Dance and Music Festivals of India

by Shubhra Sarkar

The living arts of music and dance in India have been evolving as part of India’s culture for centuries. Much of it recalls Indian fables and legends, as well as celebrating the seasonal rhythms of nature. In India, this celebration of music and dance occurs in every regions, in every season.

The Satpak Music Festival marks the first 11 days of January in Ahmedabad. This festival showcases the best instrument and dance ensembles, Tala Vadya Kacheri, Rajasthani and Punjabi folk music. Saptak also tries to keep alive the fading traditions of vocal music like Thumri and Dhrupad. Across the country in West Bengal, the Dover Lane Music Conference, one of the largest Indian Classical music events, is held in Kolkata at towards the end of January. The music conference, which started as a humble get together of some music lovers, has now turned into one of the most important cultural festival of the year. In the southern India, as part of the Ekadasi day, the Chembai music festival is held annually in Thiruvanathapuram (Trivandrum) every September in memory of Chembai Vaidyanath Bhagawathar. Organised by Sri Chembai Memorial trust, this festival attracts more than two thousand Carnatic musicians. Another important music festival is held in honor of the great Tansen, a pillar of Hindustani classical music. Renowned classical singers of the land regale, audiences through five mesmerizing night-long sessions of the much-loved classical ragas.

Indian dance, as unique and timeless as its music, is celebrated with just as much enthusiasm. Khajuraho Festival of Dances draws the best classical dancers in the country, who perform against the spectacular backdrop of the floodlit temples every year in February/March. The finest exponents of different classical Indian styles are represented — Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri, and many more. Another festival held in February is the Taj Mahotsav, which beautifully recreates the age of Shah Jahan . In the south, the Chennai music and dance festival is held as a celebration of classical music and dance of South India. The month long dance and music extravaganza has performances of famous artistes from various parts of India. The year ends with the Konark Dance Frestival held in December in an open-air auditorium against the beautiful bakdrop of the Sun Temples in Konark, Orissa that reverberates with the beats of 'Raga' and 'Tala' to fill the air with the sounds of classical music. The classical extravaganza is a journey through eternal ecstasy.

These festivals will prove to be great events that one should not miss if they are fortunate to be in India during these times.