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July 20, 2024

Vocal for local: This is how Indian Tourism Departments promote local culture

Muskaan Thakur

In line with PM Narendra Modi’s #Vocalforlocal, different State Tourism Departments have been organising and supporting various cultural events. This is being done to boost tourism on a domestic and international level. Also, this provides an opportunity for local artisans and artists to become self-reliant.
As World Tourism Day approaches, we discover which cultural carnivals are conducted each year by different Indian states;
Elephanta Festival
Courtesy: UNESCO
Courtesy: UNESCO
Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), this 2-day festival aims at promoting Mumbai’s tourism and culture. It takes place at the famous Elephanta Island, adjacent to UNESCO World Heritage site Elephanta Caves, located around 10 km off the Mumbai Harbour. The festival is a feast of dance and music. During February, the venue turns into a huge stage. It kick-starts with a stunning folk dance by the local community of fishermen. There’s also a Shehnai program at the Gateway of India. You can witness classical dances, plays, skits and instrumental and vocal recitals, under the beauty of an open sky.
Bikaner Camel Festival
Courtesy: Rajasthan Tourism Department
Courtesy: Rajasthan Tourism
The Rajasthan Tourism Department conducts this festival to celebrate Camels. Also known as the ‘Ship of the desert’, Camel is a kind animal without which living in the desert of Thar would not have been possible. This 2-day festival also promotes the practice of camel breeding, camel taming and training. It commences with a camel parade where the creatures are adorned with traditional necklaces, anklets and bridles. The parade starts at Junagarh Fort and ends at the Dr Karni Singh Stadium. Once the real festivities begin, a camel pageant is also held. Other contests include camel milking and the best fur cutting design. There is a dance competition and several cultural performances by the local artists. Tourists and locals can also engage in certain competitions like a tug of war for both males and females and the water pot race for women. For foreigners, a special Turban tying competition is conducted. The majestic festival ends with a stunning display of fireworks. You can also indulge in local cuisine by trying camel milk sweets and camel milk tea.
Desert Festival of Jaisalmer
Courtesy: Rajasthan Tourism Department
Courtesy: Instagram -Rajasthan Tourism Department
The Tourism Department of Rajasthan also hosts the renowned Desert Festival of Jaisalmer. Set amidst Sam sand dunes of Thar desert, the festival is a 3-day extravaganza filled with magical performances. It takes place annually in January-February, 3 days prior to the full moon. There are puppeteers, acrobats, camel tattoo shows, camel races, camel polo, traditional processions, camel mounted bands, folk dances and much more.
Read: During this festive season, plan a spiritual vacation in Pushkar, Rajasthan
Taj Mahotsav
Courtesy: Muskaan Thakur
Courtesy: Muskaan Thakur
Taj Mahotsav is a 10-day carnival organised by Taj Mahotsav Committee presented by Commissioner of Agra Division, Agra. This festival provides a platform for artisans to showcase their talent. It takes place every year in the month of February at Shilpgram, located near the Eastern gate of Taj Mahal. You can catch a glimpse of India’s rich arts, crafts, cultures, cuisine, dance and music here. There are different stalls selling things that will make for perfect souvenirs.
Read: A luxury traveller’s guide to Indore, the cleanest Indian city
Hornbill Festival
Courtesy: Instagram - North East Tourism
Courtesy: Instagram – North East Tourism
Different tribes in Nagaland celebrate their own festivals. In order to promote the inter-tribal celebration, the government of Nagaland organises this festival. Hence, it is even called the ‘Festival of Festivals’. It takes place in the first week of December. It derives its name from a respected bird, Hornbill, which is present in most of the tribes’ folk tales. This festival is a union of all the tribes. Cultural performances, games, sports and crafts form a huge part of it. Some highlights include the Traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition, sale of Arts & Craft, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, traditional archery, musical concert and more.
Manali Winter Carnival
Courtesy: Instagram - Himachal Tourism
Courtesy: Instagram – Himachal Tourism
This week-long festival is supported by Himachal Pradesh Tourism. It is hosted in the first week of January. Cultural teams from different places assemble and performs their folk dance. A wide range of competitions are conducted; solo and group dance, fashion shows and even a famous beauty pageant called Winter Queen. You can also participate in a skiing contest at Solang Valley.  The festival was originally was started in 1977 by Shri Harnam Singh, the founder of WHMI. Now, it has become so popular that it earned the title of a National-level Tourism Carnival and is an important cultural event in Himachal Pradesh’s cultural calendar.
Goa Carnival (Carnaval)
Courtesy: Instagram - Atish Prabhudesai reposted by Goa Tourism
Courtesy: Instagram – Atish Prabhudesai reposted by Goa Tourism
In February, before Lent, the State Tourism Department of Goa organises the Goa Carnival (Carnaval). This 3-day festival has been celebrated ever since it was introduced by Portuguese rulers in the 18th century. It features music, dance, food and colourful float parades. The float parade in Panaji is presided over by a king Momo. He arrives with his entourage on the eve of this carnival called Fat Saturday. This festival attracts both domestic and international tourists.

Kannav Chaudhary


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