Festivals

Hindi

.: Diwali (Dipiwali) - 15th October
One of the best known festivals in India. It is celebrated all over India and by Indians all over the world. It is better known as the "festival of lights", because it is tradition to light small oil lamps (diyas) and place them everywhere. Some places they also use electrical lights, like some people use for decorating at christmas. The celebration of the festival is followed by exchange of sweets and a lot of fireworks and noisy firecrackers.

Diwali means different things to people across the country. In North India Diwali celebrates Rama's homecoming, his return to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana and his coronation as king; in Gujarat, the festival honors Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, in Bengal it is associated with the goddess Kali. Everywhere, it signifies the renewal of life, so it is common to wear new clothes on the day of the festival.

.: Holi (The festival of colour) - 15th March
The most colourful festival. It celebrates the arrival of spring and death of demoness Holika. It is a celebration of happiness and hope. Holi gives a refreshing break from the mundane norms as people from all walks of life enjoy themselves. Dhuleti, the day after Holi, is the actual festival of colours, when everything in sight is covered in a riot of colours.

.: Pongal (South India - 14th January)
A popular harvest festival in South India. Named after a sweet rice dish, Pongal. It starts on 14th of January each year and lasts for 3 days. On the first day, Pongal is offered to Bhogi or Indran (the rain gods) for providing rain for the harvest. On the second day, pongal is offered to the sun (Surya). On the third day, the family's cattle is cleaned and dressed up with flowers, bells and color powder. This is the day to honor the cattle's hard work for plowing the fields.

.: Losar (1.February)
Tibetan New Year celebrations among Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist communities, especially at Dharamsala.

.: Pushkar Camel Fair (Rajasthan) - November
The famous Pushkar Camel Fair is held in the sacred and peaceful town of Pushkar in the most exotic part of India Rajasthan. During the festival the town transforms into a spectacular fair ground for twelve days during the month of Kartik.Thousands of pilgrims come to bath in the holy waters of the Pushkar Lake. Trading of cattle, camels, camel races and fantastic displays of bangles, jewlery and clothes are major attractions.

.: Kumbh Mela
Major 3yearly festival held at one of four holy cities: Nasik, Ujjain , Haridwar or Prayag as well as at Allahabad. The Maha Kumbh Mela or "Great" Kumbh Mela, the largest religious fair in India, is held every twelve years in Allahabad; the next festival is due to take place in 2013.

.: Dussehra (Durga Puja)
Dussehra (10th day) is one of the most important Hindu festivals, celebrated in the whole country. The festival marks the victory of Lord Rama over the demon king Ravana, the victory of good over evil. On the 10th day, the Vijayadasmi day, colossal figures of Ravana, his brother Kumbhkarna and son Meghnath are placed in vast open spaces. Rama, accompanied by his companion Sita and his brother Lakshmana, arrive and shoot arrows of fire at these figures, which are stuffed with explosive material. The result is a deafening blast, enhanced by the shouts of happiness and triumph from the spectators.

Muslim

.: Id
Idu'l Fitr, Idu'l Zuha and Id-i-Milad are the 3 festive occasions celebrated by Muslims in India. Id is celebrated all over the country and one can see Muslims of all age groups, from all layers of society dressed in new clothes, visiting mosques to offer namaaz.

.: Id-ul-Fitr (Ramzan Id)
Coming with the new moon, this festival marks the end of Ramzan (Ramadan), the 9th month of the Muslim year. It was during this month that the holy Koran was revealed. Muslims keep a fast every day until sunset during this month and on the completion of the period, which is decided by the appearance of the new moon, Id-ul-Fitr is celebrated.

.: Id-ul-Azha (Bakr-Id)
The Id-ul-Azha celebratse the suffering of Hazrat Ibrahim, who had been put to a terrible test by God when he was asked to sacrifice whatever was dearest to him and he decided to sacrifice the life of his son. As he was on the point of applying the sword to his son's throat, it was revealed to him that this was meant only to test his faith and it was enough, if instead he sacrifices only a ram in the name of Allah.

.: Id-i-Milad (Barah-wafat)
The Prophet was born on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal, the 3rd month of the Muslim year. His death anniversary also falls on the same day, the word 'barah' standing for the twelve days of the Prophet's sickness.



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