India is a land of festivals and fairs. Virtually celebrating each day of the year, there are more festivals celebrated in India than anywhere else in the world. Each festival pertains to different occasions, some welcome the seasons of the year, the harvest, the rains, or the full moon. Others celebrate religious occasions, the birthdays of divine beings and saints, or the advent of the New Year. A number of these festivals are common to most parts of India. However, they may be called by different names in various parts of the country or may be celebrated in a different fashion. Some of the festivals celebrated all over India are mentioned below. However, this section is still under enhancement. There are many other important festivals celebrated by various communities in India and this section shall be further enriched with information about them.
Lord Vishnu is invoked in his human incarnation as Krishna on his birth anniversary in the festival of Janmashtami. This festival of Hindus is celebrated with great devotion on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Sravana (July-August) in India. According to Hindu mythology, Krishna was born to destroy Mathura’s demon King Kansa, brother of his virtuous mother, Devaki.
Christmas originates from the word Cristes maesse, or ‘Christ’s Mass’. The first Christmas is estimated to be around 336 A.D. in Rome. It is celebrated on 25th December all over the world, to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is regarded as one of the most important of all Christian festivals. It is a public holiday in India and most of the other countries.
Celebrated on the full-moon day of the Hindu month of Sravana (July/August), this festival celebrates the love of a brother for his sister. On this day, sisters tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers to protect them against evil influences, and pray for their long life and happiness. They in turn, give a gift which is a promise that they will protect their sisters from any harm. Within these Rakhis reside sacred feelings and well wishes. This festival is mostly celebrated in North India.
Deepawali or Diwali, is a festival of lights symbolising the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word ‘Deepawali’ literally means rows of diyas (clay lamps). This is one of the most popular festivals in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the 15th day of Kartika (October/November). This festival commemorates Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile.
Id-ul-Zuha (Bakr-Id), is a festival of great rejoice, special prayers and exchange of greetings and gifts mark this festival of Muslims. Id-ul-zuha, the festival of sacrifice is celebrated with traditional fervor and gaiety in India and the world. It is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat or ‘bakr’ in Urdu. The word ‘id’ derived from the Arabic ‘iwd’ means ‘festival’ and zuha comes from ‘uzhaiyya’ which translates to ‘sacrifice’.
Ramnavami is dedicated to the memory of Lord Rama, the son of king Dashrath. He is known as ‘Maryada Purusottama’ and is the emblem of righteousness. The festival commemorates the birth of Rama on the ninth day after the new moon in Sukul Paksh (the waxing moon), which falls sometime in the month of April.
Lord Rama is remembered for his prosperous and righteous reign. He is considered to be an avatar or reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, who came down to earth to battle the invincible Ravana (demon king) in human form. Ramrajya (the reign of Rama) has become synonymous with a period of peace and prosperity.
Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Jayanti, the foremost of all the Gurupurabs or anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus, is the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith, who ushered in a new wave in religion. The first of the 10 Sikh Gurus, Guru Nanak was born in 1469 at Talwandi, near Lahore. The disinclination to accept the practice of several religions in society, professing different deities drove the much-travelled leader to break free from the shackles of religious diversity, and establish a religion based on a single God who is the eternal truth. The festive event of Guru Nanak Jayanti includes the three-day Akhand Path, during which the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs is read out from the beginning to the end without a break. On the day of the main event, the Granth Sahib is ornamented with flowers, and carried on a float in a proper procession throughout a village or city.