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Hindu Festivals

India is a land where festivals never seem to end. The festivals here spread the vibrancy and colours of rainbow in everybody's lives. Processions, prayers, new attires dance and music are certain elements related to the festivals. They are mostly connected to emotional panorama to the every Indian instead of cast, religion, and language and socioculture barrier. Following are the Major festivals celebrated in India on large level.

Holi

Holi is a one of the major festivals in India celebrated by large numbers of people across the India. This festival is sign of love and unity among the cast and regionalism. Having an ancient origin, the Holi festival celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'evil'. One of the important Hindu festivals, Holi is mainly celebrated in North India, East India, West India and Central India.
Also called the festival of colours, Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which generally comes by February end or early March. Celebration of Holi begins with lighting up of bonfire on the eve of Holi to signify burning the demoness Holika, sister of demon king Hiranyakashipu. On the festival day, known as Dhulendi, people throw coloured water, smear 'gulal' and 'abeer' on each other's faces and cheer themselves. Literally the word Holi means burning and a number of legends are associated to explain the meaning of the word. Among the various legends, the most prominent is associated with demon king Hiranyakashyap. As per legend, the demon king wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship only him. But the king's own son Prahalad who was a devotee of Lord Narayana, became the great disappointment for him.Hiranyakashyap asked his sister, Holika who had a boon to standby fire without any damage, to enter a blazing fire with his son Prahlad in her lap. But, her boon did not worked and she was engulfed by the fire, but Prahlad was saved by the god. Hence, the festival of Holi marks the triumph of good over evil and also the victory of ardent devotion.Since time immemorial Holi is being celebrated in India, but the popularity of festival celebrations rising with every passing year. Celebrations of Holi kicks off with the burning of Holika on the cross-roads of towns and villages. Festival of Holi includes lot of fun-filled activity and bonhomie. Celebrations of Holi takes place with great pomp and enthusiasm all over the country. In fact, no other festival in the country offers so much liberty to people like Holi to reach the epitome of fun and enjoyment. Differences among the people are drowned in the coloured waters and people smear Abir (coloured powdered) on each other's face. Tradition of bhang is also an important part of Holi celebrations and people do funny activities after taking bhang. After taking bhang, people dance with the rhythm of dholak (drum) and sing traditional folk songs. Children usually enjoy the festival for two to three days and throw water filled balloons at passerby. Besides, the children also drench others by pichkaris from far and loudly enchant 'Bura Na Mano Holi Hai'(don’t worry.its holi). Savoring mouth-watery dishes is an important part of holi celebrations. People savour delectable dishes like Malpuas, Mathri, Puran Poli, Gujiya, Dahi badas and glasses full of thandai. After the invigorating day, evenings of the Holi are celebrated in dignified manner and people visit friends and relatives. People exchange sweets, hug each other and convey good wishes for the festival.
In some states of the country, people follow the tradition of breaking the pot full of buttermilk, hanged high on the streets or cross-roads. Young men in group made the human pyramid to break the pot and eventually get success. Meanwhile the women throw buckets of colour water on the boys and sing folk songs as well. However, at Mathura and Barsana Holi celebrations continue for a week and major temples organise a Holi bash on every day. People enjoy the every moment of the one week long festival to the zenith.

