Hindu Festivals 

 

Diwali
Dussehra
Holi
Onam
Pongal
Rakhi

Diwali
DIWALI is regarded as one of the most important festival of the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated across the nation with great pomp and excitement. The festival is mainly associated with lights as it is called the festival of light. On the day of the festival diyas (small clay lamps) are lit in everybody's home irrespective of their social status. The name Diwali signifies 'rows of lighted lamps'. Diwali is a five-day festival, beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of Kartika (Ashwin). By the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls in October or November. Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu and Gujarati New Year and is celebrated with the lighting of lamps and candles, and lots of fireworks. People decorate their home with beautiful diyas and making rangoli pattern in the courtyard and in front of the gate. They put flowers and mango leaves on their doors and windows. Diyas and candles are placed on rooftops, rooms, and kitchen and even in the bathrooms. On this day, people worship Lord Ganesha, the foremost of all Hindu Gods and Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. It is time to exchange gifts and sweets with friends, relatives and neighbors.

Due to India's varied cultural diversity there are many manifestations of the Diwali festival. The festival begins with Dhanteras, a day set aside to worship the goddess of prosperity, Goddess Lakshmi. On this day, homes are cleaned and paintings are done. There are various legends associated with the celebration of Diwali. But people mostly associate the celebration with the legend of Lord Ram returning to his kingdom of Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile and defeating Ravana, the demon king. In Bengal, the celebration is marked with the worship of Goddess Kali. People celebrate Kali puja with great fervor and enthusiasm. Joy and festivity reins every corner of the nation during the Diwali season. Diwali festival is the one Hindu festival that unites the whole of India. The exchange of sweets and the explosion of fireworks customarily accompany the celebration of the festival. Diwali is an occasion for cheerfulness and togetherness. This is that time of the year when people of all age and all class take part in its celebration.

Dussehra
Whenever we think of India we think as a land of festivals. Every festival in India epitomizes the social, cultural and religious aspirations of the people. Every festival brings with it few days of happiness and joy in the life of the people. Navratri, or 'The Festival of Nine Nights', is celebrated during the first nine days of the Hindu month of Ashvin (September-October). The festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Goddess or Shakti and her nine forms. This season is considered to be an auspicious one as it is generally associated with the sowing of seeds. People sow seeds on the first day, consecrate the planets, watch the sprouting and worship Goddess Durga during this festival. The last three days are especially considered most important. The nine-day is equally divided in worshiping three goddesses. The first three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga. The next three days are spent in worshipping goddess Lakshmi and the last three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. The day after Navratri the festival of Dussehra is celebrated.

The festival of Navratri acquires quite a fascinating and colorful dimension in the region of Gujarat, and in some parts of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The highlights of the festival are the extremely colorful dances of Garbha and Dandiya-Rasa where men and women of all sects perform. The Rasa has its origin in the life scenes of Lord Krishna and is associated with the agricultural rites while Garba is performed only by men and is related with the fertility cult or the mother aspect of Navratri. In the south, Dusshera is very popular while in the east, the seventh to the tenth days of Durga Puja are celebrated with much vigor and enthusiasm. Besides the Garba Dance of Gujarat, the most popular events on the auspicious occasions of Navratri are Ramlila of Varanasi, Dussehra of Mysore and Durga Puja of Bengal. All these celebrations have a special significance according to their region. The rituals are based according to the culture and traditions of that particular region.

Holi
Holi - the festival of colors is one of the most popular festivals of the country. It is celebrated during the Spring season and embodies all the festivity, liveliness and exuberance of the season. Holi is the festival of young hearts. Spraying colors, dancing on traditional Holi songs, rhythmic drum beats and wild processions are the common scenes that one comes across during this festival. The festival is associated with various legends but the most popular among them is the tale of Hollika. According to legends there was a demon-king named Hiranyakashipu who was very cruel and ordered everybody to worship him and not God. He was against Lord Vishnu. However, his little son Prahlad refused to do so and continued to worship the almighty Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God. He tried hard to kill him but every time Lord Vishnu saved him. One of the sisters of the king named Holika had a boon to remain unscathed by fire, so she followed her brother's wishes. However, with this sinful act against Lord Narayana's devotee, Holika's boon ended and she was burnt to ashes, while Prahlad came out safe. From that day onwards Holi is celebrated as the festival of the victory of good over evil. Even today, bonfires are lit on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil Holika. It symbolizes the victory of Good over evil.

It is actually the great festival of Hindus, where farmers and rural people can celebrate the prosperity and abundance in life that comes with the harvest season. The festival of colors, Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March or April every year. People smear each other's faces with colored powder known as 'Gulal' and 'Abeer' and throw colored water or 'Rang' on each other. Most of the people now-a-days prefer the traditionally prepared natural herbal colors that are not only fragrant but also good for skin. People take out processions on streets that feature folk songs and dances. The 'Bhaang' (opium) drinks are very popular among people as it the favorite festival drink. The festival of Holi has no religion as all celebrates it. The festival has a secular flavor. The main significance behind the celebration is fun and enjoyment.

