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Get Set Groove: The Lowdown On Ziro Music Festival



Get Set Groove: The Lowdown On Ziro Music Festival

How to make the most of it, from Sept 28 until Oct 1

You have to admit, Sunburn and NH7 have become kind of passé. I’d even go on and say that we’re bored of all the high-energy dancing (unless you are a dik-chik type Delhiite reading this?!).

The live music scene in India had been missing a wholesome outdoor festival made up of such classic ingredients as a pleasant location, swaying indie music, good vibes and, most importantly, a cultural context and a localised experience.

That’s exactly what Arunachal Pradesh’s Ziro Music Festival turned out to be. It began in 2012 as one of the many music fests popping up around the country, but soon distinguished itself as truly indie in a gorgeous setup including a fine bamboo stage that hosts bands worth travelling across rain-slushed roads to listen to.

It made a difference that it was musician Anup Kutty and local event organiser Bobby Hano who came together to create the festival.

ZFM has grown to become the largest indie music fest in India today. If you are headed that way, below is a checklist to help you make the most of it.

(1) ZFM has become huge, so make sure your logistics are in place. Accommodation is only going to become harder to find, especially in the limited number of homestays. At the very least you should pack in a tent to have a place to crash in after all the rice beer and heady music.

(2) Oh yes, rice beer. Marua they call it, and it’s really the most popular brew throughout the festival (and otherwise). You’ll happily skip gassy Kingfisher once you get a taste of this local special. There are local wines too, think plum and kiwi. Doesn’t it all sound incredibly healthy?

(3) Tickets come in various permutations and combinations. You can get a day pass for Rs 2,000 each, or get an Early Bird Ticket that covers all four days and costs Rs 5,000. However, this would not allow you access to camping ground. For that you need to shell out another Rs 3,000. Buy here.

(4) Getting to the venue is as much fun as the festival itself. Regardless of whether you go by air, road or rail, you will have to eventually take on the slushy roads with possible landslides and delays. (Ah yes, I forgot the rain. It will be raining. Pack a good pair of waterproof boots!)

And remember to acquire an Inner Line Permit, without which you would be packed off home.

(5) The village is home to the Apatani tribe famous for worshipping the sun and the moon, and for its tattooing traditions. Be respectful of their culture and chances are you’d end up making friends with the locals and forging a relationship with Ziro’s wonderful community that extends well beyond the festival dates.

(6) The lineup this year has some real gems. Damo Suzuki, a Jap musician, is one to look out for. This peculiar vocalist’s music was defined by The Guardian as ‘psyche-punk frenzied wails’.

The local Assamese folk-pop fusion group Jambili is exciting too, as are the Yemen Funk founders Bint el Funk. There will be more lineup updates as the festival dates draw closer, keep checking here.

(7) The most beautiful part of Ziro is its farming culture, which is especially dedicated to fish, paddy and butterflies, all of them practised in locally adapted sustainable ways that have evolved over centuries. You can easily take a walk through these fields not too far from the festival, or make a trip to farms like the Tarin Fish Farm to get a deeper sense of how it all works.

Get further updates on ZFM’s Facebook page.

Image Credit: ZiroFestival



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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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