Fairs and Festivals
India, the land of varied cultures and traditions is a land of festivals and fairs. It is a land of festivity - religious as well as folkloristic. Indian Festivals celebrated by varied cultures and through their special rituals add to the colours of Indian Heritage. Some festivals welcome the seasons of the year, the harvest, the rains, or the full moon. Others celebrate religious occasions, the birthdays of divine beings, saints, and gurus, or the advent of the New Year.
Fairs and Festivals
The festivals typically celebrate events from Hindu mythology their dates are usually prescribed according to the lunar calendar. A festival may be observed with acts of worship, offerings to deities, fasting, feasting, vigil, rituals, fairs, charity, celebrations, Puja, Homa, aarti etc. They celebrate individual and community life of Hindus without distinction of caste, gender or class. There are festivals which are primarily celebrated by specific sects or in certain regions of the Indian subcontinent, often coinciding with seasonal changes.
Lohri (13th January 2014)
Lohri is the cultural celebration of the winter solstice. Lohri is meant to be celebrated on the shortest day of the year. A key feature of Lohri is the bonfire. Lighting of the fire has been common in winter solstice festivals throughout time and the world: it signifies the return of longer days. For some the bonfire has a religious meaning, a remnant of ancient origins, perhaps? For others, the bonfire is no more than a tradition.
Makar Sankranti or Pongal (14th January 2014)
Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of southern India, mainly Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Pongal happens in the middle of January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan (sun's journey northwards). The Pongal festival lasts for four days. Celebrations include a drawing of Kolam, swinging & the cooking of delicious Pongal. This day coincides with Makara Sankranti.
Republic Day (26th January 2014)
In India, Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India. The Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress on 26 January 1930.
The main celebration is held in New Delhi, at the Rajpath, where the ceremonious parades are performed as a tribute to India.
Vasant Panchami (4th February 2014)
Vasant means "spring," and Panchami means "the fifth day." Vasant Panchami falls on the fifth day of spring. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped on this day, it is treated as Maa Saraswati's birthday.
Maa Saraswati, the goddess of learning, wisdom, knowledge, fine arts, refinement, science and technology. People worship Goddess Saraswati to attain enlightenment through knowledge and to rid themselves of lethargy, sluggishness and ignorance.
Maha Shivaratri (27th February 2014)
Maha Shivaratri is the great night of Shiva, during which followers of Shiva observe religious fasting and the offering of Bael (Bilva) leaves to Shiva. The day is associated with Marriage of Shiva and Shakti. The planetary positions on the day in the Northern hemisphere act as potent catalysts to help a person raise his / her spiritual energy easily. In Nepal, millions of Hindus from different part of the world gather at the famous Pashupatinath Temple/ Shiva Shakti Peetham.
Holi 16th March 2014)
Holi is a spring festival also known as festival of colours and festival of love. An ancient Hindu festival now even popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities. Primarily celebrated in India, Nepal, and other regions of the world with significant populations of majority Hindus or people of Indian origin. In recent times the festival has spread in parts of Europe and North Americas as a spring celebration of love, frolic and colours.
Ram Navami (8th April 2014)
Ram Navami also known as Sri Rama Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya of Ayodhya. Ram is the 7th incarnation of the Dashavatara of Vishnu. At some places the festival lasts the whole nine days of the Navratras, thus the period is called 'Sri Rama Navratra'. Many followers mark this day by Vrata (fasting) through the day followed by feasting in the evening, or at the culmination of celebrations.
Vaisakhi (13th April 2014)
It is the start of the New Year, and is celebrated with requisite bathing, partying, and worshipping. It's believed that thousands of years ago, Goddess Ganga descended to earth and in her honour, many Hindus gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths. In Kerala, it is called 'Vishu,' in Assam, it is called Bohag Bihu. Vaisakhi is an important day for the Buddhists as well. The Buddhists call it as Vesakha, Vaisakha, Vesak or Wesak.
Budh Poornima (14th May 2014)
Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti, Vesak is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. Gautama Buddha was a spiritual teacher in India. It is believed that Buddha was born at some time between sixth and fourth centuries BCE. Many Buddhists visit temples on Vesak to listen to monks give talks and recite ancient verses. Devout Buddhists may spend all day in one or more temples.
Eid-Ul-Fitar (29th July 2014)
Eid Ul Fitar or the festival of fast breaking is the biggest Muslim festival. Eid is derived from the Arabic word 'oud' or 'the return' to signify, well, the return of Eid each year. The festival is significant as much for its timing as for its religious implications. It is celebrated after the fasting month of Ramzan, on the first day of the Shavval month of the Hijri year. It is believed that the Koran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the month of Ramzan.