Onam
The festival of Onam portrays the rich cultural heritage of Kerala, its golden past, rich traditions and prosperous present. It is the spirit of Onam that attracts tourist not only across India but also from other parts of the world. High-spirited people of Kerala celebrate Onam with gaiety and fervor. The festival is celebrated for a period of ten days, starting from the first day Atham and continuing till tenth and the biggest day called Thiru Onam. It is the most famous festival of South India. All in Kerala celebrates Onam irrespective of their social status, religion, caste and age. According to legends it celebrates the return of King Mahabali, the kind demon king who once ruled the land. Intricate floral carpets called Pookalam mark the first day of the festival. The biggest and the most happening day in the carnival of Onam is Thiruvonam. There are lots of activities like sports and cultural events that take place all over the state on Onam. Number of sports and games events are also organized on the day. These are collectively called Onakalikal. Some of them are rigorous sports like Talappanthukali, Kutukutu and combats like Kayyankali and Attakalam.

The festival is ten-day long and falls in the month of Chingam (according to the Malayalam calendar) and is celebrated with much pomp and gaiety. Onam is also a harvest festival. It is celebrated at a time when everything appears so nice and good. The best part of the festival is it's secular flavor as people from all religious background takes part in it. It is more like a community festival. Onam reflects the faith of the people of Kerala; their belief in the legendary past, religion and power of worship. It shows the high spirit of the people who go out of the way to celebrate the festival in the prescribed manner and a grand fashion.

People decorate their homes with fresh flower mats known as 'Pookalam' to welcome the King Mahabali. They wear new dresses; visit the temples to offer their prayers to the Gods and performing traditional dances such as Thiruvathirakali and Thumbi Tullal. One of the most exciting facets of Onam is the unfolding of its rich and well-established culture and tradition. We see not just glimpses but a whole gamut of it in the ten-day-long carnival. The rich cultural heritage is portrayed beautifully in these ten days. Onam is the true picture of the passion of the people of Kerala.

Pongal
Pongal is regarded as a harvest festival of South India. It is one of the most important and popular Hindu festivals. The four-day long harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, Pongal is all about thanksgiving to nature and takes its name from the Tamil word meaning "to boil" and is held in the month of Thai (January-February) it is celebrated from January 13 to 16 every year. The festival marks a period of plenty, peace and happiness. While each of its days has a special religious significance, most urban people celebrate second day as the main festival. Pongal is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar. On the first day known as Bhogi, people clean out their homes thoroughly and in the evening, all unwanted goods are lit in a bonfire. The second day is Perum Pongal, the most important. It is also called Surya Pongal because people worship Surya, the Sun God and his consorts, Chaya and Samgnya. Women decorate the central courtyard of their homes with beautiful kolams, done with rice flour and bordered with red clay. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. Jallikattu, a violent taming the bull contest, marks this day. On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic. During the Pongal season, people eat sugar canes and decorate the houses with Kolam. 'Ponga' literally means overflowing and is named so because of the tradition of cooking the new rice in pots until they overflow, which is symbolic of abundance and prosperity.

The festival of Pongal is mainly associated with the rural people. People wish each other on this day. Pongal wishes are exchanged between family and friends, and there are celebrations within the family. As one stand on the threshold of the harvest season, everyone exchange Pongal wishes, hoping that it brings the harbinger of good luck, good fortune and good cheer. The festival of Pongal is held dear particularly by the farming community as it marks the end of harvesting season.

Rakhi
The Rakhi festival or Raksha Bandhan has a special significance in hearts of brothers and sisters. The silken thread of Rakhi symbolizes the love between siblings. The Rakhi Festival symbolizes all aspects of protection of the good from evil forces. Rakhi is meant to sweeten the ties of brother and sister. Rakhi is celebrated with great joy and excitement all around India. Known as Raksha Bandhan in other parts of the country, Rakhi festival showcases the love, affection and feeling of brotherhood. Raksha Bandhan usually falls in late August. The main ritual consists of tying the 'Rakhi' knot on to a brother's wrist. 'Raksha Bandhan' literally means 'Bond of protection' and implies that while the sister prays to God for the well-being and prosperity of her brother, the brother vows to protect her against all the evils of the world and help her in all the problems. The day is all about Raksha or protection. The values, emotions and the sentiments attached to the customs of Rakhi festival are worth inculcating by the whole human race, the sentiments of harmony and peaceful coexistence.

Rakhi
rakhi is celebrated with great excitement and joy across India and other parts of the worlds where Indians reside. From early morning everybody starts getting ready for the occasion. On the day of Rakshabandhan, people generally prefer to wear traditional attires. Men mostly wear kurta pyjama on this occasion whereas women prefer to wear sari or salwar suits, which are mainly Indian traditional clothes. People generally prefer to wear cotton material cloths, as this is comfortable during this season. But with the changing fashion trends every year, people generally tend to follow the fashion of that season during the festival time. But for Indians, the traditional and cultural chord is so strong that no matter where the siblings are, they will try to wear traditional Indian clothes that reflect our values, tradition and culture. On the occasion of Rakhi, special dishes are prepared, which includes sweets and namkeens. The day has a deeper perspective in today's scenario. The rakhi tying ritual has become so much a part of the families that come what may brothers and sisters try to reach out to each other on this particular day bringing back the oneness of the family, binding the family together in an emotional bond.

 

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