Festival of lights- Pingxi Lantern Festival

Pingxi lantern festival an annual celebration in the month of February that is known as dreamy festival celebrated with will and wish, people write their wishes on different lanterns and then release them into the sky. It is a festival started a couple of decades back by Taiwanese government to spread tourism in their country. If you watch sky on that particular night, it will look altogether different, glowing with lights. Perhaps nowhere else the festival of lights is celebrated as beautifully as in Taiwan. 

You can compare it with Diwali in India minus the ear bursting noise of firecrackers although they also burn lots of firecrackers almost whole night starting from evening through next morning. The lanterns carry different zodiac signs on them along with wishes are similar to our Kandeels only bigger in sizes. By the way, the festival was meant originally to let others know that the town was safe, an ancient way of keeping people informed. This festival is considered one of the best festivals celebrated anywhere in the world.

The Sundance Festival of films 

The largest film festival anywhere in the world is celebrated in America. The festival celebrated at the end of January every year and offers long and short length films. The Sundance is very popular festival allover the world and if any one wish to be part of it, he must arrange their entry tickets in advance to ensure his entry, as there are remote chances of obtaining entry passes if one has not done it well in advance.

Sundance Film Festival, an American film program celebrated annually in Utah the 13th largest state of America also it is known as the largest film festivals anywhere in the world. The festival which is celebrated in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Ogden, displays the art of film making by American and international film producers that brings many aspiring film directors into the limelight.  

This film festival which used to be a local showcase of local movies limited to creations of Hollywood has come to an age recently with involvement of filmmakers from around the world and businessmen who try to take full advantage by way of offering facilities to celebrities from different parts of the world. Even fashion and event photographers from almost every country make it a point to be there to cover this distinguished event. Visitors to this film festival can find other functions taking place in surrounding areas during this period to enhance the pleasure of their visit. A must visit for cinema lovers who want to see different kind of movies.  

Harbin Festival

This festival is celebrated in China between fifth of January and fifth of February. The best thing about this festival is that people celebrating it build the most superlative things out of ice and snow during this period. Not only this, they are so crazy about their created items that they decorate them with numerous lights and lasers in order to make these look more attractive. One can only understand the beauty of this festival by visiting to the festival location as it has so much to offer which is beyond description in mere words.  

It is called Harbin ice and snow festival because it is celebrated in Harbin city in Heilongjiang Province, located in northeast china where temperatures go down as low as in minus twenties. Harbin festival which is known to be the biggest artwork done in ice in China attracts visitors from all over the world. As we know, the China is most populated country in the world so this festival attracts hundreds of thousands of local people to visit it besides thousands coming from different parts of the world to participate in this month long festival. This festival was started in 1963 but later interrupted and restarted in 80s is based on different themes for every year. An eye opener of the artistry of ice and snow.

Carnival of Rio de Janeiro

Carnival and Brazil sound so similar that whenever someone talks about carnivals anywhere in the world one recalls singing, dancing, parades, colors, alcohol and merry making people on roads of erstwhile Brazilian capital Rio de Janeiro. The carnival attracts at least two million people on the streets every day with almost all of them performed by different samba dance schools having mixture of Brazilian and African dances.

The carnival that almost lasts for three days starting Friday through Monday morning halts almost every activity in Brazil for one full week. Everyone tries to participate in it for as much as possible. Barring few essential services, almost every other private and government offices go into holiday mood. Unlike Rio de Janeiro and  Salvador the entire Brazil including cities like Recife,  Olinda, Itamaraca, Bahia, Sao Paulo, Ouro Preto, Mariana and Diamantine, Pompeu, Curitiba, Florianopolis, Camboriu, and Porto Alegre also celebrate this function on weekends but it is not on a competitive level like it happens in Rio de Janeiro.

Samba music - The life of Brazilian carnival

Have you ever heard Samba the most popular music form of Latin American and most African countries? If your answer is in affirmative, there is no need to tell you that it is perhaps the most exciting music with magic power, movements which take participants and listeners into a different world, where everything else is forgotten. Samba is not only a form of music but way of life for Brazilians who subscribe to different schools of Samba music. With infusion of more musical instruments in the Samba, the music has taken Brazilians by storm and it has spread to different other parts of the world for its captive prowess. Besides Samba, Brazil boasts of Frevo and Axe forms of music, not as fast as Samba but almost as popular. There is nothing parallel to this carnival in whole of the world.

