Music, Art and Literary Events in India

Music, art and literary events are catching on in India in a big way. They are there for brand promotion and for tourism development. India may not boast world famous music events just yet, reports Economic Times. What the country can take pride is music festivals that can attract huge crowds. Say hello to music tourism, which in the Indian context includes music and dance events at popular — and not so mainstream — cultural, heritage and tourist destinations.

To be sure, Indian music lovers can now look forward to a packed calendar of annual events that kick off with Nariyal Paani, a multi-genre event in January in Alibaug, right up to Sunburn in Pune (which was shifted from Goa in 2016), the popular electronic music carnival in December. In between these two popular fests are a few less mainstream events such as the Ziro Music Festival of Arunachal Pradesh. Every fall, music enthusiasts head towards India’s far east to the mystical Ziro valley at a height of 5,800 feet. Nestled deep in the rainforests, the Hong village hosted the fifth edition of the Ziro Festival of Music last September. The four-day jamboree was founded in 2012 by Bobby Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty. Another Northeastern destination is the Hornbill Festival in the heritage village of Kisama, near the Nagaland capital Kohima, between December 1 and 10 which showcases both the dances and traditional music of the region along with western music bands, including some from overseas.

The festival is organised by the state tourism, youth resources and sports and art and culture departments. “While many of the local dances, art and craft, food, music and games are showcased during the day, the evenings are for western bands,” says Arijit Purkayastha, CEO, Koyeli Tours and Travels, a company that organises tours in the Northeastern states and is the official partner for the event.

Cut to Rajasthan, where the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur and the Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur have become established music tourism destinations for 10 years now. The World Sacred Spirit Festival organised by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust in February enchants music aficionados not just from India but from around the world with sacred musical genres from the East and also Africa. Jodhpur also hosts the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) annually under the joint auspices of Mehrangarh Museum Trust and Jaipur Virasat Foundation, giving a platform to folk performers from India and abroad. “While we have been organising these festivals for several years, many state governments now have their own festivals to showcase not just their musical traditions but also combining other aspects of their culture and traditions,” says Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Jodhpur.

Meanwhile, in the hills of Himachal, the Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival during the Easter weekend has been gaining popularity since 2012. Over the years, features like on-ground contests, brand promotions and activities like a drums circle and music meditation have been added. “Music is a great unifier and music festivals offer abundant entertainment even as they bring together a varied range of individuals, helping to make the destination a landmark for fun. Some of the most famous music festivals in the world have put the destinations they are based in on a global music map. The Kasauli Rhythm & Blues Festival by Genesis Foundation has done the same for Kasauli,” says Prema Sagar, founder trustee of Genesis Foundation.

SulaFest, which completed a decade last month, is held at wine label Sula’s vineyards near Nashik in Maharashtra and is dubbed as a gourmet music festival where people come to enjoy a mix of music, wine, food, fashion and shopping. This year the festival was a three-day weekend affair, with Friday dedicated to Indian artists, highlighting Nucleya and Indian Ocean. The Bloc Party from the UK made their India debut and rocked on Day 2, even as Loco and Jam from Germany performed to a haven of fest-goers. “SulaFest has emerged as the main event at the hub of wine tourism in India. This year, we had 10,000 footfalls which is a 10 per cent increase over last year,” says Cecilia Oldne, global brand ambassador and vice-president, marketing, Sula.

With more and more state governments joining the musical bandwagon, Andhra Pradesh tourism department launched the first Amaravati Global Music and Dance Festival last month, a four day event curated by E-Factor Entertainment. The festival was a cultural confluence, with the best of classical performances against the backdrop of the riverfront of Krishna and Godavari, along with popular forms of international music and dance.

Highlights included performances by Pandit Birju Maharaj, Kazakh State Philharmonic Orchestra which presented a fusion act with violin maestro Dr L Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Talat Aziz, Suresh Wadkar, Anoop Jalota, Purno Das Baul, Sivamani and Trilok Gurtu. The event also offered a gamut of activities for travel and adventure enthusiasts aimed at putting Amaravati on the global tourism map. Swati Jain, a travel writer, finds the trend of music tourism catching on in India in a big way. She attended the Amaravati event and felt that it hit the right notes of showcasing the Indian music genres. “The festival was a fusion of classical performances along with popular forms of music and dance. Other activities such as camping on an island, hot air ballooning, paramotoring and water sports on the river added to the attractions for visitors.”

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