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Different Festivals And Pooja Celebrations In India

May 30, 2023 | Total Views : 297
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India is home to people who follow different faiths, speak different languages, and observe different traditions. So, many festivals are celebrated in India in keeping with its rich culture and traditions. In fact, one could say that almost every month, there is a festival happening in some or many parts of India.

The festivals can have associations with particular states, religions, or communities. Hindu festivals are also marked by Poojas, as most of them are religious festivals. During a Pooja, people perform certain rituals and offer prayers to various deities.

This article explores some of the vibrant Hindu festivals and Pooja celebrations in India.

Diwali

Diwali, or Deepavali, is a prominent Hindu festival in India. People celebrate it very grandly all over the country. People call it the festival of lights. On this day, devotees perform Lakshmi Pooja, wear new clothes, burst crackers, and exchange sweets with family, friends, and neighbors. Houses are decorated with candles, diyas, and Ashoka leaves. Diwali is definitely the most popular festival in India.

Significance: The festival commemorates Rama's return to Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years.

When: The darkest Amavasya/new moon night of Kartik month (Oct-Nov). Diwali 2023 is on 12th October (Sunday)

Holi

Holi is the Festival of Color, which marks the onset of spring in India. On the day before Holi, people make huge bonfires and sing and dance around them. This is called Holika Dahan. On Holi, people gather in the open and hurl colored powders at each other. Many carry pichkaris or water guns and balloons filled with colored water. It is also the custom to drink bhang thandai.

Significance: It commemorates the victory of good over evil and heralds the arrival of spring.

When: It is on the Full moon (Purnima) of the Phalgun month (March-April)

Holi 2023: 8th March (Wednesday)

Dussehra

Dussehra is also known as Vijayadashami. Hindus observe it in diverse ways all over India. For 10 days, people perform Ramlila, a reenactment of incidents in the Ramayana. It ends with the burning of huge effigies of Ravana, Meghnath, and Kumbhkaran. This is “Ravan Dahan.”

In Mysore, there is a colorful procession. The Mysore Palace is illuminated like a bride on this occasion. In Kullu, the festival spans 10 days, with people welcoming their mountain deities in the valley. 

Significance: It commemorates the slaying of the demon king Ravana by Rama.

When: 10th day of Ashwin month (September or October)

Dussehra 2023: 24th October (Wednesday)

Navratri

Navratri is a very important festival in India. It honors Shakti or the Divine Mother. The most vibrant celebrations are in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and the metro cities. In Gujarat, there is a nine-day celebration featuring Garba nights and Dandiya Raas dances. People wear beautiful and colorful traditional clothes on this occasion. People also observe a fast on all 9 days to appease the Goddess and also detoxify their bodies and boost immunity when the season changes.

Significance: It represents the celebration of the Divine Mother Goddess in her nine different forms.

When: The first 9 days of the month of Ashwin (September to October)

Navratri 2023: From 15 October to 24th October

Durga Pooja

Durga Pooja is the most important festival for Bengalis. It involves 10 days of fasting, feasting, and Goddess worship, songs, dances, and dramas. Massive and beautiful Durga idols and artistic Pandals are the main highlights of the festival. People wear new clothes and go pandal-hopping. They also feast on the delicious food items in various food stalls.

Significance: It commemorates Rama’s worship of Goddess Durga before going to battle against the demon king Ravana.

When: 10th day of Ashwina Shukla paksha 

Durga Pooja 2023: 24th October (Tuesday)

Maha Shivaratri

The festival honors Shiva and is very important for Shiva devotees. It occurs on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight in Phalgun month. People believe that those who observe a fast and worship Shiva on this day can gain salvation and freedom from their sins. Devotees also observe an all-night vigil, meditating on Shiva or singing bhajans. It is also a major festival in India. Unmarried and married women worship Shiva for marital bliss on this day.

Significance: Devotion to Lord Shiva

When: 1st March (Tuesday)

Maha Shivratri 2023: 18th February, Saturday

Krishna Janmashtami

Janmashtami is an important festival in India. It is the birth anniversary of Krishna, the 8th avatar of Vishnu. The celebrations in Mathura and Vrindavan, especially, are very vibrant. People observe fast on this day. They break it with a special meal after dusk. People visit temples, offer prayers, sing bhajans, dance, etc. The celebrations take place at midnight when Krishna was born. Small children dress up like Krishna on this day. Krishna’s life story is depicted in the “jhankis” in temples.

Significance: It commemorates the birthday of Krishna.

When: The 8th day (Ashtami) of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada month (August – September).

Janmashtami 2023: 6th September) – 7th September

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival in India that celebrates the birthday of Ganesha. Huge Ganesha idols are installed in homes or in public pandals. There are Poojas, both in the morning and the evening. On the last day, the Ganesha idol is immersed in a water body. There are cultural programs like singing, dancing, and dramas. Free medical and blood donation camps are also held. Though this is a pan-India festival, the festivities are very grand in the state of Maharashtra.

Significance: It’s the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God.  

When: The 4th day of the first fortnight (Shukla Chaturthi) in the month of Bhadrapada (August to September)

Ganesh Chaturthi 2023: 31st August (Tuesday)

Gurupurab

This is a festival of the Sikh community. On this day, there will be special assemblies on the Sikh Gurus' lives and teachings. Gurudwaras organize langars or community meals. Karah Prasad is distributed to all, and people go in processions, chanting hymns. Homes are brightly lit with lamps and candles, and people also burst crackers. Many perform acts of charity and help the needy. The festival is celebrated in Punjab and in other places where Sikhs form a sizeable population.

Significance: It celebrates the anniversary of the ten Sikh Gurus

When: The full moon day in the month of Kartik (October to November)

Gurupurab 2023: 27th November (Monday)

Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is the day when North Indians and Sikhs celebrate their New Year. It comes one day after Lohri. On this day, people worship God and invoke divine blessings for the New Year. IMakar Sankranti marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which coincides with the agricultural cycle. The dates are set as per solar cycles, unlike other Hindu festivals for which the dates are decided by lunar cycles. People fly kites and have savory ‘Bajre ki khichdi’ and sweet ’til laddoo’ on this day. Gujaratis call this festival Uttarayan.

Significance: It marks the beginning of the agricultural cycle

When: 14th January (Friday)

Makar Sankranti 2023: 14th January

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