Alcohol, men, night concerts—yet, Arunachal’s Ziro music festival is safest for Indian women - ThePrint

Alcohol, men, night concerts—yet, Arunachal’s Ziro music festival is safest for Indian women – ThePrint

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Alcohol, men, night concerts—yet, Arunachal’s Ziro music festival is safest for Indian women – ThePrint

Unlike Maharashtra’s Enchanted Valley Festival or NH Weekender, Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro music festival was a surreal experience for women, including those travelling solo.

On the second day of Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro music festival, after two hours of intense performance, the electronic band Laxmi Bomb began a crescendo on stage.

Locally made alcohol was flowing like water, everyone was happy and high, and frenzied young men and women in the crowd danced and cheered.

As night fell, the music rose to its climax, and the band members defied the dipping temperature and went shirtless.

This is Ziro, arguably the safest music festival in India for women..

All that followed was high-octane cheering by the crowd, enthralled by the music and the expanse of the lush green Ziro Valley.

Many women were either first-time attendees of the festival, solo travellers, or travelling to Northeast India for the first time..

The Ziro vibe was very different from Laxmi Bomb’s experience at Pune seven years ago..

“When we performed at the Enchanted Valley Festival at Aamby Valley, the experience was completely opposite.

They had to call in cops because there were multiple instances of women being groped and harassed,” said vocalist Keegan Pereira..

A blogger by profession, she had attended the NH Weekender at Pune in 2019 and it was not the best experience, “I was paranoid about a person next to me who seemed very high and I was worried he would grope me.”.

But Ziro was a different experience.

Two days of enjoying the festival has only made me realise that the instinct was well-founded.”.

I have to say, they were right,” said Vishakha Sinha, a solo traveller and freelance graphic artist from Bengaluru..

Sinha wasn’t the only woman who took every possible means of commute–flight, train and cab rides—to make it to the almost magical Ziro Valley for the festival held from 29 September to 2 October this year.

A self-proclaimed ‘born again’ female traveller from Goa and a writer from Guwahati were among the many women who were united by their love for music, nature, and the assurance of safety..

But it doesn’t need ‘super-spreader’ Sunburn festival.

Music festivals have become ubiquitous in India.

There are over 20 such annual gatherings including Hornbill, Sunburn, NH7 Weekender, Enchanted Valley Carnival and Magnetic Fields festivals.

Most claim they prioritise women’s safety, but it doesn’t always translate on the ground, a problem not limited to India alone..

In the valley, demography comes into play, as well as socio-cultural practices that ensure a safe space for women..

No doubt, it translates into a safe space in the festival as well,” says Keegan.

They are the perfect platform for local talent like Abdon Mech, a songwriter-singer from Nagaland and Imphal-based band Meewakching to shine.

“Ziro is a good space for bands like us, who are based in the Northeast.

It gives a boost to indie artists, especially those who use indigenous tunes,” said members of Mizoram-based band Origami..

From local tours, including lunch, to activities, campsite owners try to ensure that people can enjoy the post-festival hours as well.

However, since the festival site has only one hotel, camping proves to be expensive..

Visitors are committed to the festival, and the long journey to reach the valley.

The popular route to Ziro involves taking an overnight train to Naharlagun, and a four-hour drive to the festival site the next day..

As the festival functions on the system of collaboration, organisers include local administration officials and members of the Apatani tribes..

“The festival doesn’t just highlight the cultural prowess of the region but is also a great boost to the local economy.

It has been a long wait for all of us,” says festival director Bobby Hano..

Arunachal has embraced the culture of celebration with its annual Tawang and Orange festivals that also serve to promote tourism.

In 2012, Hano and Menwhopause guitarist Anup Kutty decided to start a music festival in Ziro with the singular goal of inviting people to experience music in the lap of nature..

At the festival, we encourage everyone to respect nature and look after each other.

This makes the festival one of the most unique confluence of people,” Hano said in an interview to The Indian Express..

The government was quick to grasp the potential, and threw its weight behind the festival..

“When I was looking after the state’s tourism department, I thought to myself, why don’t we showcase the beauty of Arunachal Pradesh to the rest of the world?” said Chief Minister Pema Khandu, in an interview with EastMojo.

Most Indian music festivals court international artists.

The bigger the festival, the bigger the artist.

While Sunburn focuses on EDM, VH1 Supersonic is home to many genres from techno to indie and pop to reggae music.

For indie bands, space to perform is becoming increasingly limited despite the plethora of festivals.

Ziro Festival of Music, for the most part, bucks the trend.

International performers, too, are eager to tap into the potential of India’s fan base.

“As soon as my booking agent told me about it, I was super excited and started counting the days,” said Emilie Hanak, a singer-songwriter from France..

Her musical act Yelli Yelli had the crowd clamouring ‘once more’ throughout her performance, even as the sun was beginning to set.

“I am from the suburbs of Paris and sincerely, when I started music I would never have thought that my songs would take me to such a far away place… It still seems pretty unreal to me,” she said..

What stood out for first-timers and repeat fans of the festival is the eco-friendly practices the organisers have adopted.

“We ensured a trash-free festival site.

Local administration also cleared the area of trash before the beginning of the festival,” said Yashika Girdhar, one of the organisers..

ziro music, seven years, young men, campsite owners,

Read Article: ThePrint

Alcohol, men, night concerts—yet, Arunachal’s Ziro music festival is safest for Indian women – ThePrint

Alcohol, men, night concerts—yet, Arunachal’s Ziro music festival is safest for Indian women – ThePrint

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