India is a vibrant country that blends culture, traditions and religious events with fervour and they celebrate their festivals with passion and vigour. With several religions thriving in the country, each festival has its unique style of celebration and traditions. March in India is the onset of the spring season, arriving with vivid colours of the landscapes across the vast expanse of India.
This month is not just known for the country’s beautiful nature, it also has several festivals that heighten the festivity of the season. Despite the traditions or the religious aspects of the festivals, these are celebrated with great pomp and happiness. While the mild breeze reminds you of the winter season, the mellow sun rays welcome the summer. Below are some of the significant March festivals in India that you don’t want to miss.
International Yoga Festival:
Date: 01-07 March 2019
Place: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Yoga is a form of practice in search of the union of mind, body and soul with the divine. Considered as an ancient science, Yoga is a form of communication that strives to connect you to the spiritual realm. Several ashrams located in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, organise the annual week-long International Yoga Festival. During the festival, demonstrations of various forms of Yoga styles and asanas are performed and demonstrated on the banks of river Ganga. While you’re in Rishikesh, you could also treat yourself to some adventure sports such as river rafting, trekking, camping and several other exciting activities.
Paripally Gajamela – The Festival of Elephants:
Date: 4 March 2019
Place: Paripally Kodimootil Sree Bhadrakali Temple, Kollam, Kerala
Paripally Gajemela is a celebration of elephants by the people who consider the humble animal, a significant part of temple rituals. During this 10-day festival, held in the Kollam district of Kerala, elephants are beautifully decorated in with colourful fabrics and ornaments. In India, elephants are worshipped, and they are an integral part of a temple. The annual event is held in Kodimootil Sree Bhadrakali temple at Paripally. Mahouts sit atop elephants holding a colourful muthukuda (silk parasols/ umbrella), aalavattom (peacock feather fans), and venchamaram (white tufts).
The festival, in honour of Goddess Bhadrakali, usually takes place during the Gregorian calendar of February-March or the month of Kumbham as per the Hindu Lunar calendar. On the final day of the festival, a procession of elegantly decorated elephants is not complete without the Thalappoli, where women wear traditional attire and hold decoration of lamps. The day before this, one can witness devotees piercing metal rods to their skin, representing bali or sacrifice, the ritual is known as Kuthiyottam.
Apart from these celebrations, you will be treated to an enthusiastic musical session of percussion instruments when artists electrify the atmosphere with vibrant beats. The festival is celebrated with the message of togetherness, faith and devotion.
Date: 21 March 2019
Place: All over India
Better known as the festival of colours, Holi is celebrated not just across India but across the world. People splash colour and spray coloured water with water guns or throw a balloon filled with coloured water. In India, the festival of Holi begins with the lighting of a bonfire, called the Holika Dahan, signifying the victory of good over evil. The city of Udaipur, located in the state of Rajasthan, is one of the best places to visit during Holi, especially the city palace. The royal family of Udaipur undertakes a procession starting from their royal residence and traverses across the city.
When in Rajasthan on the occasion of Holi, you could also visit Jaipur which hosts the Jaipur Elephant Festival. The festival is dedicated to the Indian deity Lord Ganesha, the elephant god. Elephants are decorated with ornaments and colourful fabrics and take part in a large procession.
Date: 22-24 March 2019
Place: Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
Hola Mohalla is one of the biggest festivals for Sikhs in India and across the globe. The festival falls during the month of March, a day after Holi is celebrated. Traditionally celebrated over three days, Hola Mohalla is held in Hola at Anandpur Sahib. However, participants attend the event for a week, camping out enjoying the vibrant display of fighting prowess and bravery. Also, you can listen to Kirtan, a form of reciting an idea of a story, music or poetry.
From the loud beat of ‘dhols’ or drums, you will be treated to bright new clothes worn by children, women and men. For seven days, Sikhs display their martial skills exclusive to their community. Among the prominent members of the Hola Mohalla are the Nihang Sikhs, known for the bright blue traditional robes and headgears, often embellished with traditional ornaments.
Date: 02-05 March 2019
Place: Several Places of Goa
The Goa carnival is one of the smallest celebrations of the carnival festivals observed across the world. However, in India, it’s the largest and considered to be one of the few carnivals celebrated across Asia. The festival is a riot of colours with grand processions, dance and music along with great Goan cuisine to tingle your taste buds.
The processions run through the city of Panjim as well as other cities featuring creative floats, horse-drawn carriages and decorated bullock carts highlighting the significance of the Goan carnival. Revellers wear masks and costumes usually accompanied by electrifying live music and parades. The Goa Carnival ends with Red and Black dance and the crowning of King Momo. The closure of the festival marks the beginning of the period of Lent when Christians abstain from consuming meat and alcohol.
Peruvanam and Arattupuzha Pooram:
Date: 16-19 March 2019
Place: Thrissur, Kerala
The Peruvanam Pooram is one of the oldest festivals in the world, considered to be as old as 1400 years. The festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is hosted by the Peruvanam Temple in Cherpu, Kerala. The ambience and charm of the temple is a sight to behold attracting tourists from across the globe. It’s believed that the present Sree Kovil (sanctum sanctorum) was originally a tree where Lord Shiva meditated. The day is marked with a procession carrying the idol atop a decorated elephant, which is accompanied by six other tuskers. Over the years, the festival is evolved and has witnessed a resurgence in the form of two poorams – Peruvanam and Arattupuzha.
The Arattupuzha Pooram is considered as the oldest pooram (temple festival) in the state of Kerala. The festival is held at the Sree Sastha Temple in Thrissur for a period of seven days. Devotees believe that at this gathering, all gods and goddesses come together. More than 20 deities from different temples in Thrissur are brought and worshipped. People of Kerala believe that Arattupuzha Pooram is the mother of all poorams, and people from different parts of Kerala represent a wide variety of traditions. The atmosphere is filled with enthusiastic beats of drums and the music from Kuzhal (wind instrument) dominates the festival. At the end of the ceremony, the idols are immersed marking the end of the festival.