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5 Monsoon Festivals to Look Out for

What’s your favourite rain memory? Splashing into muddy puddles, sailing paper boats in the street or piping hot chai and snacks? This year, don’t just sit there in your cozy corner — get out and experience the magical monsoons. If you are travelling, check out these five traditional Monsoon festivals in different parts of the country.
Inputs by TS Intern Avni Arora

Hareli

WHERE: Chhattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh
WHEN: 14th-15th august 2015

Source
Source

“Hareli” (literally “greenery”) is the Gond tribe’s celebration of a new farming season. As they pray for a good crop, you can head straight to the table and sample some local delicacies. On the Menu? Kanda bhaji, Kochai patta, Chowlai bhaji, Lal bhaji, Muthiya, Bore Bassi, Bohar bhaji and Kohda for the main course; Doodh fara, Bidiya, Bafauli, Kusli, khurmi and Balooshahi for desserts. For entertainment, take front row seats for the Gedi race – the Gonda kids make walking on bamboo sticks look easy!

Minjar Mela

WHERE: Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh
WHEN:  Last sunday of July and continues for a week (26th July 2015)

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Source

A grand flag hoisting ceremony at Chaugan marks the week long celebration.The locals show up clad in silk with a stalk of Minjar attached to their garments – a promise for a good crop. Get your dose of entertainment with Kunjari Malhar of folk dance and music performances. There will be a procession of deities on chariots too. On the final day of the festival, a parade is also held from the Akhand Chandi Palace.

Dree

WHERE: Arunachal Pradesh
WHEN: 4th July to 7th July 2015

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The Apatani tradition of Dree is celebrated to appease the Gods and avoid famines. The festival centre is decorated with branded bamboos and community feasts are held here. Try the Dree Taku and wash it down with Dree O, a rice or millet beer. Another must-try and a beverage every household prepares is the Apong, a rice beer. It’s not all about eating and drinking though – Pri-Dances, Daminda and other folk dances along with folk song competitions like Dree Biisi ar not to be missed.

Behdienkhalam

WHERE: Meghalaya

WHEN: 11th-14th July 2015

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The Jaintia tribe at Jowai celebrates this festival to chase away the demon of cholera and plague. The men dance to the tunes of pipes and drums in muddy ponds, while the women prepare sacrificial food. Tall-decorated structures called ‘Raths’ are then brought into the pool. Later the celebrations turn to a  game of a wooden football called ‘dad-lawakor’.

Nariyal Purnima

WHERE: Coastal areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa

WHEN: 29th August 2015

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Source

Celebrated at the end of monsoon season, it marks the commencement of new fishing season.. People offer coconuts to the sea as a symbol of thanksgiving and adorn their boats with beautiful flags, paint and tiny oil lamps – a good scene for the cameras to capture. Pieces of broken coconut are given out as prasad. Don’t miss the festival dish – coconut rice – at a local’s home.

Got an interesting monsoon festival story to share? Tell us in the comments below.

Japan: Four Spring/Summer Festivals to fly down for.

Boat parties, kite flying and grand parades – Spring/Summer in Japan is a time for vibrant Festivals. Here are four you simply cannot miss.

Hamamatsu FestivalHamamatsu Festival (3rd - 5th May) - Japan

Where: Nakatajima Dunes, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture

When: May 3rd – 5th 2015

Nakatajima Dunes wear an umbrella of colours as the sky fills up with kites. Some sway, some move with a rush, as they cut past one another. Trumpets announce the commencing battle and the air gushes with excitement. Watch the strings intertwine, cut one another and striving to endure till the end. No worries even if you don’t want to compete — fly your kite just for fun in the open space nearby. The spectacular Hamamatsu Festival dates back to the 16th Century when large kites were flown on the joyous occasion of the birth of the Lord’s son, and is still celebrated with the same enthusiasm across the city.

Aoi Matsuri

Aoi Festival (May 15th)- Japan

Where: Shimogamo-jinja Shrine and Kamigamo-jinja Shrine, Kyoto

When: May 15th, 2015

A 1000 year old festival, highlighted by a magnificent procession in Kyoto city. Time travel to the 10th century as more than 500 people parade through the main streets of Kyoto, dressed in extravagant costumes of the past and traditional makeup. An unmarried woman is selected to lead all the other women — she will be dressed in 12 layers of Kimono. Dance performance and horsing events also add charm to the clebrations.

Shunki Reitaisai (Grand festival of Spring)

Toshogu Grand Spring Festival (May 17th-18th) - Japan

Where: Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture

When: May 17th and 18th

The spring parade, Hyakumono Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu recreates the scene of Tokugawa’s grave being transferred to honor his will. A thousand men on horsebacks, representing the dignified samurai warriors in their full armour, is an impressive sight especially when they shoot at their targets with finesse! The parade staged, at the world heritage site departs from the Otabisho shrine, and will captivate your attention the melodious ancient court music and spirited dance performances too.

