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Your Carnatic Music Festival Guide

Best Carnatic Music Festivals

Carnatic Music Festivals

Five Of The Best

By Reema Krishnan

Music knows no language and transcends physical boundaries. Let’s take the example of South India, which is a land of rich cultural and musical heritage. It is most popularly known for Carnatic music, a music genre that people appreciate all over the world.

Carnatic music is filled with harmonically-rich ragas and nuanced talas. It is layered with violins, flutes, gamakams, and talams, making it nothing short of awe-inspiring art. If you are a Carnatic music lover and looking for exceptional Carnatic music festivals, here are five that you just shouldn’t miss. Read on to know more.

Five Carnatic Music Festivals That You Must Attend

Chembai Sangeetholsavam

Chembai Sangeetholsavam, which started in 1910, is a festival held as a dedication to a Carnatic musician Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. According to local legend, Chembai was Lord Krishna’s ardent devotee and he would conduct a music festival in the temple town. He used to invite people to sing at the gathering. After his demise, the Guruvayur
Devaswom board started a small-scale event. Now, it has bloomed into a large event where 2,000-2,500 singers of all age groups participate. Its highlight is the group concert that marks the end of the festival. It’s a set of five favourite songs of Chembai sung by over 150 artists for several hours.

Where: Guruvayur, Chennai
When: November – December

Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana

As a Carnatic music lover, you would be familiar with Saint Thyagaraja’s name. He started creating compositions when he was thirteen and introduced various techniques into the world of Carnatic music. This music festival was started to commemorate Thyagaraja. As an attendee, you will be captivated sitting in front of the place where he was laid to rest, listening to a group performance of the Thyagaraja composed Pancha Rathna Keerthana.

Where: Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu
When: January

Purandara Dasa

Started in 1974, the Purandara Dasa festival takes place at the Vithala Temple at Hampi. It is celebrated in the memory of Purandara Dasaru, famously known as the ‘Grandfather of Carnatic Music’. Some of the most famous Carnatic and Hindustani classical music performers have participated in this festival. The history of the town itself lends to the charm of the festival, making it an unforgettable event.

Where: Hampi, Karnataka
When: January/February/March

Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival

If you reside in the USA or are willing to travel overseas for one of the best Carnatic festivals ever hosted, you have to attend the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival. This twelve-day festival began in 1978 and is held around the Easter weekend. This festival honours Thyagaraja, a famous Carnatic music composer. This has grown to become a huge South Indian music festival and attracts people from all over the world.

Where: Cleveland, Ohio
When: March/April

Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru

Every Carnatic music lover knows about Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyaru, an iconic music festival that was conceived in 2005. This Carnatic music festival lasts eight days every year. Recognized Carnatic and Hindustani classical musicians, upcoming talents, and dancers are a part of this
festival. Apart from music, even discourses held here. The festival starts at 7 am and ends at 10 pm, with over fifty shows a day.

Where: Kamarajar Arangam, Chennai
When: December

Final Notes

As a Carnatic music lover, you will surely be enthralled with these music festivals of India and abroad. However, if you are a fan of Carnatic music, why not take it a step further and try learning it. The next time you attend these festivals, you will have a better understanding of the art. And who knows, you may get a chance to perform as well!

Author Bio:

Reema Krishnan is a content creator at the Acharyanet platform for Carnatic music learners where they can learn music from gurus through 400+ video lessons. Being a music enthusiast and a history buff herself, she is able to provide value for her readers and her content is well-received by musicians, music lovers, and music learners of all ages and at all stages. She loves to volunteer with music therapy groups and bakes up a storm in her free time.

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Best Carnatic Music Festivals

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