Major Festivals of India
In this article, we have briefly discussed the major National, Religious, Harvest and Seasonal festivals.
Introduction: Festivals are occasions of celebrations focused on some specific aspects. Festivals in India are celebrated with great passion and joy. Even the foreigners who arrive in India get overwhelmed after watching the Indian festivals. In India, numerous numbers of festivals are celebrated.
Three types of festivals are mainly celebrated in India such as National, Religious and Seasonal. Each festival has its own significance and teachings.
1. National Festivals are celebrated with proud and have super-patriotic fervor. Republic day, Independence day and Gandhi Jayanti are the three national festivals of India.
2. Religious Festivals shows the religious association of people with the festival. The major religious festivals includes Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, Krishna Janamastami, Durga-Puja, Dussehra, Maha Shivaratri, Eid, Christmas, Easter, Buddha Purnima, Mahavir Jayanti, etc.
3. Seasonal and Harvesting festivals are celebrated to mark the harvesting of crops and the change of seasons. The major seasonal and harvesting festivals that are celebrated in India includes Basant Panchami, Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Onam, Baisakhi, Bhogali bihu, etc.
1. National Festivals in India
1.1 Republic Day
Republic Day is celebrated all over the country on 26th January every year. On this day, i.e., 26th January, 1950, India’s constitution came into force. This day is important because on this day our country became a Democratic republic and all citizens were given equal rights to vote and choose the government. A special celebration (grand parade) is held at Rajpath in New Delhi every year. On this day, the National song, “Jana Gana Mana” can be heard throughout the country.
1.2 Independence Day
Independence Day is celebrated all over the country on 15th August each year. On this day, i.e., 15th August, 1947, India gained independence from British rule and hence in other countries this day is also termed as “India Day”. We pay tribute to the freedom fighters who sacrificed their youth for our independence. The Tri-color National flag is hoisted at Red Fort (New Delhi) by the Prime Minister. Every Indians feel proud on this day.
1.3 Gandhi Jayanti
Gandhi Jayanti occurs annually on 2nd October to celebrate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, popularly known as ‘Father of the Nation’. The untiring efforts of Mahatma Gandhi helped India to gain its freedom and independence. ‘Raghupati Raghav’, his favourite song, can be heard on this day.
2. Religious Festivals in India
There are many types of religious festivals celebrated in India. Some important of them are discussed below:
Holi, also known as the ‘Festival of Colors’ and ‘Spring Festival’, marks the beginning of spring season. Light, color, food music and gifts are used to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
It is the most colorful festival of the Hindus. It generally lasts for two days. The ceremony of “Holika Dahan” is observed on the first day. On the following day, people play holi by painting the face and clothes of each others. They also throw colors on to friendly passers-by. Holi festival is generally celebrated in between the month of end of February and beginning of March.
Also read: Significance of Holi Festival
2.2 Raksha Bandhan
The beautiful relation of a brother and a sister is celebrated in the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Traditionally, girls tie a string of thread on the wrist of her brother. This thread of love reminds the brother of his responsibility to always take care, support and protect his sister under all circumstances. This is followed by exchange of sweets and gifts.
Also read: Short Paragraph on Raksha Bandhan
The autumn festival of Diwali is celebrated in between the months of October and December on the darkest new moon of the year. It is also termed as “Festival of Lights”, as on this day every people, especially Hindus, lighten up their houses with lights including candles and diyas. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Rama. He returned to his kingdom, Ayodhya, after spending 14 years in forest. On this day, people dress themselves in their best outfit and take part in their family function. Celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, or victory of good over bad, this festival features fireworks, lanterns and celebrations.
There is a tradition of worshiping Devi Lakshmi and Ganpati Deva on this day. It is done for securing peace, prosperity, wealth and happiness.
2.4 Saraswati Puja – Basant Panchami
Basant Panchami is a spring festival. Hindus celebrate Saraswati Puja on this day. It is the greatest day for the students. They worship Goddess Saraswati to seek her blessing. Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom. Many schools also celebrate this festival, all students take part in the puja ceremony.
It is considered a pious day for the purpose marriage ceremony. Many people belonging to Hindu faith choose this day to get married.
2.5 Krishna Janamastami
Hindus celebrate this festival on the birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna. Lord Sir Krishna is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His birth is symbolically associated to the end of ignorance and cruelty over mankind. Thousands of devotees gather together in temples and cheerfully worship the Lord. In many places, the popular event of “Dahi Handi”, takes place.
2.6 Durga Puja
Durga Puja Hindu festival in September or October reverencing the goddess Durga. People worship Devi Durga on this day. Durga Puja is the most popular in West Bengal. The idol of Devi Durga, along with other Gods and Goddesses, is placed in various pandals. Devi Durga is seen holding weapons in her ten hands to kill Mahisasura (evil demon). The priest worships the idol of Devi Durga and chant traditional mantras. People wear new clothes and move out of their homes to see the beautiful Pandals decorated with lights, flowers, and other aesthetically pleasant materials.
