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, 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
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.
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.
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 is celebrated on the 5th
day of the moonlit fortnight of Shravan. The puranas mention Anant, Shesh,
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
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.
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 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.
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
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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