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Come September and it's time for the Pune Festival - a celebration of art and culture in the cultural capital of Maharashtra, a festival eagerly looked forward to by the Puneites. A delightful treat for cultural enthusiasts, the Pune Festival provides a feast of entertainment for visitors who can participate and revel in traditional as well as modern sports events, shop for exquisite textiles or handicrafts, relish the delicious cuisine, and rejoice in the colourful customs of Maharashtra. Although the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi itself is well over a hundred years old, the Pune Festival, which showcases the rich artistic and cultural heritage of Maharashtra, is entering its twelfth year. Starting out as a local event, the Pune Festival has, over the years, gained national and international renown and evolved into one of India's foremost cultural events, not only for the people of this lively city, but for cultural enthusiasts all over India and abroad. Renowned artistes gather at Pune, considering it a privilege to be invited to perform at this festival. The festival provides a platform for the exponents of classical music and dance. In keeping with the times, it also promotes the modern trends notably in the dramatic arts as well as the traditional art of rangoli.
 

The Pune Festival aims to preserve, present and promote the rich heritage of the performing arts, the culture and customs of a people who celebrate every joyous moment of their lives. A feast of cultural events and entertainment programmes is laid out to thrill and delight everyone. The organisers spare no efforts to ensure that the guests enjoy the comforts of all modern amenities - from accommodation to travel arrangements to volunteers who will show them around the city and the splendid sights it has to offer.

The festival commences with the 'Shobha Yatra'- a procession in which hundreds of folk artistes participate in their traditional costumes. Village 'jatras' or fairs held in the close vicinity to the city give a glimpse of rural Maharashtra at its colourful best. The 'Lavani' mahotsav showcasing the popular, earthy folk dance of Maharashtra promises exciting evenings. 'Dhol Lezims' and recitals of religious hymns and text enthral the religious.

 
Plays are staged in Marathi, Hindi, English and Gujarati for lovers of theatre. A special event at the festival called 'Indradhanu' provides centrestage to aspiring local talent. Evenings devoted to Ghazals and Mushairas appeal to those poetically inclined.
 
For sports lovers, there is the Bullock Cart race and thrilling Motor-Cross. There are physical sports like wrestling bouts and adventurous water sports like Kayaking. Connoisseurs of food can relish the mouth-watering delicacies at the food festivals. Art lovers can enjoy watching artists make colourful rangolis. Girls are thrilled with the intricate designs of the mehendi artists. Painting competitions for school children and roller-skating championships rope in the youngsters. Flower shows and exhibitions of handicrafts offer a welcome break from the entertainment programmes spread over the evenings.
 

 

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