Expressions: Divinity of Bharatnatyam by Purva Dhanashree

Well, just after the Summer solstice when on World Music Day, everybody was listening to the music of Yoga, we had chance to witness an excellent Bharatnatyam performance by Purva Dhanashree. Purva is known along with her accomplishments in Bharatnatyam, also for carrying forward the tradition of lesser known Vilasini Natyam from none other than the legendary Swapnasundari.

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Any dance has to do lot with the facial expressions. Along with body movement, its by there expressions that a dancer creates a perfect emotional contact with the viewers and takes them to a different world. Well, so here I have tried to capture some of the facial expressions from Purva Dhanashree during her performance last night (click the photos to see them in enlarged form and enjoy the real beauty of the expressions)-

Purva has been learning dance since the age of four. She has performed both the dance forms at all major dance festivals and at various other national and international platforms. She had earned many recognitions for her work.

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Despite having heard about her for quite a long, I had the privilege of watching her live for the first time last evening. It was an enthralling, captivating and fascinating performance by Purva at India International Centre in New Delhi. More of her poetic rhythm from the performance for my readers-

Quite a change from travelling around was this dance performance for me.

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Vagabond in Spiti valley : Nako

On way to Kaza in the Spiti Valley, Nako, at an altitude of 3660 m is the highest village in the valley of Hangrang surrounded by barren and dusty landscape. Nako village is just 20 kms from Ka, once the zigs end. It is roughly four kms before Malling (Nullah) towards Kaza. Kaza is around 110 kms from Nako.

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Nako is almost a customary stop-over for all adventurists (read: bikers, riders, drivers, tourists) going to Kaza. How much time to spend here? This is upto each traveller because there are different time constraints for everybody coming here. Those who are on a mission to complete Shimla-Kaza in a day, might even give this a miss. Others with more time may stop here for couple of hours and that will also depend on there last stop over and time left for them to reach to Kaza. But still there are few more like me who chose to stay here for night. And in hindsight, it is a wise decision actually to stay in Nako before reaching to Kaza, more so if you are planning to go ahead of Kaza towards Kunzum pass and don’t plan to return the same way. Because from Nako to Kaza driving itself will take atleast three hours. Besides, on the way before Kaza there are three spots that you will not like to miss- Mummy at Giu, Tabo monastery and Dhankar monastery. You will like to devote some amount of time at all these places. Hence, if you stay overnight at Nako then it will be late evening by the time you reach Kaza after visiting these three places. And then there are numerous other photo-stops.

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Nako is known for its lake and the monastery as well. Lake is adjacent to village. Obviously, in the winters this lake is completely frozen and often used for ice-skating. Around the lake you can find willow and poplar tree plantations. It looks beautiful in summers when birds flock here and one can even find some boats to enjoy a ride in the ice-cool waters. Right behind the Nako village is Reo Purgyal mountain which, at an elevation of 6816 metres, is said to be the highest mountain in Himachal Pradesh.

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The monastic complex in Nako is situated at the western edge of the town and comprises four temples apart from other buildings. Following the Tibetan school of Buddhism, Nako mastery is dated back to 11th century. The artwork in the monastery is related to Vajrayana Buddhism. Some images from the monastery and the surrounding areas.

From outside, the monastery exude a very simple appearance, but this is in contrast to what you will see inside. Two temples are of utmost importance here, the Main temple and the Upper temple. Both these temples are considered the oldest amongst all the structures and still preserve their original clay sculptures, murals and ceiling panels. Many paintings here still have the golden work on them preserved for centuries. The largest temple or the main temple is also called the Translator’s Temple. It also happens to be the oldest monument in the village. The third structure in the complex is the Small White temple, which though not in a good state, is worth visiting for its wonderful wooden door-frame with scenes of the Life of the Buddha carved on the lintel. The fourth structure is quiet the same size as the Upper Temple and is also situated besides it. The temple is today known as the Temple of Wide Proportions (rGya-dpag-pa’i lHa-khang). There is a lot of preservation and restoration work going on here with many international collaborations. Few years back a cultural centre was also established here by constructing a new building. All big monastic events and festivals are held here. Some images from this-

Nako village has beautiful surroundings which will change colours as per season. Although this is normally a barren and dusty landscape, but the area around the village will go green post summer. It rains here barely few times in July. Life gets tough here in winters when everything is frozen. Then you can feel the harshness of a cold desert.

