The festival is organized every year under the support of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). It is an ethnic festival that was founded to present the diverse ethnicity of the region and the country as a whole. This dance festival was first organized in the 1989 and over the years it has expanded from its reach to include performers from throughout the country. The festival has gained attention of the tourists and the localities as it has exhibition of ethnic food stalls highlighting the traditional foods. The spectacular sight of the festival is the 'Shehnai' program at the Gateway of India to enthrall the visitors.
Celebration of the Elephanta festival
The Elephanta festival intends to honor the heritage of dance, art and sculpture in India. Elephanta Festival features eminent artistes who perform traditional dances. The folk dances of Maharashtra are performed with gaiety in the aesthetically designed stage and bright illumination. This festival aspires to bring forth the golden moments of the glorious past of India. Thus the cultural richness of the country is highlighted through this incredible extravaganza of enchanting ragas and dance performances. This festival takes an initiative to popularize classical dance and heritage art forms of India. Over the years this festival has fostered appreciation for the diverse cultural communities from the whole country. The dance styles that have included classical dance and folk dance presentations in the backdrop of the Elephanta Island in Mumbai are inexpressible.
The festivities start with a folk dance from the local fishermen (Koli).The serene abode of Lord Shiva, Elephanta Island, has been the inspiration of the festival. Situated at a distance of approximately 10 kilometers from the Mumbai harbor, the multicultural festival is presented. The Elephanta caves portray legends, created around Lord Shiva and the sculptures on the rock cave temples feature the duality of ‘Ardhanarishwara’ where the distinct gender components of the god are clearly expressed. This duality serves as the main theme of the Elephanta Festival.
The festival offers opportunity to the renowned dancers and musicians to perform outside the caves. The sight presented beneath a star-studded sky give the festival a special quintessence. The festival becomes a concoction of appreciative audience and exponents of performing art and is complimented by the boat ride from the Gateway of India in Mumbai to the Elephanta Islands.