Festivals in Hindu Religion – Festivals in India
India is a country of festivals. The festivals in India are the unique identity of our culture. In the Hindu religion, there are lots of festivals. Many deities are worshipped in these festivals. These festivals depend upon the changing positions of the Sun and Moon. Festivals also depend on changing seasons or season mixing. In some festivals trees, animals, Sun, and Moon are worshipped. This shows the importance of nature in the Hindu religion. Each festival has its own story and importance. There are some local or regional festivals also. These festivals bring happiness and joy to the people and give them an opportunity to change from their daily routine works. The different festivals in Hindu Dharma have their own significance, importance, meaning, and usefulness in an individual’s life as well as in society.
Some of the most important festivals in India which a Hindu celebrates are;
Hindu New Year:
In the Hindu religion, the new year starts from the Chaitra Shukla pratipada. It usually falls between March and April. Hindu new year is known as Vikramsamvat, named after a great Hindu king Vikramaditya. Chaitra Navratri starts from this day. This day is often celebrated as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh (India). People make rangoli designs on their doors. In Maharashtra (India) this day is known as Gudipadwa.
Ramnavmi is celebrated every year, this day is considered as the birthday of Lord Ram. It is celebrated on the Chaitra Shukla Paksha Navmi. It is the ninth day of Chaitra Navratri. It falls between March and April. Lord Ram is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the central character of the epic Ramayana.
It is celebrated on the Chaitra Purnima (full Moon) of the Hindu calendar usually in April, This day is considered as the birthday of Lord Hanuman. The temples are decorated on this day and people worship Lord Hanuman. He is the great devotee of Lord Rama.
It is celebrated on the third day of Vaishakh Shukla paksha of the Hindu calendar usually between April to May. It is the birthday of Lord Parshurama. It is believed that on this day Lord Ganesha started writing the epic Mahabharata. Another story related to this festival is that on this day Lord Krishna gave an unlimited bowl of food to the Pandavas. The word Akshaya means one who can never be destroyed. This is a very good day for buying gold and starting new work. It brings good luck and fortune.
This festival is related to Lord Jagannath of Puri in the state of Odisha, India. This festival is celebrated on the Ashadha Shukla Dwitiya of the Hindu calendar. In this festival, three decorated chariots in temple structures are pulled by the devotees through the streets. This is the journey of Lord Jagannath with his elder brother Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra to their aunt’s home Gundicha temple. They live there for nine days and then return to the main temple. The height of chariots is around forty-five feet.
This is the festival of brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon day of Sharavana month of the Hindu calendar. On this day sisters tie a holy thread (known as Rakhi) on their brother’s wrist and pray for his long life and good fortune. According to mythological stories, during the battle with Shishupal, Lord Krishna got injured. Then Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas tied a piece of cloth to his wrist. Lord Krishna promised her to protect and help every time.
This festival is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna is a very popular incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is celebrated on the Ashtami (Eight) tithi (date) of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) in the Bhadrapad month of the Hindu calendar. It is believed that Lord Krishna was born at the midnight. Fasting, night vigil, singing, and dancing, Dahi handi are activities which the devotees perform during this festival.
This festival is the celebration of the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is the god of new beginnings and remover of the obstacles. He is also considered as the God of wisdom and intelligence. It is an eleven-day festival. Clay statue of the deity is established in the houses and public places. Modak, A round-shaped sweet is offered to the god. Devotees put statue for one and half days or three days or five days. Chanting, fasting, and prayers are done in this period of time. The statues are immersed in the river or sea. It is celebrated on the fourth day of Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapad month of the Hindu calendar usually between August and September.
This festival starts from Ashwin Shukla Paksha Pratipada of the Hindu calendar usually between September and October. It is a great festival of worship of goddess Durga who is a divine form of goddess Parvati. The word Navratri is made of Nav which means “nine” and Ratri which means “Night”.
With goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of intelligence, Lord Ganesha, the God of new beginnings, and Lord Kartikeya, God of war are also worshipped. Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasur. She is the destroyer of all the evils. On the tenth day, Dussehra or Vijayadashmi is celebrated. On that day Lord Rama killed demon king “Ravana”. In some parts of India, the clay statue of the deities are also installed during this period.
It is one of the most popular festival celebrated in India. Not only Hindus, but people of other religions also celebrate Diwali with great joy. It is a festival of lights, fireworks, rangolis, and worship of Hindu gods. It is a festival of three days starting from the Dhanteras, Naraka Chaturdashi, and finally Diwali. It is celebrated on the day of Amavasya of Kartik month of Hindu calendar. On the day of the Dhanteras, Hindus worship the Lord Dhanvantari, the God of good health and Ayurveda. On the second day of Naraka Chaturdashi, Hindu households offer a light clay lamp to the god of death Yama. And the third day of Diwali Hindus worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. On the day of Diwali, Lord Rama returned to his home Ayodhya after killing the demon Ravana. So the people of his state lighted lamps. Diwali is a symbol of removing the darkness of the evil from the light of goodness.
It is a festival of colors. This festival starts on the eve of Holi by Holikadahan in which Hindus burn the fire and worship that fire. The story behind this festival is that there was a demon called Hiranyakashyap, who had a son named Prahlad. He was the great devotee of Lord Vishnu. His father the demon didn’t like this devotion. So warned Prahlad to stop this. But devotee Prahlad didn’t stopped. So the demon decided to kill Prahlad. He ordered his sister Holika to kill Prahlad. She had a boon to never burn into the fire. She sat in the fire with Prahlad. But the great devotion of Prahlad saved him and Holika burnt into that fire. People played with the rashes of that bonfire. Holi is also associated with Lord Krishna. In Braj, Uttar Pradesh, India Holi is celebrated with great joy.