India is a land of festivities and color. Since India is a spiritual country festivals and celebrations are in its blood.
These celebrations can take any form from feasting to fasting from fairs to religious rituals there is something for everyone in here. The festivals give us an insider look into the culture and history of India.
Celebrated throughout the year and across India the peppy festivals are an experience to be cherished!
Diwali, also called Deepavali, or the “Festival of Lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.
Many see Diwali honoring the return of the lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana from exile, as told in the ancient Hindu epic called the Ramayana.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Holi is a spring festival also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love.
Holi celebrations start with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance.
The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours,where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight.
Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders.
A Ratha-Yatra or Roth Jatra or Chariot Festival is a Hindu festival that involves transporting deities on a chariot (called a ratha or roth).It is held every year in Puri in the state of Orissa.
“Ratha” in Oriya means chariot and “yatra” means journey. The festival thus refers to the annual journey of the divinity in the form of idols to their aunt’s house. “Aunt” here refers to the feminine creative aspect of divinity.
Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters; the festival is also popularly used to celebrate any brother-sister like loving protective relationship between men and women who are relatives or biologically unrelated.
Raksha Bandhan is an ancient festival, and has many myths and historic legends linked to it. For example, the Rajput queens practised the custom of sending rakhi threads to neighbouring rulers as token of brotherhood.
On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother’s wrist. This symbolizes the sister’s love and prayers for her brother’s well-being, and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.
Eid al-Fitr is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan.
Krishna Janmashtami is an annual commemoration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
Hindus celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born.
Images of Krishna’s infancy are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes. At midnight, devotees gather around for devotional songs, dance and exchange gifts. Some temples also conduct readings of the Hindu religious scripture Bhagavad Gita.
While the Rasa lila re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna’s youthful days, the Dahi Handi celebrate God’s playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break
Navratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga.
The word Navaratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped.
The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or “Dussehra” (also spelled Dasara). Navratri is an important major festival and is celebrated with great zeal all over India.
Navaratri or Navadurga Parva happens to be the most auspicious and unique period of devotional sadhanas and worship of Shakti (the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy) of the Divine conceptualized as the Mother Goddess-Durga, whose worship dates back to prehistoric times before the dawn of the Vedic age.
The name Dussehra is derived from Sanskrit Dasha-hara literally means The sun will not rise (Dasha(sun) and Hara(defeat)) referring to Lord Rama’s victory over the ten-headed demon king Ravana. The day also marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the demons Mahishasur.
Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated generally on December 25by billions of people around India and the world.
Maha Shivratri (the ‘Great Night of Shiva’) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. It is the day Shiva was married to Parvati.
The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or golden apple or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-long vigil (jagarana).
Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi is a festival celebrated across the northern Indian subcontinent, especially in the Punjab region by the Sikh community.
For the Sikh community this festival commemorates the establishment of the Khalsa.
The festival bears a great significance for the Sikhs due of the fact that on the Vaisakhi Day in the year 1699, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh laid down the foundation of the Panth Khalsa, that is the Order of the Pure Ones.
This day is also observed as the thanksgiving day by the farmers whereby the farmers pay their tribute, thanking God for the abundant harvest and also praying for the future prosperity.
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by Tamil people at the end of the harvest season.Pongal is a four day festival.
In Tamil, the word Pongal means “overflowing” which signifies abundance and prosperity.
On the day of Pongal, at the time of sun rise there is a symbolic ritual of boiling fresh milk in a new clay pots and when the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, people shout “Pongalo Pongal!
Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala, India.
It marks the commemoration of Vamana avatara of Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of mythical King Mahabali. Onam is reminiscent of Kerala’s agrarian past, as it is considered to be a harvest festival.
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