Diwali | Holi | Dussehra | Janmashtami | Ramanavami | Baisakhi | Eid | Lohri | Rakhi


Fire WorksFire Works A garland of lamps, is an apt description of this festival of lights. Tradition maintains that lamps are lit to keep alive the memory of Prince Rama's return to Ayodhya after conquering the tyrant Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, who had abducted his consort Sita. The heroic deeds of Rama are recounted in the Hindu epic Ramayan and Diwali symbolizes the victory of virtue over vice. Another myth traces the origins of the festival to the annual 'inspection tours' of Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. The faithful believe that on this day Lakshmi goes around visiting her devotees and sets up residence in the house she finds best spruced up and most hospitable.

Diya The ritual traditionally associated with Diwali is gambling. Friends get together to indulge in games of chance, dice or cards. Most rationalise that this is just to remind oneself of the fickleness of lady luck and to inculcate a sense of balance in our pursuit of material success. The children can be seen bursting fire crackers and lighting candles or earthen lamps. This is a time of generously exchanging sweets with neighbours and friends. Puffed rice and sugar candy are the favourite fares.

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Holi ColorOne of the important festivals of North India, Holi - the festival of colours, is celebrated with gaiety and exuberance. It marks the end of winter and greets the advent of spring. According to legend, Holika was a demoness who was vanquished by Prahlad, her virtuous nephew. Holi ColorThe heroic deed is commemorated with a bonfire on the eve of Holi and the next morning, the young and the old take part in boisterous singing, dancing and smearing each other with Abir - coloured powder, or Gulal spraying coloured water. This is a day to forgive and forget and to repair ruptured relationships.

Holi Color There is a lot of informal feasting, some people enjoy the heady effect of an almond flavoured milk drink Thandai spiked with Cannabis. The sweetmeat popularly exchanged on this occasion is Gujiya - a half moon pastry filled with condensed milk, dried fruits and nuts.

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The festival of Dussehra is the principle celebration in many parts of the country. It is celebrated with great fanfare in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Mysore in Karnataka and slightly differently as Durga puja in West Bengal. It is the climax of nine day long festivities during the Navaratri. Ravan

The highlight of Dussehra in Kullu is a colourful procession in which idols of local deities are carried round the town to the accompaniment of joyous music. If here the flavour is distinctly rural and rustic, in Mysore this day is reserved for display of resplendent regalia. The palace in Mysore is so well lit up that it outshines the moon. In Varanasi the burning of huge images of ten-headed Ravana provide the finale of perhaps the most spectacular re-telling of the Rama legend.

Godess DurgaDussehra also commemorates the annihilation of the Buffalo demon Mahishasur by the warrior goddess Durga. In West Bengal, the run-up to the Dussehra is marked by community worship dedicated to the mother goddess - the supreme female principle. Beautifully decorated pandals - stalls - are set up to showcase scenes from mythology and even depict slices of life of contemporary celebrities! Different stalls, vie with one another in providing spellbinding tableaus and mouth watering delicacies. This is a time for leaving all the cares behind and to express the dormant creativity. The whole of province of Bengal is gripped with a cultural fever. Contests of song and dance provide lively entertainment in all localities.

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Lord Krishna
The festival associated with Lord Krishna's birthday is a combination of religion and celebration together. This festival is celebrated all over India especially among Hindus. Mathura, the ancient north Indian town, is Krishna's birthplace, and it is one of the most sacred places in the entire country. People celebrate this festival with fun, frolic, and merrymaking. The raasleelas, bhajan, kirtan, and various local functions are the special attractions of the place.

The festival of Janmashtami is celebrated during the month of August or September depending on the Indian calendar. The celebration of this festival is followed according to the Indian calendar and hence the month in the English calendar varies every year. This day also falls on the day of Shravan Poornima when the monsoon season is at its high in most of the part of India.

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Lord Ram
Rama was the eldest son of the King of Ayodhya, Dasarath and Queen Kausalya. He is regarded as one of the incarnations of Hindu God Vishnu. The great Indian epic Ramayana is based on the life and hardship of Lord Rama.

The birth anniversary of Lord Rama is celebrated as Ramanavami in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April). In South India, offerings to the deity include sugar candy, a sweet drink called Panagam, and a few spring products. People observe a fast on Ramanavami and go to the temples. Poor people are given food and other gifts in kind who otherwise can not afford it.

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Bhangara
The first day of the Hindu new year is marked by Baisakhi, primarily a harvest festival. This is celebrated with great gusto in Punjab where Bhangara dancers, energetic and vigorous country youths enhant everybody with their ebullience.When the sun moves into the northern constellation the Hindu almanac marks the passage with Makar Sankranti. In north India this is the day prescribed for ritual bathing which is considered particularly auspicious.

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StarStarThe most important festivals for Muslims are the Eids. These are celebrated to commemorate the ritual sacrifice (Id-ul-Zuha - Bakr-id), conclusion of the month of fasting (Id-ul-Fitr - Ramzan-id) and the birth of the prophet (Id-e-Milad - Milad-un-Nabi). Eid is celebrated with a ritual Namaz - prayer - offering in a mosque, festive eating, exchange of gifts, donning of new clothes and dabbing of attar - rose essence.Worship Gathering

The sweetmeat most commonly associated with the Eid is Sevai or Semolina bands. These strands are boiled in sweetened milk and garnished with nuts. They are served dry as well as with milk.

Urs is the name given to festivals annually held at the memorial shrines dedicated to Sufi saints. These are marked by devotional singing that is known to induce a mystic trance. The most famous Urs are held at the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya at Delhi and Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer

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LohriLohriThe festival Lohri signifies the harvesting of the Rabi crops. The people of Northern India, especially Punjab and Haryana celebrate Lohri, to mark the end of winter. The festival generally falls in the month of January. This is the time when the coldest month of the Indian calendar. Harvested fields and front yards are lit up with flames of bonfires, around which people gather to meet friends and relatives and sing folk songs. Children go from house to house singing and collecting money and sweets, which they throw into the bonfires.

For Punjabis, this is more than just a festival; it is also an example of their love for celebrations. Lohri celebrates fertility and the joy of life. People gather around bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing popular and folksongs and exchange greetings.

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RakhiRakhi Raksha Bandhan is an unspoken pledge exchanged between a brother and sister cementing their fraternal relationship. This also reinforces their protective bond against all ills and odds. On this very day, the sisters tie a delicate, sometimes decorated, thread on the wrist of their brothers as a symbol of love and affection. This makes the brothers bound to protect their sisters from any trouble or wound.

Rakhi Raksha Bandhan is the most awaited festival of the year for every girl. It is celebrated in the month of August on the full-moon day known as the Shravan Poornima in India. The celebration of this festival is followed according to the Indian calendar, and hence the month in the English calendar varies every year.

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