If your travel plans this winter coincide with any of these 7 amazing festivals, you’re in for a treat!
Winter is coming! Or has it arrived in your part of the country already? Nippy December, offering a respite from the uncertainties of the monsoon and scorching heat of summer, is a great month to travel and explore India. But you can give a miss to the hordes of NRIs and foreigners making their way to popular tourist destinations by taking in, instead, some popular cultural festivals in different parts of the country.
Whether it is the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland or the Rann Utsav of Kutch, vibrant December is alive with celebration. Take your pick of any of these 7 fiestas and include it in your vacation plans!
1. Rann Utsav, Kutch
When: Ongoing till February 20, 2017
Where: Kutch, Gujarat
The white salt flats of the Kutch desert shed their monochrome look and embrace colour during the Rann Utsav or the Kutch Mahotsav festival every winter. The festival, which goes on for a period of three to four months, has already begun in November. Tents have been set up at the edge of the desert and travellers can experience the local culture, cuisine and hospitality of the Kutchi people.
The festival is a sumptuous treat of folk dances and music, adventure sports, handicrafts, food stalls, and excursions to surrounding places. Watch the full moon rise over the expanse of white and come back with memories of a lifetime!
Visit the festival’s official website here.
2. Hornbill Festival, Kohima
When: December 1- December 10, 2016
Where: Kohima, Nagaland
The annual celebration at the Naga Heritage Village Kisama near Kohima is one of the most spirited in the country.
Named after the colourful Indian Hornbill found in the north eastern part of India, the festival aims to revive and conserve the local culture of Nagaland and display its rich traditions to the outside world.
Besides the exotic food and music on offer, Naga wrestling and traditional archery are the two highlights of the Hornbill Festival.
To know more about the festivities, click here.
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3. Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, Pune
When: December 7- December 11, 2016
The Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav has been celebrating Hindustani classical music for the last six decades. It was started by Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi in memory of Pandit Sawai Gandharva. This festival has offered up the stage to numerous musical legends like Kishori Amonkar, Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Ustad Zakir Husain, and more in the past.
This year, the 64th edition of this musical extravaganza will feature artistes like vocalists Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra, Prabha Atre, and Pandit Jasraj; violinists Dr. L. Subramaniam and Ambi Subramaniam; and sarod players Amjad Ali Khan, and Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash.
To know more about the festival, visit the official website here.
4. Galdan Namchot, Leh
When: December 23, 2016
Galdan Namchot is celebrated in Leh to observe the birthday and the Buddhahood of the Tibetan saint and scholar Tsongkhapa, who founded the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism during the 14th century. The socio-religious festival sees the illumination of all public as well as residential buildings throughout the town!
Namchot sets off the New Year celebrations in Ladakh, which continue till the festivals of Dosmoche and Losar in February.
During Galdan Namchot, the locals prepare different kinds of traditional dishes. The New Year is welcomed by performers creating a brilliant play of light and fire by whirling flaming torches in the air and then throwing them away.
To know more about this festival, you can visit this link.
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5. Perumthitta Tharavad Kottamkuzhy, Kerala
When: December 6- December 15, 2016
Where: Kasaragod, Kerala
Theyyam is a collection of several ritual dance forms of Kerala, performed in houses and shrines in Kasaragod. The 10-day long Theyyam festival at the temple of Perumthitta Tharavad Kottamkuzhy is one of the most prominent in Kerala.
The dances present several mythological and historical characters to the audience. The performers don the role of heroes and ancestral spirits and induce a sense of awe among the onlookers. There are many different Theyyams – like Elayoor Theyyam, Chamundi Theyyam, Panchoorla Theyyam, and Muthor Theyyam.
To know more about the festival, click here.
6. Poush Mela, Santiniketan
When: December 23– December 26, 2016
Where: Santiniketan, West Bengal
Poush Mela is held every year for three days in Santiniketan, the town established by Rabindranath Tagore in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Celebrating the harvest season with music, the festival is a treat for connoisseurs of folk music.
The highlight of the festival is performances of Baul music. The mela also features numerous local textiles and handicrafts as well as activities like dance and tribal sports.
To know more about Poush Mela, click here.
7. The Winter Festival, Mount Abu
When: December 29- December 30, 2016
Where: Mt. Abu, Rajasthan
The Winter Festival is an annual event at Mount Abu, organised by the Rajasthan Tourism and Municipal Board in the last week of December.
The colourful festival offers a cultural treat with traditional dancing, concerts, poetry readings, and fairs, along with a brilliant fireworks display. Performances of Sufi Kathak and folk dances like Daph, Ghoomar and Gair, and sports such as kite-flying, hot air ballooning, cricket, and gilli danda, are among the highlights of the festival.
To know more about the festival, you can visit the official website here.