India, without any doubt, is the land of amazing festivals. It has individuals from distinct religious activities and customs and therefore, observes various pious festivals.
Indians commemorate many religious festivals. Indians await the festivals throughout the year and celebrate them with great interest and enthusiasm. The complete surroundings of India are filled with happiness and energy throughout the wonderful festive time of year.
Indians adore and welcome their all festivals and observe even those with less importance with great positivity. India is a wonderful land of unique religions and customs; therefore, each religion contains its own festivities and cultures.
Even though there is a great diversity in India, each festival is honored together by the individuals of all religions and ideologies. Festivals of great India show the lavish cultural patrimony of its dwellers; their belief in one another’s religious faiths; shared peace between the people in India along with their admiration for the country and its legacies.
Now Let’s talk about the Festivals Of India.
What’s the better way to start talking about festivals of India than starting with Holi?
Holi is popularly known as the festival of colors, but what most people don’t know is that it is also known as the festival of spring and the festival of love.
It is celebrated to signify the end of winter and the arrival of spring. An ancient festival which not just has a mythological reason to celebrate but also acts as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.
Hiranyakashipu, a demon-like king wanted to take revenge for his brother’s death who was killed by Lord Vishnu.
The cruel king had a son Prahalad who continued to worship Lord Vishnu in spite of repeated warnings by his father.
The furious king asked his sister Holika who was immune to fire to sit on it with Prahalad on her lap wanting to kill him.
But since his son continued worshipping Lord Vishnu, his life was saved by Lord Vishnu and Holika was burnt into ashes which signified the death of all that’s bad.
The death of Holika is celebrated as Holi and due to the same reason, some people in the northern part of India light a bonfire to mark the death of evil.
The reason Holi became a festival of colors is that Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) used to splash colors and play pranks with his friends at Vrindavan and Gokul, he popularised the same.
The word Raksha means protection and Bandhan means bond. On occasion of Raksha Bandhan, the sister ties a thread, known as Rakhi on the wrist of her brother who in return promises to protect his sister forever.
Rakhi is a symbol of love and affection between siblings. On this day, the sister ties a sacred thread, praying for her brother’s health, prosperity, and well-being.
In 1905 when the partition of Bengal divided the country, Rabindranath Tagore initiated the Rakhi Mahotsav to strengthen the bond of love and togetherness between Hindus and Muslims.
The festival gained popularity when Rani Karnavati, a widowed queen of Chittoor, sent a rakhi to the Mughal emperor Humayun when she was in need of help.
Eid – al – Fitr means breaking the fast. It celebrates the conclusion of 29-30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the month of Ramadan.
It is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that they are commanded by God, as mentioned in the Quran, to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat al-Fitr before offering the Eid prayers.
BAKRA EID (EID-AL-ADHA)
Also known as the greater Eid and the festival of sacrifice, it commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to Allah’s words.
It is also called Salty Eid because of the variety of dishes cooked and served in their houses. The dishes prepared depends on the animal slaughtered in their houses. The most common Eid dishes are beef and mutton.
Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10 day Hindu festival celebrated to honor the birthday of Ganesha, the younger son of Parvathi and Shiva.
At the start of the festival, idols of Ganesha are placed on high-level platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents.
The worship begins with a ritual to invoke life in the idols, followed by another ritual paying tribute. Amid the chanting of Vedic hymns from religious texts like the Ganesh Upanishad.
The idols are anointed with red Chandan (sandalwood) paste and yellow and red flowers. Ganesha is also offered coconut, jaggery, and 21 modaks (sweet dumplings), considered to be Ganesha’s favorite food.
At the end of the festival, the idols are carried to local rivers in huge processions accompanied by drumbeats, devotional singing, and dancing.
There Ganesha’s idols are immersed into the water, a ritual symbolizing Ganesha’s homeward journey to Mount Kailas—the abode of his parents.
Durga pooja is a 10 day Hindu festival, during the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, and particularly celebrated in Northern and other eastern Indian states.
Durga Puja celebrates the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon king Mahishasura.
It begins on the same day as Navratri, a nine-night festival celebrating the divine feminine.
The ninth day is referred to as Navratri and the 10th day is referred to as Dussera. As told by Hindu mythology, the demon was set out to wage war against the gods and it was up to Durga to slay him and protect the earth.
She began her battle against the demon on the seventh day of Navratri, known as Maha Saptami and slain him by the final day of Vijay Dasami.
Diwali or Deepawali is known as the festival of lights. It is celebrated to honor Ramachandra, the 7th incarnation of God Vishnu.
It is believed that on this day, Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against Ravana.
People light their homes to celebrate his victory over evil. The goddess of happiness and fortune Lakshmi also figures into the celebration.
The world celebrates Diwali with gift exchanges, fireworks, and festive meals. People try to pay off their old debts, make or buy new clothes and thoroughly clean their houses as a part of the festival preparations.
Chhath Puja is an ancient Hindu festival and the only Vedic Festival devoted to the Hindu Sun God, Surya, and Chhathi Maiya.
Chhath Puja is performed to thank Surya for being the primordial force sustaining life on earth. Surya, considered the God of energy and the life-force, is worshipped during the Chhath festival to endorse well-being, prosperity, and progress.
