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Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Tipping point of Indian Tourism


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The Venice film festival is about the start in Italy in a few days, Milan art festival had its best ever audience in many years , Cannes this year the turnout was overwhelming. In India the temple festivals are seeing unprecedented crowds of pilgrims from across the borders. The ruisrock festival this July attracted the Finnish prime minister herself, seen dancing with friends.

According to Deloitte travel industry in 2022 will return close to pre Covid levels across the United States, airlines and hotels are packed with guests running near full house.

According to my editor Savio Rodrigues people travel more today for wellness, health including mental health and nature tourism. The business traveller of yesterday is doing fine with zoom meetings and people travel for other reasons. This brings about an important time in the history of Indian tourism industry.

According to Invest India of the ministry of tourism Indian government, The Indian travel and tourism market is estimated today at USD 100bn. India share of overseas traveller is a mere 1.5%. What is the future of tourism in India, what are the emerging nuggets of tourism in India let’s explore

Indian Music Festival

The musical tradition of India dates back to the vedic period. Singing and instruments like the Veena are mentioned in yagyavalkar smritis millenniums before. The sama veda laid the foundation of hymns in a musical form . The dating of Vedas is over 20,000 years of oral traditions. Ramayana period there are references to music and festivity is over 7000 years old. Carnatic music a tradition as old as at least Ramayana period is still a thriving practice in India and very popular in the southern states even today.
Convert in The Music Academy in chennai 
The carnatic music festival follows the same tradition of concerts since several centuries , The Parthasarathy Sabha chennai since 1896 the music academy since 1928 along with over 30 such sabhas ( musical Town Hall) has their annual margazi utsavam ( winter festival) during December – January each year , over 500 musicians perform all day along along with a symphony of instruments. It’s the worlds oldest and unbroken tradition of music festival. Over 0.5 million guests mostly domestic and diaspora visit chennai during this time each year.
It has universal potential to become a major tourist attraction for world musicians to visit and connect back to history. The knowledge systems the museums the curriculum of raga Swara and literature of carnatic music is truly a visit back to some of greatest treasures as a human society we should cherish. Both central and local governments can create tourism infrastructure and promote the margazi music festival.
According to www.statista.com The world market for music festival is $20bn and is growing at nearly 10%. Indian music the good days are ahead.

Ganga Snaan, Bathing in Ganges

River Ganga is the most scared waterways in India, it starts visibly at 3900m in Himalayas but believed to originate from deep gorges of the mountain several hundred miles above. It passes through vast slopes of shrubs plants and medicinal trees . It is considered divine and sacred by Indian philosophy for several centuries. Imagine this oral tradition states that Ganga bathing to cure of all sins since 12,000 years. Year around millions of Indians visit Rishikesh, Haridwar and Varanasi to take a holy dip, till date billions have taken a dip in Ganga river.
The collective prayers chants and penance over 10 millennium by a billion people I’m sure has a curative value of its own.
Gita and Ganga constitute the essence of Hinduism; one its theory and the other its practice.— said Swami Vivekananda . It is the very essence of indianess to take a dip in the divine river. Each year over 15million pilgrims visit Ganga, it’s a sport, it’s history it’s a healer it’s also a moral healer.
Ganga dip festival or Ganga snaan can be game changer for Indian tourism, if goverments and private institutions work together Ganga Snaan can become a global phenomenon.
Ganga Dip and prayer ritual in Haridwar in Uttarakhand 

Yoga Festival

Yoga is about purifying mind body and atma. Yoga is much beyond physical postures for fitness. Though recently sweeping the world the modern yoga has been widely accepted the world over as a form of physical excercise. the true yoga in Indian tradition is bringing about stability sustainability and concentration of the whole apparatus called Human ( the mind body and atma ). As the body wears n tears by every living minute, yoga nourishes and sustains 19 bodily subsystems namely i) organs of knowledge seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching, ii) the five organs of action hands, legs, generative and discharging system, iii) the five vital energy systems prana – exhale, apana- inhale, vyana- blood circulation, udhana- inducing sleep and samana- digesting food and iv) four mind systems namely manas – mind, budhi – intellect, ahamkara- ego or Me identity and chittam- the awareness or pure knowledge.
Yoga is taught through a guru, a learned and practising yogi who then forms a lifetime bond in one’s life. This is a tradition as old as human existence and can be a priced gem for Indian tourism. India has over 0.5 million yoga gurus, organising yoga festivals year round would make the world benefit and add hugely to tourism. Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is the heaven for yogic practises and could be a world epicentre for yoga festival.
As Shri. Dattopant Thengidi a eminent Indian philosopher and economist said in his book The Third way , india can built neither by westernisation or globalisation the third way is by the very Indian way. It’s so relevant in every aspect of national development, these three ideas of traditional Indian music festival, Ganga Snaan and yoga festivals can be a unique Indian offering to redefine tourism.
Soundarajan Narendran
Soundarajan Narendran
Data Analyst, public policy expert & international relations

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