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 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 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.
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 organized where some of the most significant spiritual leaders of India will take part. Revered yoga practitioners like Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerth, Swami M.M. Asanganandji, Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Pranav Pandya will be a part of the event too.
When: March 1-7, 2018
Where: Parmarth Niketan Ashram
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 5, 2018
Where: Paripally Kodimootil Sree Bhadrakaali Temple, Kollam district
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: Date yet to be announced
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: March 2, 2018
Where: All over India
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 2018, 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.
When: March 01, 2018
Where: City Palace, Udaipur
In Barsana and Nandgaon towns of Mathura, Holi is celebrated in a unique fashion. Obviously, people celebrate it with colors but along with it lath or bamboo are used by women on the men when they come rushing towards to them to throw water or apply colors. The festivities here are as much fun to watch as they are to partake in. People go so crazy that they start preparing for event a week prior by eating rich food so that they show off their prowess on the Holi battle zone.
When: March 1, 2018
Where: Barsana and Nandgaon, Mathura
Matho Nagrang is a major festival for the people of Leh. Celebrated on the 15th day of Tibet calendar’s first month, it is celebrated for two days with great pomp and show. Mask Dance is performed during which two oracles make an appearance after meditating for two months. They make predictions about future happenings. Locals and people of neighboring villages seek their advice for handling any sort of a problem.
When: March 01 and 02 , 2018
Where: Matho Monastery, Leh
In India society, even the animals are worshiped during the festival. The Elephant Festival, which is celebrated in Jaipur, is the finest example of such reverence. Every year, on the occasion of Holi, Elephant, considered as the deity of Lord Ganesha, is worshiped and even decorated with jhools (saddle clothes) and heavy jewelry. Make a point to attend the procession during which you can see the bedecked elephants, camels, horses, folk dancers and with full of music programs. Elephant polo, Elephant race, and the tug-of-war between Elephant and 19 men and women are the main highlights of the event. At the end of the day, the most decorated elephant is even fecilitated.
When: March 02, 2018
A cultural, spiritual and religious festival of Kerala, Chinakkathoor Pooram is a visual delight. The festival is held every year at the Sree Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple during which you can see 33 decorated tuskers marching. Panchavadyam – the traditional Kerala orchestra – and various art forms are also performed on the street. Tholpavakoothu, a ritualistic shadow puppetry, is another attraction of the festival.
When: March 04, 2018
Where: Chinakkathoor Bhagavathi Temple, Palappuram, Palakkad district
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: Date yet to be announced
Where: Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam district
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 23, 2018
Where: Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, Adoor, Pathanamthitta district
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 2018.
When: March 02, 2018
Where: Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, Adoor, Pathanamthitta district
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.
When: Dates to be announced
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: March 18, 2018
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
While the religious festivals have got the back of March 2018, 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