Kumbha Mela – World’s biggest festival   

Imagine a festival where hundreds of millions people gather to take a holy dip in a river over the period of one and a half months. The word's largest festival the Umbra Mela held at different venues once in twelve years alternatively at Allahabad, Ujjain, Nasik and Haridwar. The festival also takes place at Haridwar and Allahabad every six years as Ardha kumbha that attracts almost as many pilgrims as in main melas. The last Maha Kumbha mela was held at Sangam, Allahabad this year where three sacred rivers namely Ganga, Yamuna and saraswati meet (Saraswati is no more visible with naked eyes though). 

Whatever the sacred or religious values of this festival for Hindus who gather to take a holy dip believing the places to be the points where drops of nectar fell while the fight between demons and gods took place to grab the pitcher of nectar. However, the main aim of this biggest festival in the world is limited to a holy dip in the river, wherever the fair takes place. According to common Hindu belief, this single dip can wash all their sins and reserves a place in heaven for them. 

These are the rivers and places where Kumbha Mela is held alternatively- River Ganga at Haridwar, River Kshipra also spelled as Shipra at Ujjain, River Godavari at Nashik also spelled as Nasik and Sangam at Allahabad. Kumbha Mela starts on Paush Purnima and goes on for forty-five days continually. Out of these forty-five days, some days are considered more important when Shahi Snan or major holy dip is considered more important. People come to take holy dip in bigger numbers compared to other bathing days. For example, almost hundred million people gathered on 14th February this year, the most important day for this edition of Kumbha Mela. The biggest gathering of devotees in the world on any given day.

Chinese New Year

It is celebrated from 21st of January to 20th of February, this one month of celebration is supposed to bring in the enormous Chinese holidays. The beauty of this festival lies in flowers, various dragons, Clothes, Lanterns, Kandeels and many more items which are created for the occasion especially. Millions of people allover the country and in other parts of the world where Chinese people live love to watch these amazing celebrations and enjoy to the core. 

Chinese New Year is declared a holiday in many countries world over where substantial number of Chinese live and it makes the holidays even longer because the Chinese New year has no fixed date but falls on different dates according to Christian calendar. Incidentally, Chinese New Year is also known as spring festival which is celebrated over fifteen days. The most popular method of celebrating Chinese New Year is with colorful family feasts and beautifully decorated lanterns all the way. A wonderfully colorful festival celebrated by largest number of people in the world.

Songkran Water Festival – Thailand 

The word Songkran has been derived from our own Sankranti or Samkranti from Sanskrit language and the festival resembles to our Holi festival where people throw water on each other wandering around on streets all over the places in cities. They throw water on everyone or anyone that comes into their range and no one minds this activity. As most Asian festivals, Songkran too has no fixed date to fall although the festival is related to traditional Thai New Year.

The festival, which falls in April, the hottest of Thai seasons, gives ample opportunity to people enjoy it throwing ice-cold water on each other. They use colors as used on Holi occasion in our country and throwing water on each other as symbol of washing bad from their lives. Another important activity on this particular festival is to wash Buddha statues in every house, temples and public places, another symbol of bring good luck for the coming New Year. In all, the Songkran festival is related to good luck, cleanliness and showing their love for each other. 

Songkran is celebrated all over Thailand but it is special at Chiang Mai the northern part of Thailand the most visited tourists spot, where it goes on for few more days than the average time with lot more street activities, food, functions and lot more water throwing. It is supposed to be the main celebration at Phuket, another tourist spot and biggest of Islands of Thailand as the beach areas full of local and foreign tourists with many activities including music, local cultural celebrations and night activities add to wonderful festivities. If you are there on visitor visa, do not hesitate to ask your local guide to direct you to spots where you can find activities according to your taste. Thailand is one of the best countries for tourism purpose and if someone is traveling there during Songkran, it adds to lot of fun. A joyful festival parallel to our Holi festival.

Goa Carnival

This article will not be complete if I do not add carnival of Goa in it, the carnival of Goa may not be as great as that in Brazil but it certainly has all the colors and music, boozing and entertainment value parallel to any carnival in the world. It is a three days affair that provides glimpses of Portuguese culture as well music is very much part of it. Apart from music and dancing, the traditional systems are followed throughout the duration of festival. People clean their houses with traditional ways throwing useless items through their windows out on the streets as symbol of getting rid of bed and adapting to new. They throw old utensils out of their kitchens keeping with age-old system and traditions.  

Goa perhaps is the only pace in India where a carnival takes place so it attracts lots of tourists from all over the country and abroad. 

The Goa carnival is held in Mid February when the weather conditions are still pleasant and Christmas and New Year celebrations are just over. The duration of festival is three days, which offers a gala show of music and dancing along with display of traditionally designed costumes. The participation in Carnival is no more limited to Christians as it used to be in earlier times but every community who loves to take part is welcome with open arms. The streets of Goa experience a great show of bands, music, dances and lights during carnival period. You must visit this carnival for a different experience of your life. 

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