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Project Report / Essay on Indian Festivals
"Festivals of India"

FESTIVALS - INTRODUCTION :

This is Project Report / Essay Festivals of India / Indian Festivals. Festivals are a time for bonding; a time for cross-cultural exchange; a time to forgive and forget. Whether it is Lohri in the north, Bihu in the east, Pongal in the south, or Ganesh Chaturthi in the west, the fervors of festivities is infectious and what were once considered regional celebrations, are today a cause for exuberance all over the country. The latest to be given national recognition is the festival of Chhath, formerly restricted only to Bihar. In fact India can probably claim to have the maximum number of holidays in the world for festivals.

PONGAL :

Pongal, the New Year in south India is celebrated as Makar Sakranti in Tamil Nadu. People thank god for all his goodness to them and their families. The harvest is gathered in Tamil Nadu just before the festival.Pongal has to connotations: Sarkkarai Pongal is the name of the special dish cooked on this day; Pongal also means overflowing. Artistic designs are made on the pongapani, mud –pot, and its neck tied with fresh turmeric, symbolising auspiciousness.

Legend has it that on Bhogi Pongal, the first day of celebration, Lord Krishna asked his shepherd friends to worship mount Govardhan instead of Lord Indra, who had become arrogant. Humbled, Indra begged forgiveness. A beautiful carving at Mahabalipuram shows Krishna lifting the mountain.

CHRISTMAS - Festival of India

A young couple, Joseph and Mary, lived in Nazareth when King Herod ruled Israel and Caesar Augustus was the Emperor of Rome. Mary dreamt that she would bear the son of God and his name would be Jesus. One day Augustus ordered all the people to return to their native places and register the names of all newborn children. Returning to Bethlehem, Joseph could not find a vacant room and Mary was soon to deliver her child. An innkeeper guided them to some shepherd's caves in the hills, where Joseph lined a stable with hay. The next night Jesus was born.

A great star appeared over Bethlehem and an angel appeared to the shepherds saying: ‘I bring you tidings of great joy. For unto you are born this day a savoir who is Christ the Lord’. The three kings of the East - Casper of Tarsus, Melcher of Arabia, and Balthazar of Ethiopia followed the star and reached the manager where Jesus lay. They offered gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh to the future Messiah.



 

THE GOA CARNIVAL - Festival of India

The Goa carnival is a three–day festival which is part of the Portuguese heritage of Goa which reminded under Portuguese rule till 1961. People threw eggs, oranges, lemons, mud, etc. at each other; gorged on food; and hurled old pots and pans out of windows.

The carnival continuous to enthrall people today. Street plays, songs and dances and spontaneous farces mocking the establishments are performed before e an enthusiastic audience. Colorful floats depicting nursery rhymes are taken through the streets; cultural functions and competitions abound. The carnival has more of a cultural than religious flavour today.

PUSHKAR FAIR

Set in a valley about 11km northwest of Ajmer, Pushkar is surrounded by hills on three sides and sand dunes on the fourth. the Pushkar fair takes place annually during October – November against the backdrop-p of the Puskhar lake. Legend has it that the gods visit Pushkar for five days at this time; hence, thousands of devotees make a pilgrimage and come for a holy dip in the lake. Of the 400 hundred temples the most important is the one dedicated to Brahma.

This is also one of the largest cattle fairs in the world. Camel trading holds center stage although other cattle are sold too and over 25000 camels are brought from village around. They are cleaned washed and adorned with silver and beads around their ankles which jingle and jangle as they walk. A unique ritual is the piercing of a camel's nose. Colorful clothes; camel, horse and cow races in the stadium; and roadside stalls selling handicrafts enliven the fair.

GANESH CHATURTHI

In 1982 a Sardar of Peshwa named Nanasaheb Khajiwalwe witnessed the Ganesh festival at Gwalior. He decided to start it in Pune too. Ganesh mandals sprouted everywhere and rivalries over which cavalcade should go for immersion first, began. Lokmanya Tilak was called to a arbitrate. From then on he gave it a political face, making it a vehicle for voicing the aspiration for freedom from British rule.

His newspaper dated September 8, 1896 stated; ‘why shouldn’t we convert the large religious festival in to mass political rallies?’ The British saw this is an attempt by the Brahmins to regain their leadership, and glorification of the martial traditions of Shivaji and the Marathas.