Nako doesn’t have big hotels but there are a few budget accommodations and few luxury tents (below). Their availability depends lot on the season. Tents like this (Kinner Camps) come up only during the biking & driving season (May-October). I was a bit early in the season and that day only tourist to reach here.

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A place worth a visit and a longer stay perhaps. I will be doing the the next time.

Stunning Stained Glass Windows In Belgian Churches

We have always heard about Belgian glasses, somewhat in tune of- neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride! But once you are in Belgium, you realise the actual beauty of glasses in Belgium. Specially the stained glass windows of its churches. Most of them are actually piece of art. Few of them have been actually painted by top artists of their times. All of them have historical, architectural value. Actually until medieval times, churches had been the prominent patrons of the art. Many renowned painters did their all well-known works for the church. That’s the reason churches in Europe still preserve many those artefacts and hence they are major source of attraction for tourists.

Yasmine Hafiz from Huffington Post had once written, “When stepping into a holy place, our eyes seek the light. If we’re lucky, the light will be shining through a stained glass window, adding illumination and beauty at once. Stained glass windows tell stories, educate and inspire”.

So lets seek inspiration from these beautiful windows.

These (below) are windows from Basilica of the Holy Blood in Central Plaza of Brugge. This church is famous for the crystal vial kept here which is said to contain a drop of Christ’s blood. More about the church later, as here I am focusing only on stained glass windows. The painting on these glass windows will be often reflecting a story or a legend from Bible.

The image below is of a window at the Church of Our Lady in Bruges. This church is famous for its sublime marble sculpture by Michelangelo, Madonna and Child. More about this sculpture later.

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These three images below are from windows of Saint Bavo Cathedral in Ghent city of Belgium. Again this church is well know for Ghent Altarpiece, about which, we will talk later.

And this one if from Saint James Church in Ghent, which was built in 12th century on the former location of a chapel.

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Few other from a chapel in Ghent-

This one below is from Cathedral of our lady in Antwerp, Belgium. This church is also well known for famous painting by Peter Paul Rubens, Raising of the Cross.

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Finally a look at the capital city, Brussels. These are windows from Cathedral of Saint Michael and Saint Gudula in Brussels. A Romanesque church was built here in 11th century in place of a 9th century chapel.

Doctor Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the mind behind the theory of the five stages of grief, once wrote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within”.

Daughter breastfeeds prisoned father and gets immortalised!

This is the Memmelocke Statue at Botermarkt 17 in Ghent, Belgium. A classical sculpture on the top of a building which was once the entrance to the city prison and also the wardens house. This building is located between the Belfry and the Lakenhelle. In the crypt of the Lakenhelle the city jail was housed for almost 150 years from 1742 to 1902.

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This sculpture depicts a scene from a Roman legend that tells how a prisoner was condemned to death by starvation and thirst. The man was thrown into a dungeon by the Roman prefect in Ghent. Only his daughter was allowed to visit her. But she was not allowed to take any food or drink to her father. Daughter was an adult. The father remained alive still after six months. Apparently the daughter had just become a mother. In attempt to save her father’s life she breastfed him daily with her milk. It is said that prefect was so moved by the incident that he released the man free. The story became a legend. This statue was built in 1741, an year before the city prison was shifted here. Statue was designed by David’t KIndt.

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Interestingly there are many similar legends. Roman charity is the story of a woman Pero who secretly breastfeeds her father Cimon after he is incarcerated and sentenced to death by starvation. This story is recorded in Nine Books of Memorable Acts and Sayings of the Ancient Romans, by ancient Roman historian Valerius Maximus, Among the Romans the theme had mythological echoes in Juno’s breastfeeding of the adult Hercules. This story of Cimon is predated by another similar story of a jailed plebeian woman who was nursed by her daughter. This particular legend has been a subject of many known painters and sculptors for past five centuries or more.