Diwali
Diwali, or Deepawali  in India means – the festival of Lights. Diwali is one of the biggest festivals of India that is celebrated with full enthusiasm by every Indian, residing in every part of the world. The festival crosses all boundaries and limitations of religion, caste, creed and colour. The festival holds a mass appeal and symbolises victory of good over evil. Fireworks is always associated with Diwali. People of all age group burn crackers and light candles at their homes.
Many beliefs and legends are associated to this festival of Diwali. It is said that the Hindus celebrate this festival to mark the time when Lord Rama registered his victory over demon-king Ravana. Many are of the opinion that on this day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. The festival also hold special significance for the Sikh community.Diwali is one of the most awaited Hindu festivals of India. It comes exactly twenty days after Dussehra. Many people use this festival as an occasion to strengthen their family and social relationships. It is held consecutively for five days in the month of October/ November in most parts of northern Inda. The celebrations of Diwali mostly is marked by lighting countless traditional diyas or deeps (earthern lamps). However many also lit candles. People decorate their houses with lights and performs Lakshmi Pooja where the seek the blessing of Goddess of wealth. Lord Ganesha is also worshiped on this occasion. There is tradition  of gift giving to beloved one on occasion of  Diwali. Relatives invite friends and families and celebrate the day with them. Some society and organization occasion of Diwali many fairs( melas) are also organised. The various stalls in the melas display many colourful articles. However the major focus remains on the crackers and idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha. The melas also bring with them several performances by jugglars, acrobats, fortune tellers and snake charmers.Diwali is not only celebrated in India but also in various parts of the country. It is celebrated in United Kingdoms, New Zealand, Canada, Suriname, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mynamar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Africa and many more.

Baisakhi Festival
This festival is mainly celebrated by Sikhs community of India but more than half India celebrates this festival in other forms. This festival brings the new calendar of Hindu Panchang. Baisakhi is predominantly a farmer's festival. It is a time when farmers enjoy the fruits of their hard work by performing joyful bhangra and gidda dance. Farmers, this day, thank God for the good harvest and also pray for a better crop next year. Visit to religious shrines and celebrations of several ritual performances are part of the festival. Vaisakhi processions with cultural traditional performances are also the highlights of the day. Vibrant festival Baisakhi is celebrated as 'Rongali Bihu' in Assam, 'Naba Barsha' in Bengal, 'Puthandu' in Tamil Nadu, 'Pooram Vishu' in Kerala and 'Vaishakha' in Bihar.
The festival of Baisakhi was first institutionalized in 1567 by Guru Amar Das. In 1699, also on this day, their tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, organized the order of the Khalsa. On that day he put an end to the Guru tradition in Sikhism and declared that the Granth Sahib is the eternal Guru of all Sikhs. To make it more significant Sikh community celebrates this harvest festival also as a birthday of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.On this day, Guru Arjan Dev was martyred by the Muslim rulers. They murdered him by throwing him alive into a cauldron of boiling oil. Apart from the Sikh religion this day is equally important for the other communities. According to the astrology, Sun enters into Mesh Rashi this day which make it auspicious. This day also religiously important to the Buddhists, as Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment or Nirvana under the Mahabodhi tree on this propitious day. The day is also known, as Buddha Purnima amongst the Buddhist. This day people take an early morning holy dip in the rivers. Religious people celebrate this day by visiting gurudwaras and distributing kada prasad among all. Many people open Langar this day for the poor. The young people of Punjab attired in their best clothes break into celebrations. They do Bhangra dance to express their joy. The dancers and drummers dare each other. Through the dance girls enacts the popular harvest scenes of sowing, harvesting, winnowing and gathering of crops. Apart from the recreational activities, wrestling bouts are also held amongst the locals. Colorful processions led by the Panj Piaras are taken out. Children, dueling youths and musical bands are the main highlights of these processions. At evening kirtans are organized in gurudwaras.

Janmashtami
India is called the country of love and the lord of Love is Krishna. Janmashtami is the festival which celebrated on Birth Day of Lord Krishna in the month of August./ September, the rainy season in India.On the day of Janmashtami, several rituals are performed by the people. People in their homes conduct pooja and offer prayers. Temples all over India, engage in various ceremonies and prayers in the honour of Lord Krishna. Many devotional songs on Krishna are sung and dances performed on this occasion. Many performances by professional artists are also organised on this occasion. Rasleelas however are the most common performance that is held in various states.Janmashtami is celebrated with great divinity in Mathura, Vrindavan and Dwarka. Dahi Handi is one of the most important ways of the celebration of Janmashtami. Dahi Handi is an enactment of Lord Krishna's efforts to steal butter from Matka (earthen pot) suspended from the ceiling.
Sri Krishna Jayanti, therefore, signifies not merely the birth of a great and Divine teacher of mankind in some distant past but the lighting of the spark of the Divine Power in every one of us, which spurs us on to play our dynamic part in this world of practical and hard realities with a sense of high spiritual purpose. Krishna represents the total power of attraction (Aakarshna Shakti) like a magnet of infinite rise. Hence Krishna is the source of joy.The cultural aspects are represented by the traditionally dressed devotees. The raas or dance is also done with devotees taking part with spiritual fervor. Sri Krishna who manifests all levels of joy, is also the source of spiritual joy, which overrides mental or emotional joy, just as emotional joy overrides physical joy. If all the three are integrated and interdependent, then the observance of the festival takes on the full meaning of Sri Krishnaarpanamastu - let everything be offered to Sri Krishna.

