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Home » Indian Festivals

Republic Day
26th January 1950 is one of the most important days in Indian history as it was on this day the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state. In this day India became a totally republican unit. The country finally realized the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the numerous freedom fighters who, fought for and sacrificed their lives for the Independence of their country. So, the 26th of January was decreed a national holiday and has been recognized and celebrated as the Republic Day of India, ever since.

Today, the Republic Day is celebrated with much enthusiasm all over the country and especially in the capital, New Delhi where the celebrations start with the Presidential to the nation. The beginning of the occasion is always a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of the martyrs who died for the country in the freedom movement and the succeeding wars for the defense of sovereignty of their country. Then, the President comes forward to award the medals of bravery to the people from the armed forces for their exceptional courage in the field and also the civilians, who have distinguished themselves by their different acts of valour in different situations.

To mark the importance of this occasion, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, from the Rajghat, along the Vijaypath. The different regiments of the army, the Navy and the Air force march past in all their finery and official decorations even the horses of the cavalry are attractively caparisoned to suit the occasion. The crème of N.C.C cadets, selected from all over the country consider it an honour to participate in this event, as do the school children from various schools in the capital. They spend many days preparing for the event and no expense is spared to see that every detail is taken care of, from their practice for the drills, the essential props and their uniforms.

The parade is followed by a pageant of spectacular displays from the different states of the country. These moving exhibits depict scenes of activities of people in those states and the music and songs of that particular state accompany each display. Each display brings out the diversity and richness of the culture of India and the whole show lends a festive air to the occasion. The parade and the ensuing pageantry is telecast by the National Television and is watched by millions of viewers in every corner of the country.


Maha Shivratri
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated throughout the country; it is particularly popular in Uttar Pradesh. Maha Shivratri falls on the 14th day of the dark half of 'Margasirsa' (February-March). The name means "the night of Shiva". The ceremonies take place chiefly at night. This is a festival observed in honour of Lord Shiva and it is believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati.

On this festival people worship 'Shiva - the Destroyer'. This night marks the night when Lord Shiva danced the 'Tandav'. In Andhra Pradesh, pilgrims throng the Sri Kalahasteshwara Temple at Kalahasti and the Bharamarambha Malikarjunaswamy Temple at Srisailam.

Holi
Holi or Holika, also called holikotsava, is an extremely popular festival observed throughout the country (India). It is especially marked by unmixed gaiety and frolics and is common to all sections of the people.

This festival is very ancient. Known originally as 'Holika' it has been mentioned in very early religious works such as Jaimini's Purvamimamsa-sutras and Kathaka-grhya-sutras. It must have therefore existed several centuries before Christ. It was at first actually a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was the deity worshipped by them.

There are two ways of reckoning a lunar month: Purnimanta and Amanta. In the former, the first day starts after the full moon; and in the latter, after the new moon. Though the latter reckoning is more common now, the former was very much in vogue in the earlier days. According to this purnimanta reckoning, Phalguna purnima was the last day of the year and the new year heralding the Vasanta-rtu (with spring starting from next day). Thus the full moon festival of Holika gradually became a festival of merrymaking, announcing the commencement of the spring season. This perhaps explains the other names of this festival : Vasanta-Mahotsava and Kama-Mahotsava.

Good Friday
Good Friday is a day of sincere reverence among Goan Catholics. It is the culmination of Lent, an important observance in the lives of devout Catholics. Lent is observed for 40 days from February to March, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.

The Legend Behind Easter
Originally known as 'God's Friday', the present expression is believed to have emerged in the 10th or 11th century. According to Christian legend, Jesus Christ was from Nazareth, a town in modern Israel. A well-loved and respected citizen, he was considered by many to be the Son of God.

Some high officials and Jewish priests, however, felt that he was trying to usurp their authority and mislead the people. They hatched a plot against Christ with the help of one of his 12 apostles, named Judas. On charges of misleading the people, of instigating them not to pay taxes to the emperor, and of claiming to be the messenger of God, they arrested Christ. The following day, he was produced before a council comprising priests, teachers of law and elders, and questioned about the charges against him.

