Religious Festivals Of India: Art & Culture for UPSC Exams
RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF INDIA
Kumbha Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage. The normal Kumbha Mela is celebrated every 3 years, the Ardh Kumbh Mela is celebrated every six years at Haridwar and Prayag. The Purna Kumbha Mela takes place every twelve years at four places Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. The Mahakumba Mela which comes after 12 Purna Kumbha Mela or 144 years is held at Allahabad. The previous Maha Kumbha Mela was held in 2001.
Holi : Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month phalguna which usually falls in the later part of February or March. Holi is celebrated by people throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other. The bonfires are lit in memory of the escape of Prahlad when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu carried him into the fire.
Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Phalguna. The festival is celebrated by going to Shiva Temple, all day fasting and all night long vigil.
Diwali popularly known as the festival of lights. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps to signify the triumph of good over evil. Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon King Ravana.
Navaratri is a Hindu festival of worship of Shakti and dance and festivities. The word Navaratri means nine nights. During these nine nights, nine forms of Shakti or Devi are worshipped.
Vinayaga Chaturthi is the Hindu festival of Ganesha, who is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees in the duration of this festival. It is the birthday of Ganesha who is widely worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
Guru Purnima is a festival traditionally celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists . Traditionally the festival is celebrated by Buddhists in the honor of the lord Buddha who gave his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, Uttarpradesh, while Hindus on this day offer Puja or pay respect to their Guru.
Thai Pongal is harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Sri Lanka. Thai Pongal is celebrated at harvest time to thank the Sun God and farmstead livestock that helped to create the material abundance. The boiling over of milk in the clay pot symbolizes material abundance for the household.
Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a festival primarily observed in North India by Hindus and Sikhs. The central ceremony involves the tying of rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother ’s wrist. This symbolizes the sisters love and prayers for her brother’s well being, and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect her.
Vasant Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddes s of knowledge, music and art. Traditionally during this festival children are taught to write their first words; Brahmins are fed ; ancestor wor ship is performed; the god of love, Kamadeva is worshipped. The colour yellow plays an important role in this festival, in that people usually wear yellow garments.
Karva Chauth is an annual one-day festival celebrated by Hindu and Sikh women in North India in which married women fast from sunrise to moonr is efort he safety and longevity of their husbands. Sometimes unmarried women observe the fast for their fiances or desired
Buddha Poornima : Commemorates the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. Pilgrims come from all over the world to Bodh Gaya to attend the Buddha Poornima celebrations. The day is marked with prayer meets, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha , religious
discourses, continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, worship of the statue of Buddha . The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colourful flags and flowers.
The Dree Festival is an agricultural rite. The rite is observed by the Apatanis in Arunachal Pradesh. It involves the sacrifice of fowls, eggs and animals to the sun and moon god. The purpose of the festival is to appease these Gods so that famine could be avoided.
Christmas is observed on December 25 to commemorate the birth of Jesus. On this day gifts are given, Christmas cards are exchanged, Christmas trees are decorated. There are special prayer and celebrations in Church on this day. Santaclaus brings gifts to children on Christmas.
Ramzan : It is the Islamic month of fasting in which participating Muslims refrain from, eating drinking and sexual relations from dawn until sunset. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims about patience, humility and spirituality. It is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God and to offer more prayer than usual.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The pre-Islamic period in the Arabian peninsula was the era of warring tribes. In the absence of a strong leadership, there were conflicts and battles on minor issues. But fighting was prohibited in four months of the year. These months, of which Muharram was one, were considered sacred. Muharram is so called because it was unlawful to fight during this month; the word is derived from the word ‘haram’ meaning forbidden. The word " Muharram" is often considered synonymous with "Ashura", the tenth day of the Muharram month.
Easter : Easter is the oldest and holiest Christian festival. Easter is the day when Jesus Christ was crucified and the Christians offer prayers and services in the Churches. On this day J esus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are a major attraction during Easter, the festival of rejuvenation of life and living.