Ganesh Chathurthi
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals of the state of Maharashtra. One of the most famed Gods of Hindus, Lord Ganesha's birth is celebrated on this day. He is worshiped and remembered on this occasion. People with full fervor offer prayers to Lord Ganesha, who is said to be the symbol of wisdom and the bringer of good luck. Ladoos and other sweets are distributed; milk is offered to idols of Lord Ganesha at home and at temples, and worshippers visit Ganesha temples for Ganesha Puja. Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most popular festivals of India and perhaps the only one involving the general public. Many large, small and mid-sized Ganesha's idols are made on this occasion by the artisans. These idols are worshiped by the devotees and at the end of the festival, are immersed in the nearest water body (all rivers, lakes and the sea which are sacred to the Hindus). This immersion of the idols is called as “Ganesha Visarjan".The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi gained immense uplift and popularity because of the freedom fighter and leader Lokmanya Tilak. He tried to evoke nationalism through religious passions by organising festivals like Ganesha Chaturthi.The main sweet dish during the festival is modak also known as Ladoos. A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of coconut, jaggery and some other condiments. It can be either steam-cooked or fried and the coconut can be fresh/dry grated. The festival is a time for a lot of cultural activities like songs, dramas and orchestra.

Dussehra
Dussehra is one of the most awaited festivals in India. It is celebrated with full devotion and frolic by the Indian masses. The festival is also known as Vijayadashmi and is not only celebrated by the Hindus but also by people of all religion, sect, caste, color and creed. The festival signifies victory of good over evil. During Dussehra Goddess Durga is worshiped. Goddess Durga is said to be a combined manifestation of the divine superpowers - Brahma - Vishnu and Mahesh who summoned Durga to kill the mighty demon, Mahishasur.Dussehra is also known as Vijaya Dasami. It is believed that on this day Lord Rama killed the demon King Ravana of Lanka and brought back wife from his captive. Puranas also testify that Goddess Durga defeated and killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura.With the beginning of the month of October, people start making preparations for welcoming Durga and blessing their household and life with happiness. The festival continues for 10 days. Till 9 days the people keep fast and offer prayers to the goddess. This phase of nine days is called as " Navratra". At various places the huge idols of goddess Durga is installed. Artists from all over India decorate and adorn goddess with ornaments and fine clothes. Not only Indians but these idols are also visited in large numbers by foreigners. The whole atmosphere during this time seem very pious and clean. People dressed in new clothes visit their near and dear ones and wish them the best of the festival. Several delicacies are prepared as offering to the goddess.
During the night the streets sparkle with disco lights and bhajans dedicated to Maa Durga. People decorate their entrances with Torans and flower studded strings. Several fairs are also organised during this ten days festival all over India. On the tenth day of Dussehra, with heavy heart the devotees immerse the her in the rivers and ponds.
'Ramlila' is one of the delights and attractions during Dussehra. It is an enactment of the life of King Ram that is held during the nine days of Navratri. On the tenth day large effigies of Ravana, his son and brother Meghnadh and Kumbhakaran are set to fire and heavy cracker show is also organised. Ramlila is held with a view of teaching people the lesson of burning their individual evils and following the path of truth all their lives.