Finding him guilty on all counts, they presented him before the Roman Governor, who saw no reason to condemn him. But the priests were adamant. They insisted that it was his teachings, which were responsible for all the riots in the city of Judea. At the same time, they pleaded for the release of one of their men, who had been imprisoned for the crime. The Governor appealed to them, reiterating that Christ had done no wrong. When the clergy did not agree, he handed Jesus Christ to them to do as they wished. The crowd asked for his crucifixion.

As he was led away by the soldiers, he was made to wear a crown of thorns and mockingly addressed as 'King of the Jews' by the jeering crowd. A huge wooden cross was placed on his shoulders, and he carried it to the place assigned for his crucifixion. In a show of solidarity, a group of his followers marched in a procession behind him. Two criminals were also led to the same place to be put to death with Jesus. At the assigned place, the three men were nailed to the crosses and left to die. Before he breathed his last, Jesus asked God, his father, to forgive those who were responsible for his death, as they were unaware of the magnitude of their sin. Jesus is believed to have died at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, three hours after being nailed to the cross.

On Good Friday, a cross, symbolic of the one on which Jesus was crucified, is unveiled in many churches. It is believed that Jesus rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter. The rituals for Good Friday begin on the preceding Thursday. A feast symbolising the last supper of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter.


Baisakhi
Baisakhi Festival falls on April 13th or April 14th and marks the beginning of the solar year. People of North India, particularly Punjab thank God for good harvest. Visit to Gurudwaras, Vaisakhi processions and traditional performances are the highlights of the day. Baisakhi has special significance for Sikhs as on this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji organized the order of the Khalsa.

Onam
Onam is the biggest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. Carnival of Onam lasts for ten days and brings out the best of Kerala culture and tradition. Intricately decorated Pookalam, ambrosial Onasadya, breathtaking Snake Boat Race and exotic Kaikottikali dance are some of the most remarkable features of Onam - the harvest festival in Kerala.

Raksha Bandhan
Shravan purnima's second festival is Raksha Bandhan. This is an ancient tradition. Bhavishya Purana refers to a battle between gods and demons, and Indra (the king of the gods) was feeling depressed. At that time Indra's wife Sachi took a thread, charged it with sacred verses or Mantras for protection and tied it on Indra's hand. Through the strength of this thread Indra conquered his enemies. Since then till today this festival is celebrated.


Amarnath Yatra
The Amarnath Yatra is organised every year by the J &K Govt. during the month of sharavan ( July and August); the dates however , vary every year looking at the weather conditions and according to Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) in the month of Sharavan (Vikrama Samwat).

Yatra to Baba Amarnath Holy Cave for which one has to trek a height of about 14,500 ft is full of thrill and joy .The feeling of divine which is always beneath ones' heart , burst out and one realises ‘Moksha’ as one attends the Cave and perform the prayer before the Shivlinga . Surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains , one will always feel His presence on the paradise of the earth, the memory of which hardly vanishes with time A journey which will rediscover the nature and its love which is always inside but one has never felt.


Janmastami
Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion in the August/September months, on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon, in the whole of north India. Temples and homes are beautifully decorated and lit. An attractive feature of the celebrations are cribs & other decorations depicting stories of Lord Krishna's childhood. There are five main "jhankis" of Janmashtami which depict the entire sequence of events from Lord Krishna's birth to his being discovered in Gokul.

The "jhankis" include the birth of Krishna in jail, Vasudev carrying Krishna to safety across the river Yamuna amidst thunder and lightning, Vasudev's return to the jail, Kansa killing Yashoda's daughter and finally the little Krishna in the cradle in Gokul. "Jhankis" are created out of dolls dressed up as kids, men and women with lehangas, chunnis, dhotis & kurtas. Raslila of every type are also performed - Janmlila, Shankarlila, Putnalila and Naglila. In the evening bhajans are sung which end at midnight, the auspicious moment when Lord Krishna was born. Thereafter arti is done, prasad distributed and flowers showered on the idol.

Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Ganesh (Ganesha), the god of wisdom and prosperity on the fourth day of the moons bright fortnight, or period from new moon in the lunar month of Bhadrapada. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi continue for five, seven, or ten days. Some even stretch it to twenty one days, but ten the most popularly celebrated. In the tradition of the right hand path the first day is the most important. In the left hand path tradition the final day is most important.

Gandhi Jayanti
The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, is celebrated with reverence all over the country. He is the man who played a significant role in achiveing independence for India from the British Empire with his simplicity and strong will power. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as ‘Bapu’ or ‘Father of the nation’, was born on the 2nd of October in 1869, in Porbunder, Gujrat. He studied law in U.K and practiced law in South Africa. But he left his profession and returned to India to join the Indian freedom struggle.

Gandhi ji was a preacher of truth and ‘Ahimsa’(non-violence).He started the ‘Satyagraha’ movement for the Indian freedom struggle. He believed in living a simple life and in ‘Swadeshi’. He proved to the world that freedom can be achieved through the path of non-violence. Gandhiji is a symbol of peace and truth. On this day, the President and Prime Minister, along with other eminent political leaders, pay homage at Raj Ghat - the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi. All the offices and schools, throughout the country, remain closed on this day.
Dussehra
The festival of Dassera, also known as Vijayadashmi, is one of the fascinating festivals of India and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm for ten continuous days. The first nine nights are spent in the worship of goddess Durga and hence these nights are known as "Navaratri". This festival falls in the month of Ashwin (September / October). The tenth day of the Dassera day is in honour of Durga Devi. The tribal communities also worship Durga as the presiding deity of Navaratri. The farmers invoke her blessings because this festival coincides with the period of rest and leisure after their strenuous work in the fields. The farmers with her blessings wait with tremendous hopes for a bountiful harvest.

Diwali
Diwali is the Festival of lights and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by all Indians all over the world. The uniqueness of this festival is its harmony of five varied philosophies, with each day to a special thought or ideal. Each year on the dawn of Ammavaasa in the month Kartik the glittering diyas ,the dazzling fireworks, sounds of crackers announces the arrival of the most vibrant festival of India-Diwali. The word Diwali has its origin in the Sanskrit word "Deepavali" which means "rows of light". This 5 day long Hindu festival is celebrated throughout the world with great zeal and fanaticism .Diwali or deepavali is the festival signifying the victory of good against evil.

Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith, was born in the month of Kartik (October/November), and his birthday is known as Guru Nanak Jayanti. He was born in 1469 A.D. at Tolevandi some 30 miles from Lahore. The anniversaries of Sikh Guru's are known as Gurpurabs (festivals) and are celebrated with devotion and dedication.

GurPurabs mark the culmination of Prabhat Pheris, the early morning procession that start from the gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and then go around localities singing 'shabads' (hymns). The celebrations also include the three-day Akhand path, during which the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously, from beginning to end without a break. On the day of the festival, the Granth Sahib is also carried in a procession on a float, decorated with flowers, throughout a village or city. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyares, head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag). Local bands playing religious music form a special part of the procession.

Christmas

Christmas is that time when Jesus was born as a baby to Mary and Joseph. This was no ordinary birth! An angel had told Mary she would bear a special baby the son of god who would be born through the intercession of the holy spirit. Joseph her husband-to-be, did not believe her at first.Then an angel told him in a dream that it was true!.

Christmas is a time for Families, Fun, and Festivities! A time of family gatherings and holiday meals. A time for Santa, stars, and singing carolers. A time for ornaments, gifts, and twinkling lights. Of sleigh rides, hot cocoa, and gingerbread cookies.

So here for your entertainment are some fun Holiday things for you and your family. We've got stories of Christmas and the Christ Child, holiday music for singing along, tasty holiday recipes, and holiday pictures for the kids to print and color.







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