Wouldn't life be incomplete without festivals? Today, as my family celebrates Navroz or Nowruz, it occured to me that festivals are the manifestation of human joyfulness, a celebration of being with loved ones, a celebration of life itself! Religious observances, harvest festivals and cultural celebrations of all sorts enrich and enliven lives, giving us something to look forward to. Here are some interesting observations from around the world:
21 March has been celebrated as the beginning of spring and observed as the New Year for thousands of years now. Millions all over the world celebrate the equinox as Navroz or Nowruz (literally meaning ‘new day’): an Iranian festival even today. Because of the festival’s Zoroastrian roots, the small community of Iranian Zoroastrians and Parsis in India, who also follow the faith propounded by the ancient prophet Zoroaster, celebrate Jamshedi Navroz till today. The setting up of the traditional Navroz table is central to the celebration.
Another March observance, this festival celebrated some distance from Ha Giang city is an opportunity for ex-lovers to meet each other. Dressed in traditional outfits, husbands and wives visit the ‘love market festival’ together, but then look for old partners in the crowd. The story behind the hundred-year-old festival is that of doomed lovers who were separated by a conflict between ethnic groups.
The lesser known cousin of Oktoberfest, Starkbierzeit is also called the Munich Strong Beer festival that spans the first two weeks of March. Legend has it that the timing of the festival in March owes itself to the classic period of Lent. The Paulaner monks supposedly brewed heady Doppelbock beer with high alcoholic content to help them make it through weeks of heavy fasting.
This annual festival on the island of Bali is all about yoga, music, dance and wellness. The festival celebrates the unified inner life of all beings and the sacred silence found in meditation. Artists and instructors from all over the world participate in this festival which attracts visitors from near and far.
Described as the largest arts festival in the southern hemisphere, this is a month-long extravaganza from the middle of February to the middle of March. Acts include comedy, theatre, circus, visual arts, magic, cabaret, children’s events, musical acts and more.
While the festival of colour; Holi is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most widely celebrated Indian festivals, but it is far from the only one of interest in March. The Elephant Festival of Jaipur in Rajasthan is one among many. Not only does the elephant festival feature a procession of bedecked elephants, horses and camels along with folk dancers, it also features elephant dances and elephant polo!
This Brussels festival transforms the permanent collection of museums into a playground for the public. Not just that, there are on display some fresh and innovative acts by young artistes and an afterparty to make the night truly memorable.
Held in Valencia, Spain, this is a traditional observance meant to commemorate Saint Joseph. This is a Spanish fiesta quite unlike others, where people wear traditional outfits and puppets or dolls are taken out in a procession and then mounted on artistic firecracker-filled cardboard and papier-mâché monuments. The various events in this festival include La Mascleta which is a spectacular coordinated fireworks display.
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