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Home > Festivals
Indian Festivals

India is a land where the life of its people is beautified with festivals. Festival is a celebration of the changing seasons, harvest, reconciliation and the birth anniversaries of saints, gurus and prophets and honours the gods and goddesses. Every day of the year there is a festival celebrated in some part of the country. In India, festival is a way to look towards life positively.

Durga PoojaIndia, a vast subcontinent, is embraced by the waters of the Arabian Sea on its West, the Indian Ocean to the South and the Bay of Bengal to the East. To the north of India are the Himalayas, abode of Lord Shiva. India is known as the land of Gods, Goddesses, saints and prophets. Apart from Gods and Goddesses, people worship nature, ruling- gods of planets, trees, serpents etc.

A large number of festivals are celebrated in India in honour of gods and goddesses. As India is a vast country with various castes, creed, colour, the ways and method of celebration differs from state to state. But, the basic form of the belief behind their origin and traditions are the same. The excitement and the spirit of celebrations is still the same for years. The celebrations dissolve ethnic limitations and all religious groups merge into one during the festivals. There are more festivals than the days in a year. There is a preponderance of Hindu festivals as the majority of people in India are Hindus.

Festivals mark the changing seasons, harvest, reconciliation and the birth and death anniversaries of saints, gurus and prophets and honour the gods and goddesses. Festivals are celebrated according to the rituals mentioned in the old texts. But, changes are being observed in their way of celebrations and worship. For instance, few worship Indra, while the number of people worshipping Vishnu as Krishna has grown; Shiva was worshipped only as Rudra, he is now worshipped in his phallic or lingam form. Some festivals have started losing their religious character and are celebrated for a change to revitalize the spirit of life. A large number of festivals are still celebrated depending upon the economic and social status, educational, religious and regional background of the community.

Indians welcome the festivals by cleaning and decorating the houses, hanging garlands of flowers and leaves over the door frames. Food particularly prepared for some festivals takes days for preparation. Prayers and fasting are the main observances.

Ram NavmiDuring the festivals, whole nation gets vibrant and colourful as it resurrects itself from the repetitive and tiresome routine. Fun, get-togethers, special food and sweets, colours, crackers, loud music, dance and dramas though, are the characteristics of the festivals in India; the celebrations of festivals enhance the mental and spiritual aspects of one`s personality. They create an awareness of heritage and culture that has been handed down to us for generations.

A large number of festivals celebrated in the villages are local, in honour of the village deities. Some village festivals involve peculiar ceremonies like fire-walking; piercing a metallic wire right through the tongue or sides of mouth; lashing oneself with a whip; slashing at the breast and forehead with swords; piercing the abdomen; and carrying the kargam (an earthen pot containing fire) on the head.

Different cities or states are famous for the celebration of particular festivals e.g. Kolkatta (West Bengal) for Durga Puja, Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) for Holi and Janmashtami, Maharashtra for Ganesh Chaturthi, Kerala for Onam. Similarly, Muslim festivals of Id-ul-Zuha and Muharram are famous in Muslim community, Parsi festival of Jamshed Nav Roz in Bombay, Christian festivals in Goa and the Kaza festival in the Lamaistic strongholds of Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti and Sikkim .In some tribal areas, the cult of Mother Goddess is more prevalent.
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