Asia, especially Southeast Asia has always enabled a seamless synthesis between culture and everything else. On a few days though, they go all out, celebrating culture like never before!
The festival experience in Southeast Asia has always been undeterred. Putting up a spectacular show of colours, traditions, and spirit, attending these festivals is a one of a kind experience in intrinsic culture. So today, The Sherp has rounded up the most invigorating cultural festivals in Southeast Asia you must check out. After our last list about Southeast Asian music festivals, this one will surely make you want to pack your bags and make that trip happen!
1. Bali Spirit
Where: Bali, Indonesia
When: March 31
Yoga is known to be one of most heightened human practices. Amalgamating the spiritual energy of yoga with the naturally healing processes of music and dance is the Bali Spirit Festival that takes place at the end of March for a good week. Experience the palette of world music as it comes together in a mentally rejuvenating process.
(images courtesy: Bali Spirit Facebook)
2. Boryeong Mud Festival
Where: South Korea
Let your inhibitions take a hike, and here’s to swinging, but letting go of everything else. The Boryeong Mud Festival is one of a kind, letting its visitors take cognisance with rawness, like never before. Boryeong’s beach mud has long been recognised for its medicinal and cosmetic properties, so hundreds of people throng this basically to, basically frolic about in the mud. From painting faces with mud, and having mud ski competitions, this is quite really the funnest festival you can attend this summer.
(images courtesy: Boryeong Mud Festival Facebook)
3. Esala Perahera
Where: Sri Lanka
With elephants adorned in beautiful garments and lights, accompanied by traditional dance shows put up in full fervour, Esala Perahera is easily one of the best spectacles in Sri Lanka. The petite country’s bank of culture is placed as a prayer to the gods requesting for rainfall. This procession that dates back to the 3rd century B. C. is a sight to behold.
4. Gion Matsuri
Taking place during the entire month of July, Gion Matsuri is a visual of Japanese culture like on that has ever been. Long processions of floats that are made to move on wheels, each intricately designed, rising up to 25 meters tall, are something that majorly constitute the festival. Accompanying these floats are children and artists, wearing authentic make up, along with musicians playing using flutes and drums.
(video courtesy: Kyoto Fan)
5. Kanamara Matsuri
The festival literally translates to ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’, so need we say any more? Held at the Kanamaya Shrine, the festival is celebrated in remembrance of a young woman who sought help from a blacksmith who set up iron penises to destroy a sharp toothed demon, who…uh…castrated men using his teeth. With Phallic shaped candies, the festival has become one of Japan’s most famous tourist attractions.
Japan is a country that has always placed great value in its families. Echoing this sentiment is the Buddhist festival of Obon that is celebrated every summer, as people come together to honour the spirits of their ancestors. Setting afloat lanterns on water, people also set up various food offering for what they believe constitutes the return of their dead ancestors. It is an extremely intrinsic festival, and people who wish to witness Japan in its traditional austerity must attend this one.
(image courtesy: www.kusuyama.jp)
A festival that celebrates Buddha’s life, death and enlightenment, Waisak is one of the most important traditions for the followers of the religion in Indonesia. The carved temples at Pawon, Mendut and Borobudur form the epicentre for the celebrations as hundred of followers march from one temple to the other, letting out lanterns into the sky. You don’t have to be a Buddhist to feel the sanctity seep into you, and this is one festival we definitely recommend.
(image courtesy: http://www.desatourjogja.com/waisak.html)