In Hinduism, Sun worship is supposed to cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, besides ensuring the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders.
The rituals include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water, standing in water for long periods of time, and offering Prashad (prayer offerings) and arghya (commodity offering) to the rising and setting sun.
Also known as Holy Friday, Good Friday is considered as one of the soberest days for Christians during the Holy Week.
Good Friday is observed with fasting and praying by many Christians believers as they remember the passion, crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus Christ.
Christians believe Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose again three days later – which is marked as Easter. The three days are known as the Easter Triduum.
Good Friday is held in remembrance of Jesus’s Crucifixion. It is held after Maundy Thursday, which recalls the Last Supper, and on the Friday before Easter Sunday.
Christians believe Jesus took on all the sins of the world and thus it is only through his sacrifice, that they are redeemed and allowed to enter into heaven.
Easter, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary.
It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who in the Christian religion, is also known as ‘The Son Of God’.
The traditional narrative behind Christmas celebrations is that Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, arrived at the city of Bethlehem, but had no lodgings.
They were confined to a stable in an inn, which is where Jesus was born in the manger. This is also known as the nativity of Jesus.
Feasts are prepared and many people also ring in the occasion weeks in advance and Christmas carols are sung for the occasion.
On this day of Karwachauth, the wedded ladies, fast starting from sunrise to the moonrise for the security and long-life of their partners.
Previously, it was celebrated as devotion towards the long-life of fighters in the battles, and today, in a broad sense, it applies to the long life of a woman’s husband.
Maha Shivratri is devoted to Lord Shiva, this festival has its roots to numerous stories, and among them, one states the celebration of the wedding of the Shiva and Parvati.
However, some stories suggest that Shivratri is observed because Shiva protected this world on this day from a container of poison, which arose from the sea during Samudra Manthan.
Janmashtami is the greatest event observed throughout India to celebrate Lord Krishna’s birth that is considered to be the 8th manifestation of Lord Vishnu.
Also, it is celebrated to honor the rich personality of Lord Krishna because he got birth to dissipate the evil and distribute love and brotherhood around the world.
It is the most divine festival of the Buddhist, known as Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima. It is celebrated in the honor of Lord Buddha’s birthday.
Additionally, it observes his wisdom and death. Most Hindus regard Buddha as the 9th manifestation of Lord Vishnu, as symbolized in the ancient manuscripts.
Mahavir Jayanti is a sacred occasion observed by the community of Jain to honor the birthday of Lord Mahavir. Mahavir is the originator of Jainism and he had abandoned the royalty and his family as well to find the revelation of religious liberty and purity.
The occasion of Barawafat is commemorated to honor the birth anniversary of the Prophet (PBUH).
This occasion comes in the 3rd-month of the year “Rabi-Al-Awwal.” the birthday of the Holy Prophet is recognized on 12th of Rabi-Al-Awwal of the Islamic calendar.
HAZRAT ALI BIRTHDAY
Hazrat Ali is respected as a dear follower of Prophet and the first male, who accepted Islam.
His birth anniversary is hugely commemorated by both communities in the Muslim religion: Shia and Sunni.
Muslims accept that Hazrat Ali was a wonderful scholar and a divine Muslim according to the lifestyle he had.
Shab-e–Barat is considered as the night to ask for forgiveness, in which Muslims pray to Allah.
Each year, Shab-e-Barat is marked between the 14th and 15th nights of Sha’aban that is the 8th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
That’s why this night is especially for the people who ask for Allah’s mercy for all the sins.
Jamat-ul-Vida is called the Jummat-al-Wida as well that means great wishes of the Holy Quran.
This day also marks the beginning of the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr. It is commemorated in the mosques by offering prayers for serenity, prosperity, and peace in the world.
GURU GOBIND SINGH JAYANTI
Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti has spelled Govind Singh as well, it is a Sikh occasion, which celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind or Govind Singh Ji, who is the 10th Guru of the Sikh community.
It is a sacred festival where prayers for peace and prosperity are performed.
Even though a famous tale says that Lohri is commemorated to observe the ending of the winter season, this occasion is conventionally linked to the harvest of the crops of Rabi and therefore, farmers in India, especially Punjabi farmers contemplate this day after Lohri or Maghi as the economic new year for them.
GURU NANAK JAYANTI
Guru Nanak Jayanti or Guru Nanak Gurpurab is observed as the day to honor the holy and divine guru, Guru Nanak Ji, and this event is a keepsake for the believers of Sikhism to memorize and follow Guru Nanak’s instructions and master the top five clamps that are lust, attachment, pride, greed and anger, and spend your own life in the giving nature and service to God.
Guru Ramadas Jayanti is observed on the yearly basis by the Sikh community residing in India to remember the birth anniversary of the 4th Guru of Sikhism – Guru Ram Das Ji, who was born on 24th September 1534 and left this world on 1st September 1581.
Moreover, he is honored and respected for all his augmentations to the Sikh community. He is also acclaimed to be the founder of the holiest city of the Sikhs, which is none other than Amritsar.