Australians love a good festival!
From New Year to Sydney’s Vivid and the Tamworth Country Music Festival – there’s nothing better than diving into all that these festivities entail, relishing in the community spirit and celebrations.
Asia is home to many of the world’s most vibrant festivals, which have existed for centuries and are rooted in culture and tradition.
Cherry Blossom Festival – Japan
Only in Japan can a festival have its own forecast. Forecast, I hear you say? This popular annual festival sees Japan in full bloom and celebrates the start of spring through the beautiful pink blossoms. A seasonal event – the Japanese Meteorological Agency carefully forecast when the blossoms will appear across different areas of the country.
This is integral as the trees only blossom for a few months each year. Known locally as ‘Hanami’ – or ‘flower viewing’ – this traditional custom involves having a gathering of friends and family below the cherry trees. Here they will feast on bento boxes, traditional dumplings and sake. The festival stems from 1,200 years ago where the appearance of the blossoms signified the start of the rice-planting season, and it’s definitely the prettiest time to visit this lovely country.
Experience it: JEWELS OF JAPAN
Naadam Festival – Mongolia
Each year from 10-13 July in Mongolia the Naadam Festival is held. It is the biggest celebration of the year and dates back to the Genghis Khan period of the 13th Century.
This is the best time to see Mongolia’s proud traditions and unique nomadic culture. A Mongolian festival akin to the Olympics played by the ancient Greeks, the Naadam Festival begins with a colourful opening ceremony before the games officially start.
The events include archery, horse racing and Mongolian wrestling – the three “manly games”. The origin of the Naadam Festival is closely related to the history and culture of the country.
Practised before and after major wars and battles, these sports were key skills to be learned and taken into future battle. Highly revered within Mongolian culture, as soon as Naadam is over, the locals want it to start up again!
Experience it: MONGOLIA & THE NADAAM FESTIVAL
Holi Festival, India
Colour me happy India! The Hindu spring festival celebrated in India, Holi is a festival of colours… literally! It’s the most important festival in the Hindu calendar and lasts for two days, usually in March.
The meaning of the Holi Festival ranges from the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and also, for some, the day for new beginnings and a time to forgive past wrongdoings. While it is unknown exactly how long Holi Festival has been around, there is mention of it in poetry from the 4th Century AD.
The night before Holi starts bonfires are lit. As dawn breaks, crowds gather in the streets to throw coloured powder and water at each other to create a kaleidoscope of hues. They then retreat into their homes for a family meal and gift-giving. Events around the world have tried to emulate Holi, but we think there is no better place to experience it, than in India itself!
Experience it: INSPIRING INDIA
Esala Perahera – Sri Lanka
This annual event in Kandy, Sri Lanka is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals. Held to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic and its guardian Gods.
The Esala Perahera dates back to the 4th Century AD when the sacred tooth relic of Buddha first arrived in Sri Lanka from India. Believed to have been a tooth saved from the ashes of Buddha’s cremation, soon after its arrival the ruling king decreed that once a year the tooth relic would be paraded through the streets.
A ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic, through the streets of Kandy, in a protected gold casket. The impressive procession is led by dancers, drummers, musicians, fire-breathers and lavishly decorated elephants, requesting blessings from the gods for rain to cultivate their crops.
Experience it: HIGHLIGHTS OF SRI LANKA