Festivals of India
India is one of the ancient countries of the world. It has rich historical and cultural heritage. With the passage of time various festivals emerged from the long tradition and practice. In fact, festivals are spirit of a nation which unified the entire nation and on these occasions, people from different walks of life come together and celebrate these festivals. India is a motherland of various religions. Here people of various religions such as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Zoroastrian etc. inhabit. Following are the major festivals celebrated in India.
Broadly festivals can be categorized into two parts.
It is known as the festival of colors. People of all religions, castes and creeds celebrate it with enthusiasm. On the eve of Holi, Holika bonfires are made. Holi celebration begins on Phalgun Purnima which falls in the month of February end or early March. Holi festival is traced back in ancient India and in fact, it is the celebration of the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. This festival bridges the social gap and refurbishes our relation with each other. On this day, people gather in open areas and apply colour on each other.
Dussehra, is also one of the most popular festivals of India. It is celebrated throughout the country. For ten days there is a festive seasons across the country. Ramlila is held everywhere. On the day of Ravan Dahan huge effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhakaran are burnt.
Diwali is celebrated throughout the country. This is the festival of lights. On this day Lakshmi Puja is performed and houses are decorated with candles, clay lamps etc. On the nights of Diwali crackers are burst and people greet each other by sharing sweets and gifts. This is the high time when friends, families, and neighbors meet each other. It is celebrated in the month of October or November. Though it is a Hindu festivals but people all over the country celebrate it with great joy.
Navratri, as the name suggests, is nine days celebration organized throughout India. People, especially women keep fasts and worshipped Goddess Durga or Amba (Power). Navratri is celebrated twice in a year, in the beginning of spring and at the beginning of autumn.
- Durga Puja
Durga Puja is celebrated in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur and Assam. These ten days fast are observed by the people. Idols of Goddess Durga are made and placed on Pandals. Durga Puja festival is celebrated from the sixth to tenth day (shukla Paksha) in the month of Ashwin. Durga Puja festival is celebrated on the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Good over Evil.
- Krishna Janmashtami
Janmashtami is celebrated as a birthday of Lord Krishna. Though Janmashtami is celebrated throughout India but celebrations in Mathura and Vrindavan are very popular and attractive and draw our attention. People observe fast to get blessings of Lord Krishna. On this day Lord Krishna is worshipped and various kinds of song and bhajans are sung in the temple premises. Procession of Lord Krishna and Goddess takes place. Janamashtmi is celebrated in Krishna Paksha of the month of August or September of the year.
- Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the honour of lord Ganesha. It is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. This is a very auspicious day celebrated to pray to the God so that every new activity that is started is successfully completed without any hindrance. According to Hindu tradition, Lord Ganesha is the God of knowledge and insight. It is ten days affairs. On this occasion, idols of Lord Ganesha are installed in the houses and temples. It falls in the month of August or September.
Gurupurab is the celebration of anniversaries of the ten Sikh Gurus. It is prominent festival of Sikh religion in India. People wear new clothes after taking bath in the Holy Sarovars and then go to Gurudwaras for Shabad, Kirtan and discourses from the Guru Granth Sahib. People light up their homes with lamps and candles and burst crackers to celebrate Gurpurab.
Bihu is celebrated in the North East parts of India. It is the harvest festival of Assam. It is the traditional New Year celebration of Assamese which is celebrated on 14th or 15th April. During this festival, young men and women wear ethnic clothes and perform the Bihu dance in the village, fields.
Onam is the most popular festival of Kerala. People of all walks of life celebrate and enjoy it. It is celebrated to commemorate the homecoming of the legendary king Mahabali. In fact, Onam is the state festival of Kerala and around four days holidays are given to the children and employees. On these days’ people of the state decorate their houses with Pookalam i.e. floral designs and prepare Onasadya. On this day Vallamkali (snake boat race), Kaikottikali (clap dance), Kathakali dance are performed. Onam is celebrated in the month of August or September.
Pongal is the most prominent festival celebrated by Tamil people across India. It is the four-day long harvest festival of South India. It is also celebrated in Puducherry. On the occasions of Pongal cattle races are held. It is celebrated on 14th or 15th January. On this day, Pongal dishes are prepared and people wear their ethnic attires. The houses are decorated with Kolam designs, the traditional floral designs are made with rice, colored powders, and flower petals.
- Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan is the sacred festivals of bonding between sister and brother. In this festival, the sister performs Aarti, applies tilak, and ties rakhi on her brother’s wrist wishing his well being. The brother, in return, vows to protect the sister and gives her gifts and money.
