Travellers keen to experience a truly authentic Naadam Festival shouldn’t be discouraged. They just need to know where to look.
It’s one of the more Indiana Jones-style things you can actually do in a world of pop-tarts and microwaves and Miley Cyrus.
When we think of festivals, we often picture trampled city streets shot through with bright streamers. We hear the rumble of drums and the hooting crowd.
Shakespeare once said, ‘The sauce to meat is ceremony; meeting were bare without it.’ Basically this translates to, ‘Festivals, they’re pretty cool, eh?’ And those Elizabethans really knew how to party, so I’m inclined to agree with his opinion. Ceremonies and festivals are the cultural glue that binds us as people.
In an unusual religious twist, the 12th month of the Hindu Brahmin lunar calendar heralds a time of celebration in Thai Buddhist culture. Although its roots lie in India’s Diwali ritual, the practice has evolved over time to become the Thai’s annual festival of Loy Krathong.
Every year, under the glow of the full moon, Thai people carefully place lights, flickering candles and ornate lanterns on lotus and swan-shaped krathongs (floats or rafts), and release them in the canals of Bangkok. These beautiful offerings to the Thai Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, drift throughout Bangkok’s waterways evoking an extraordinary atmosphere in this usually chaotic city.
All is not as it seems in Venice in the weeks preceding Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Mystery and intrigue lurk around every corner, as everyone from lawyers, teachers, carpenters and dentists by day, unleash their alter egos by night. Intrepid’s Chotie Moloney discovered that throughout history orderly conduct has given way to indulgent behaviour during this flamboyant festival…
“Venetians adorned in black costumes with white masks and black tricorn hats would promenade through the streets and easily be mistaken for ghosts in the moonlight. The air was filled with excitement and anticipation. Thus was the magic of Carnevale di Venezia.
Few festivals can rival the after dark displays of Lunar New Year celebrations. In China and Chinatowns across the globe, merrymaking is in full swing as soon as the sun sets. It’s a fabulous event and Shannon Cormick was in Hangzhou when the festivities went off with a bang…
“It’s late, it must almost be midnight. But I have a craving for some spring onion pancakes. I know the little old lady down by the river will still be there. Offering her home cooked deliciousness for only one yuan. It’s worth braving the February chill, so I head outside. I’ve walked only a few paces when suddenly I hear a BANG! Startled, I turn and look around, just in time to see an eruption of sparkles, crackling in the night sky before falling gracefully down, fading gently, leaving wisps of smoke in its wake. The Spring Festival has begun!
If the sign of a good festival is how messy you get, then Holi in northern India and Nepal must rate as one of the best. To welcome in spring the Festival of Colours falls around the March full moon and runs for 3 days. The festival finale is an all-in paint fight. This is supposed to last a day, but as Tania Paschen discovered, be prepared to be doused in all colours of the rainbow for a week…
“Blonde hair and red powder are never a good mix, and three days after Holi in Kathmandu my shampoo supplies had run dry and my hair was still an attractive pink hue.
Soon Muslim communities will mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. In Brunei that means very special celebrations and Ai Lee, owner and operator of our Brunei Urban Adventures day tours, lets us know more about the local festivities…
“This year Hari Raya aidilfitri or Eid falls on 31 August or 1 September, 2011 (determined by the result of the new moon sighting). The special thing about the festival in Brunei is that Istana Nurul Iman, the world largest residential royal palace, will open to the public from the second day of Hari Raya for three days. This is a unique tradition found only in Brunei!