Hinduism is often described as a
religion of fasts, feasts and festivals.
In India, the celebrations of fairs and
festivals form a wondrous and joyful
series of events, marking the rites of
passage between birth, death and
renewal. There are said to be more
festivals in India than there are days
of the year. There is celebration for
every religious occasion, change of
season and for every harvest. They are
times when people gather together,
linked by ties of shared social and
religious beliefs. Vibrant colors, music
and festivities make the country come
alive throughout the year.
Festivals in India are characterized by
color, gaiety, enthusiasm, prayers and
rituals. Foreign travelers are struck by
the scale and multiplicity of Indian
festivals that have evolved in the
society. Fairs and festivals are moments
of remembrance and commemoration of the
birthdays and great deeds of gods,
goddesses, hero's, heroine's, gurus,
prophet's and saints.
All Hindu festivals have a deep spiritual import or high
religious significance. All great Hindu festivals have
religious, social and hygienic elements in them. In every
festival there is bathing in the morning before sunrise in
the river or tank or well. Every individual will have to do
some Japa, prayer, Kirtan, recitation of Sanskrit verses and
Indian Festivals are much more than celebrations.
They are windows into the history of rich Hindu legends. They reveal
the mind and philosophy of a nation through the different ages.
Festivals have a cultural and social aspect which many feel
transcends even their spiritual significance. They bring people
together in friendship and love, and help heal broken relationships.
Here is a list in the yearly order:
SANSKRANTI) (JANUARY !3): One of the most important festivals of
South India, Pongal is a harvest festival in honor of
the sun and the rain god. The celebration begins on
January 13 and goes on for three days. The first is
devoted to the rain god, the second to the sun god and
the third to the worship of cows and oxen.
VASANT PANCHAMI (JANUARY): On the fifth day of the Shukla
Paksha (Waxing moon of fortnightly) of the Magha month,
coming of spring is celebrated. This is known as Vasant
Panchami. During this flowering and blossoming season
one can listen distinctly to the kooing of the Koel
(bird) and the entire ambiance becomes very beautiful.
On this day one should dress up in beautiful attire and
worship Lord Vishnu and Brahmins should be offered food.
Pitru-Tarpan (liberation of deceased ancestors) can also
BASANT PANCHAM (SPRING): A spring festival held in January
celebrated by wearing yellow clothes. In West Bengal,
Saraswati, the goddess of learning, is especially
HOLI (HOLIKA DAHANA)
(EARLY MARCH): This festival of colors is celebrated in spring every
year and involves people dousing each other with colored
water and powder. Drinking bhang, a marijuana based
drink, adds to the laughter, joy and merry-making during
Holi. The origin of the festival is not entirely known
though many link it with the story of Prahlada, the
child devotee of Vishnu, whose evil father sought to
have him killed by fire. Prahlada was of course saved by
Vishnu and his father and aunt were killed instead. So
Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
MAHA SHIVRATRI (FEBRUARY): The day marks the nuptials of
the ascetic god Shiva with Parvati, the daughter of the
king of Himalayas. People throng to the splendidly lit
temples till midnight. Celebrated some time in the month
of February-March, the festival is of special importance
to women as Parvati blesses them with marital bliss.
RAM NAVMI (MARCH-APRIL): A major Hindu festival celebrated
in Spring to mark the birth of Lord Rama.
HANUMAN JAYANTI (APRIL): The birthday of Hanuman - the
supreme devotee of Sri Ram is celebrated on full moon
day of the bright lunar phase, in the Hindu month of
NAAG PANCHAMI (JULY-AUGUST): A festival dedicated to
Adisesha or Ananta (infinite), the serpent on whom Lord
Vishnu rests between the dissolution of one universe and
the creation of another. It is usually celebrated in
July-August. Snakes are supposed to have power over
rainfall and keep evil and ill-luck from homes.
ONAM: Onam is a time for sports, festivities, and
ritual celebrations in Kerala. The Keralites celebrate
this festival in memory of the golden era of King
Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit the state at the
time of Onam.
RAKSHA BANDHAN (AUGUST): Among the Indian festivals, Raksha
Bandhan is considered as a very important and historical
festival. According to the Bhavishya Puran. Sachi - the
wife of Indra had tied a protection -thread on the wrist
of Indra, which had been purified by the mantras. This
protection thread had made Indra invincible from his
enemies. This very protection thread had also enabled
Indra to defeat his enemies. Since then, this great
festival has been celebrated every year, on the full
moon day, in the Hindu month of Shravan, reminding us of
great tradition. Hindus have been progressing steadily
on the path of life, by attaining neo energy, no faith
GANESH CHATHURTI (AUGUST/SEPTEMBER): A festival held on the
fourth day of the Hindu month of Bhadra dedicated to Ganesh. It is celebrated
with particular ardor in the state of Maharashtra.
JANAMASHTHAMI (AUGUST): The birthday of the lovable Lord
Krishna is celebrated at the midnight hour in the month
of August. Tableaus depicting scenes from the life of
Krishna crop up in every locality of every city and town
in India with great fanfare. Another common practice is
to dress little girls and boys as the eternal lovers
Radha-Krishna. Devotees actually touch their feet to
seek blessings and offer gifts or money. Janmashtami is
associated with Krishna. The food prepared on this day
is prepared from milk and curds, much beloved by him. A
part of the festivities includes filling a large earthen
pot with milk, curds, butter, honey, and fruit and
suspending this pot from a height of between twenty and
forty feet. Sporting young men and boys form human
pyramids to bring the pot down and to claim its prized
contents. Many families fast on this day, but one meal
is allowed. This meal includes fruit, sweets, nuts, and
VIJAY DASHAMI (SEPTEMBER): Considered to be an auspicious
day for the Indian householder, on which he worships,
protects and preserves 'Shakti' (power). By worshipping
the 'Shakti' according tot the methods as written in the
scriptures, on these nine-days (Navratra) the
householders attains the threefold powers i.e. physical,
mental and spiritual, which helps him to progress in
life without any difficulty.
NAVRATRI (OCTOBER): A festival of worship, dance and music celebrated
over a period of nine nights in October. Devoted to the
worship of the goddess Durga. Beautifully made clay
images of Durga are consecrated and worshipped for nine
days before being immersed in a river or sea on the
DUSSHERA (OCTOBER): This 10-day festival in October marks
the victory of Lord Rama over the demon-king Ravana. The
entire Ramayana (see Scriptures & Folklore for details)
is enacted during the nine days while the 10th is saved
for the grand finale. Huge effigies of Ravana, brother
Kumbhakarna and son Meghnath are traditionally erected
and then burnt down at dusk as a symbol of the victory
of Good over Evil.
BHAIYYA DOOJ (OCTOBER): The festival of brother and sister
Bhaiyya Dooj is celebrated on the 2nd day of the Shukla
Paksha of the Caitra Month, and the 2nd day of Shukla
Paksha of the Kartik Month.
DURGA PUJA (OCTOBER): in October, the most popular festival
of Bengal, coincides with the Dusshera festival.
(OCTOBER-NOVEMBER): Celebrated for five consecutive days at the end of
Hindu month of Ashwayuja. It usually occurs in
October/November, and is one of the most popular and
eagerly awaited festivals in India.
After a fast, a feasting;
and after a feasting, a fast.