Raksha Bandhan (10th August 2014)
On Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie a rakhi (sacred thread) on her brother's wrist, symbolizing sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. It is an occasion to celebrate brother-sister like family ties between cousins or distant family members, sometimes between biologically unrelated men and women.
Independence Day (15th August 2014)
On 15 August 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India that day, raised the Indian national flag above the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi, the practice was followed in subsequent Independence Days with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events. Indians celebrate the day by displaying the national flag on their attire, accessories, homes and vehicles; by listening to patriotic songs, watching patriotic movies; and bonding with family.
Janmashtami 17th August 2014)
Krishna was the 8th son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Based on scriptural details and astrological calculations, the date of Krishna's birth, known as Janmashtami, is 19 July 3228 BCE and he lived until 3102 BCE. Janmashtami is celebrated by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. At midnight, devotees gather around for devotional songs, dance and exchange gifts.
Ganesh Chathurthi (29th August 2014)
Ganesha Chaturthi also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi. is the Hindu festival celebrated on the birthday (rebirth) of the lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati. It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. It is the day when Ganesha was born. Ganesha is widely worshiped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel.
Durga Pooja (28th September to 1st October 2014)
Durga Puja ‘Worship of Durga’ also referred as Durgotsava or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. The festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura epitomising the victory of Good over Evil. Durga Puja is widely celebrated in the Indian. In West Bengal and Tripura it is the biggest festival and significant socio-cultural event of the year.
Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October 2014)
Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated on 2 October to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. The day is marked by prayer services and tributes all over India, especially at Raj Ghat, Gandhi's memorial in New Delhi where he was cremated. Popular celebration includes prayer meetings, commemorative ceremonies in different cities. Gandhi's favourite devotional song, Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram, is usually sung in memory of him.
Dussehra (3nd October 2014)
Vijayadashmi or Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the Sharada Navratri or Maha Navratri, 'nine nights'. These rituals are intended to rid the household of the ten bad qualities, which are represented by 10 heads of Ravana. i.e., Kama vasana (Lust), Krodha (Anger), Moha (Attachment), Lobha (Greed), Mada (Over Pride), Matsara (Jealousy), Swartha (Selfishness), Anyaaya (Injustice), Amanavta (Cruelty) and Ahankara (Ego).
Id-Ul-Zuha (6th October 2014)
Id-ul-Zuha/ Bakr-Id/ Id-ul-Adha is the festival of sacrificing a goat or 'bakr' in Urdu. On this day, Muslims sacrifice a goat to commemorate the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim, who willingly agreed to sacrifice his son at the command of God. Prophet Ibrahim was about to sacrifice his son but it was revealed to him that it was a test of his faith and he could sacrifice a ram instead. It is celebrated on the 10th to 12th day of the last Islamic month, Dhu al-Hijjah'' in the lunar Islamic calendar.
Deepavali (23rd October 2014)
Deepavali means "row of lights/lamps" in Sanskrit, the day is also known as "Diwali". The festival is celebrated on the occasion of Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama killing a demon Narakasura. Another reason was when Rama was exiled to forest for 14 years, his wife Sita and brother Laxman join him. After 14 years knowing their return the people lighted lamps or 'divas' to guide them their way home, to mark the anniversary the act is repeated.
Bhai Dooj (25th October 2014)
Bhai Dooj, Bhai Phota, Bhai Tika, Bhatri Ditya, Bhaubeej/ Bhav Bij, Yamadwitheya, is the celebrated on the second day of Deepavali. Sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal including their favourite dishes. Sisters perform aarti for their brother and apply a red tika on his forehead. Signifying sister's sincerest prayers for long and happy life of her brother and treats him with gifts. In return brothers bless their sisters and treat them also with gifts or cash.
Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti (6th November 2014)
Guru Nanak Gurpurab also known as Guru Nanak's Prakash Utsav, celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. This is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. Apart from Sikhs, Hindus and other followers of Guru Nanak's philosophy also celebrate this festival. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born on 15 April 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi. His birth is celebrated on Kartik Poornima based on the traditional dates of the Indian calendar.
Children's Day (14th November 2014)
The idea of a Universal Children's Day was offered by Mr. V.K. Krishna Menon and it was adopted by the UN. The first ever Children's day was celebrated in 1954. At first it was celebrated universally in the month of October. After 1959, November 20th was chosen as Children's day as it marked the anniversary day when the Declaration of the Child Rights was adopted by the UN. In India, Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday was declared as Children's Day.
Christmas Day (25th December 2014)
Christmas Day is celebrated as a major festival and public holiday in countries around the world. In India, periods of former colonial rule introduced the celebration. Christian minorities or foreign cultural influences have led populations to observe the holiday. Christmas is popular despite there being only a small number of Christians, have adopted many of the secular aspects of Christmas, such as gift-giving, decorations, and Christmas trees.