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FESTIVALS IN HINDUISM


India is a Multi-Religious country with various cultures and their special. With overall population of more than 1.18 billion, Festivals starts from welcoming the New Year, the rains and the full moon. The festivals are very common on most parts of India. But the festivals are known by different names in various regions of India and sometimes they are even celebrated in different fashion and style. [1]

 

Table of Contents

 

Diwali

It is a major Indian festival, and a significant festival in Hinduism. Many legends are associated with Diwali. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jainsand Sikhsacross the globe as the "Festival of Lights," In many parts of India, it is the homecoming of King Ramaof Ayodhyaafter a 14-year exile in the forest.

 

The killing of the demon Narakaasura

The demon Narakaasura was the evil king of Pragjyotishpur, near Nepal. He ruled with a reign of terror, abducted 16,000 daughters of the gods and stole the earrings of Aditi, mother of the gods.

 

The gods asked Lord Krishna (as per Hindu Mythology) for help and after a mighty battle he killed the demon, freed the girls and recovered the earrings.

 

The killing of the demon Ravana

Ravana, who had ten arms and ten heads, was the wicked king of the island of Sri Lanka, who kidnapped the wife of Rama. Rama had been in exile for 14 years because of a disagreement as to whether he or his brother should be the next king in Ayodhya.

 

After a great battle Rama killed the demon and recovered his wife. Rama's return with his wife Sita to Ayodhya and his subsequent coronation as king is celebrated as Diwali. [2]

 

Dussehra

Dussehra, also called Vijayadashami ,  in Hinduism, holiday marking the triumph of Rama, an avatarof Vishnu, over the 10-headed demon king Ravana, who abducted Rama’s wife, Sita. The festival’s name is derived from the Sanskrit words dasha (“ten”) and hara (“defeat”). Symbolizing the victory of good over evil, Dussehra is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Ashvina (September–October), the seventh month of the Hindu calendar, with the appearance of the full moon, an event called the “bright fortnight” (shukla paksha). Dussehra coincides with the culmination of the nine-day Navratri festival.

 

Dussehra, predominantly a North Indian festival. It incorporates Ram Lila, a gala theatrical enactment of Rama’s life story. Effigies of Ravana—often along with those of Meghnada (Ravana’s son) and Kumbhkarana (Ravana’s brother)—are stuffed with firecrackers and set ablaze at night in open fields. [3]

 

Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman. He is the symbol of strength and energy(as per Hindu Mythology). Hanuman is worshipped for his unyielding devotion to Rama and is remembered for his selfless dedication to the God. On this day, the sacred text, Hanuman Chalisa, is recited - a set of prayers glorifying Hanuman, describing his past times. Depending on the devotee, the text is either recited non-stop for 24 hours or sometimes it's performed a set number of times. [4]

 

Krishna Janmashtami

The Krishna Janmashtami festival marks the birth of Krishna, one of the most popular Gods in Hinduism. Krishna is perceived by most Hindus to be an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, who is regarded as the highest avatar (as per Hindu Mythology). It is believed that all other deities are manifestations of him. Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher and philosopher by Hindus. Krishna's birthday is celebrated eight days after Raksha Bandhan in the month of Bhadrapada (August–September).  And celebrations are spread over two days. [5]

 

Navratri

Navaratri (nine nights) is one of the greatest Hindu festivals. It symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. Navratri takes place at the beginning of October around harvest time and, as the name implies, this festival is celebrated for nine days. Navratri is also known as Durga Puja (as per Hindu Mythology). During this period Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped as three different manifestations of Shakti, or cosmic energy. [6]

 

Rama Navami

Rama Navami celebrates the birth of Lord Rama (as per Hindu Mythology), son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama was an incarnation of Vishnuand the hero of the Ramayana, the Sanskrit epic of 24,000 stanzas. A continuous recital of the book takes place for about a week prior to the celebration and on the day itself, the highlights of the story are read in the temple. [7]

 

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi, in Hinduism, 10-day festival marking the birth of the elephant-headed deityGanesha, the god of prosperity and wisdom. It begins on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September), the sixth month of the Hindu calendar. At the start of the festival, idols of Ganesha are placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents. 

