March 2016: Fairs, Festivals and Events Guide
The month of colours, joy and unbound merry making, March is the time for India’s most vibrant festival Holi. Celebrated across the country by different names this extravagant festival brings unlimited joy to the life of the Indian people and is an invitation to all the fun-loving travellers to come and see the India drenched in a riot of colours. In fact, we believe with all our heart that March is the best time to plan a visit to India as this month pockets extreme fun and joy with the celebration of many festivals that involve exclusive folk dances, feasts, and rural music and much more. You also have the opportunity to witness celebrations like Chapchar Kut, Gangaur or Gudi Padwa that offers a glimpse of lively India and introduces you to an India that you have not read on the pages of your printed guide books. This March, be a part of the roots of age old customs and rites performed in the rural parts of the country, which are more lucid and are a part and parcel of the unparalleled faith in India. So, in case you are planning for a trip to India this March and are not yet decided what to see and explore, this blog will help you chalk out a plan to see India at its best:
Uthralikavu Pooram, Kerala
An ideal way to give a good start to the travel month March 2016 in India is to visit Kerala. The state is seen grooving to the beats of spring season and is seen celebrating number of festivals in March. One such festival in Kerala can be witnessed in Thrissur district. Uthralikavu Pooram is a temple festival that is dedicated to Goddess Kali. In the evening, Sree Ruthira Mahakalikavu Temple in Vadakkancherry glows with the adornment of string lights. Rituals and folk art performances under traditional temple lamps and an all night elephant pageant, backed by traditional drumming are the highlights of this event in Kerala. Also, a huge firework display at around 4 A.M further enhances the charm of this festival.
When: March 1, 2016
Where: Sree Ruthira Mahakalikavu Temple in Vadakkancherry, Thrissur District
International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh
The only one of its kind in India, International Yoga Festival is going to commence in Rishikesh, the Yoga Capital of India. Located on the banks of the holy Ganges, Paramartha Niketan is the commencement spot of this festival. Participants from around 30 countries of the world will attend this exclusive event where the renowned Yoga scholars of the world will be taking special classes. Special discussion sessions are organised where some of the most significant spiritual leaders of India will take part. The attraction of the event will be the vegetarian cooking classes.
When to Visit: 1st to 7th March, 2016
Paripally Gajamela, Kerala
Reckoned to be Kerala’s most imposing festival, Paripally Gajamela further adds to the joy of the months of March in India. As the name suggests, in Paripally Gajamela as many as 50 decorated elephants are featured as the part of the rituals. These richly decorated elephants are the symbolic ritual offerings to the Goddess who is then asked to shower prosperity. Several cultural programmes are also arranged during the event in the temple’s premises. The get-together of the elephants takes place on the last day of this ten-day festival.
When: March 6, 2016
Where: Paripally Kodimootil Sree Bhadrakaali Temple, Kollam district
Basanta Utsav, West Bengal
You must have attended Holi in different parts of the country, but if you haven’t explored Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan, then you have missed the real charm. Musical, rhythmic and traditional Dol Utsav (Holi) is celebrated in the premises of Shantiniketan, the Ashrama set up by Rabindranath Tagore in Birbhum District of West Bengal. A two day celebration of which include festivities like heartfelt folk songs, dance and smearing of Abir (coloured powder), the event turns out to be the heart-winner of the culture-loving tourists and free souls. The best part of attending this festival of colours is the opportunity to participate in the queue of students dancing on the ground wearing Palash flower garlands and jewellery.
When to Visit: 4th to 6th March, 2016
Celebrated across the country, Maha Shivratri is the festival of Hindu God Shiva. Literally meaning the Great Night of Shiva is believed to be when Lord Shiva performed his cosmic dance Tandava. Shiva, who is considered to be the source of cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction, has ardent devotees all around the world who maintain vigil at nights in the varied Shiva Temples. Devotees are witnessed fasting, taking bath in the Ganges, offering prayers in the temples and singing devotional songs on Maha Shivratri.
When: March 7, 2016
Where: All over India
Thirunakkara Arattu, Kerala
Kerala celebrates another festival in the month of March. Thirunakkara Arattu is a 10-day festival that is observed in the Kottayam district of Kerala. A temple festival, it is celebrated at Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple with pomp and show. Like many other temple festivals in Kerala, at Thirunakkara Arattu, a procession of elephants can also be seen. Accompanied by the drummers and performers, nine elephants are used for taking the temple gods for bathing. The highlights however of the festival are traditional Kathakali dancers, which perform all through the night on the third and fourth days of the festival, and folk arts such as the Mayilattom (peacock dance) in the temple compound.
When: March 14-23, 2016
Where: Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam district
Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival
March 2016 will also be an opportunity to witness unique festivities in India and The Jodhpur Flamenco (Spanish Dance) and Gypsy Festival is just that. Celebrated with an aim to cement the ties between two distinguished folk cultures, the festival came into being. It is a three-day festival that will bring the very best of Flamenco traditions along with the gypsy culture. The festival seems promising enough to become one of the best events to attend in India in the month of March.
When: March 18-20, 2016
Where: Mehrangarh Fort
Arattupuzha Pooram, Kerala
Be the part of another lively temple festival in Kerala. Known for its large elephant procession, Arattupuzha Pooram is celebrated in one of the oldest temples of Kerala. A pageant of 60 elephants bearing the silk parasols is what one is likely to witness during this festival. Soaked in spirituality, the devotees during the festival worship Lord Ayyappa. The legend has it that the neighbouring 101 gods and goddesses visit Lord Ayyappa during the time of festival.