Intersting! Isn’t it!!

Volcanic Lives : will & passion through camera!

Indonesia is a land of volcanos. Its has highest number of volcanos in any country in the world. Out of them more than 125 are active volcanos. Indonesia has suffered most due to volcanic eruptions than any other place in the world. But it seems volcanos are part of their lives. That is why active volcanos are also a place for tourist attraction here.

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This is the Ratu crater of active volcano at Tangkuban Parahu near Bandung in West Java province of Indonesia. This volcano had last eruption in 1983. Tangkuban Parahu is a natural Park located at the altitude of 2084 metres. There are three main craters here- Ratu, Upas and Domas. Ratu is the main crater, visited most and has the most developed infrastructure around. There are a couple of adjacent craters. There also some hot springs in the natural park. Few of them have so much hot water that people cook meal on them. (We do so in our hot springs, in Manikarn near Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.) Few others have moderate temperature and people put their feet in the (sulphur rich) water to get themselves cure of skin diseases and bone ailments.

Daily hundreds of tourists visit this place. It is located around 20 kms from Bandung city. It is also a popular weekend or picnic spot for the locals and even people from capital Jakarta.

Although a fear of eruption always looms large, but people are better prepared with better warning systems aided by developed technology. Hence, instead of fear writ large on faces, people have smile and enthusiasm to take their life forward even in this tough conditions-

A smile so infectious!
A smile so infectious!

There are number of shops around the crater to sell souvenirs to the tourists. There are many food stalls as well.

Indonesia has volcanos in almost all its big provinces. Wherever you go, you can see the shadow of a big volcano looming. But they don’t look dreaded, although many of them might erupt anytime, as did Mount Sinabung on Sumatra island just last month, days after we were back from Indonesia. But still spirit of the Indonesians remains the same.

You can see a video of this volcano on my channel on youtube @everybodysaysiamfine-

Earliest sacrificers for sake of environment!

On the World Environment Day, one of the most inspiring stories of environment protection. Story of one of those rare incidents in the world, when people sacrificed their lives for the sake of the environment. A story that happened more than hundred years ago before the famed ‘Chipko Movement’ of Uttarakhand led by legendary Sundarlal Bahuguna. This particular story is from area just bordering India’s great Thar Desert in Rajasthan. This story is from close to Jodhpur, from a place made famous by that infamous episode of Bollywood actor Salman Khan and others hunting a black buck and then finding themselves under the wrong side of law.

A place where sights like this are common and so pleasing-

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This is story of Khejadi Kalan, a village 25 kms from Jodhpur on the Sardarsamand road where on a monsoon day almost 190 years before 363 people laid their lives to save trees. A memorial at that place is the reminder of that heroic story. An incident unparalleled in environmental history and what more, that historic movement was led by a woman Amrita Devi Vishnoi.

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Vishnois of this area are firm believer of protecting every life including trees. That is how Salman Khan landed in trouble when he along with his fellow actors hunted down a blackbuck. Since there are no predators or big wild cats here in this area, hence the deers and especially the blackbucks have a free run here. You can see them running everywhere around.

But the Vishnois of this area are equally sensitive to the plant life. Thats how that historical event took place. The then king of Jodhpur Abhay Singh ordered cutting down of Khejadli trees to get prepare limestone for the construction of his fort. He asked his minister Girdhar Bhandari to get the wood. But the local Vishnois will not let them do that. Vishnois of 84 villages got together to challenge the King’s order. They decided that they will embrace the trees and won’t leave them even if their heads are cut down. And, they actually laid their lives, not just one but 363 of them. When the news of this people’s revolution reached the king, he had to bow down. He then ordered a total prohibition of cutting down trees in the land of Vishnois. The tradition still continues.

People in this region are so much sensitive about tress that although they are hindus, they bury their dead because they will not like to burn wood with dead bodies on the pyres. The martyrs of that revolution were also buried and there is a memorial at that place today. Peacocks and the blackbucks welcome people in the area, although not many tourists coming to Jodhpur go there or even know about it. Seldom their operators or hotels will tell them about this place. But it is something not to be missed when visiting Jodhpur.