NAG PANCHAMI

Nag panchami is celebrated on the 5th day of the moonlit fortnight of Shravan. The puranas mention Anant, Shesh, Padma, among others. The thousand–headed Shesh nag who symbolizes eternity is Lord Vishnu’s couch. The Lord reclines on this couch between the dissolution of one universe and creation of another.

Hindus believe in the eternity of the snake because it sloughs its skin, and eternity is often represented by a serpent eating its own tail. The Jains believe that a snake protected Muni Parshwanath and all his statues are carved with a snake above his head. Buddhists also believe that a cobra once saved Buddha’s life. The most popular story centers Lord Krishna who when a boy was once playing a ball game with his friends. When the ball fell into the Yamuna river Krishna vanquished the serpent Kalia, and thus saved the people from drinking poisonous water.  

TEEJ - Festival of India

Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati, Teej is essentially a woman’s festival. After a hundred-year penance, Parvati united with Shiva on this day. This practice continues today.

The repainted image is bedecked in traditional finery and worshiped in the Zenana by the ladies of the royal family. It is then taken out to join the procession which is led by the Nishan-ka-hathi, the elephant with the flag. Special henna motifs, laheria and ahewar are applied to the accompaniment of lilting songs.       

RATH YATRA

Every year in the July the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath a form of Krishna is celebrated in Puri and other towns of Orissa. Vishwakarma is said to have been commissioned to create the image.

He agreed on condition that neither he nor his work would be seen till it was completed. When several months passed by, Lord Vishnu, growing impatient, forced open the doors. The image emerged as a wooden structure with large round eyes representing the and moon, but only stumps for arms.

BUDH POORNIMA - Festival of India

Buddha Poornima is celebrated on the full moon day of Vaishakha, the lunar month corresponding to April-May. Many Buddhists call it Vesak, the Tibetans know it as Sa-gazla-ba, and in Sri Lanka it is known as Vishakha Pujain.

Story has it that Queen Mayadevi was strolling in the garden at Lumbini, in northern India. Feeling tired she sat under a tree and fell asleep. In a dream she saw a six-tusked white elephant entering her body. After this she gave birth to a child through the right side of her ribcage. When her son, Siddhartha, was actually born, his horoscope was made. It predicted that he would either become a monarch or a world famous ascetic.

BAISAKHI

Baisakhi is the start of New Year for Hindus and the anniversary of the foundation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh. When the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb imposed the Jaziya taz only on Hindus they appealed to Guru Tegh Bahadur for help.

Encouraged by his young son, Gobind Rai, Guru Teg Bahadur went to Delhi but was imprisoned and executed. Becoming the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Rai asked all Sikhs to meet at Anandpur Sahib on Baisakhi Day on30 march 1699.

 

Holi

Celebration for Holi starts in Nandagaon and Barsana near Mathura a week before the rest of the country. Men of Nandagow storm into Barsana to hoist their flag over Shri Radhikaji’s temple. The women of Barsana rush towards them with long wooden sticks beating those who cannot protect themselves.

The fleeing men wear padded clothes but are not allowed to retaliate. In this camaraderie, captured men are thrashed, forced to wear female attire and dance. So it was with Lord Krishna who was made to wear a sari and dance with the gopis.

MAHASHIVRATRI - Festival of India

Celebrated in end February or early march each year. Three stories are associated with this festival. Some say that when Parvati asked Shiva which Vrata, fast, would be suitable for his bhakti, Shiva named this one.

Another legend has it that once Brahma and Vishnu were involved in an ego clash. To prove the point that there is more to life than just powers of embodied beings; Shiva assumed the form of a pillar whose top and bottom could not be seen. Vishnu went sown and Brahma went up, but in spite of traveling for years, they were unable to find the beginning or the end. Realizing the limitations of their own powers, they were humbled. Henceforth this day was called Mahashivratri.

National Festivals of India :
Mainly three festivals are celebrated as National Festivals of India.

1. Gandhi Jayanti [October 2nd] :
Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated as National Festivals in 2nd October. This day Mahatma Gandhi was born in Porbandar [Gujarat]. He is also known as "Bapu" and "Father of Nation".

2. Independence Day [August 15th] :
The most important day of Indian history is 15th August 1947. India's freedom from British Raj in that day. We are celebrated 15th August as National Festival.

3. Republic Day [January 26th] :
26th January is celebrated as National Festivals because Constitution of India came in that day. We are celebrated 26th January as National Holiday.

 

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