Saturday, December 25, 2010

Hindu Festivals

There is a plethora of Hindu festivals spread all across the year for all and no dearth of joy and celebration in any time of year. The festivals like Makar Sankratnti or Pongal and Thaipusam is celebrated in winters while Vasant Panchami, MahaShivratri, Holi, Vasant Navaratri are celebrated in the spring season. The festivals ushering the new year is various communities such as Gudi Padwa for Marathis, Ugadi for Suth Inidans, Vishu or the Tamil New Year in Kerala, Bihu for the Assamese are some major occasions to decorate the homes, wear new clothes, cook delicious meals and meet and greet relatives, family, and friends. Deepavali, Navarathri, Vijayadashami, Chhath, Rathyatra, Pancha Ganapati, Ganesh Chathurthi, Krishna Janmashtami, and Durga Puja are some other important festivals of the Hindus.

Now let us briefly touch upon some of the major Hindu festivals and what they mean for the people. For example, we have the Makarsankranti or Pongal festival in the month of January that basically celebrates harvest. Next, there is the Vasant Panchami or the Saraswati Puja that celebrates the rejoicing in the spring season. There is also the Maha Shivratri in the month of February in which people worship Lord Shiva and pay Him respect by hourly offering him water or milk the whole day and the night. Holi of the colour of festivals is also celebrated sometime in February or March to celebrate the colour of spring with coloured waters and coloured powder and of course lots of sweets and delicacies.

The new years of the various communities such as Ugadi or the Telegu New Year, Baisakhi or the Punjabi New Year, Poila Baisakh or the Bengali New Year are all celebrated during the months of April and May. Akshay Tritiya or the beginning of the business new year, Savithri Puja for the married women, the famous Ratha Yatra celebrating the birthday of Lord Jagannath fall during the rainy months of July. The monsoon month of July also sees festivals such as Guru Purnima mainly celebrated by the Sikhs and Nag Panchami mainly celebrated in the rural parts of India.

In the month of August comes Raksha Bandhan in which sisters tie rakhis to their brothers’ wrist and wish them a happy and prosperous life ahead and also pray for strengthening the brother-sister bonding and ask the brothers to protect their sister all through their lives. Krishna Janmashtami comes in August that celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna and is a national holiday in which people of the entire country and abroad hold elaborate pujas and prayers, functions and feast till midnight. Mathura and Vrindavan are the places where the fanfare and excitement is at its best in India.  Then comes Onam, the very popular South Indian festival, in the month of August.

As the weather gets cooler gradually, the festivals such as Ganesh Chathurthi celebrating the elaborate worshipping of Lord Ganesha for 10 days; Navaratri, a major festival of the Gujarati community that continues for nine days and includes fasting and lots of dancing and festivities in the evenings; Dusshera celebrating Rama’s victory over Ravana; Diwali, the festival of lamps; Durga Puja the main festival of the Bengalees; Dhan Teras, the festival praying for prosperity; Lakshmi Puja, praying for wealth and prosperity all create a furore in the Hindu community.

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