Posts for Festivals/Events Category

Deepavali in South India

Blog, Festivals/Events - GoroadTrip - September 16, 2015

The festival of lights is the most eagerly awaited festival. It is a time when people travel to their traditional homes in the villages or to parents homes to celebrate the festival as a family. In each state of India, this festival has variations although the basic celebratory components remain the same. In the South, the celebrations are different….and yet the same.

Deepavali in South India

Tamil Nadu

Deepavali is celebrated in Tamil Nadu in the month of Aipasi (Thula month) on the day preceding Amavasai, the day of the new moon. The preparations begin a week before with housewives making various savouries—murukku, thenkuzhal, mixture and ribbon pakodaand sweets like Badamhalwa, Mysorepak, badam cakes etc..The Deepavali marundu or lehyam, a gooey sweet fudge of herbs and honey and gur, is made on the eve of the festival. This marundu is an aid to digestion as this festival is a total splurge on food!!

When the brass or copper hot water boiler was used, it was decorated with kumkum dots on the day before. Nowadays, homes are cleaned and washed and decorated with kolams and the red oxide kaavi. In the pooja room, betel leaves and nuts, bananas, flowers, sandal paste and kumkum, crackers and new dresses smeared with a dot of kumkum at the edges are placed on a plate. On the morning of Deepavali, the whole family wakes up before sunrise. Gingely (til or sesame) oil is heated and seasoned with peppercorns and jeera and applied on the scalp by the eldest family member. After an oil bath, the family members are given a ball of medicinal lehyam. Children burst crackers and a heavy breakfast of idli/vadai, puri and potatoes orpaneeyaram andpongal and chutney are eaten. Lunch too is a virundusaapaadu, a festive meal. In the evening, little earthen lamps are lit and crackers are burst

TheThalai Deepavali, the first celebrated together for newlyweds, is spent in the bride’s parental home. The groom’s parents and siblings too join the celebrations. A visit to the temple, exchange of gifts of clothes and jewellery, eating sweets and receiving blessings of elders is the routine.

Andhra Pradesh

Diwali in Andhra Pradesh is spread over five days:Dhanatrayodashi orYamadeepdaan, Narkachaturdashi orDivili Panduga, Kaumudi Mahotsavam, Bali Padyam or Bali Pratipada andYamadwitheya. It is a festival that revolves around Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

Diwali begins by visiting temples and offering poojas and in the night neighbourhoods are bright with the lamps and crackers. In Hyderabad, there is a tradition of giving bath to the buffaloes on the day of Diwali and of decorating paper figures. The poor and the rich spend big sums on expensive silk saris, jewellery and ornaments and household goods. Sweets are prepared in homes as well as bought from shops for exchange.


Diwali in Karnataka begins with Dhanatrayodashi, followed by Narakachaturdashi.On the third day there is a puja to Bali followed by Bhathru Dwithiya dedicated to brethren. A related festival is Gorehabba celebrated a day after Balipadyami in Gummatapura, a tiny village on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. Cow dung is splashed on each other before which quaint rituals are followed.


Kerala is the only state in India where Diwali is not a major festival. Only areas where Tamil, Bengali and various North Indian communities resides, is the festival celebrated with grand feasts and visits to temples and fairs, friends and relatives.


In Goa, there are influences of different cultures. The Maharashtrian, Konkani and Karnataka strains of culture are prevalent in the Hindu communities of Goa.

On the day before the New Moon, 14th day of the dark fortnight, huge effigies of Narkasura the demon, are made from paper, filled with grass, wastepaper, crackers etc. It is then taken out and the family members hurl insults and taunts at the effigy…a kind of catharsis. The effigy is then burnt and cremated to signify an end to family squabbles and bitter fights over property and power.

Then the Hindu menfolk return home and have a massage given by their wives / mothers with a medicated oil called ‘utnem’. The family then visits the local temple and come back home to partake of a feast of ‘foav’ sweets.

According to legend Narkasur was a Rakshas (demon) who was terrorizing people by pillaging and killing citizens for sport. Lord Krishna killed him and the people’s fear of the Narkasur was dispelled by celebrations. They light up their houses with ‘pontis’ and place ‘akashdiyas’ above their houses.

The night of Diwali is brilliantly lit with millions of flickering candles and a display of rainbow coloured fireworks and crackers.

So, the Festival of Lights is symbolically a time for enlightenment, for the purification of the mind off evil thoughts and deeds. Whatever the method or practices of celebrations, theyremind us that there is always victory of light over darkness, good over evil and prosperity come to those who worship the divine.

