WHAT ARE THE SPRING FESTIVAL OF INDIA?

Like a rainbow that glitters in a diversity of colours, the festivals in the month of April celebrated in various corners of our country, draw people from India and abroad, filling them with wonder and delight. The diversity of India enhances this country with a wide variety of cultures and customs with inestimable beauty and richness. They uplift everyone's hearts with pride and grandeur.

Tulip Festival (Kashmir)

No one can imagine the colours that can churn and please your senses with the aesthetic beauty of nature. The Tulip Festival is a unique festival hosted in the Kashmir Valley during spring. It will take place from 3 April to 30 April 2022, and this year, 62 varieties of tulips will be on display. People gather here to enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of nature. The Dal Lake stands out when the beauty is at its peak.

Baisakhi (Punjab)

Baisakhi is the New Year of the Sikhs. Besides being a spring time harvest festival, the day commemorates the formation of the Khalsa Panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Every year it is celebrated on 13 April and after every 36 years, on 14 April. It is a time when farmers of northern India get enthusiastic to harvest the season's crop and energize themselves to sow the next season's crop. It is a festival to celebrate their hard work that is visible in the form of their golden crops.

Bihu (Assam)

Assam is blessed with rich soil for agriculture and surrounded by blue mountains and the mighty Brahmaputra river to maintain its freshness. The festival of Bihu gives a uniqueness to the Assamese people and marks it as an exceptional harvest festival of Assam. It is celebrated thrice during important junctures of the agrarian calendar. The first Bihu which is known as the Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu is celebrated for a period of seven days in the month of April. On this occasion, the farmers prepare their fields for cultivation, and the occasion is filled with feasting and dance.

Shad Suk Mynsiem (Meghalaya)

Meghalaya with the celebrates the onset of spring with the community's biggest festival, Shad Sukh Mynsiem, through which they offer their gratitude to the creator for all the blessings and bountiful harvests received. This festival offers them a stage to showcase their traditional dance and rituals which gives them a unique identity in the country. Visitors to the Shad Suk Mynsiem festival can also learn about how they keep alive old traditions and help indigenous beliefs and customs flourish in the modern century. This festival marks one of the best ways to see the beautiful and ancient heritage, beliefs and motifs of the community.

 

Aoling Festival (Nagaland)

This festival is celebrated by the famous Konyak tribe of Nagaland during which they seek blessings from the creator for their upcoming harvest. The colourful dresses, traditional dances, meat preparations, feasting and gathering are the main components of the festival.

Chithirai Festival (Tamil Nadu)

According to the Tamil calendar, Chithurai is the first month of the year and the starting of the financial year. During this 15-day festival, people from all over the world gather in Madurai temples with great enthusiasm and joy. It is believed that on this day Lord Vishnu comes to attend the marriage ceremony of his sister, goddess Meenakshi, to Lord Sundreshwar. The Chithirai festival involves a series of events that are not only pleasing to the eye but also represents traditions of southern India.

Kadammanitta Padayani (Kerala)

The annual temple festival of Kerala is held in the month of April, attracting tourists from all over the world with its theatrical processions rather than celebratory rituals. It is a traditional festival that transforms the idea of celebration. It showcases the art of southern India with an eclectic blend of music, dance, theatre, satire, facial masks, paintings, excitement and enjoyment. It is a ten day-long celebration devoted to the goddess Bhadrakali.

Mopin (Arunachal Pradesh)

This agricultural festival of Arunachal Pradesh, is a five-day-long festival ebrated by the Galo tribe. People smear rice powder on each other's faces and express their traditions through Popir, a slow and graceful dance by the women of the tribe all dressed in white. The focus of the festival is to turn back from evil spirits.

Sankat Mochan (Varanasi)

This is the annual classical music festival of Varanasi held at the Sankat Mochan Temple at Varanasi. Eminent classical musicians, singers and performers participate in this most exclusive worldwide cultural event. The reputed festival welcomes audiences from all over the world to experience classical music.

Naba Barsha (West Bengal)

It is marked as the first month in the Bengali calendar and celebrated on the 13th or 14th day of April according to the English calendar. Culturally rich people of Bengal indulge in rituals and traditions, decorating their houses with rangolis. The festival is marked by colourful processions, fairs, festive family get-togethers, and prayers to the Ganesha and the goddess Lakshmi for health and wealth in the year ahead.

Urs Festival (Ajmer)

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti was a popular Sufi saint whose dargah is in Ajmer. He was the founder of Chisti Sufi and popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz. The Urs Festival is a six-day long festival during which devotees pay respect at the saint's grave by placing ceremonial chadars over it. Candles are lit, prayers are offered, and qawwalis are sung all night.