People celebrate Dussehra festival to mark the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Rama is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ravana was an evil demon. It signifies the victory of good over the evil. People go to see the famous folk play of Ram Lila. The story of Lord Rama is shown in the play. It is a great time to enjoy and take inspiration from virtuous acts of Rama.
Also read: Paragraph on Dussehra
2.8 Maha Shivaratri
Maha means “great”, Ratri means “night” and Shiva refers to “Lord Shiva”. The marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati took place on this day. This is a great time to worship Lord Shiva and seek his blessings. There is a tradition of offering a holy bath to the “Shiva Lingam”. People celebrate this festival by fasting, offering sweets to god, etc.
Also read: Maha Shivaratri (Hindu festival)
It is a festival of Muslim culture; they celebrate mainly two festival, i.e., Eid-ul-Fitr (Feast of Breaking of Fast) and Eid-ul-Adha (Feast of sacrifice). The Eid festivals are those festivals which unfold love and happiness to near and dear ones.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan with food, gatherings and celebrations.
Christmas is celebrated every year on 25th December on the eve of birth anniversary of Jesus Christ. This is one of the most sacred festivals for Christians as they believe Jesus Christ to be the son of God. It is believed that on this day a man in red dress named Santa Clause comes to help the needy one and brings gifts for the loved ones. People also decorate their houses along with Christmas tree.
Easter Sunday is a day which is celebrated in the eve of resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ from the dead after 3 days from his crucifixion. Easter Sunday is celebrated in between the month of March and April.
These are the most important religious festivals which are celebrated in India with great pomp and show.
2.12 Buddha Purnima
Buddha Purnima celebrated actually for the eve of birth, enlightenment and passing into nirvana of Gautama Buddha. It is observed every year generally in between the month of April and May.
2.13 Mahavir Jayanti
The birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira is celebrated by the people belonging to Jain faith. The celebration involves ceremonial bath to Lord Mahavira, processions, and lectures.
3. Seasonal and Harvesting Festivals in India
There are many types of seasonal and harvesting festivals celebrated in India. The most important of them are discussed below:
3.1 Basant Panchami
The day of Basant Panchami (also Vasant Panchami) is celebrated by the Hindus as “Saraswati Puja”. It is usually celebrated every year in the month of February. This festival marks the beginning of the Holi festival and also the spring season. On this day, people worship the Goddess of knowledge, music, culture, i.e., Devi Saraswati.
3.2 Pongal / Makar Sankranti
In Tamil Nadu, 14th of January is celebrated every year as the Pongal Day. In many part of India, this day is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. This festival is marked with prosperity and abundance. On this day, freshly harvested cereals and foods are cooked. On the day of Makar Sankaranti, people worship the Sun God.
Lohri is celebrated on a day proceeding to Makar Sankranti festival, i.e., on 13th January every year. This festival is most popular among Punjabi community. Lohri Festival is also known as Maghi Festival as it marks the beginning of the Hindu Month Magh and end of the Hindu month Paush. The legend of Dulla Batti is quiet populare in the folklore of Punjab. On this day, people fly kites, sing traditional songs, and dance around the bonfire.
Onam is principally celebrated by the people of Kerala generally in between the month of August and September. This festival is celebrates the generosity and kindness of the Great King Mahabali. The festival lasts for 10 days. The first day (Atham) and the last day (Thiruvonam) are the most important days. People use to wear their best attire and celebrate the festival with great gusto. Snake boat races are held in which different kinds and shaped of boat participate in the race.
Baisakhi festival is celebrated every year in the month of April. People use to take bath early in the morning for the Baisakhi festival and enjoy the day with friends and families. This day also coincides with the many other festivals celebrated within the month of April like Makar Sankranti, etc.
3.6 Bhogali Bihu
Bhogali Bihu is a traditional harvesting festival of the state of Assam. People celebrate this day by sporting new clothes and also by cleaning and washing their homes. On this very auspicious day, people use to exchange gifts and eat several mouth watering items.
3.7 Bihu Dance
Bihu dance is celebrated by the people of the Assam during the Bihu festival. Bihu dance is one of the most vibrant and colorful folk dance festivals in India. This dance is participated by both young men and women. This is a totally different kind of dance form in which participants are seen doing rapid dance steps with a series of quick hand movement.
Importance of Festivals in India
The importance of festivals is different for different people.
Kids celebrate the festival season as day of holidays and that they will get a lot of sweets to eat. For some people, these days are celebrated as a reunion day. They spend these days with their families and friends.
For some, this day is a day of relaxation and for others it’s a day of family outing. Festivals help us to promote national integration and bring peace and harmony within our society.