Discussion in 'Hindu Festivals' started by garry420, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    DIWALI: The most celebrated Hindu holiday is Diwali, the festival of lights. Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word, Deepavali. Deepa means light and cali means cluster or row. That’s why on Diwali, we see rows and rows of lights and lamps called diyas, everywhere, in front of mansions and huts alike. These diyas welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Diwali symbolizes the victory of good over evil and Rama triumphing over Ravana. For the same reason, homes are decorated and filled with everything new. Diwali in the name of the Shastras, is celebrated by eating mithai, and the burning of firecrackers.

    KARVA CHAUT: Karva Chaut is a fast undertaken by married women who seek their husband’s welfare, well-being, prosperity, and most importantly, health and longevity. During the day, women gather in red saris and traditional wedding jewelry. In the midst of the women, a Karva is placed, which is an earthen pot with a spout, is filled with water, hence Karva Chauth. Shiva and Parvati are the deities worshipped as Parvati is admired for her steadfast loyalty to her husband. The women must go without eating and fast until they see the moon. When the moon does finally emerge, women go up to the rooftops and offer the moon water and flowers from their baya thali. The husband gives her a sip of water and a bite of food, and the fast is officially over.

    DASSERA: December is the holiday season around the world. Do Hindus have a holiday season? One could argue that Dassera is such a holiday season. It comes 21 days before Diwali. It consists of a string of festivals after the monsoons end. During the ten days of celebrations, the story of Lord Ram is enacted in dances and dramas all over north India. Since it is such an auspicious day, it is generally believed that any venture begun on that day will be successful. In the first nine days of Navratri, Durga pooja is performed. On the tenth day, Rama’ s triumph over Ravan is celebrated usually by the burning of Ravana’s effigy.

    NAVRATRI: They are the nine days of celebration when we thank the female principle of nature and the goddesses. In brief, the nine nights are dedicated to the three main goddesses of Hinduism - Parvati, Lakshmi and Sarasvati. Evenings and nights were chosen as the ideal times to celebrate the festival of the goddesses. The first three nights are dedicated to Parvati, the goddess of action and energy. Lakshmi is worshipped for the next three days in her various aspects as the goddesses of peace, plenty and wealth. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge is worshipped during the final three days of the Navratri . The most characteristic dances of Gujarat during Navratri are the Rasa and Garba dances which men and women perform at all levels of society.

    RAKSHA BANDHAN: The purity and sacredness of a brother-sister relationship is essential to the proper functioning of the Hindu way of life. Girls tie colored threads on their brothers wrists, thereby making them their protectors. The boys give their sisters a gift in return.

    HOLI: Indians cast of their winter blues by celebrating and playing Holi which heralds the arrival of spring. Spring brings hope, new beginnings, and harvests. The most colorful holiday in the world, Holi is also one of the most fun and exciting festivals. People clad in white run outside and throw colored powder and spray colored liquids on each other.

    JANMASHTAMI: Janmashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna, the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu who gave us the vital message of the Bhagwat Gita - the guiding principles for every Hindu. For celebrating Janmashtami the rituals begin with night long fasting, prayers and celebrations. Janmasthami is celebrated all over India. Scenes are enacted from Lord Krishna's early life. In Brindavan, the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, Jammashtami is celebrated with special pomp and splendor.

    KUMBHA MELA: Kumbha Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world Kumbha (Kumbha means a special pot) Mela is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage that takes place at the following four locations of India

    1. Prayag (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati
    2. Haridwar (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas
    3. Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of Ksipra river.
    4. Nasik (in Maharashtra) on the banks of Godavari river.

    The pilgrimage occurs four times every twelve years, once at each of the four locations. Each twelve-year cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbha Mela at Prayag, attended by millions of people, making it the largest pilgrimage gathering around the world.

    Thousands of years ago, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together in obtaining amrita (the nectar of immortality) and to share this equally. However, when the Kumbha (pot) containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away with the pot and were chased by the gods. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the celestial planet for the possession of this pot of amrita. It is said that during the battle, drops of amrita fell on to four places: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Hence, Kumbha mela is observed at these four locations.

    SRI RAMA NAVAMI: Ram Navami celebrates the birth of Ram who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Thousands of pilgrims converge in the temples, especially of Ayodhya and Pondicherry, two places closely connected with the events of the Ramayana, to participate in Ramnavami festivities. Colorful processions are held, which comprise brilliant floats of Rama, his wife Sita, Rama's loyal brother Lakshmana and Hanuman.

    MAKARA SANKRAMANA: The Sanskrit word "Shankramana" means "to begin to move". The day on which the sun begins to move northwards is called Makara Shankranti. It usually falls in the middle of January.

    PONGAL: This festival is undoubtedly the most important festival celebrated by Tamilians spread over several days. The festival always starts on 13th January every year and coincides with Loori of Punjab and Goopi of Andhra Pradesh. A few days prior to the Pongal festival, every house is cleaned and white washed.
    Decorative designs or rangolis are traced on floors and on the day of the Pongal, the newly harvested rice is cooked in homes to acclaim the bounty of the gods.

    Certain Hindu festivals are associated with the annual cycle of seasons. Pongal in the South and Sankranti in the North are celebrated to mark the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest

    GANESHA CHATURTHI: The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is the day on which Lord Ganesh was born. The Hindus believe that praying to Lord Ganesh during the festival will bring good luck and prosperity for the family. In addition to this Lord Ganesh is known to be a deity who protects people from obstacles in their lives. Throughout India the festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm and devotion. Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration and the festival is celebrated for ten days where Lord Ganesh is intensely worshipped. On the day of the Chaturthi, i.e. the last of the days (full moon-poornamasi) dedicated to Lord Ganesh with thousands of processions converging on the beaches to immerse the holy idols in the sea. This immersion is accompanied by drumbeats, devotional songs and dancing.

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