Where India Comes Together, Unabashed

India is a beautiful juxtaposition of people, cultures, castes, creeds, sects, languages, tastes, choices and incredible landmasses. Beyond its strongly crafted sections (at times divides) and its very clear regional and ethnic diversities, at heart, India is secular – a place where for thousands of years, people from every religion, every color of skin have found home and an echo of each other.

And one of India’s defining motifs are its festivals – of every hue, color, scent, cadence and luminous brilliance. While most of these are created on a stratum of religion or a certain faith, there are some that stretch beyond and are simply a meeting ground for people – to rejoice and drown themselves in the celebration of life. Here are three-such festivals that resonate across the country in its vibrance – and are purely secular:

Where music meets magic – the NH7 Weekender

The NH7 weekender is part-party, part-festival – and a resounding pageant of music, youth and happiness. A multi-city festival, conceptualized by Only Much Louder, the event has steadily gained prominence and range – attendance is over 100,000, the festival is spread across multiple cities and the artistes who come to play at the festival are a glittering gathering of famous names:

Mark Ronson, Mogwai, Flying Lotus, The Wailers, A. R. Rahman, Imogen Heap, The Vaccines, Megadeth, Rodrigo y Gabriela, SBTRKT, Chase & Status, Bombay Bicycle Club, Asian Dub Foundation,Basement Jaxx, The Magic Numbers, Fear Factory, Seun Kuti, Benga, MUTEMATH, Simian Mobile Disco, Dry the River, Fink, Jon Hopkins, and Karnivool – among its long list.

What makes the Weekender so special?

The sheer range of talent at hand, the simple, casual and relaxed ambience at the festivals, the fun, hip and music-conscious audience it attracts, the atmosphere of bonhomie and camaraderie and a certain crackling energy in the air; when you’re at the festival you know you’ve left behind your weary worries and you are only to dive deep into the collective enchantment of the lights, sounds, voices and passions at play.

Where the seduction of the brain is all-encompassing – Sunburn at Vagator

There’s literally precious little that can match the intensity of Sunburn; where Asia comes down to immerse itself in a heady mix of Indian exoticism and globe-trotting dance beats.

Beginning in 2007, Sunburn is now Asia’s biggest festival with over 100,000 attendees in its last session. It now offers a variety of activities beyond the music – there’s rock-climbing, beach football and volleyball, a flea market, digital photo zones, massage centers and spas – and of course there’s music: Above and beyond, Axwell, Pete Tong, Paul Van Dyk and Feede Lee Grand – to name a few.

If dance music moves you, if the hypnotic web of electronica and trance captivates your mind and if you would like witness a true meeting of the east and west – Goa and Sunburn is the place where it’s at. There’s food, fun, frolic, the natural beauty all around and a sense of knowing you are a part of a wider world – cultures, peoples and ideas collide from across all borders out here.

Where art and music come together in a spectacular blend – The Escape music Festival

It was the heart of summer in 2009 when L (Mama) Tochhawng took a bunch of his friends and retired to hills of Uttarakhand; and the Escape festival of art and music was born.

Why is the Escape festival on this list?

That’s easy to answer – this a rare breed, a one-of-its-kind entity which combines art, tattoo parlors, painting workshops, adventure sports, photography lessons and yoga sessions into one charismatic whole.

This is an event that’s brought together some great names from various fields – Menwhopause, Reggae Rajahs, Barefaced Liar,Five8, Half-Step Down, Dhruv Sangari and Rooh; Nitin Bal Chauhan and Tarun Khiwal from the arts; and some fabulous indie-acts such as The Gyan Connection, Blackstratblues, Thermal & A Quarter, Alobo Naga & The Band, Faridkot and The Ska Vengers.

And finally, it’s the magnificent setting; the hills all around, the breathtaking sights and the once-in-a-lifetime ambience; Escape is truly all that its name suggests – a getaway, a movement and a taste of sheer blissful freedom.

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