 

At the conclusion of the festival, the idols are carried to local rivers in huge processions accompanied by drumbeats, devotional singing, and dancing. There they are immersed, a ritual symbolizing Ganesha’s homeward journey to Mount Kailas—the abode of his parents, Shiva and Parvati.  In 1893, when the British banned political assemblies, the festival was revived by the Indian nationalist leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Today the festival is celebrated in Hindu communities particularly popular in Maharashtra and parts of western India. [8]

 

Holi

Holi is the Hindu festival that welcomes the Spring and celebrates the new life and energy of the season. Holi is also called 'The Festival of Colours', and people celebrate the festival by smearing each other with paint, and throwing coloured powder. A spring festival, usually celebrated in March. Holi also celebrates Krishna, and the legend of Holika and Prahalad. Holi is particularly celebrated in North India. Bonfires are lit during Holi, and food offerings are roasted. The festival is officially celebrated on the day after full moon during the month of Phalunga, which falls in February-March.

 

But the most memorable rite in many locales is the kindling of an early morning bonfire, which represents the burning of the demoness Holika (or Holi), sister of Hiranyakashipu, who enlisted her in his attempt to kill his son Prahlada. It was Prahlada’s unshakable devotion to Vishnu that had alienated him from his family. The burning of Holika prompts worshippers to remember how Vishnu (in the form of a lion-man) attacked and killed Hiranyakashipu, showing that faith prevails (as per Hindu Mythology). [9] [10]

 

Mahashivratri

Mahashivratri (also known as Shivaratri) is a Hindu festival dedicated to Shiva, who destroys the universe, one of the deities of the Hindu Trinity. While most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Mahashivratri is celebrated during the night and day that come just before the new moon. Devotees of Shiva observe a fast during Mahashivratri and stay up all night at a place of worship. In temples, Shiva linga - the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva - is worshipped (as per Hindu Mythology). Devotees flock to the temples to perform the ritual of bathing the Shiva linga. It is bathed with milk, water and honey, and then anointed with sandalwood paste, and decorated with flowers and garlands. [11]

 

Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu calendar and celebrates the sun's journey into the northern hemisphere, a period which is considered to be highly auspicious. Makar Sankranti is a festival of the young and the old. Colourful kites are flown all around. In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is called Lohri. December and January are the coldest months of the year in Punjab and huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankranti. 

 

In Uttar Pradesh, this period is celebrated as Kicheri. It is considered important to have a bath on this day and masses of people can be seen bathing in the Sangam at Prayagraj where the rivers Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswathi flow together. In Southern India it's the harvest festival Pongal and lasts for 3 days. On the first day, rice boiled with milk is offered to the Rain God. On the second day, it is offered to the the Sun God and on the third day, the family cattle are given a bath and dressed with flowers, bells and colours, to honour them for their hard work in the fields(as per Hindu Mythology). [12]

 

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan, also abbreviated to Rakhi, is the Hindu festival that celebrates brotherhood and love. It is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Sravana in the lunar calendar. The word Raksha means protection, whilst Bandhan is the verb to tie. Traditionally, during the festival sisters tie a rakhi, a bracelet made of interwoven red and gold threads, around their brothers' wrists to celebrate their relationship. It is believed that when a woman ties a rakhi around the hand of a man it becomes obligatory for him to honour his religious duty and protect her. [13]

 

See also

Introduction to Hinduism; Prophecy of Prophet Muhammad  in Hinduism; Scriptures of Hinduism; Concept of God in Hinduism; Islamic principles;

 

References

[1] http://festivalindia.hpage.in/

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/diwali.shtml

[3] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/174435/Dussehra

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/hanuman.shtml

[5] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/janamashtami.shtml

[6] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/navaratri.shtml

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/rama.shtml

[8] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/225304/Ganesh-Chaturthi

[9] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/holi_1.shtml,

[10] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/269228/Holi

[11] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/mahashivratri.shtml

[12] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/makar.shtml

[13] http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/holydays/raksha.shtml

 

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