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Very close to Khejadi Kalan is another village Guda Vishnoiyan, which has now been converted into a eco tourism spot. This place has rich density of black bucks because of a big pond, which is also home to many migratory and domicile birds and turtles.

A power packed Maximiser : ASUS ZenFone Max

Almost two years ago when I went to Uttarakhand Himalayas for 14 days to document the Nanda Devi Rajjat Yatra, I was carrying my old love Nokia C7 phone with me (as a phone companion only, my camera gears were altogether different). I loved that phone for its toughness and camera quality. The phone had a 1200mAh battery and the Sonilex power bank that I carried on the trip had a 3600mAh battery, theoretically enough to charge my phone three times. Last year when I got a ASUS ZenFone2 Laser, it had a 3000mAh battery.

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Now last month I received new ZenFone Max for review and when I opened the box six days after receiving it, the message said that the phone had been in the box in the power on mode ever since it left ASUS India office. The phone was actually on and the power meter on the phone indicated that it still had 33 percent battery, sufficient for stand-by time of 13 days. Rough calculation indicates that fully charged phone would have been sufficient for stand-by duration of around 33 days. Now thats tremendous. The ZenFone Max comes with a massive 5000mAh battery.

Having said that, fact is that the phone we are discussing here is the upgraded version of the ZenFone Max which was already lunched early this year with the same battery. Actually, one thing that phone exceeded all expectations was for its battery life. With smartphones now almost 18 hour companion for many of us in a typical 24 hour time, battery life is something we always crave for. And, undoubtedly ZenFone Max was among early trendsetters in this regard with a few other companies too coming out with similar powerful batteries.

Zenfone-Max3The new ZenFone Max has few other upgrades as well. Though default lower version still comes with a 2GB RAM (you have to shell out another 3,000 Rs for a 3GB RAM model) the internal storage has been just doubled to 32 GB from 16 GB. The base model of new ZenFone Max costs Rs 9,999 and the 3GB RAM model for Rs 12,999. The difference in price seems rather too steep just for additional GB of RAM. The new Max also comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octa-Core processor whereas the initial launch had a Quad Core Snapdragon 410 Soc processor. Snapdragon 615 Soc is now a normal feature in this segment. That would have compromised some of its battery strength as the better processor consumes more of battery, but still the 5KmAh battery is strong enough to give a powerful performance. Another upgrade has been on the OS. ZenFone Max originally came with Android Lollipop. The upgraded max comes with Android Marshmallow 6.0. Hence there is change in the appearance with few of the Marshmallow’s apps marking their presence.

Zenfone-Max5To launch an upgraded phone in just under five months at the same price (Rs, 9,999) for the basic model would have certainly needed some guts. But then many other specifications are the same- such as camera, 5.5 inch screen, screen resolution (720 x 1280), dimension, weight and even look & feel. Phone has a descent look. Although it is slightly bigger and heavier than my ZenFone2 Laser but still comfortable enough to hold. Plastic back cover has a leathered texture and there is a metallic rim all around which gives it a premium feel and a solid build. All buttons (power and volume) are on the right side. Micro-USB slot it at the bottom and audio jack socket on the top. It has two 4G SIM slots and a micro SD card slot for an expandable memory upto 64 GB. That means you can effectively carry almost 96Gb space with you; almost as too many ASUS ZenUI controlled Apps consume a lot of space and many people find that an irritant. You always have a app or two updating in your phone’s backyard. But on the battery front backed by Android M 6.0.1 and ASUS ZenUI, the new ZenFone Max includes advanced features to satisfy power users. The Power Saver mode helps users manage and extend the battery life even more. With five battery modes and two smart switches that users can configure to make their own battery optimisation settings and help the battery last even longer.

