Festivals Of India
Makara Sankranti festival coincides with the
beginning of the sun's northward journey, and falls on January
14 according to the solar calendar. According to legend,
Bhishma, a great hero of the Mahabharata, though wounded
mortally, waited for this auspicious time to give up his life.
For, it is believed that, a person dying on this day reaches the
Abode of Light and Eternal Bliss.
In many states, the celebration has a special
offering of rice and pulses cooked together with or without
jaggery and clarified butter.
In many areas of India people distribute til-gud - the
sesame seed and jaggery. The til brimming with fragrant and
delicious oil, stands for friendship and comradeship and jaggery
for the sweetness of speech and behavior.
In Tamil Nadu, Makara Sankranti is celebrated
as Pongal, a three-day harvest festival. On Bhogi Pongal, the
house is cleaned and the discards are burnt, while children sing
and dance around the bonfire. On Surya Pongal, sweet Pongal is
prepared and the Sun God is worshipped for a good yearly
harvest. The last day of Pongal, Mattu Pongal, is celebrated to
pay respects to the cows, the animal that is used in
In Uttar Pradesh, it is called the Khichri
In Gujarat, there is a custom of making gifts
to near relatives on this day.
Makara Sankranti bears a festive occasion for
the people of Rajasthan. Kite Festivals are organized on Makara
Sankranti. Kite flyers from all over the world participate in
Devotional worship of the Guru - the teacher -
is one of the most touching and elevating aspect of the Hindu
cultural tradition. The auspicious moment of Vyasa Poornima,
chosen for observing this annual festival, is no less
significant. It was the great sage Vyasa, son of a fisherwoman,
who classified the accumulated spiritual knowledge of the Vedas
under four heads - Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. The Guru in
the Hindu tradition is looked upon as an embodiment of God
himself. For, it is through his grace and guidance that one
reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss.
Gururbrahmaa gururvishnuh gururdevo Maheswarah
Guruh-saakshaat parabrahma tasmai shrigurave
"My salutations to
the Guru who is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara.
The Guru is
Karwa Chauth is a very
significant festival for the women of North Indian. Karwa means
clay pot and Chauth corresponding to the fourth. The festival is
celebrated nine days before Diwali, on the fourth day of the
waning moon in the Hindu month of Kartik, around
October-November Traditionally the Indian woman was expected to
uphold family honor and repute. The festival of Karwa Chauth is
not only a day when women pray to God for the long and
prosperous lives of their husbands, but is also symbolic of
their unflagging loyalty towards their spouses. Married women,
old and young, begin their fast on the day of Karwa Chauth well
before sunrise, and eventually partake of food and water only
after spotting the moon. But this is not a solemn day rather a
good measure of festivity, rituals and merriment complement its
more serious aspects.
For more detailed information on Karwa Chauth
Literally 'the fifth day of
spring', Vasanta Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the
bright fortnight in the month of Magha. The festival itself
dates to antiquity. It is reminiscent of the festival of
Vasantotsava of the ancient times, which was one of the most
important celebrations as it marked the beginning of the
agricultural season. Vasanta Panchami heralds the spring season.
It is hence celebrated with gaiety and festivity to mark the end
of the winter, which can be quite severe in northern India. The
festive color yellow, symbolic of spring, plays an important
part of this day. People wear yellow clothes, offer yellow
flowers in worship and put a yellow, turmeric tilak on their
forehead. They visit temples and offer prayers to various gods.
It is also known as Sirapanchami in Bihar and
Orissa, when the ploughs are worshipped and the land is furrowed
after the winter months. In Bengal, the day is celebrated as
Saraswati Puja and is marked by the worship of Saraswati.
This is a major Sikh festival - a
religious festival, harvest festival and New Year’s Day all
rolled into one.
In April, this day marks the beginning of the
Hindu solar New Year. In fact this day is celebrated all over
the country as New Year day under different names. It is also
the time when the harvest is ready to cut and store or sell. For
the Sikh community Baisakhi has a very special meaning. It was
on this day that the last Guru Gobind Singh organized the Sikhs
into Khalsa or the pure ones. By doing so, he eliminated the
differences of high and low and established that all human
beings were equal.
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated
to commemorate the birth of Hanuman, the monkey god widely
venerated throughout India. It is celebrated during Chaitra and
is especially important to Brahmacharis, wrestlers and
bodybuilders. Hanuman was an ardent devotee of Rama, and is
worshipped for his unflinching devotion to the god. From the
early morning, devotees flock Hanuman temples to worship him.
The officiating priest bathes the idol and offers special
prayers to the gods. Then the entire body is smeared with
sindoor and oil, a symbol of life and strength. According to a
popular belief, once when Sita was applying sindoor to her hair,
Hanuman asked her the reason for doing so. She replied that by
applying sindoor, she ensured a long life for her husband Shri
Ram. The more sindoor she applied, the longer Rama's life would
be. The devoted Hanuman then smeared his entire body with
sindoor, in an effort to ensure Rama's immortality. Hence
Hanuman's idol is always daubed with sindoor.