11 cultural festivals in South Asia that you must attend at least once in your lifetime

Written By: WION Edge WION
Delhi, India Published: Sep 15, 2016, 02:14 PM(IST)

A Bhutanese schoolboy looks from inside an over-sized face mask before his performance Photograph:( AFP )

Art transcends all borders and goes beyond the definition of geographical divides. Here are some 11 noteworthy cultural festivals celebrated in the South Asian region that you must know about:

  • Jaisalmer Desert Festival, India
Set against the sand dunes, the festival is a unique showcase of folk culture. Held every year, there are programs for folk singing, puppet shows, acrobats, fire dancing, and others. Home of the camels, you can also take a camel ride, enjoy a game of camel polo, participate in camel decoration and pack some exciting desert memories with you. 

A glimpse of Jaisalmer Desert Festival in India

  • Kala Pola, Sri Lanka
Kala Pola is Sri Lanka’s open-air art exhibition cum fair which happens every year. Attracting artists from across the country, it serves as a launch pad for talent. A wide array of art forms are displayed for the crowd to cheer and appreciate. 

Kala Pola festival in Sri Lanka

  • Annual Bhutan International Festival, Bhutan
It’s a collaborative effort to encourage different countries to come and engage, while showcasing their culture and art. The festival boasts of some of the best entertainment performances by world known artists. The festival has an intimate setting and welcomes everyone interested. 

Bhutanese monks at the Bhutan International festival

  • Rann Utsav, India
Rann Utsav is a quarter year-long winter celebration in white sandy desert. You set up your makeshift tents and absorb the local tradition and culture. The region known for it’s distinct handicrafts, also offers options for kite flying, camel rides and desert safaris. 

Local artists at Rann Utsav

  • World Performing Arts Festival, Pakistan
An international cultural event, this festival brings performing artists from all over the world to celebrate music, theatre, concert, dance, puppet shows and others. Serving as a nurturing ground for local talent, it brings to fore the vibrancy of Pakistan’s talents and helps people engage in a cultural exchange. 

World Performing Arts Festival, Pakistan

  • Hornbill Festival, India
The aboriginal Naga tribes of Nagaland are a sight to watch. Held every year in the month of December, Hornbill festival is a weeklong celebration of music, culture, art, sport and cuisine takes place. You will see some exquisite paintings, wood carvings and sculptures that form an essential part of Nagaland’s cultural identity. 

A Naga tribesman eats a stump of smouldering firewood during annual Hornbill Festival

  • Afghan Arts and Culture Festival, Afghanistan
It is one of the largest coming together of artists and music bands in Afghanistan. Opening its doors to fellow countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan United States, the festival started with an aim to show the world Afghanistan’s rich culture. Bikers, break dancers, rock bands and other performers come together every year. 

Local Afghan dancers

  • South Ari Atoll, Maldives
A festival with a thought, South Ari Atoll is a collaboration between artists from Maldives and Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme. It is a platform for showcasing artworks representing the island’s marine diversity with a special emphasis on the shark population of Maldives.

South Ari Atoll in Maldives where the Conservation festival happens

  • Pohela Boishakh, Bangladesh
The Bengali New Year is celebrated with a lot of fervour all across the state of West Bengal in India and Bangladesh. Called Vasanta Utsav, the festivals starts at Shantiniketan in India and Bangladesh at the same time. The festivity celebrates art and diversity of both the regions. Among songs, dance and fairs, people are seen enjoying themselves around that time of the year. 

Pohela Boishakh in Bangladesh

  • Kathmandu International Art Festival, Nepal
Almost in every three years, Nepal celebrates its artists with an International Art festival. Artists come together to exhibit their works at different venues in the capital city of Kathmandu. 

A glimpse of Kathmandu International Art Festival, Nepal

(Contributed by: Zeba Khan)
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