Religious Festivals Of India: Art & Culture for UPSC Exams

UPSC Exam Art & Culture

Religious Festivals Of India: Art & Culture for UPSC Exams



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.


Printed Study Material for UPSC PRELIMS EXAM

Printed Study Material for UPSC MAINS EXAM

<< Go Back to Main Page