People of different religions reside in India and each have their own set of festivals. In spite of the diversity, when it comes to celebrating something, Indians have always united and shared the happiness. While Hindus often visit the Church for Christmas, Muslims and Christians unite together to celebrate Holi and Diwali. The sheer joy of celebrating a festival washes away the differences, and perhaps that’s the reason why India is known as ‘the land of festivals’.
For volunteers, traveling to India is an absolutely delightful experience. Not only do they get to associate with the locals and engage themselves in some meaningful work, but it also gives them an opportunity to explore the country differently, unlike many tourists.
For all those who are planning to take a volunteer trip to India during their Spring Break 2017, here’s a list of festivals that they can attend during the month of March. Take a look!
International Yoga Festival
What more can you ask for? Yoga is a form of art that has its roots in India, and the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh will be attended by people from 30 countries of the world. With each passing year, the Yoga Festival is gaining more and more importance, and it’s now considered to be the largest yoga gathering in the world. The festival will offer yoga classes from world-class Yoga teachers, philosophical discussions with some of India’s leading spiritual leaders, and other events including vegetarian cooking classes. Volunteers can also explore Rishikesh while attending this Yoga Festival.
When: March 1 – 7, 2017.
Where: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.
Any festival in Kerala is deemed to be incomplete without the participation of the elephants. The word ‘Gajamela’ is composed of two words- ‘Gajam’ and ‘Mela’. Gajam is another word for elephant in Malayalam and Mela means fair. Paripally Gajamela features around 50 extraordinarily decorated elephants. They form part of a ritual offering to the Bhadrakali Temple Goddess, by temple devotees for their prosperity. For those who are volunteering in Kerala should definitely go and witness this festival as it would be an amazing opportunity to know more about the culture of the local people.
When: March 5, 2017.
Where: Paripally, near Trivandrum in Kerala.
Known as the ‘festival of colors’, Holi is a Hindu festival that is celebrated almost all over the world nowadays. Holi signifies the triumph of good over evil, and it’s the time for welcoming spring with all the love and warmth. People usually smear color powders and throw water over each other. Bhang (a paste made from cannabis leaves) is mixed with lassi and traditionally consumed during the celebrations. Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh is the best place to witness Holi, where people celebrate with flowers. Holi in Mathura, UP, and Jaipur, Rajasthan, also exhibit great flamboyance to mesmerize the foreign tourists.
When: March 13, 2017.
Where: All over the country.
Jaipur Elephant Festival
If you are in Jaipur to attend Holi, you should also visit the Elephant Festival. This festival has a lot of history associated with it. In India, animals were once worshiped as Gods and elephants are still considered to be equivalent to Lord Ganesha by many people in the country. For this festival, elephants are dressed up and decorated gorgeously. Elephant polo, elephant race, and tug of war are the main events to watch. At the end of the day, the most decorated elephant is even felicitated.
When: March 13, 2017.
Where: Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Shigmo Spring Festival
Take a trip to Goa during your volunteer vacation in India, and attend Goa’s biggest spring festival, Shigmo. This festival is usually celebrated to welcome spring and can be rightly called as the Holi in Goan style. For 10 days, people gather on the streets, dressed up in the most brightly colored costumes and play with colors. All over Goa, particular evenings in Panjim, the capital, where a huge street procession is held with floats depicting Ramayana and Mahabharata scenes and locals performing folk dance. Celebrations are more authentic in rural areas. Be ready to savor plenty of authentic Goan cuisine and feni (the local alcoholic drink).
When: March 24 – April 7, 2017.
If you have already planned for your trip to India in March, then make your checklist and include the festivals you wish to attend. Our in-country coordinators will be glad to assist you in planning your itinerary. For more information about volunteer projects in India, drop us a mail at [email protected]