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March 2020: Complete guide to festivals in India

From Braj Holi to International Yoga Festival and Attukal Pongala – here's what India is celebrating in March 2020.

Even as school, college and university students are busy gearing up for their examinations, the festival season is just winding down in the rest of India. March 2020 will see a host of festivities across the country just before the brutal summer sets in, followed by monsoon that will see the number of festivals dwindle. But it’s spring and the country is celebrating.

1. Ezhara Ponnana

The month begins with Ezhara Ponnana in Kerala’s Kottayam district where a procession of gold-decked elephants makes its way to the Ettumanoor Mahadeva temple. The festival is part of a tradition that involved the ruler of Travancore offering elephants to lost Shiva.

When: March 3, 2020


2. Braj Holi

Even though the festival of colours is celebrated all over the country, there are certain pockets where Holi celebrations really stand out. Case in point the Braj Holi in Rajasthan (Kaman, Deeg, and Bharatpur) that celebrates the love between Radha and Krishna. The raslila performances bring their story to life even as people play dress up and throw colours on each other. Rajasthan Tourism also organises several activities – including turban tying competitions, rural sports competitions, music concerts etc – so as to widen the appeal of the festival.

When: March 5-6, 2020.

3. Attukal Pongala 

Attukal Pongala earned its place in the Guinness Book of World Records back in 1997 as the largest gathering of women for a religious activity when some 1.5 million women came together to cook special offering for the goddess Attukalama. The festival takes place at the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

When: March 9, 2020

4. Eternal Mewar Holika Dahan

On the evening before rangpanchami – the day when everyone drenches everyone else in colour and water – Udaipur celebrates Holika Dahan with the Maharana of Udaipur. The erstwhile king leads his family and the city from his home to Manek Chowk where the bonfire is lit to celebrate the end of evil and the triumph of good. Holi bonfires are lit in most neighbourhoods in the country. The Mewar Holika Dahan is part of the same tradition, only (much) grander.

When: March 9, 2020

5. Holi

The festival of colours is celebrated the day after Holika Dahan. Even though Holi is celebrated throughout the country, the liveliest festivities are in northern India.

When: March 10, 2020

 Photograph: freepik.com

6. Myoko Festival

In Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, the Apatani tribe celebrates Myoko, a festival that includes processions, folk performances and several rituals, mostly for prosperity and fertility. Myoko is a ten-day festival but the most interesting days are from Day 2 to Day 4. 

When: March 20-30, 2020

7. Bhandara Festival

This isn’t an annual festival but one that falls on every Somvati Amavasya, which means every new moon day that falls on a Monday. Bhandara is turmeric powder that is offered to Khandoba at the Jejuri temple in Maharashtra. The Bhandara festival essentially involves throwing of turmeric powder and song and dance performances by devotees of khandoba inside the Jejuri temple complex.

When: March 23, 2020

8. Thirunakkara Arattu

Perhaps the most famous of Kerala’s temple festivals, the ten-day Thirunakkara Arattu involves a majestic procession of decorated elephants who march to the beat of the drummers as they carry the temple deity for a bath. Also expect kathakali dance performances throughout the night on Day 3 and Day 4 of the festival as well as Mayilattom (or peacock dance) performances within the premises of the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple in Kerala’s Kottayam district.

When: March 23, 2020

9. Gudi Padwa

One of the few festivities in March 2020 in Mumbai is the Gudi Padwa processions. The beginning of the Maharashtrian New Year may be a private affair as homes erect gudis or bamboo sticks decorated with earthen pots and colourful cloths but the procession that sets out from Girgaum in south Mumbai is a very public part of the celebration. Women and men turn out in their best traditional outfits as lezim players and drummers lead women on motorbikes around the neighbourhood.

When: March 25, 2020

10. Gangaur

The goddess Gangaur is an incarnation of Parvati and represents purity. The Gangaur festival in Rajasthan celebrates the goddess whose procession winds its way from narrow lanes to main streets in cities and villages of Rajasthan.

When: March 27-28, 2020