When: March 22, 2016
Where: Arattupuzha Temple, in the Thrissur district
Holi, Across the Country
The festival of dazzling colours and immense joy, Holi signifies the triumph of good over evil. One of the major festivals of India, it is celebrated across the country with great pomp and show with slight variation in its rituals. The day before Holi is celebrated as Choti Holi in the northern part of India where the effigy of Holika demoness is burnt. The second day is celebrated with extreme level of fun with people smearing gulal on each other. The best places to witness Holi in India are Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh where people celebrate Holi with flowers. However, Holi in Mathura and Jaipur also exhibit great flamboyancy to mesmerise the foreign tourists. But, if you are planning to enjoy Holi without knowing any bound then Pushkar in Rajasthan should be your pick.
When to Visit: 22 and 23 March, 2016
Eternal Mewar Holika Dahan, Rajasthan
What if we tell you that you can celebrate this year’s Holi with the King of Mewar? No, we aren’t being smoking grass, we know our facts right. On the Holi’s eve people light bonfires to mark the occasion and ward off evil spirits in a ritual called Holika Dahan. In March 2016, you can celebrate Holi at City Palace with the king of Mewar and be a part of an unforgettable regal experience. There will be a palace procession from the royal residence to Manek Chowk, which will feature bedecked horses and royal band. Later the traditional sacred fire will be lit and an effigy of Holika shall be burnt.
Note: One would require pass to be part of this event.
When: March 23, 2016
Where: City Palace, Udaipur
Malanada Kettukazcha, Kerala
Be a part of the vivacious procession at the Malanada Kettukazcha in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. Held in the month of March, this festival is more like a cultural carnival in which decorated structures are carried in procession accompanied by a traditional orchestra of drums. Some of the structures brought to this festival are 70 to 80 feet tall. They’re competitively designed by people of the surrounding villages and are either carried on people’s shoulders or taken out on chariots. What makes this festival stand apart from other festivals in Kerala and across India is here the deity worshipped is that of Duryodhana, the antagonist in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Not just this; the temple doesn’t have an idol or a sanctum sanctorum.
When: March 25, 2016
Where: Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, Adoor, Pathanamthitta district
Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Music Festival, Himachal
Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Music Festival (KRBF) is an annual music festival held in Kasauli, Himachal at Baikunth Resort mostly in the month of March. This 3-day Music Festival was conceived by Genesis Foundation in 2012 with a view to expand its community of donors and well-wishers. Believing strongly that music is a positive force in the creation of change, the Foundation created an event in which upcoming artistes from India’s diverse pool of musical talent perform to support the critically ill under-privileged and orphan children. Music lovers are asked to contribute for the cause by simply doing what they love – listening to music! Here’s to humanity and the love of music, you would be glad to know that 100% of fund raised through this event is dedicated towards treatment of critically ill children as all overhead costs are borne by the trustees.
When: March 25-27, 2016
Where: Baikunth Resort, Kasauli
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Chapchar Festival, Mizoram
The festival of spring, dedicated to dance, music and merry making, Chapchar Kut is the celebration of the Mizos and takes place in the North-Eastern state of Mizoram. The most colourful festival of the state, this festival involves participation of people of all age groups wearing gaudy jewellery and traditional clothes. Young folks perform folk dances which are accompanied by the beating of drums, gongs and cymbals. Cheraw or Bamboo Dance is one such item to be witnessed in this festival which is specific to the North-East India. So, in case you want to taste the flavour of North-Eastern dance and music, do attend the Chapchar Festival 2016.
When to Visit: 1 March
The festival of colours, love and joy, Shigmotsav or Shishirotsava is the carnival of welcoming spring with flying colours in Goa. A weeklong celebration that starts on the 5th day of Falgun (Hindu calendar) it continues till the full moon day. The 5th day of the festival is known as Rang Panchami when people wearing colourful traditional dresses assemble near the village temples. They carry red spotted flags, torans with them and go out for procession across the roads of the Goan village. People smear red powder on each other and thus Shigmo is rightly called the Goan version of Holi. The most attractive part of the rallies organised during Shigmo is the horse dance which involves the participation of men being decked as horses.
Gudi Padwa, South India
The festival of religious rites, fun and feasts, Gudi Padwa is celebrated on the eve of Hindu New Year. It is the day when Lord Brahma created this world; thus the believers perform several sacred rites wishing for their well being in the upcoming days. The festival starts with a ceremonial bath followed by decorating the doorways to the house with toran. The festival involves several ritualistic activities among which having a special mixture of neem and sweet jaggery is significant. A special dish called Obbattu or Holige is made in Karnataka on the occasion of Gudi Padwa.
When to Attend: 22nd March
March is the best month to explore North East part of India. Since, the month is also the object of celebration in the region; one may get opportunities to witness some of the best tribal festivals in India. March is perfect to enjoy festival like Myoko in the Ziro Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. Celebrated by the Apatani Tribe, the celebration of Myoko includes rituals for prosperity, fertility, purification and sacrifice performed by the village shaman or priest, and several interesting folk performances and processions.
When: Yet to be Announced
Where: Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Konkan Turtle Festival, Maharashtra
While the religious festivals have got the back of March 2016, there are still some unconventional events lined up in the month as well. Far from the pomp and show is the stretch of Konkan, where celebration can be witnessed as well but the reason is entirely different. In the month March, the nature lovers in India have the opportunity to see newly hatched, endangered Olive Ridley turtles take their first march into the sea at the annual Turtle Festival. Along with this one of a kind event, one has the chance to sample traditional Indian village life by stopping over at local homestays in the area.
When: Dates Yet to be Announced
Where: Velas village, Ratnagiri
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