The land which is known all over the globe for its cultural and religious diversity, India, observes festivals throughout the year. People belonging to different religions celebrate different festivals. However, some festivals have become pan-religious and are celebrated by all the sects in the society. Owing to this dense cultural identity of India, we hereby bring to you the top 10 festivals that are celebrated in India:
Diwali, also termed as Deepawali, is widely celebrated and the most famous Indian festival. The festival is first said to have been celebrated by the people of Ayodhya when Lord Rama came back from exile with wife and brother after fourteen long years. The festival was celebrated by lighting little clay lamps and the whole city of Ayodhya was decorated for welcoming the mighty king.
The Literal meaning of Diwali is the row of lights. In the evening, after offering prayers to God Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi, people lit their houses with vibrant lights and candles thus creating a striking view. According to Hindu lunar calendar, the festival takes place on the moonless night of dark half of Kartik. The Highlight of the festival is the firework carried out all across the country.
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Holi is a two-day festival that also celebrates the victory of good over evil, as well as the abundance of the spring harvest season. It’s commonly referred to as the “Festival of Colors”. People exuberantly throw colored powder and water all over each other, have parties, and dance under water sprinklers. Bhang (a paste made from cannabis plants) is also traditionally consumed during the celebrations. Holi is a very carefree festival that’s great fun to participate in if you don’t mind getting wet and dirty.
Navaratri, Dussehra, and Durga Puja
The first nine days of this festival are known as Navaratri and are filled with dance in honor of the Mother Goddess. The tenth day, called Dussehra, is devoted to celebrating the defeat of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama. It also coincides with the victory of the revered warrior Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura.
Last day of the celebrations come to an end by immersing the idols in the nearby water channels on the evening of Dashami as it is believed that goddess returns to her abode on this day.
Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is a three-day Muslim celebration. Ramadan is the Islamic holy month of fasting during which followers of Muslim religion observe a strict fast from dawn-to-sunset. It is believed that the Koran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed in the month of Ramzan. Eid ul-Fitr is thus celebrated with great enthusiasm.
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Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is celebrated by Sikhs and some sects of Hindus too. This harvest festival is celebrated especially in Punjab region by the Sikh community. For Sikhs, this festival celebrates for the new harvest and also the birth of Khalsa. Baisakhi is generally celebrated either on 13th or 14th April. People usually go to Amritsar to visit The Golden Temple. The folk dance of ‘bhangra’ is also performed by the people as a marker of their joy and happiness.
Christmas, the annual celebration is a feast central to the Christian liturgical year. This festival is celebrated all over the world by Christians on December 25th. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are the stock features of the festival. Christmas carols, cards, and Santa Claus are some of the popular derivatives of the festival that have developed across the globe and have become a crucial part of Christmas celebrations.
Onam is the festival which is celebrated by the people of Kerala in South India. It is celebrated as the homecoming of the mythical king Mahabali. People wear new traditional dresses and eat the traditional food of rice poured on banana leaves along with four different types of dishes. They celebrate this occasion by decorating a pyramid of beautiful flowers and pray for their good health and wealth. On this day, people of Kerala also participate in an enormous boat riding competition.
The spectacular eleven days Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the beloved Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. The start of the festival sees huge, elaborately crafted statutes of Ganesha installed in homes and podiums, which have been specially constructed and beautifully decorated. At the end of the festival, the statutes are paraded through the streets, accompanied by much singing and dancing, and then submerged in the ocean.
A festival celebrated to bring out the love and affection between brothers and sisters, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated mostly in north India. On this day, sisters pray for long life of their brothers and ask God to bless them with his blessings. As a symbol of their love and care for their brothers, the sisters tie the rakhi or a sacred threat of protection on their brothers’ wrists. Brothers, in turn, give them enticing rakhi gifts and promise to care for them till the end of their lives.
Another important Indian festival that celebrates the most beautiful relation on earth of that of a husband and wife is Karva Chauth. To ensure the well-being, wealth and long life of their husband married women observes a very difficult fast on this occasion. They neither eat food nor drink water the whole day. They get dressed up like newly wedded brides and decorating hands and feet by creating intricate designs with henna is one of the most common traditions largely followed on this occasion.