From being drenched in kaleidoscopic colours of Holi to celebrating the zenith of the Spring in Chichen Itza in Mexico, these upcoming festivals in March are the best way to celebrate the season of joy
The Winter has bid adieu and a new season is just round the corner. In traditional cultures, this is the time when people celebrate their last season’s harvest and pray for bumper crop next year. While Indians celebrate Holi, the festival of colour, to mark the triumph of the good over evil, in Western cultures, people break their six-week-long Lent fast to celebrate Easter, which symbolises the resurrection of Jesus. Here’s a list of top Spring festivals from round the world which you cannot miss.
Holi, March 20
The Hindu festival of Holi is celebrated across large parts of North India and Nepal. Popularly known as the festival of colour, the festival marks the end of Winter and the advent of Spring. It also symbolises the triumph of good over evil and gives the participants to observe a day of celebration and drunken revelry, when restrictive societal norms are loosed up a bit. In North India, people get to streets throwing powered colours and water colour-filled balloons at unsuspecting travellers. Edible preparations of Cannabis, such as bhang-filled smoothies and shakes, ladoos, gujiyas and malpuas (traditional Indian sweet preparations) are served. People celebrate with Holi songs, often chartbusters from Bollywood movies, and young revellers get a chance to mix with one another freely. Sometimes, in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, restrictive caste norms are relaxed and lower-caste women beat up upper-caste men with brooms and sticks. The festival gets its name from the mythological slaying of the devil Holika by Hindu god Vishnu to save his devotee Prahlad. This is a great time to visit North India, when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold. It is sunny and warm, with just the right temperature, to allow you to celebrate outside with the local crowd.
Goa Carnival, March 2-5
Immerse yourself in the colonial Portuguese culture with the Goa Carnival. If your pocket does not allow you to sway to the tunes of Samba in Rio Carnival, then this festival is probably your next best option. The colourful Goa Carnival was started by the Portuguese way back in the 18th century. Dancers, floats, day-long colourful parades mark the festival. The festival ends with a Red-and-Black Dance celebration in Panaji, where colour-coordinated dancers sway their hips to local songs. The local delicacies, especially the seafood for which Goa is well-known, are just too good to be given a miss. A visit to the Carnival is a must when you are in this part of the country.
Rajasthan Festival, March 30
Organised by the Tourism department of the state, the Rajasthan Festival celebrates the Foundation Day of the state. Radiant, regal and resplendent, the festival celebrates the regal heritage of the state in all its multihued vibrancy. The nerve centre of the all the activities is Jaipur, where you will get to enjoy vibrant dances, musical concerts, captivating film festivals, army pageant, police tattoo show and many other unique activities.
Capetown International Jazz Festival, March 31
If you are a lover of music, especially Jazz, you cannot afford to miss the international Jazz festival in Capetown. It is the largest music festival in Sub-Saharan Africa and attracts over 37,000 visitors every year to the city. Over a period of two days, some of the greatest living jazz musicians gather in the city to celebrate this sophisticated music form in all its glory. There is also a photographic festival that happens every year on the sidelines of the festival. Experts say, this is a great time to visit Cape Town, since, believe it or not, it is autumn in Cape Town at this time of the year. The trees turn into various shades of red, orange and gold, while the weather is warm and mellow, just like it is in Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. If you can take out time from the Jazz festival do pay a visit to the vineyards of Constantina Valley and Stellenbosch area.
Othara Patayani, March 15
Othara Patayani is a 10-day-long festival that is dedicated to Puthukulangara Devi and is held annually in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. The festival is a celebration of Patayani, a vibrant ritual art form of Kerala. If you are a lover of traditional ritual performances, this festival is tailor-made for you. One of the striking highlights of this festival is the appearance of the Bhairavi Kolam (a traditional dancer wearing a ritualistic mask dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali) which is made of 1001 painted areca nut fronds. This makes for a spectacular event during the festival. The Patayani performance starts with the beating of the Thappu drums, a Patayani percussion instrument, creating a great acoustic atmosphere. This is followed by rituals such as Pula dance and Thavadi. Following this all the kolams get ready for the dance that is the hightlight of the festival. A ritual steeped in local tradition and culture, this festival should surely be on your bucket list.
Bali Spirit Festival, March 19-26
A new entrant in the festival calendar, this celebration of dance, music, yoga and wellness is now in its eighth year. The festival takes place in Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali, where international yoga teachers come for conducting seminars, workshops, talks and lectures. Art installations, art works of renowned artists are showcased, as the city virtually turns into an art gallery. Come night, the city streets turn into concert halls, where music lovers gather to sway to the tunes of internationally famous musicians who take the centre stage.
Grape Harvest Festival, March
In the Mendoza province of Argentina, the wine growers of this region all come together to celebrate grape harvest for the preparation of wine. The festival dates back to the 1930s and today, it is a major tourist attraction bringing in hordes of tourists every year. More than 20,000 revellers participate in the event, which is marked by colourful parades, vibrant songs and dances and the availability of delicious local wine. In the evening, a stunning music and dance event takes places at the foot hills of the Andes in Mendoza in which dancers and musicians perform at a stunning decorated stage — the whole performance is indeed a sight to behold.
Spring Equinox, March 19-22
Equinox means equal nights. It celebrates the zenith of Spring in the cycle of Seasons. The ancient Mayan civilisation understood this natural astronomical phenomenon and observed it as a festival. Witness the power of Mayan astronomical accuracy at the Temple of Dolls in Dzibilchaltun and the descent of the Feathered Serpent Shadow (Mayan term from a light and shadow play in the sky) at the great pyramid of Chichen Itza. The light and shadow of late afternoon creates an illusion that a great serpent is slithering down the steps of the Pyramid until it reaches the snake-head sculpture of the serpent god Kukulean.
Easter Sunday, April 21
Easter, with its overall ritualistic importance, officially marks the end of Spring and the beginning of hot summer months. Although technically it is not a March festival, it does find an honourable mention in the list of Spring holidays. Symbolising the resurrection of Jesus, it is marked by scrumptious Sunday lunch with family, egg hunting and of course the presence of Easter Bunny, a folkloric Pagan figure, originating in Germany, that is today loved by all children.