The land which is known all over the globe for its cultural and religious diversity, India, observes festivals throughout the year. People belonging to different religions celebrate different festivals. However, some festivals have become pan-religious and are celebrated by all the sects in the society. The rich cultural heritage of India can be proven by the diverse religious festivals that are celebrated.
India is a land of festivals, where people from different religions coexist harmoniously. The wide variety of festivals celebrated in India is a true manifestation of its rich culture and traditions. While the celebrations happen all over the year, October till January is the time when the country can be seen at its vibrant best.
Different Festivals of India in Hindi
Deepawali literally means an array of lamps is the Festival of Lights. Depawali is the occasion of joy and jubilation for one and all in the entire Hindu world. All the illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, signifies the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness. Deepawali symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Depawali is a festival that lasts 5 days.
In North India, Depawali is associated with the return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon Ravana. The people of Ayodhya, overwhelmed with joy, welcomed Rama through jubilation and illumination of the entire capital.
In South India, Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura.
To the Jains, Depawali has an added significance to the great event of Mahavera attaining the Eternal Bliss of Nirvana.
Though, Diwali is mainly a 5 day festival but people start preparing for Diwali weeks ahead by cleaning and decorating their households. It is said that Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated.
Also known as the festival of colors, holi is one of the famous festivals of India, celebrated with a lot of fervor across the country. On the eve of Holi, people make huge Holika bonfires and sing and dance around it. On the day of Holi, people gather in open areas and apply dry and wet colors of multiple hues to each other, with some carrying water guns and colored water filled balloons.
Significance: It signifies the victory of good (Prince Prahlad) over evil (Holika) and the arrival of spring.
Key attractions: Holika bonfire, playing with colors, and bhang thandai
When: Full moon (Purnima) of the Phalgun month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, which corresponds to the month of March of the Gregorian calendar
Where: Almost all over the country; most vibrant celebrations can be seen in North Indian states
Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of Lord Ganesh, is celebrated in August-September. Ganesh is the elephant headed son of Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva.
In Maharashtra, it is most important festival and is celebrated for 10 days. It is celebrated from 4th to 14th day of bright fortnight of Bhadrapad month. In Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, images of Ganesh made of unbaked clay are worshipped on this day in every house. A special sweet called Modak is prepared on this occassion. To mark the end of the festivities, the clay idols are immersed in water.
Baisakhi or vaisakhi is celebrated by Sikhs and some sects of Hindus too. This harvest festival is celebrated especially in Punjab region by the Sikh community. For Sikhs, this festival celebrates for the new harvest and also the birth of Khalsa. Baisakhi is generally celebrated either on 13th or 14th April. People usually go to Amritsar to visit The Golden Temple. The folk dance of ‘bhangra’ is also performed by the people as a marker of their joy and happiness.
Pongal is a harvest festival which is also called makar sankranti. Every year it is celebrated on 14 January in south India with great enthusiasm. On this occasion, people pray to the Sun God and thank Him for the good harvest that He has hitherto given. People decorate their houses with beautiful flowers, banana leaves and mango leaves. They draw different patterns with paint colors on the floor in order to endow an aesthetic appeal to the festival and welcoming God’s grace. On this occasion too, people visit their neighbors, exchange gifts and pray to Sun God for further good harvest.