Fast, Fair and Festivals of India Fast, Fair and Festivals of India
Celebrated In : Chennai, Tamilnadu
Festival of : Music and Dance
Celebrated During : Latter Half of December and Early part of January.
The Chennai Music and Dance festival celebrated during the latter half of December and early part of January is a cultural extravaganza that has no parallel anywhere in the world. A unique feature of this art festival is the fact that upcoming artistes also get a chance to exhibit their talents to this city of music and dance lovers at large along with the well-established artistes. Art lovers from various parts of the world visit the city during this season and in nearly all of them there is always a rush for tickets.
It's a celebration of the classical music and dance of South India, with songs in all the main languages - Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. At each venue there's usually a lecture and demonstration in the morning, followed by several concerts, each lasting around three hours, in the afternoon and evening.

The Concerts
Most of the concerts start with a "Varnam", an up tempo introduction. Then there are several songs, the Kirtanas performed, before the main number. The 'Raga' is the basis of Carnatic music, five to seven notes arranged in ascending or descending scales. There are 72 main ragas and several hundred variations of each, all organized into a complex classification.
The main instruments used are the Violin, Wooden Flute, 'Veena' (a large string instrument) 'Goottuvadyam' (similar to Veena but without frets), 'Nagaswaram' (pipe), 'Thavil' (percussion instrument), 'Mridangam' (drum), and even 'Ghatam' (a mud pot).
Performances Not Be Missed!
Performers to look out for include Vocalists K.V. Narayanaswami, M.S. Subbulakshmi, T. Brinda, Balamurali Krishna, T.N. Seshagopalan, T.K. Pattammal and Semmangudi Srinivasiyer, Violinists T.N. Krishnan, V.V. Subramanina, M.S. Gopalakrishnan, Lalgudi Jayaraman and G.L.R. Krishnan, Veena Players Gayatri and Chitti Babu, Flutists N. Ramani, T. Viswanathan and Sikkil Sisters, Gottuvadyam Player N. Ravi Kiran Nagaswaram players Shaik Chinna Moulana Sahib and Namagiripettai, and Mridangam players T.K. Murthy, Palghat Raghu, Vellore Ramabhadran, Umayalpuram Sivaram and T.V. Gopalakrishnan.
From mid-December to mid-January, Chennai comes alive with the annual classical music and dance festival. If one is in Chennai, one should make it a point and watch a performance. Programs are advertised in the newspapers, but still it's also worth asking the tourist office for a list of venues.