March in India, is the month of Holi, the festival of colours as well as the Gajamela at Kollam and much more. Here is a list of festivals that are a must for one trying to absorb the ambience of this vast country.
When: March 3, 2017
The annual harvest festival of Mizoram, Chapchar Kut observes the advent of spring. This is the most important festival of the Mizos and they dress up in all their finery for the occasion. The event is marked by traditional dance performances.
When: March 5, 2017
Where: Kodimootil Sree Bhadrakaali Temple in Parippally, Kollam district, Kerala
An annual elephant parade involving more than 50 brightly decorated elephants is the highlight of this festival held in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala. The festival lasts for 10 days and the elephants are parade out on the 10th day to appease the Goddess Bhadrakaali. Several cultural programs are organised in the temple’s premises as well.
When: March 11, 2017
Where: Chinakkathoor Bhagavathi Temple in Palappuram, Palakkad district, Kerala
The annual temple festival is famous for presenting the famous art forms of Kerala like Vellattu, Theyyam, Poothanum Thirayum and Kaalavela to name a few. Tholpavakoothu, a ritualistic shadow puppetry, is another attraction of the festival. The highlight is a procession of 33 beautifully decorated tuskers parading before the Goddess.
When: March 11, 2017
Where: Attukal Bhagavathi Temple, Trivandrum, Kerala
Women get together on this day to cook up offerings for the Goddess. The festival is the largest gathering of women anywhere in the world for religious activity. More than a million women participate in the festival. It is indeed a sight to see all of them cook their offerings to the Goddess.
When: March 11 - March 12, 2017
Where: Matho Monastery, Leh
The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the Tibetan Calendar. The Matho monastery belongs to the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. The festival is marked by the arrival of two oracles, after a full month spent meditating in isolation. The oracles come out with predictions for the year ahead and are sought out for advice by the people. The festival also hosts dance performances by the monks wearing colourful robes and various masks depicting the forms of Gods and Goddesses.
When: March 12, 2017
Where: Barsana and Nandgaon, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
The Lath Mar Holi celebrations are unique to Barsana and Nandgaon regions. The women arm themselves with bamboo sticks and try to beat up any male member who tries to throw water or apply colour on them. This unique ritual has enthusiastic participation from the locals as well as the tourists.
When: March 12, 2017.
Where: City Palace, Udaipur, Rajasthan
The royal family of Mewar light bonfires to ward off the evil spirits on the eve of Holi in a ritual called Holika Dahan. The royal family takes out a procession of decorated horses and the royal band from the royal residence to Manek Chowk. This is followed by the ritual of Holika Dahan.
When: March 13, 2017
Where: Most parts of India except the South.
Holi, the festival of colours, brings with it a sense of immense joy and sharing. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil. It is also a day for the people to let go of all their troubles and become kids again, if only for a day. The best places to enjoy this festival would be Vrindavan and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, Jaipur, Udaipur and Pushkar in Rajasthan, the Hola Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib and Hampi in Karnataka.
The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore introduced the festival in Shantiniketan in the form of Basant Utsav. The students put on a cultural program that is a great hit with the locals and tourists alike. A 3 day Basant Utsav in the form of a folk festival is organised by the villagers of Purulia district of West Bengal. The festival attracts a gathering of famous folk artists. One gets to listen to the artists as well as interact with them in a relaxed rural environment.
When: March 13, 2017
Where: Jaipur, Rajasthan
The festival is held in honour of the Indian elephant and it is the star of the show. The elephants are brought out in all their finery, colourful rugs, delicately embroidered velvet cloth with their bodies painted in bright colours and beautiful designs. Elephant polo and elephants races are some of the events organised to show case the power of these mighty beasts.
When: March 24, 2017
Where: Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, Adoor, Pathanamthitta district, Kerala
The annual Mallakuda festival held in honour of Duryodhana of the Mahabharata is one of its kind in the country. The temple does not have either an idol or a sanctum sanctorum. The people of the surrounding villages build structures some as tall as 70 feet. These are decorated and carried in a procession accompanied by the traditional orchestra of Kerala. Cultural programs are held as a part of the festivities as well.
When: March 24 – April 07, 2017
Shigmo is one of the biggest festivals of Goa. Goans come out decked in all their finery accompany huge floats that parade through the streets. This street festival is full of colours, music and dance. On the 5th day of the festivities, people wear colourful traditional costumes and come to local village temples. People then smear red powder on each other. This is one aspect of Goa that no tourist should miss.
When: March 27, 2017
Where: All over India
Easter, the day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ also marks the end of Lent. The Panjim Church of Mary Immaculate Conception celebrates with a beautiful procession.
The great Vigil of Easter, also known as the Paschal Vigil, is observed in most churches of the North Eastern States that begins at sunset on Holy Saturday and goes through until sunrise on Easter Sunday. Members of the Catholic Church break their wee-long fast to celebrate the resurrection of Christ while the Salvation Army band party plays ‘He’s Risen’ in Aizawl, Kohima and several other places in the Northeast.