On the core functions, I found the calling quality and the browsing experience on the phone very satisfying. I have found 4G browsing on my ZenFone2 Laser also very satisfying and same has to be the case with ZenFone Max as well. There is change in colours as well. The initial ZenFone Max was launched in two colours- Black and White. But white is gone this time around and with black come two other colours- orange and blue. Orange colour really make it look more chic and fashionable.

While talking about the battery, it isn’t replaceable. It means, your phone and the battery are going live the same life-span. Secondly, the charging time for the battery is far too much than expected in these running times. The reason is the charger. The same 5.2v charger for a 3000mAh battery phone and a 5000mAh battery phone simply won’t work.

Zenfone-Max2For me as a traveler and a photographer, a descent camera with a powerful battery life is just something one can ask for. Added to it is a processor good enough for multitasking when you need to check mails and also reply to comments on your latest blog post and in the end watch a small film in the night in the confines of your tent as well. You can easily have a couple of days small trip to a countryside with a single charge. And you can still have some battery left to lend some power to your friends with Samsungs and iPhones from you Max. Yea, ZenFone Max can be used as a power bank as well and the phone actually comes with a OTG cable for this purpose. I am not reviewing the camera functionalities as they are the same as in earlier ASUS phones (read reviews of ASUS ZenFone2 Laser and ASUS ZenFone Zoom) and I have found them quite upto the mark this time as well with ZenFone Max. But there is slight change in the camera app making it more friendly with better control options.

Overall, it is a very descent smartphone without being too heavy on the pocket. But it needs to be wary of its competitors as things are moving very fast in this segment. Besides the battery, the camera and the processor, a quick upgradation of other features will be key to remain competitive. But remember, its the battery which it will be remembered for.

Where would you like to go this June!

This post is couple of days or more late, but still worth perhaps. Its the Monsoon time. Kerala will be receiving it in a few days, although it is already late by a week. Rest of India will be patiently waiting for its turn sweltering in humid heat until then. But it is still the vacation time for the most parts of India and hill stations will be packed of tourists. Besides the routine trips, have a look at the some of the other ideas for travel this month that I can recollect.

1. Boat race season kicks off at Champakkulam

Champakulam Boat raceThe snake boat race of Kerala or the vallamkali (boat race) is not just an event that lasts for a few hours or a day. Rather, it is a phenomenon the impact of which will last for a lifetime. In Kerala, the season of boat races starts with the famous Champakkulam Moolam Vallam Kali. The festival takes place on the placid waters of River Pamba at Champakkulam, a serene village in Alappuzha district. It is held on the moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of mithunam (roughly June/July). Since it is by far the largest sporting event in the world, the snake boat race is often considered to be the ultimate test of endurance, strength, speed and skill. On the day of the race, people, both locals and travellers from far and near flock to the river bank to enjoy the race.  As the sun comes straight on top of all gathered, boats in various categories like the chundan (snake boat), veppu, iruttu kuthichurulan and others from nearby regions assemble at the starting point of the race. Among these boats, the snake boats with its fascinating design are the cynosure of all eyes. The largest team sport in the world, the sheer grandeur of the vallamkali and the regal bearing of each of the mammoth snake boats need to be witnessed firsthand to be understood.

When: 20th June 2016

Getting there: Nearest railway station is Alapuzha, about 17 km, while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alapuzha town

2. Ambubachi Mela, Kamakhya

Women offering prayers during "Ambubachi" festival at Laxminarayan  Temple during Ambubachi Mela
Women offering prayers during “Ambubachi” festival at Laxminarayan Temple during Ambubachi Mela

Very popular annual festival of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. But it is unusual too. In this annual festival the temple remains closed for three days because these are the days of annual menstruation period of goddess Kamakhya. On these three days devotees neither worship nor read holy books. even farmers do not plough the land. Temple reopens on the fourth day, with a rush of devotees who come to receive bits of cloth that are supposedly soaked with her menstrual fluid. It’s considered to be extremely auspicious and powerful. One of the 52 shakti peeths, Kamakhya temple is also known for its tantric rituals. This particular festival is considered to be the haven for that. Devotees come from far off places to meet the Tantric Sadhus and take their blessings.

