Each month in India is crammed with festivals that are happening across the length and breadth of this fabulous, culturally explosive country. One doesn’t even need to go too far to find enough events to fill their travel itinerary to the brim. Here’s our pick of the 5 festivals not to be missed in the month of March 2016. Get choosing!
1. International Yoga Festival, Rishikesh
That Rishikesh is India’s yoga capital is a well-known fact. So it’s fitting, therefore, that one of the largest and most popular yoga festivals in the world is held here. In the first week of March, yoga enthusiasts from over thirty countries descend upon the town to partake in a week-long fest of yoga classes, holistic healing workshops, evening discussions, vegetarian cooking classes and much more – all under the guidance of celebrated yoga gurus.
Where: Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh
When: 1st to 7th March 2016
2. Velas Turtle Festival
Did you know that the genetic principles of life are so ingrained in turtle DNA that they’ll take the same path to lay their eggs as their mothers once did – without advice from ancestors? Turtles really are fascinating creatures, and it is during the Velas Turtle Festival that you can witness them in their full glory. Join nature lovers as you head to the quiet Velas beach in Maharashtra to watch turtles being hatched as they head to the Arabian Sea in the distance. Mumbaikars have a special cause to rejoice – Velas Beach is only around four-and-a-half hours away.
When: 5th and 6th March 2016
Where: Velas Beach, Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
3. Shigmo, Goa
Spring is awaited eagerly and celebrated with great aplomb across India. Most people are familiar with the festival of Holi, which celebrates the coming of spring. In Goa, the locals join in the revelry with the Shigmo festival. In essence Goa’s answer to Holi, Shigmo is said to have begun as a celebration to honor the return of Goan warriors from battle. In the more traditional parts of the city, the festival is celebrated with folk song-and-dance rituals such as Fugdi and Ghode Modni.
When: 7th to 20th March 2016
4. Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival, Jodhpur
Having flamenco and gypsy arts being performed at the traditional Rajput stronghold of Mehrangarh Fort might seem a little incongruous, but the Festival has certainly become a huge draw with tourists and locals alike. Expect to see some of the biggest names of the flamenco scene. The artist lineup for this festival includes Chana Dominguez, Karen Lugo, Pepe Habichuela and more.
When: 18th to 20th March 2016
Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur
5. Arattupuzha Pooram, Kerala
Kerala has plenty of festivals happening during the month of March, so it’s a great place to be during this time. If you happen to find some time off from the entire backwater boating, make sure you head to the temple festival of Arattapuzha Pooram – literally, ‘prayer to the elephants’. Known as one of the oldest festivals of Kerala, plenty of pageantry is on display here as sixty elephants are draped in brightly-coloured silk parasols. According to legend, on this day, 101 gods from neighbouring villages arrived to pay homage to Sree Ayyappan, the presiding deity of the temple.
When: 22nd March 2016
Where: Arattupuzha Temple, Thrissur, Kerala