Continue Reading

Chennai’s Music Season

Blog, Festivals/Events - GoroadTrip - May 15, 2015

With a nip in the air, the dawnchilly and misty

The thrum of the thambura, the throb of drums

The bow on the violin, flute and pipes

Rhythmic anklets jingling, steps a-timing

Notes and lyrics in pitches a-scaling

The Music season is on in Chennai


Bhajan singers walking the streets

Black clothed hill-bound pilgrims

Carrying lamps, shoulderingdouble bundles

Carol singers strolling and serenading

Each with religious fervour according totheir faith

The lights of devotion shine in Chennai

Naradha Gana Sabha, Chennai music season, December season


Relatives visiting, hotels, roads teeming

The gloss and glitter of Sabha hopping

Mock snow, tinsel, Xmas treestwinkling

Frenzied Pongal shopping, New Year’s dancing

USA twangsAppreciating,Australian drawling

The tourist invasion is on in Chennai


Exhibitions, seasonal sales, offers and rebates

Lectures and demos, dissertations on music

Gossip, innuendo, critics, reviews, mud-slinging

Doyens and upstarts, the pro and the amateur

Jostling for attention or just a mention

A media blitz is let loose in Chennai

Chennai Music Festival, December Season


Mufflers and sweaters, wools and shawls

Shimmering silks with diamonds and geegaws

Veshtis and jibbas with flyaway angavastrams

Plaits and chignons, bobs, kudumis and pigtails

Decorated with jasmine, roses and ribbons

Chennai is all dressed up for its December Season

Continue Reading

7 Festivals of Tamil Nadu that One should Know

Blog, Festivals/Events - GoroadTrip - April 16, 2014

Tamil Nadu is a state which gives importance to culture, traditions and festivals with a fervour. The celebration of festivals is marked by mango thorans, intricate kolams, flower malas, colourful silks, elaborate poojas, temple visits and of course plenty of food preparation. Some of the important festivals that Tamil Nadu celebrates are:

7 Festivals of Tamil Nadu that One should Know


Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated at the end of the month called Margali. The festivities actually begin with patterns of kolam designed every morning through the month. At the end of the month, Pongal is celebrated as a mark of gratitude to Sun God. Rice of the first harvest is cooked along with moong dhal and the name of the dish is also Pongal which has a spicy and sweet variety.

The festival is celebrated through four days and more gusto is shown in the villages where the crops are grown. The first day is called Bhogi and is celebrated to honour Lord Indra as he is the God of rain. The people get rid of old things to make place for new by burning them on a bonfire or ‘bhogi’. The main festival is on the second day and called Thai Pongal and pongal is prepared using coconut and sugarcane. The third day is MattuPongal. Mattu means cow and the animals are decorated with beads, bells and flower garlands and worshipped. They are also paraded around in the villages after being decked up. The last day is KannumPongal. On this day, families go out to visit or spend a day together at a public place. Gifts are also exchanged.

Thiruvaiyaru Festival:

This festival is held in honour of Saint Thyagaraja the music maestro on the day he attained Samadhi on the banks of the River Cauvery. It is celebrated in January in Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur. It is one of the biggest music festivals in our country and has global acclaim too, being celebrated in USA, Nigeria and Mauritius. Scores of Carnatic and classical ragas resound the air in the midst of the rituals and poojas.


The birthday of Lord Subramaniam is celebrated on a full moon day in the Thai month on the Tamil calendar. Considered to be a day to be penitent, devotees carry pots called ‘Kavadi’ containing rice, milk and other items all the way to the temple as offerings to the Lord. Many devotees choose to fill the pots only with alms and walk barefoot to the temple. Some even pierce their bodies with sharp objects and walk on burning coals as an act of penance.

Natyanjali Dance Festival:

Celebrated in the month of February or March, the festival is a tribute to God Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. ‘Natya’ means dance and ‘Anjali’ means offering, so ‘Natyanjali’ means an offering of dance. It is primarily held in the Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram where hundreds of dancers offer their tribute to Nataraja in the form of Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi or Mohiniyattam. The festival is celebrated for five days.

Tamil New Year’s Day:

Called Puthandu in Tamil, the festival is celebrated in April when the new calendar of the Tamil Year begins. On Puthandu day people look at things that hold the mark of prosperity like mangoes, neem flowers, gold, betel leaves and fruits. New clothes are worn. The Puthandu feast consists of many delectable items among which the mango pachadi, a sweet and sour dish, is a must.

Varamahalakshmi Nombu:

Celebrated on a Friday before full moon day in the month of Sravana, this festival is devoted to Goddess Lakshmi. It isperformed by married women for the prosperity of their house and husband with elaborate rituals. It is believed that worshipping Goddess Lakshmi on this day is equivalent to worshipping Ashtalakshmi.

Karthigai Deepam:

Karthigai Deepam is a festival of lamps and falls in the month of Karthigai of the Tamil calendar. It is celebrated on the night the moon aligns with the constellation of Karthigai. The sight of the lamps lighting up every house sets an aura of devotional reverence. The belief is that Lord Shiva appeared on the hills of Thiruvannamalai on this day. So the top of the hill is lit up with a large fire using ghee and camphor.

Even in the fast paced life, the deep rooted traditions and customs of Tamil Nadu invariably comes to the fore during festival time.

Continue Reading