition could get a complete restoration. Make sure you check with the proper authorities before planning your trip around this one.
5. Konkan Turtle Festival
When: Depends on the egg hatching period.
Do a little homework to look out from March beginning to about 20th of March. The viewing of the festival will happen in Batches starting from 27th Feb and go on till the 10th of April.
Where: Velas Beach, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
We Indians are good in creating Festivals of which this is the most recent example. Like our ancestors did to create everything that is endangered holly to bring acceptance and reverence for that creature within, the Government of India as part of a conservation programme, started this one of the cutest and most unique festival in March, the Konkan Turtle festival, where you can watch tiny, rare and highly endangered Olive Ridley turtle babies, as they hatch and make their first step towards the grand world of the sea. There are usually 4 batches in which you can visit this one. The dates seem to vary immensely, since they are hard to predict accurately when the eggs would hatch, so you will need to stalk the websites and lines a bit for the exact dates, but it will be absolutely worth it.
6. Oracle Matho Narang Festival
When: End of February
Where: Matho Monastery, 26 kms from Ladakh
While Matho Monastery may not be your first choice to make your trip to Ladakh, in March, when it celebrates its annual Matho Narang Festival, something it’s identified with, it certainly is then that is not to be missed. Among the many ceremonies of the Festiva, in one of which two oracles generally chosen monks who enters into a trans meditative state, then predicts the future of the village and inhabitants. The festival if followed by dances with ceremonial masks portraying triumph of the God over the Evil, Tibetian Thangka paintings are spell bound beautiful with monks performing amazing skills.
When: 2nd week of March, 2016
All across the world and in every culture celebrate change, whether it is in the form of life or in nature and so in Goa, Shigmotsav is just another specimen of the extended and eternal party and celebration for changing season with spectacular treat to your life experience of local dances, parades, drums and all you need to make the warmer side of calendar feel welcomed.
8. Ajanta Ellora Dance Festival
When: March 2016
Where: Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Another new initiation to the family of festival in India, this one is to conserve and equally celebrate classical dance forms and music of this sub-continent, to which an equally enchanting backdrop of the caves and closeby monuments adds to, as well as a whopping 300 stalls to local arts and crafts. Adding to the options of variety and the learning opportunity it provides Rangoli, Mehndi, Essay, Cookery and many more such competitions also find themselves on the schedule during the festival period.
9. Godwar Festival
When: 8th – 9th April
Where: Pali, Rajasthan
Its like watching the entire Rajasthan and the many colors it exhibits inside a cinema scope just that everything that is happening here is real and on a real time basis. A bit of everything, this one starts with folk dances and traditional Rajasthani music, various art and craft form are not kept distinguished, to turban tying competitions and various local sports all the way to wildlife safaris and horse & camel riding competitions this festival offers more than one can probably digest in one time.
10. Mewar Spring Festival
When: 1st week of April
Where: Udaipur, Rajasthan
In Udaipur welcome Summers as you lets go off winters and steps into spring with the Mewari festival which is essentially a procession of women, who carry images of Goddess Gauri to Lake Pichola, marked by colors, festivity, folk song/ dances as well as traditional fireworks. This is also the time when Gangaur is being celebrated all over Rajasthan, defined by similar traditions, making the state quite the center of all festivity.
11. Hoysala Mahotsav
When: Last week of March
Where: Belur-Halebid, Karnataka
The dance festival is held in March at the magnificent Hoysala era temples at Belur and Halebid in Karnataka is a one day celebration of Indian culture and heritage. The splendid Hoysala temples relives its lost era with all the sculptural monuments becoming alive with famous artists blowing life into the entire sanctum making it the perfect venue for this cultural feast. Performing artistes of classical streams from across India participate in this one-day event – some of the most celebrated artists like Hema Malini, Sudha Chandran, Shobhana.