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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Top 10 Festivals in India

Colours, songs, dance, prayers and oil lamps are typical for Indian festivals.

The large population across the vast region of India is consist of different religions that celebrate their own religious festivals. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism are major religions in India, among others. Some festivals are unique to local regions while there are other vibrant festivals celebrated throughout the country. The following describes some of the widely celebrated festivals in India.

Travels during the later part of year to any Hindu region of India, will present visitors the Durga Puja, one of the biggest and most popular festivals in the country of the Hindus. This festival is in worship of the the Hindu Goddess of Power, Goddess Durga. Although the festival is a ten-day affair, observation of rituals and ceremonies are performed in the last six days. The last day of Durga Puja is known as Dashami or Dussehra.The festival takes place generally between the months of September and November and is widely celebrated in Eastern India. States from other parts such as Delhi and Karnataka also celebrate this festival. Thus, we can say that celebration of this festival takes place with great gusto all over India.

Diwali or Deepavali for the Tamils, is the festivals of lights. Celebration of Diwali is also celebrated grandly throughout India. As India boasts of diverse cultural heritage, every region celebrates Diwali in its own special and unique ways as the visitors on different tours will witness. However, the history behind the celebration of Diwali is the same throughout all regions and is based on the legendary victory of Lord Rama over the demon Ravan. Mainly, five days are observed as Diwali. Dahnteras, Choti Diwali, Badi Diwali or Lakshmi Puja, Govardan Puja and Bhai Duj are the five days of the Diwali celebrations. Each of these days has its own significance and history related to the divine celebration.

Ramzan Eid (Id-Ul-Fitr) In Id-Ul-Fitr, the word Id means festivity and Fitr means breaking of fasting. Therefore, the term means breaking of fasting and having celebrations. Id-Ul-Fitr indicates the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramdan. Id-Ul-Fitr takes place when a new moon is seen after a month of fasting. The Muslims visit the mosques and offer prayers to Almighty Allah. Id-UL-Fitr is a three-day celebration. Some devotees may even choose to travel on a pilgrimage tour to Mecca, considered as the Islamic Holy Land. This festival is celebrated not only in India, but also all over the world where Muslims can be found such as Pakistan, United Kingdom, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, just to name a few.

Tours to many regions in India during March will surely include Holi, the festival of colors. It signifies the victory of good over evil and celebrations are through a carnival of colors. The main occasion takes place on the day of full moon in March every year. This popular festival is celebrated throughout India. Holi started in Mathura at Vrindavan which is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. People celebrate this day smearing each other's face with colors, known as "abir".

Janmashtami signifies the day of the birth of Lord Krishna, who is the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The date of the festival is not fixed. It depends on the cycle of the moon, according to the HIndu calendar. However, it usually takes place in the month of August or September. The first day is spent on fasting and offering prayers until midnight, when Lord Krishna was believed to be born. Many Hindu devotees travel to Dwarkadhish temple in Dwarka- Gujerat as part of pilgrimage, and Shri Krishna Balaram temple, in Orissa are some of the venues, where the main celebrations are performed.

Ram Navami signifies the birthday of Lord Rama. Celebrations of Ram Navami take place on the ninth day of "Sukla Paksha" in the months of March and April, determined by the Hindu calendar. The day of the festival begins with offering of prayers to the sun and then singing devotional songs during the midday, the time when Lord Rama was believed to be born. Celebrations are the most grand in Ayodhya, the place of birth of Lord Rama, and a popular tour destination especially for HIndu devotees.

The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is dedicated to the Remover of obstacles, Lord Ganesha, son of Lord Shiva. It is a ten-day long festival. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great gusto in Maharashtra and other South Indian states. People buy Ganesh idols and worship it for ten continuous days. After the tenth day, the idol is immersed in a river or sea. During this festival, cultural programmes and feasts are also held to liven up the occasion even more and such events are interesting additions to any travel itinerary.

Guru Nanak Jayanti is the main festival of the Sikh religion. It is the birthday of the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev. It is celebrated in the month October or November on the day of full moon. Sikhs celebrates this festival by visiting the Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and offering prayers. They start the day with a morning procession from the Gurdwaras proceeding to respective localities singing hymns. There are also other practices such as distribution of Langar or common meals to everyone in the community and lighting up earthen lamps in homes are observed in this festival.

Onam is a widely celebrated festival in the state of Kerala. This ten-day festival signifies the harvest season which also corresponds with Chingam, the Malayalam new year. During the festive period, people wear new clothes, visit temples, perform traditional dances like Kaikottikkali. The main theme of this festival that one cannot miss is the rowing of boats in huge rows to the rhythm of drums. Tours to the renowned Keralan backwaters during this festive season can include the exciting boating event that is sure to enthrall any traveller.

The summer festival in Ooty is held in the month of May. This festival is held at Botanical Garden. This cool region in India with greeneries all around and so it is just perfect for the Ooty Summer Festival. Many fairs and shows such as Flower Shows, Fruit Shows, Boat Races comprises of the Ooty Festival. Cultural programmes traditional classical arts are also a part of the festival. Sports such as trekking are also arranged for people who love sports.


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