What is a Festival?
A festival is a celebration that people have a common interest in. Often, festivals are religious or have music and dancing, but they can also be purely for fun.
Food, drink and the environment are all big inspirations for festival events across the world, and there are plenty of different kinds to choose from. Some are specific to a certain item of food or drink, and others have more to do with the atmosphere or culture of a region.
One of the most famous festivals is Oktoberfest, where around six million visitors gather in Munich for 16 days of endless beer and traditional German food. It’s a great way to experience the country’s culture and see all the sights of the city.
Another popular kind of festival is the carnival. This takes place around the world, usually just before Lent, when religious followers have to fast or give up luxuries for 40 days. It’s a chance to party hard, with colourful floats and costumed characters paraded down the streets.
Typically, these kinds of festivals are sponsored by civic or religious organisations. However, they can also be organised entirely by volunteers.
The term “festival” dates back to the 15th century and originally meant a day of feasting or celebration. It has since become associated with an often regularly recurring program of cultural performances, exhibitions or competitions.
In the past, most festivals were associated with either religious or agricultural traditions. Some of the most important such events are Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali and Eid al-Fitr. Other festivals are seasonal or commemorate events of historical significance.
There are also many secular festivals, based on a local or national interest. These include music festivals, art festivals and cinema festivals.
Some of these are organized for profit, while others are free and are self-sustaining. Organisations who put on these types of events are encouraged to secure adequate funding and promote good corporate governance, transparency and accountability.
The government of India has recently issued guidelines for the arts and culture sector, including those related to festivals. The aim is to provide equal opportunities to all the different types of cultural expressions, and to promote professional ethics in the sector.
It is estimated that there are more than 5000 arts and culture festivals in the country, of which most are held during the course of a year. These events are an integral part of the cultural life of the nation and form a major source of economic activity.
In order to ensure that such festivals are well funded and geared towards the sustainable development of the economy, the Government of India has set up a fund for supporting these events. The funds are used to support the organisers of these festivals in the form of grants and other forms of assistance, which include technical, financial and operational assistance.
The guidelines also encourage the organisers of such festivals to give ample time and opportunity to marginalized and disadvantaged groups of artists, musicians, dancers and other cultural practitioners. In doing so, it also seeks to unearth and preserve the cultural expressions that are under threat of extinction.