It’s the time of the year when some exceptional musical talent is showcased at music festivals across the country, from pure Hindustani classical and bhajans to Sufi strains, indie music and blues.
In its 29th edition, one of India’s oldest and longest-running festivals, which returned last year after a hiatus of almost a decade, Mahindra Independence Rock celebrated the diversity of rock music with 10 music bands from India and Nepal. Besides veteran bands like Parikrama and Bhayanak Maut, highlights included the Nepal-based metal rock band Underside and Agam, a Carnatic progressive rock band that marries traditional ragas with a dash of rock and metal influences. 4-5 November, at Bayview Lawns, Mazgaon, Mumbai.
The musical event, which spans several months, is a celebration of folk, indie and Sufi music from all over the world and is held at the Unesco World Heritage site of Sunder Nursery in Delhi. Amarrass Nights recently celebrated the 75th birth anniversary of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and, in some of its forthcoming editions, will feature the Arcis Saxophone Quartett from Germany and Delhi-based Syncopation, a 14-year-old modern jazz-funk band started by guitarist and composer Risshi S. Sachdeva. Don’t miss the performance on 17 November by the Manganiyar band Barmer Boys, an Amarrass Records discovery. 17 November-6 April, at Sunder Nursery, Delhi.
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Organised by Vinod Joshi, an expert on Rajasthan’s cultural heritage, the festival began 11 years ago as a “dedicated roots festival”. This year’s highlights include performances on “lost songs” by Begam Batool and Geeta Parag, besides kalbeliya songs and performances by local musicians. The venues include restored Patawari havelis owned by the local business community, old temples, and farmhouses overlooking the sand dunes. Till 5 November, in Momasar, Rajasthan.
In its sixth edition, the “greenest” music festival returns with a line-up of 40-plus international and local acts, including R&B artist Sid Sriram, Jitwam, and Singapore-based Yung Raja, who contemporises Tamil lyrics using Western sounds. The event is built on the ethos of “reduce, reuse, recycle”. The stages—typically four in number—where artists perform at this zero-plastic festival are solar-powered. 2-3 December, at the Embassy International Riding School, Bengaluru.
This celebration of sound that’s contemporary, unique and bold is held in a 17th century palace in Rajasthan’s Alsisar village. Around 70 artists are part of the line-up this year, responding to the theme of preservation. Look out for Gauley Bhai, who combine rock and contemporary ethnic sounds. 15-17 December, at the Alsisar Palace, Jhunjhunu district, Rajasthan.
For over two decades, Virasat has been celebrating Indian classical and semi-classical music. The festival highlights both stalwarts and upcoming talent. This year’s lineup includes folk and classical singers such as Pandit Sajan Mishra, Jasbir Jassi, Wadali Brothers, Sanjeev Abhyankar, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Radhika Chopra, Sawani Shende, and musicians like flautists Rakesh Chaurasia and Ronu Majumdar, sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee, among several others. Three-time Grammy award winner Ricky Kej’s Earth Concert will conclude this 15-day-long festival. Till10 November at the BR Ambedkar Stadium, Dehradun.
Having debuted last year, the international multi-genre music festival returns to Mumbai this year. While this year’s lineup is still under wraps, last year’s lineup included well-known artistes such as AP Dhillon, Imagine Dragons, The Strokes, among several others. The two-day festival saw over 5,000 people attending the event. 27-28 January, 2024, at the Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai.
The festival, currently in its 13th year, continues to attract music enthusiasts from across the country. 45-plus acts are slated to perform this year in genres ranging from metal and rock to hip-hop and funk. Watch out for singers such as M.I.A. and Priya Raghu (both of Sri Lankan descent), British jazz quintet Ezra Collective, and more. 1-3 December, at Teerth Fields, Pune.
Now its 23rd year, the music festival will travel to eight cities such as Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai. This edition will celebrate the words of Sufi and Bhakti saints such as Rumi, Bulleh Shah, Amir Khusrao, Kabir, and Meerabai, through the performances of Madan Gopal Singh and Chaar Yaar, Parvathy Baul, Wadali Brothers, among others. It’ll be interesting to witness Tibetan chants by Buddhist monks. 24 November-10 February, 2024 at various venues.
Abhilasha Ojha is a Delhi-based art and culture writer.