This is the two-day religious festival which is celebrated across Ladakh. The festivities include the Cham dance which is performed by the priests to the tune of the traditional music of cymbals, drums, trumpets played by the monks.
It is celebrated on the 10th day of Tibetan Lunar month called as Tse Chu, which falls in the month of June or July. On this day, Hemis Monastery holds a two-day celebration to remember the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava who is said to be a reincarnation of Lord Buddha. Guru Padmasambhava is the founder of Tibet Tantric Buddhism. This festival is held at the Hemis Gompa- the courtyard of the monastery. Apart from local people, lots of tourists are also seen enjoying on this auspicious day.
It is festival of bonding between sister and brother. This festival falls in the month of October or November just after Diwali. Bhaidooj is celebrated in North, Central and West India.
Eid is most important festival of India for the Muslim. On this day, sweets are distributed and shared among friend and relatives. People are given idi (money or gift) by their elders and dear and near ones. It is celebrated on the last day of holy month of Ramadan. Generally it falls in the month of July.
Christmas is celebrated worldwide. It is the birthday of Lord Jesus. Though it is Christian festival but In India it is celebrated throughout the country. Children like this festivals as they get surprise gift from Santa. On this day, churches are lit up and decorated. It is celebrated on 25th December every year.
- Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated throughout the country. It is said that on this day the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati took place. People observe fast and seek Lord Shiva’s blessings. Water is offered on the Shiva Lingam and Lord Shiva’s temples are decorated and Bhajans are sung.
- Easter Day
Easter Sunday is a day which is celebrated in the eve of resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ from the dead after 3 days from his crucifixion. Easter is celebrated in between the month of March and April.
- Budh Purnima
Buddha Purnima is celebrated in the month of April and May. It is celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism to commemorate the birth of the Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. On the occasion of Buddha Jayanti, a large fair is held at Sarnath and the relics of the Buddha are taken out for public display in a procession. On this holy day, monks and devotees meditate and worship the statue of Lord Buddha. The Buddhist devotees also offer fruits, flowers, candles etc to statues of Lord Buddha.
Lohri is the most important festivals of Punjab, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. Lohri is celebrated on a day proceeding to Makar Sankranti festival, i.e., on 13th January every year. Lohri Festival is also known as Maghi Festival as it denotes the beginning of the Hindu Month Magh and end of the Hindu month Paush.
It is celebrated every year in the month of April. Baisakhi Festival is celebrated as the Sikh New Year and the founding of the Khalsa Panth. People use to take bath early in the morning for the Baisakhi festival and enjoy the day with their dear and near ones. This day also coincides with the many other festivals celebrated in the month of April like Makar Sankranti, etc.
- Good Friday
On this day, Jesus Christ died on the cross. It comes before Easter. It is also refereed as Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday. This day commemorates Lord Jesus and his suffering for the cause of humanity. Fasts are observed on this day and Holy Bible is read. On this day, various charitable deeds are also performed by Christian people. Jesus gave us a message that violence can be overcome only by non-violence and hatred can be won by love.
- Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja is one of the most important festivals of the North Indian state of Bihar and eastern regions of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal. On these days, Sun God is worshipped. Chhath Puja begins on the sixth day of Hindu calendar month, Kartika. Chhath Puja festivities generally span for four days. People of all caste and creed irrespective of age and sex celebrate it. Fasts are observed and dips are taken in the holy water of Ganga.
- Mahavira Jayanti
It is the most prominent festival of Jain religion. It is the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira. On this day ceremonial bath is given to Lord Mahavira and apart from it the processions and lectures are held.
- Basant Panchami
Basant Panchami is celebrated by the Hindus as “Saraswati Puja”. It is usually celebrated every year in the month of February. It marks the beginning of the Holi festival and also the spring season. On this day, people worship the Goddess of knowledge, Devi Saraswati.
National Festivals of India
- Independence Day
Independence is celebrated across the country on 15th August each year. On this day, in 1947, India got independence from British.
- Republic Day
It is celebrated all over the country on 26th January every year. On this day, India’s constitution came into force. On Republic day, the National song, “Jana Gana Mana” is sung across the country.
- Gandhi Jayanti
It is the birthday of the father of the nation, Mahatama Gandhi. It is celebrated every year on 2nd October. On this day various kinds of programmes are held and many new programmes are launched by the centre and state governments. Mahatma Gandhi is respected, revered and remembered by each government irrespective of party.