History and Origin of Fest Culture in India

From media to management, every year India witnesses college festivals over a broad spectrum, and they have become quite ubiquitous in the last few decades. The idea of a college fest has spread all over the country in different styles depending on the cultural alignment and the particular course the institute offers. In recent years, college festivals have become essential as industries have started to demand a more holistic approach towards education. Naturally, such fests have grown with each generation of students. For instance, when ‘Mood Indigo’—IITB’s cultural festival—was first held in 1971 they started with a budget of five thousand rupees. Inflation considered, that adds up to about two lakh rupees. Think that’s still a decent amount? In 1993, the budget had already multiplied a whopping fifteen times. Though the official figures have not been made public in the recent years, they’ve allegedly crossed the fifty-lakh threshold.

College fests have also garnered the attention of a lot of influential people. From sponsorship to performances, the number of eminent people involved goes on to show how significant this culture has become in our country. We don’t need to go anywhere but home to observe this fact. We have had the pleasure of hosting breathtaking bands like The Local Train and Pentagram. The speakers invited this year require no introduction. The three-hour long queue outside Student Plaza when conclave tickets were being sold is a testament to the above fact.

When we observe this culture within Manipal, we can see the variety in the fests hosted by different colleges depending on the courses they offer. For example, the Department of Commerce has a management fest, and the School of Communication has a media fest, both of which cater to specific audiences.

The year 1957 marked the commencement of cultural fests in Manipal. What started as ‘College Day‘, has now grown into a substantial fest. In 1979, a group of students came together and organised the first fundraising event called ‘That’s entertainment’—which had an assemblage of colleges from Udupi and Mangalore. This elementary college day evolved into ‘Revels‘ by the year 1982. Revels started gaining popularity by 2004, with the introduction of ‘themes’. Technical events did not play a major role in the fests until much later. IEEE’s ‘Intellect’ provided a platform for tech enthusiasts to flaunt their skills. The Chemical department’s ‘Cheminar‘ was also an eagerly awaited event. This laid the foundation for present-day TechTatva. Today, the events in TechTatva range from robotics to biology. TechTatva grew from being an intra-college event to an inter-college fest with a footfall of 1500 participants from a plethora of colleges—both government and private—by the year 2010.

Reminiscing Greatness‘ is the theme for the 12th edition of TechTatva, it looks back on all the advances that have happened in the field of science and technology over the years. Similarly, other college fests in the country have progressed in terms of magnitude, quality, and efficiency as evidenced by the events hosted by these fests. For the past decade, college fests in India have shifted their focus to the burning issues of the country, with special emphasis on the socio-economic aspects of people’s lives. A major incentive behind creating such specific themes is spreading awareness about hitherto undermined and unknown evils that are currently prevalent. Issues such as mental health problems, women’s safety, homophobia, and sexual crimes have become hot topics for colleges to incorporate into their fest themes. Open mics have become one of the most commonly employed methods for colleges to spread awareness about these issues. Through poems, songs, and other forms of expression, a platform is created for people to come out and talk about these concerns openly. This significantly aids in removing the taboos attached to these subjects. Some colleges even screen related documentaries and short films to expand people’s horizons further. More and more colleges have adopted this approach over the years.

If we were to put it into a bracket term, college fests have evolved from a close-knitted gathering to a nationwide celebration of the fusion of culture and modernity that we are.


Written by Aminah Neemah, Aneesha Muthuraj, Chintan Gandhi and Rishi Kant for MTTN.


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