Kollam Pooram (Kerala)

Kollam Pooram is held every year in April in Kollam city of Kerala. The festival is widely popular and witnesses crowds from all over the world. A grand procession of elephants appears from different temples, the most famous among them being the Thamarakulam Sri Mahaganapathy Temple and the Puthiyakavu Bhagawathy Temple. Another attraction of the festival is the display of colourful umbrellas atop traditionally-adorned elephants, and the beats of drums known as 'melam'. The pooram ends with fireworks at night.

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WHICH IS THE FAMOUS FOLK DRAMA OF MAHARASHTRA?

A tamasha is a traditional theatre art form of Maharashtra, prevailing since the 18th century in most parts of rural Maharashtra. Tamasha was exclusively performed by boys and young men due to varied reasons. During the reign of kings, varied stories were narrated and enacted through the medium of music, dance, acting and dialogue delivery. Playing a key role in a tamasha is the vidushak or songadya (comedian). The comedian is also the coordinator, who narrates the entire story with jokes in between that indirectly portray the ills of society in a humorous manner.

The popular folk dance of Maharashtra known as lavani forms an integral part of a tamasha. While lavani is extremely popular in urban areas, the tamasha is still more prevalent in rural areas, wherein thousands are attracted to watch and be entertained with a night long performance. There are around 15,000 families who are practitioners of this art form, and include dancers, musicians, make-up artists and other technical staff involved in the organisation of a performance.

Significance of the tamasha and its evolution

Tamasha literally means 'dispeller of darkness' in Marathi. It can be traced to the 18th century when Peshwa spies picked up the art from Mughal military camps and made it their own. The traditional lavani, a forerunner of tamasha, was an amalgamation of kavya (poetry), sangeet (music) and abhinay (acting).

The current format includes a wholesome entertainment showcasing gan (musical and lyrical prayers to Lord Ganesh), gavlan (musical and lyrical tribute to Lord Krishna, Radha and his various milk gathering women, his love interests), rangabaji (songs and dances including lavani), batanavni (skits and banter between anchors) and vagnatya (a full-fledged play).

There are two types of tamashas, namely fadacha and sangeet bari. While fadacha gives more importance to light-hearted humour and acting, sangeet bari lays emphasis on music with a lot of dances as well.

Music

A four-piece orchestra consisting of an organ, dholki (percussion instrument), clarinet and halgi (small drum), support the singing, that does not emphasize melody but dramatization and follows the natya sangeet (drama music) that forms the hallmark of Marathi theatrical productions. A doyen among folk artists, Pathe Prabhu Rao Kulkarni has rearranged the music and lyrics with the objective of education through entertainment. Nevertheless popular Marathi and Hindi film songs have been adapted for mass appeal.

Costumes, make-up and performances

With the inclusion of women performers, tamasha has become quite popular, particularly, the lavani. The make-up used is quite ordinary but sometimes garish, too. Women are attired in the traditional nine-yard saree which is stitched in such a way, like a dhoti, to make it comfortable to dance and sometimes jump too, according to the story or scene depicted. The male dancers or actors, the drummer, the singer and the comedian used to move and dance along with the dancers but recently changes have been introduced pertaining to the style of presentation.

Social relevance of a tamasha

The tamasha is socially relevant because it is a well balanced performance - the songs and dances are there to entertain while the skits and plays are socially relevant. Tamashas cover a wide range of social issues and the speciality is that they do it in a dramatic manner, using humour, thus connecting with people instantly.

Tamasha performances are a combination of information, education and entertainment. Many a time they are a medium used as social correctives too. Many plays are based on Sangeet Bari, an award-winning book written by Bhushan Koregoankar.

Ganpat Rao Mane, owner of Loknatya Tamasha Mandal, Chinchini in Sangli district of Maharashtra, has penned socially-relevant tamasha plays like Maharashtra Chuktay Nahi (Maharashtra Won't Be Divided), a historical on the life of Sambhaji, Lagan Adhi Kum Kum Posle (Widowed Before Marriage), Dnyaeshwar Maji Mouli (Dnyaeshwar My Mother), Janma La Indira Punha (Indira Be Born Again), Ase Pudhari Thar Kara (Kill Such Corrupt Leaders), Hunda Rakt Mangat Ahe (Dowry Demands Blood), etc.

Eminent performers

Vithabai Narayangoankar is a veteran performer while both Satyabhamabai Pandarpurkar and Shabubai are Sangeeta Natak Akademi winners. Anil Vasudevan, despite being a Malayalee, is the choreographer and director of Bin Baicha Tamasha (Tamasha Without Women) group consisting of all male dancers who excel in the female disguise, and has already rendered thousands of performances winning wide acclaim and appreciation. Anil Vasudevan is a Bharata Natyam and folk dance exponent and dance teacher for over four decades.

