Decoding India’s Blossoming Festival Culture festivalsherpa May 9, 2013 FS Features Our littlest sherp digs deep to trace India’s festival culture from root to tip. For hundreds of years, Indians have come together to sing, dance and play music often as part of spiritual and religious gatherings, and music is a huge part of the Kumbh Mela, a triennial mass Hindu pilgrimage that has been described as the world’s largest gathering. If huge crowds gathered anywhere in India for music besides religion, it was only because of very famous international artists or if a Bollywood star was present. Seven or eight years ago there were no music festivals at all in India. However, there were dance festivals such as the Rajastani Folk Dance Festival where thousands of people from all over the world come to the folk dancers, but this is our culture and nothing new about it. Now India is witnessing a rise in contemporary music festivals similar to those rampant in the U.S. and Europe. Earlier people did not have the money to spend for concerts and music festivals but now as the number of middle class people are increasing, people are willingly spending. The music festival scene in India is just starting to pick up. Festivals held far away from the target crowd are obviously going to gather fewer crowds therefore organizers are now trying to overcome the restrictions and have festivals in metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata so people can easily attend these festivals without taking the trouble of travelling long distances. The Nh7 Weekender is the best example, it has been a great platform for Indian musicians. They also had international artists which helped sell thousands of tickets. This has encouraged many Indian artists. People here are open to different kinds of music nowadays, unlike years ago when majority of the people only listened to Bollywood relgious or folk music. There is no denying the fact that music festivals cultivate a kind of atmosphere that youths love. Festivals enable music lovers to meet like-minded people and the crowd that gathers is also a high for the bands, so the thousands of people attending NH7 is not much of a surprise. Last year they even had the weekender in Bangalore and Delhi which was a massive success. The development of transport in India has also helped. People don’t mind travelling to different places for festivals and trying something new. Its not only the music festivals that are growing, its also the art, dance, food, film festivals. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival for instance, it had started almost 15 years ago in Mumbai. At that time they hardly gathered any crowd. People here had not got that much of an exposure to art to really be interested in it. Only when the media started to give more attention to the Kala Ghoda Festival, people got to know what its all about. Today the Kala Ghoda Festival gathers over 150,000 people from all over the city to 350 events over 9 days. Tourists from all over the world plan their trip to Mumbai to witness the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The Festival hasgrown exponentially, and is hugely successful. These festivals has given confidence to festival organizers. They also have festivals for people that live to eat. Food festivals here in India also gather a lot of tourists. Two of the finest reasons to visit India at any time of year are for the delicious range of cuisine and the colorful, vibrant festivals. When these two aspects of Indian culture combine in a food festival, this is truly reason enough to attend these festivals. A lot of these festivals are hugely successful. Conclusively, this much is certain. The Indian society is slowly changing and festivals and live shows are becoming a part of our life. More and more people want to attend them. The festival scene is beginning to catch up here and India is not so late at all. In fact, the time is just right.