When: 22-25 June 2016

Where: Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam

3. Celebration of Indus at Sindhu Darshan

Sindhu_DarshanAs the name suggests, the Sindhu Darshan festival is a celebration of River Sindhu or Indus. It’s one of the world’s longest rivers, and gave India its name. Not an old festival though, this started as a political statement and then slowly converted itself into a cultural event. It was first started in the October, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign as well domestic tourists. This is the time, when holiday season starts in Ladakh region. Festival adds to that. The festival aims to project the Sindhu as a symbol of multi-dimensional cultural identity, communal harmony, and peaceful co-existence in India. It promises a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and an exciting array of performing arts. This year, it would be the 20th Sindhu Darshan festival.

When: 23-26 June 2016

Where: On the banks of the river Sindhu, Leh, Ladakh

4. Summer Festival, Shimla

Shimla_summerShimla is of course one of the India’s all time favourite hill stations. At a time when the holiday season is at its peak, there is a big festival to keep tourists in high spirits. This renowned event has been held regularly in Shimla since the 1960s. It features musical performances, some from famous singers, food and fashion. Plenty of local handicrafts are on sale too. The entire stretch of the Ridge road in Shimla comes alive with a riot of colors and a flurry of events like fashion shows, flower exhibitions, a sporting event for children and adults alike and a photography competition, among others. What sets the festival apart is its heartfelt dedication to showcasing the folk culture of the place.

When: 1-9 June 2016

Where: Mall road, Shimla

5. Ganga Dussehra at Varanasi

Ganga-DussehraThough it is called as Dussehra, it has got nothing to do with traditional Vijayadashami, called as Dussehra commonly. It is called Dussehra as it falls on Dashami (tenth day) of Hindu month of Jyeshtha during the brighter nights.The Ganga Dussehra festival is celebrated to mark the time that the holy Ganges River descended to earth. A large number of pilgrims congregate alongside the holy river, to bathe in it and worship. Ganga Dussehra is also known as Gangavataran which means ‘the descent of the Ganga’.  Usually Ganga Dusshra is celebrated one day before Nirjala Ekadashi. Ganga Dussehra is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and this day is commemorated as the day when Ganga was descended to the Earth to accomplish her mission to purge the cursed souls of Bhagiratha’s ancestors. On Ganga Dussehra devotees worship Goddess Ganga and take bath in Ganges. Taking bath in Ganges and offering charity. It is widely believed that holy dip in Ganges on Ganga Dussehra day can purge all type of sins.  Devotees flock to Allahabad/Prayag, Garhmukteshwar, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi to take a holy dip. Ganga Dussehra celebrations are legendary in Varanasi. On Ganga Dussehra day thousands of devotees do Ganga Snan and participate in Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat. Ganga Dussehra should not be confused with Ganga Jayanti when the Goddess Ganga was reborn.

When: 14th June 2016

Where: Ghats of Ganges, Varanasi

6. Holy month of Ramadan

Ramadan prayersHoliest month for the muslim community world over. The ninth month of the Muslim calendar is known as “Ramadan” and is a time of fasting and prayer throughout the Islamic world. This month-long fast is done to commemorate what, according to Muslims, was the first Quranic revelation to Muhammad, and its observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam- a list of the great deeds every Muslim ought do in his life to secure salvation. he month of Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the year, and its beginning date is based on local moon sightings. The “Iftar” is the time of breaking the fast, and it occurs right after the evening call to prayer. Since people fast all day, family and friends eat late-night meals during Ramadan. Non-Muslims can sometimes participate in these meals, and there will often be big street tents near mosques where free food is given out to the needy during Ramadan. Traditionally, Eid El Fitr marks the celebrations at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

When: Starts 6th June 2016

7.  Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist

Sao Joao Feast of St John the BaptistCatholics across the world celebrate the Feast of St John the Baptist on June 24. This day, they believe, John kicked around in his mother’s womb when Mary was visiting because he knew Jesus was going to be born soon after him and wanted to indicate how happy he was. Only in Goa do they celebrate by jumping into wells. Its for all those who love feni. The most popular festival in Goa, Sao Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), involves the interesting feat of men jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. People break coconuts after praying, down feni in liberal quantities, and jump into the closest water body they can find. The artistically inclined make crowns of fresh fruit and wildflowers and one large garland for the local cross. There are also boat races, and singing and dancing. this one is made especially for the newlyweds. The festival involves the husbands getting drunk on the local feni alcohol and jumping into wells to impress their wives, adorning floral wreaths on their heads. The festivities take on a more surreal outlook if it rains while the ceremonies are still underway, which it often does. People revel in delectable food and music while witnessing one of the most quirky and eccentric, yet interesting round of celebrations in the coastal state.