Tamasha is widely performed by local or travelling theatre groups within the state of Maharashtra with great appeal to the local folks. Its themes have also become the subject of several Marathi films. Today, it has become an awareness weapon, which can challenge norms and often embraces rebellious issues for the common man.

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What is Kintsugi art in japan?

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of sealing cracks in broken pieces of pottery using gold powder and lacquer. A direct translation of the word means 'golden joinery'. By emphasising the cracks, the need to mend them and renew an object, the 400-year-old technique reflects the larger Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi that tells you to look for beauty in imperfections.

The art may date back to the late 15th century,  when Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa returned a broken Chinese tea bowl to China to have it repaired. The bowl was given back to him held together with unattractive metal staples. At the time, staples were the main method used to fix broken, yet valuable, vessels. Tiny holes were drilled on either side of the broken pieces and then metal staples were bent and used to hold them in place.

The result was practical, but not very attractive. Yoshimasa's experience may have triggered a quest by Japanese craftsmen to find a new type of repair that could make damaged items look new — or even better.

The craft became so beautiful and so revered that collectors developed an appetite for the mended pieces. Some people were accused of purposely breaking prized items just so they could be repaired with the golden art. Some say that an item repaired by kintsugi looks more beautiful than when it was whole. When a ceramic vessel undergoes this mending transformation, its once-smooth surface becomes covered with rivers of colored zigzags and patterns. Because the repairs are done with meticulous skill (and with precious metal), the mended fractures look immaculate and artistic.

Credit : The Hugger 

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What is so special about Lake Titicaca?

The biggest knitted objects in the world are the 62 self-fashioned Uros Islands in Peru's Lake Titicaca (the world's highest navigable lake at 12,500 feet above sea level).  The most remarkable thing about Lake Titicaca is its floating Islands and the people who live there. Each island is no more than 90 feet wide and is strong enough to hold several hundred people, buildings and boats (balsas). The Uru people collect totora reeds, which grow in the lake, and weave their dense roots together to form sturdy layers called 'khili' (about one to two metres thick). These are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The reeds at the bottom of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new reeds are added to the top constantly, about every three months. If well maintained, an island can last for 30 years.

The houses and boats of the Uro people are built from the same reeds using a similar technique to that of the islands. They also make handcrafted items that they sell to visitors to the floating islands. About every six months they have to lift up and move their houses and buildings so that they can add another layer to the reeds of the floating island. When the Totora is pulled for construction, part of the root is eaten because it’s a rich source of iodine. It is also used for pain relief, tea and to cure a hangover. Fishing and hunting for birds is one of the main ways of getting food on the islands. The Uros also eat the guinea pigs and ducks that they keep on the islands. Waterbirds are also kept on the island but for helping them fish or for their eggs. On the islands, there is a traditional school and a Christian school that are the main sources of education on the islands. As the kids get older and start looking for university they will likely leave the lake and head to the mainland to study in Puno.

The Uro’s way of living is one to marvel at but is also extremely difficult and steadily disappearing. Many still live in the traditional way, hauling reeds into their boats, reconstructing the islands, heading off onto the lake to fish, but many of the young people are leaving and start a different life on the mainland. Daily life here depends mostly around the reeds that grow in the lake, they provide food, housing and transportation.  It is a life of hard work and long days in a harsh climate.

In recent years, tourism has become an important part of the Uro economy. People have opened their homes and welcomed visitors from all over the world. Their unique lifestyle and breathtaking Lake Titicaca make the floating islands a must when passing Puno.

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What is Burra Katha tradition in Andhra Pradesh?

Though it had been around for years. Burra Katha gained unprecedented prominence during the early 20th Century Because this oral storytelling folk art form got an absolutely new lease of life-from its mostly religious and mythological focus till then, in the 1930s it became a powerful tool during the Indian freedom movement for spreading the message of colonial oppression. Traditionally performed by a three-people team-one lead performer and two others who beat a drum called dinki. Burra Katha was popular in rural areas of not just Andhra Pradesh (including what is now Telangana) but also of Kamataka. Some of the artists still active today have performed this art form for decades, and feel it is losing its sheen because today it does not have many takers, especially among the youth-neither as performers nor as viewers. The theatre form is striving to stay afloat by re-inventing itself in many ways-such as having a troupe of more than three members, not confining to just religious and mythological themes but taking up opportunities to spread message on contemporary issues, etc.

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