Mifune Matsuri

Mifune Matsuri (May) - Japan

Where: Oigawa River, Asahi-cho, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City

When: Third Sunday of May

Celebrating a 1000 year old boat party on the Oigawa River that was held upon receiving the Emperor on his visit, the ceremonies start with a procession along the beautiful Togetsukyo bridge. Revelers then board their boats, some with dragon heads or with bird heads. Each boat is unique — one for the musicians, another for the dancers, more for little kids in their pretty kimonos.

 

Read more about the festivals here

5 Unusual Easter Celebrations

Bring out the chocolate bunnies and dyed eggs – because the world is celebrating Easter today!

The most popular Easter tradition is to get together with family and friends, hunt for some eggs and have a sumptuous meal to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Though the significance of Easter remains the same around the world, many cultures and countries have their unique ways to celebrate the holiday. Here are few ‘out-of-the-basket’ traditions:

In Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands

Image: www.germany.info
Image: http://www.germany.info

In some parts of these countries, huge Easter bonfires are built, usually on Good Friday night or the night before Easter Sunday. These fires were originally built to keep the cold away. But now, it is a way to bring the community together.

In Czech Republic and Slovakia

Image: www.bankerinthesun.com
Image: http://www.bankerinthesun.com

Young men in traditional costumes beat girls and women with decorated handmade willow whips. The whipping is not meant to be painful and is believed to make women healthier and prettier. The women are also doused with water or thrown into rivers – for fun, of course!

In Bermuda

Image: www.toptenz.net
Image: http://www.toptenz.net

Flying home-made kites is a good way to spend Good Friday in Bermuda, especially at the Horseshoe Bay Beach. So, what’s the origin of this Easter tradition? “The legend says that a local teacher was trying to explain to his students during his Sunday school how Jesus elevated himself to Heaven by self power, i.e. about Christ’s Ascension. Since he could not convince the students, he launched a kite that looked like Jesus Christ to explain the matter.” (Source: www.bermuda-attractions.com)

In Finland

easterwitchesinRovaniemi

It is believed that witches become more powerful during the festival of Easter and bonfires are lit to scare them off. Easter celebrations look like Halloween here, as children dress up as witches  and wander the streets searching for treats.

In Germany and Austria

Image: valentinexday.com
Image: valentinexday.com

They get to decorate trees twice a year – for Christmas, of course and Easter too! Instead of the twinkling lights and ornaments, pastel Easter eggs are used during this time of the year. The decoration typically begins a week before Easter Sunday. ABC News website says that a German family in the town of Saalfeld have decorated their apple tree with as many as 10,000 hand-painted eggs.

How are you celebrating Easter this year? Tell us if you are lucky to be a part of any unusual Easter celebrations around the world.

Happy Easter!

For more offbeat Easter celebrations and traditions, check this out.

 

Q. I’ve heard of Tomatina. What other exciting festivals does Spain have?

Plenty!

San Fermin

Image: www.boston.com
Image: http://www.boston.com

A week-long festival celebrated annually during the first half of July in the city of Pamplona. The highlight: the iconic bull run which despite much protests from animal rights groups, has continued to gather enthusiastic crowds from all over the world. Although the entire run from the bottom of Santo Domingo street, all the way up to the bull ring lasts no more than three minutes, it is a highly energetic and exciting event where scores of dare-devil runners test their speeds against  raging bulls.

 www.sanfermin.com

Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival

Image: www.sancar.ro
Image: http://www.sancar.ro

The true spirit of Spanish fiesta is best showcased at this carnival. Every February,  a parade complete with beautifully crafted floats, music concerts and dances is held in Santa Cruz de Tenerife the capital of the Canary Island. The central attraction of the Carnival which makes the audience remember its Brazilian counterpart, is the group of performers, mostly girls,  dressed in vibrant and flamboyant costumes.

www.carnavaldetenerife.com

Las Fallas de Valencia

Image: www.introitismo.es
Image: http://www.introitismo.es

A treat for the fire-loving revelers and craftsmen, Las Fallas is another unique Spanish fiesta which showcases the local craftsmanship in the form of gigantic satirical puppets that are stuffed with fireworks and set ablaze at midnight. The day-time celebrations feature bull fights, beauty pageants and parades. The highlight: lighting up a string of special firecrackers known as mascletá which are extremely loud with a rhythmic thunderous sound.

 Valencia City Guide to Fallas festival

Watch this video to get a taste of the festivities

Los Indianos

Image: wodumedia.com
Image: wodumedia.com

Probably the dry version of La Tomatina – Los Indianos is another popular Spanish carnival where instead of a ripe, squashed tomato, people fling huge quantities of talcum powder on each other. The carnival moves through the old streets of Santa Cruz de La Palma, accompanied with numerous street performers including strolling minstrels and one-man bands.

Read more about it on the La Palma Island blog

Haro Wine Festival

Image: www.cokebartrina.com
Image: http://www.cokebartrina.com

Another variation of La Tomatina is La Batalla de Vino de Haro or simply, the Wine Fight. This unique festival is celebrated every year in the small town of Haro where people drench each other with wine pouring out of buckets and water pistols alike. The festival also includes traditional dances and music concerts.

www.winefight.com

So, what’s your favourite – bulls, carnivals, fireworks, wine or talcum powder?

(Input: TS intern Preeti Sharma)

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