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Festivals in India
What do the festivals of India signify?
India is a country representing harmonious combinations of various faiths and sects. It is known the world over for its brilliant unity in diversity. The colorful festivals of the country impart unparalleled beauty to this amazing land. The most popular of the many festivals in India are Holi, Dussehra, Diwali, Eid, Janmashtami, and Makara Sankranti. There is a no better option to gain an insight into the chromatic culture of the country than taking part in its grand and pompous festivals.
Which are the popular festivals?
Holi, a festival of mirth and glee, is one of the most buoyant festivals of the Hindus. It is celebrated on the Full Moon day in the month of Phagun as per the Hindu Calendar, continuing for three consecutive days. As per the English calendar, it is the month of March. The festival heralds the arrival of Spring, the season of hope, and new beginnings. During the festival, all the towns, cities, and villages go merry-making. Men, women, and children including the elderly appear funny and ridiculous. The people spurt colors on one another. The festival is known as Dol Jatra or DolPurnima in Bengal and Shimoga in Maharashtra. On the eve of the festival, large bonfires are lit up with logs of wood, cow-dung cakes, ghee, honey, and the freshly brought new crop from the fields.
Dussehra or Durga Puja
Dussehra or Durga Puja is a grand ten-day festival of the Hindus. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Huge effigies of Ravana, the wicked king, is set on fire to mark the defeat of Evil. People crowd around as the effigy explodes making them all cheerful. Images of Goddess Durga is installed and worshipped for four days before finally immersing it in the river. A long procession can be seen following as the idol is taken for immersion.
Diwali or the festival of lights falls after 21 days of Dussehra. It commemorates the arrival of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 long years in exile. innumerable oil lamps and candles are lit in and around the houses. The night seems truly enchanting.
Eid is a grand festival of the Muslims. The festival marks the end of 30 days of fasting known as Ramadan. It is the time when the Muslims prepare themselves to be devotional and pious all year-round. They try not to deviate from the path that Allah has shown to them. They go to visit their near and dear ones after finishing the Id-prayer. Delicious dishes are prepared for the guests.
The festival of Janmashtami marks the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated all over the country with great pomp and ceremony. Special Janmashtami celebrations can be witnessed in Mathura and Brindaban, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood days, are the special Janmashtami-celebration sites. During the festival, prayers are offered and religious hymns are chanted in temples. Various scenes from Lord Krishna’s life are also enacted.
Though Maha Shivratri is celebrated all over India, the true spirit of the festival can be best observed at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. The Shiv-lingam is worshipped with the accompaniment of all the religious rites and rituals. Devotees and worshippers keep fast all day and keep vigil throughout the night. At the end of the day, they break their fast, taking the ritual-bath to purify themselves to the depth of their souls. deep within. They wear new clothes and wash the Shivlingam with milk, observing other religious rituals.
The Saraswati Puja, also known as the Vasant Panchami is observed almost throughout the country. It holds a special significance in the state of West Bengal. GodessSaraswatisymbolises learning and wisdom. Idols of the goddess are installed in towns and cities. The ancient scripture ‘Padampurana’ depicts Goddess Saraswati as sitting on a white flowering Lotus, dressed in immaculate clothes with a white bead-studded necklace around the neck and holding a Vina.
Makara Sankranti is looked upon as the most auspicious day by the Hindus. Different states call it by different names- in south it is Pongal, in Uttar Pradesh, it is Kichri, in Bundelkhand, and in Madhya Pradesh, it is called Sukarat or Sakara. It symbolizes the victory of Order over Chaos and Love over Hate. The tribals in the country light bonfires, dance, and eat their dishes. For them, it is the start of their New Year.
Poila Baisakh or the Bengali New Year falls on the first day of the month of Baisakh. The Bengalis sing and dance, playing regional games and flying kites. The festival marks prosperity, hopes, and new beginnings. With powdered rice, Rangoli (Colorful design) is drawn on the floors. The festival can be best observed in the state of West Bengal.