When: 24th June 2016

8. Pratap Jayanti in Mewar

Pratap MemorialMaharana Pratap (1568-1597 C.E.) was a Hindu Rajput King of Mewar in Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap belonged to the Sisodiya clan of Rajputs. He is revered and worshipped by many royal families in Rajasthan for his bravery and courage.Maharana Pratap is always held in very high esteem by the whole Mewar region. His birth anniversary (Maharana Pratap Jayanti) is celebrated as a full-fledged festival every year on the 3rd day of the Jyestha Shukla phase. The birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. Maharana Pratap Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) is always celebrated with great enthusiasm in Udaipur and all places associated with Pratap such as Gounda, Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh. Actually, there are many historical places attached with Maharana Pratap’s life and death. Haldighati, Gogunda, Khamnour, Udaipur, Aravali etc. Every place has its own importance in Pratap’s life but Gogunda is the place where the historical Raj-Tilak (coronation) of Maharana Pratap was done. It means a lot to the followers of Pratap and even for historians. Gogunda, situated nearly 20 kms far from Udaipur is a place known for its dense tribal belt (kotra). Tribal in Mewar majorly come from bhil/garasia tribe and they have a close relation with the great Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap. A good time to visit Udaipur and share some of the history of the land.

When: 7th June 2016

Where: Gogunda, 20 kms from Udaipur,

9. Kundalini Shakti Festival, Kasol

Kundalini KasolKasol is located in picturesque Parvati valley in Himachal Pradesh. Off late Kasol has gained some reputation for particular festivals. Kundalini Shakti Festival is one of them. With a growing inclination among tourists towards Indian spirituality, this is turning out to be an event to watch. This is one not to miss for psy-trance lovers!  The lineup features more than 40 local and international artists spread over four days. There will be stalls as well. Well, the organisers say, “the kundalini shakti is the life force; it is the essential energy of existence. It is the hidden ingredient in life. It is what makes it all work.If you take the time to bring the light of the supra-conscious into your being, then automatically all blockages will go away. These are just ways of talking, there are no blockages, schematically.So let’s join this kundalini shakti festival to open your kundalini and generated through cultivating humility, purity, through meditation, selfless giving, and by studying with an advanced teacher on a personal level”. Interested! But remember, its not free. You need to buy tickets or have some passes.

When: 9-12 June 2016

Where: Kasol (Bhuntar-Manikaran road), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

10. Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Feast of Saints Peter and PaulThe Feast of Saints Peter and Paul or Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is observed on 29 June. The celebration is of ancient origin, the date selected being the anniversary either of their death or of the translation of their relics. Goa celebrates this festival with religious fervour. The tradition of Sangodd is also seen in the Christian festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul held on June 29 every year, by the fishing community particularly in Bardez taluka. The fishermen in the villages along the northern coast of Goa celebrate the festival in the monsoon. They tie their boats together to form rafts which serve as makeshift stages. On this stages miniature models of chapels or churches are erected. After a church service in the morning and a large feast, the festival of Sangodd is held. Tiatrs (local drama theatre), folk dances and music are performed before an audience who watch from the banks of the river. The Sangodd in the villages of Candolim and Sinquerim are well known. Here the rafts carrying the models slowly make their way down the river up to the Chapel of St. Peter. At each stop, firecrackers are set off and the entertainment on the stage begins. The origin of this celebration is unique to Goa. It is the celebration of the fisher folk community because St. Peter was a fisherman.

When: 29th June 2016