The Vibrant Spring Celebrations of India
Marketplace selling coloured powders
Spring! It’s that time of the year when the country comes alive in a riot of vivacious colors to herald spring! As India is a country of diverse cultures there are many varied festivals to celebrate the arrival of spring in the different parts of the country! Basically most festivals have a religious fervor to it and are symbolic of victory of good over evil !
Spraying colored water
Women wearing yellow clothes and flying yellow kites
As the brief spring sets in, north India celebrates a festival called Holi with gay abandon! On the eve of Holi , people light bonfires called Holika to mark the occasion and burn evil spirits. It is a day when Indians shed their inhibitions and caste differences for a day while children and adults chase each other alike around in streets, laughing and teasing, throwing brightly colored powder and water or water balloons over each other. Consuming marijuana-based ‘Bhang’ (a preparation from the leaves of the cannabis plant) and ‘Thandai’ (a cold beverage prepared with almonds, spices, milk and sugar) add to the uninhibited atmosphere .However ,by afternoon the spring fever and fun comes to an abrupt end and people head for the seas, rivers or bathtubs to wash away the colors and settle down to partake of all the festive goodies!
The mustard fields of Haryana
During spring in the northern states of Haryana and Punjab, the mustard fields are in full bloom and resembles yellow carpets laid out on acres of land . Hence, yellow is the color of the festival and people wear yellow clothes and fly yellow kites on the rooftops after a religious ceremony dedicated to the Goddess of learning! People fly kites in the nights as well using searchlights!
Dancing during Bihu festival
Painting the Elephant
This spring festival which is also a time of community feasts and bonfires, marks the beginning of the agricultural season to the people of the hilly northeastern region called Assam. The entire community irrespective caste, creed and religious followings celebrate it and the dancing sessions to the beats of drums is the most fascinating part of the festival.
The Elephant Festival in Jaipur , Rajasthan
In this state, on the occasion of Holi, a majestic procession of elephants lavishly painted and beautifully decorated from trunk to toe, catwalk through the streets in front of huge spectators.The celebration spans from elephant polo and race interspersed with folk dances, songs and entertainment .People spray colored powder on the elephant as well! Though the elephants are the focus of attraction, camels and horses are also beautifully decked up for this festive occasion. Camels are this desert state’s beasts of burden!
Painted Elephant backs
The Kite Festival
The spring festival Uttarayan of Gujarat in north India falls at a time ,when the sun and the wind flow ,is favorable for flying kites! Hence, kite flying is the major and most colorful event of this festival with people of all ages flying myriad shapes and colors of kites from dawn to dusk on crowded rooftops, to the accompaniment of music.
A touch of fun-loving rivalry is added to outdo each other in kite flying skills by coating the string with glass powder and rice paste so as to cut the other's strings and bring down their kites! Kite flying continues through the night and the dark skies are lit with illuminated box kites, strung on one line!
The International Kite Festival
The introduction of the "International Kite Festival" at the state’s capital Ahemedabad has added a new dimension to this celebration. People from Japan, Australia, Malaysia, USA, Brazil, Canada and European Countries flock here to participate in this International Kite Festival and show their skills.
Marketplace selling Kites
Adorned Camels during Elephant festival
Bedecked Horses during Elephant festival
Dancing during Baisakhi festival
The Mango Flowers
The Almond blossoms in Kashmir
Other Spring Festivals
The other important festivals to celebrate the advent of spring with dances, music and fireworks are -
Jamshed Navroz –The Parsi New Year’s Day.
Shigmo festival of Goa.
Mewar Festival of Rajasthan.
The Bhaisakhi festival and so on and so forth !
Different Spring times!
Springtime in south India comes a little earlier than its northern counterpart! The Pongal or the Harvest festival of south India , is celebrated in January, which is wholly springtime in that part of the country! Mango flowers herald the arrival of spring in India as Almond blossoms announce spring time in the mountainous Kashmir. The avenues come alive to the red flaming flowers of Gulmohar trees!
However,there are so many more other spring festivals in India! Each is different, every region, every religion has some different means of celebrating spring! Whatever or wherever it may be, springtime is the amalgamation of cultures and traditions to be reveled and enjoyed with dances, folk songs, and colored-powder confusion! It is indeed a time of a riot of colors!