A packed cultural calendar: The Indian music and dance festivals you shouldn’t miss


Beneath a gleaming full moon, the Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan Worldwide People Competition) facilitates cross-genre collaborations behind the imposing pink sandstone partitions of the Mehrangarh fort, as soon as the citadel of the Suryavanshi Rathores. Yearly, it performs host not simply to troubadours of the Thar, but in addition to singers and instrumentalists from throughout the globe.

India’s cultural pageant calendar ideally begins by mid-September and ends in early April with Kolkata’s Doverlane and Varanasi’s Sankat Mochan music festivals. Over time, curators, heritage fanatics and organisers have realised the facility and enchantment of the art-architecture-history-nature mix. Temples, palaces, forts, valleys, and the riverside have all been become performing arenas permitting the viewers to concurrently take within the sounds and sights. As for artistes, the unconventional settings encourage them to lend a newness to their artwork. These festivals with their versatile codecs are additionally preferrred areas for forging inventive alliances. Right here, artwork turns into as accessible to the knowledgeable as to a neophyte.

Ziro Competition in Arunachal Pradesh
| Picture Credit score:
Shiv Ahuja

From the West of India journey East to enter the land of the Apatani tribes in Arunachal Pradesh for the Ziro pageant, held in November yearly. Many music lovers pitch tents within the picturesque panorama to partake within the experiments with sound. The just-concluded fest will get the perfect acts from across the nation and overseas.

It feels surreal to hearken to Kabir’s verses seated on a ghat by the Ganga. For, about 500 years in the past, the mystic poet roamed these ghats speaking of affection and compassion. The three-day Mahindra Kabira Competition, held yearly in November (this yr from November 18 to twenty), aside from providing an immersive expertise of life in Benaras, brings collectively classical and sufi musicians and bands to convey the essence of Kabir’s philosophy to new-age audiences.

Mahindra Kabira Festival is held in Varanasi

Mahindra Kabira Competition is held in Varanasi
| Picture Credit score:
Teamwork Arts

Immersive expertise

“That was the aim when we launched the festival in 2016 with the support of the Mahindra group. With each edition, we have realised that those coming to the event are doing so more for the experience. The visitors enjoy the music and literature sessions as much as the heritage walks. Many of them have fallen in love with this ancient city even while rediscovering Kabir,” says Sanjoy Okay. Roy, the curator and managing director of Teamwork Arts, which organises the pageant.

It’s the sound of the ghungroo that brings alive the touristy but quiet city of Konark in Odisha. The grand dance utsav (December 1 to five, 2022), launched in 1986, is held on the sprawling lawns of the magnificient thirteenth century Solar Temple. A pageant that ought to high the bucket record of each Indian classical dance lover, it’s a celebration of arts, historical past and heritage. However simply in case you miss attending this one, Konark additionally performs host to a music and dance pageant in February yearly. Began by late Odissi exponent and guru Gangadhar Pradhan, it’s held within the open-air Natya Mandap (reproduction of the Solar Temple Natyashala), a three-tiered dome-shaped construction with superbly carved sculptures that border the semi-circular stage.

Liberating area

In line with Durga Charan Ranbir, founding father of Nrutyayan, a Bhubaneswar-based Odissi dance establishment, “Realising that art cannot survive in isolated niches and should not be restricted to closed-door auditoriums, Guru Pradhan set up this space. We need more of this kind.”

The Natya Mandap where the Konark Music And Dance festival is held

The Natya Mandap the place the Konark Music And Dance pageant is held
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

With regards to cultural festivals, Odisha tops the chart. The Rajarani pageant on the eleventh century Rajarani mandir close to Bhubaneswar or the Dhauli-Kalinga Mahotsav held on the foothills of the historic Dhauli hills with the peace pagoda serving as a backdrop are an enormous draw too.

After Odisha, the place? Your tradition tour has simply begun. There’s extra to find and luxuriate in. December isn’t just one of many coldest months of the yr, additionally it is probably the most culturally energetic. And, whether it is December, it actually must be vacation spot Chennai. The town with its distinctive ‘sabha’ (performing venues) tradition, attracts hordes of vacationers from world wide to the Margazhi Competition, a grand showcase of classical arts.

Near Chennai is Mamallapuram, the venue for the annual Indian Dance Competition (December 25, 2022 to January 15, 2023). The beautiful rock-cut Pallava Shore Temple stands like a silent sentinel just a few steps away from the open-air stage, firmly re-establishing the hyperlinks with the previous.

Tansen Samaroh at Behat in Gwalior

Tansen Samaroh at Behat in Gwalior
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

In the meantime, those that need to savour music within the seat of one of many common gharanas of Hindustani music can head to Behat village in Gwalior for the Tansen Samaroh. To be held from December 25 to 30, the artistes carry out close to the tomb of Mian Tansen. What started greater than 9 a long time in the past as a celebration of Hindustani music, the samaroh now accommodates worldwide music types in its schedule.

Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan in Jalandhar

Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan in Jalandhar
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

The Sawai Gandharv Bhimsen Mahotsav was began by the legend himself — Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. The 68th version will happen between December 14 and 18, 2022 in Pune. The Punjab gharana has produced many stalwarts, aside from the state being residence to India’s oldest music pageant, the Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan (December 25 to 27, 2022). Nonetheless held in baithak model, dhrupad singing and rendition of raag Bahar are integral to this 146-year-old occasion held in Jalandhar.

December can also be when you may head to Goa for the Serendipity Arts Competition (December 15 to 23, 2022). One of many largest multi-disciplinary occasion, it spans the visible, performing and culinary arts, aside from movies, literature and trend.

Hornbill Festival in Kohima

Hornbill Competition in Kohima
| Picture Credit score:
Getty Pictures

Because the yr attracts to an in depth, it’s arduous to resolve your cultural pitstop. From December 1 to 10, the annual Hornbill pageant takes you into the guts of Nagaland. The heritage village in Kisama (close to Kohima) is the place the numerous Naga tribal communities converge through the pageant to provide guests a slice of their craft, artwork and sporting traditions.

Come January, it’s time to pay obeisance to Tyagaraja, one of many Carnatic Trinity, at Tiruvaiyaru. The Tyagaraja Aradhana brings collectively Carnatic vocalists and instrumentalists in addition to 1000’s of rasikas in attendance.

Sharanya Chandran, daughter of renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran performing at Khajuraho

Sharanya Chandran, daughter of famend Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran acting at Khajuraho
| Picture Credit score:
A.M.FARUQUI

The tradition actions peak once more in February. The Khajuraho dance pageant (February 20 to 26, 2023) was launched 47 years in the past to showcase the classical dance heritage of the nation. It’s held within the precints of the temples that have been constructed by the Chandela Dynasty, and are well-known for his or her intricately carved sculptures. One other fabulous occasion in Madhya Pradesh is the Sacred River Competition (February 4 to six, 2023), which is held on the gigantic Ahilyabai Holkar fort by the Narmada in Maheshwar.

Annually, extra cultural occasions are being added to the already lengthy record. However earlier than we wind up, only a fast journey to Mehrangarh Fort, from the place we started the journey. Expertise the non secular significance of music that transcends geographies and communities on the Sacred Spirit Competition (February 10 to 12, 2023). The purpose of the pageant, like this voyage, is to encourage and awaken the divine in us.

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