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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the popular festivals and events hosted in Mumbai?

Vineet Sharma DEC 10 2012
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This coast hugging financial and trendsetting capital, Mumbai, will hit you with an intensity of its own and it won’t be just because of its distinctly tropical climate. Beyond the obvious layer of glitter and excess, you will find a land equally rich in culture and heritage. Festivals and events are the occasion when it spills out into the streets with fervour and some of the festivals to watch out for, when you visit Mumbai are:

  • Mumbai International Film festival

Celebrating more of the art of movie making, this festival showcases some of the more serious aspects as well as the more animated dimensions of Indian cinema. Fundamentally a competition, it is held in February wherein filmmakers, local and international, enter their documentaries, short and animation films. The lure of the festival is the final competition screening that is held, when you can see some truly brilliant films and productions tapping varied dimensions and emotions of life.

  • Gudi Padva

    Marking the end of the harvest season and beginning of new year, Gudi Padwa is the Hindu New Year, celebrated on the first day of Chaitra month that falls in March. On this day, Mumbaikars enter the threshold of the new year with with a touch of faith and great deal of celebration. The day begins with early morning aarti at the doors of Mahalaxmi, Mumbadevi and other temples of Mumbai, where families arrive in large number offering flowers, seasonal fruits and sweets. Then, with a spring in their step, people head over to take part in the Gudi Padwa processions called Shobhayatra; an affair that is whirlwind and flurry of colours. Gudi translates to flag in english and if you see a bright yellow or green or mixed color zari cloth (brocade) tied on tip of long bamboo along with some more things like sweets, mango and neem leaves with zhendu flower or any other flower garland, with a small copper or silver made vessel placed inverted on top, it is the Gudi or flag.

  • Nariyal Purnima

    One of the more traditional festivals of Mumbai, Nariyal Purnima is mostly a festival of the fishermen and fishing community of Mumbai, celebrated in late August. As a tribute to Samudra (Sea God) and Varuna (Rain God), coconuts and prayers are offered in worship. Following the worship, fishermen head out to the sea to fish. The belief is that by offering their respects to the might of the ocean, the Sea God will protect the fishermen from natural calamities and their source of existence. You might wonder why coconut is offered? Mainly because it is considered to be the purest offering to gods as the water and the kernel inside the coconut are considered to be unadulterated. Alternatively, some believe that Nariyal or coconut has three eyes, therefore, coconut is considered as three eyed God, Lord Shiva. Observed on Shravan Purnima, the full moon day is Sawan month, the festival marks the retreat of the monsoon winds.
  • Mumbai festival

    A festival to celebrate the ethos of Mumbai, you can expect it to be nothing but grand and a razzle-dazzle of colors and high spirits. Held usually on 14th January, a plethora of activities and events are held throughout the city, but the main action can be caught at Gateway of India, where it is flagged from, Marine drive and Bandra reclamation area. With 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam' (literally, world is one family) as its leading ideology, the idea is to bring all the colors that make Mumbai the kaleidoscope it is together. Spreading over a course of 7 days, this festival is a grand mix of varied and large number of music, food, film, arts, dance and drama.
  • Banganga festival

    A musical extravaganza, Banganga festival is fundamentally a heritage tribute with its base rooted in mythological lore. The story goes that Lord Rama, on his way to Lanka, stopped on the hillock of Malabar Hill. His followers were worshippers of Shiva and fashioned a Shivalinga out of sand and called it the Walluka Ishawar. The area being surrounded by sea, they could not find any fresh water to quench their thirst or to perform their daily puja. So, Lord Rama shot a bana (arrow) and the holy Ganga sent forth its waters. The Banganga tank, in itself is a place for worship and reverence, at Malabar hills serves as the venue for this festival, held in January, where lyrical, melodious notes and rhythm floats out and envelopes the evening sky as classical artists, dancers and singers, give out beautiful, brilliant performances.

  • Elephanta festival

    Held in the month of February or March at the Elephanta Islands, 10 km from the Mumbai harbour, Elephanta festival is a music and dance carousel, celebrating the living, pulsating heritage of India. With the temple of the island as the backdrop, the entire island seems to come to life telling its lyrical narrative. The Elephanta Caves were actually the tranquil abode of Lord Shiva and the temple here is dedicated to him. You will find that the magnificent temple panels tell their own story, displaying the changing moods of Lord Shiva. When the festival is held, the entire temple is lit up to high skies and when the performances begin, take a look at the temple panels in the changing lights; the effect is surreal and mystical. You will get to witness the folk dances of the fisher folks as well the opportunity to tuck into local food items.
  • Bandra festival

    A festival to really celebrate the queen of suburbs, Bandra, the Bandra festival tends to be a 2 week long revelry. From a close, small-knit community, today Bandra has morphed into a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic society. To bring the entire region together as a society and community, the festival as much celebrates as it promotes diversity. All of Bandra’s residents, schools and essentially anyone who wants to, take part in organizing and participating in tons of fun-filled activities like art shows, cultural events, fashion ramp walks, pet shows and of course, food fiesta.

Brace yourself for the energy, festivities and the sheer zest that grips the city, give yourself a moment to stunned by it and then, just let go and allow yourself to be swept away in it-there is no other way to experience Mumbai.        

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Chatrapathi Sivaji Jayanthi - The birthday of the great king Chatrapathi Sivaji in the month of February! - http://travel.bhushavali.com/2009/05/chatrapathi-shivaji-jayanthi-mumbai.html

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