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Festivals
2017

Sankranti / Pongal / Lohri January 14 , Saturday

Makar Sankranti is a Hindu festival celebrated in almost all parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh in many cultural forms.

Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the sun into the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India.

It is one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date every year: 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.

India is mainly an agricultural country. There are many festivals which are dedicated to harvest and to Mother Nature. Makar Sankranti or Pongal is one of them, it is a special occasion for giving thanks to nature for giving us grains. It holds a special significance for the farmers.

It is a most popular Hindu festival, celebrated all over the India by its different names. In south, it is known as Pongal, MakerSankranti in entire north, Lohri in Punjab,Bhogali Bihu in Assam and Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh. This four day long harvest festival "Pongal" is mainly celebrated by the Tamil people in Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Union Territory of Puducherry and Sri lanka.

Vasant Panchami February 01 , Wednesday

The celebration of the Vasant Panchami is centered on the Hindu goddess Sarasvati. Sarasvati is the goddess of wisdom.

Vasant means “spring," and Panchami means "the fifth day." Hence it is celebrated on the fifth day of spring. The festival marks the end of the winter season and ushers in the springtime.

During this time, India’s crop fields are filled with the color yellow, as the yellow mustard flowers bloom at this time of the year. To celebrate that People dress in yellow and they offer yellow flowers to others and to the gods and goddesses.

The color yellow holds a special meaning for this celebration as it signifies the brilliance of nature and the vibrancy of life.

Maha Shivratri February 25 , Saturday

Maha Shivratri, which literally translates to "great night of Shiva" is a Hindu festival largely celebrated in India as well as in Nepal. Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence of the God Shiva. I

n a year there are usually twelve Shivaratri days. Of the twelve Shivaratris in the year, the Maha Shivarathri is the most holy.

Unlike most Hindu festivals, which are celebrated during the day, Shivaratri is celebrated at night. The celebration consists of keeping a "jaagaran", an all-night worship vigil.

There are many mythological legends associated with this day. It is believed that Lord Shiva saved the universe from darkness and ignorance. This is the day when jyotiswaroop (luminous) shiva linga emerged between Brahma and Vishnu to pacify them.

Another legend has it that after the Earth was faced with an imminent destruction, Goddess Parvati pledged with Lord Shiva to save the world. Pleased with her prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to save the world on the pretext that the people of the Earth would have to worship him with dedication and passion. From that day onwards, the night came to be known as Maha Shivratri

Holika Dahan March 12 , Sunday

Holika Dahan, the first day of the Holi celebration, is observed on the full moon day of Hindu month Falgun. On the next day, festival of colors holi is celebtared.

Holika Dahan also Kamudu pyre is celebrated by burning Holika, the devil. For many traditions in Hinduism, Holi celebrates the death of Holika in order to save Prahlad, and thus Holi gets its name. In olden days, people use to contribute a piece of wood or two for Holika bonfire.

According to a legend, when Hiranyakashyap (the king of the demons) observed that his son Prahlad worships Lord Vishnu, he got really furious. He ordered his sister Holika to sit in the fire while holding Prahlad in her lap. It is because Holika was blessed that she cannot be burned in the fire. However, things didn’t go as per the plan. Holika got burned into ashes in the fire and nothing happened to the Vishnu devotee Prahlad.

In the memory of this event, there is this norm of performing Holika Dahan (burning the bonfire considering Holika). The festival of Holi gives a message that this is how Almighty stays available to protect His devotees.

Holi March 13 , Monday

Holi is one of the most famous festivals in India and Nepal, also known as the festival of colors or the festival of sharing love. Holi is a two-day festival which starts with first day as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi and the second as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan.

It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.

The festival is also believed to be a celebration of Radha's undying love for Lord Krishna. Still another mythological tale states that when Lord Shiva destroyed Kamadeva, he later resurrected him for the sake of his wife Rati. However, Kamadeva was brought to life only as a mental image. The festival is believed to celebrate that event.

The festival is celebrated in different ways around the country, the most famous one being in Mathura. Here, the festival lasts for 16 days, and is primarily played with flowers.

In large parts of India, the festival is celebrated with a lot of colors, water balloons and water guns. Parties are often organized across the length and breadth of the country where people dance to music and greet each other with colors. Sweets are an important part of the festival.

Gudi Padwa / Ugadi / Cheti Chand March 28 , Tuesday

It is an important festival celebrated as New Year's Day by various states in India. In Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh, it is celebrated as “Gudhi Padva”, in Karnatka as “Ugadi” and by Sindhi people of India and Pakistan, it is celebrated as “Cheti Chand”.

It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New Year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. Lord Brahma is worshiped on this day and the gudhi, Brahma's flag (also called Brahmadhvaj), is hoisted in every house as a symbolic representation of Rama's victory over Vali.

Gudhi means flag and Padwa means hoisting in Marathi. So it literally means flag hoisting or to be specific Hoisting of (Brahma's) Flag.

Ugadi is derived from the name "Yuga Adi", which means 'the beginning of a new age'.

Ram Navami April 05 , Wednesday

Ram Navami is a Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of the god Rama to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. Ram is supposed to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu.

The day usually falls in the Shukla Paksha on the Navami, the ninth day of the month of Chaitra in the B.S. Hindu calendar. Thus it is also known as Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami, and marks the end of the nine-day Chaitra-Navaratri (Vasanta Navaratri) celebrations.

It is marked by continuous recitals, Akhand Paath, mostly of the Ramacharitamanas, organized several days in advance to culminate on this day, with elaborate bhajan, kirtan and distribution of prasad after the puja and aarti.

Mahavir Jayanti April 09 , Sunday

Mahavir is the last and the greatest Tirthankar (Teaching God) of the Jain religion, and Mahavir Jayanti is the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara.

Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated in the first day of Bhadrapad, when there is a grand cradle procession, and a general celebration of the auspicious day.

The two sects of Jainism, Svetambaras and Digambaras, however, do not come to a consensus on the date of His birth. According to the Digambara sect, his birth took place in 615 BC, whereas the Svetembaras claim that it occurred in 599 BC.

Poila Baisakh/ Bohag Bihu/ Vishu / Puthandu April 14 , Friday

In mid-April, the Bengalis usher in the new year with the Poila Baishakh celebrations, the Assamese in the northeast with Bihu festivals, the Tamils in the South with Puthandu and the people of Kerala in the south of India with - Vishu.

Shubho Naba Barsha on Poila Baishakh in Bengal :To welcome the new year or "Naba Barsha", people clean and decorate their houses and invoke Goddess Lakshmi, the bestower of wealth and prosperity.

All new enterprises begin on this auspicious day, as businessmen open their fresh ledgers with "Haal Khata"- a ceremony in which Lord Ganesha is summoned and customers are invited to settle all their old dues and offered free refreshments.

The people of Bengal spend the day feasting and participating in cultural activities.

The Boisterous Bohaag Bihu of Assam : The northeastern state of Assam ushers in the new year with the spring festival of Bohaag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, which marks the onset of a new agricultural cycle. Fairs are organized where people revel in gay games.

The celebrations go on for days together, and it's a good time for young people to find a companion of their own choice! Young girls in traditional attire sing "Bihugeets" and dance the traditional "Mukoli Bihu".

The festive food of the occasion is the "pitha" or rice cakes. People visit each other's houses, exchange gifts and sweets and, greet each other a Happy New Year!

Vishu : "Vishu" is the first day in the first month of Medam in Kerala, the beautiful coastal state in southern India. The people of this state - the Malayalees - begin the day early in the morning by visiting the temple and seeing any auspicious sight, which they call "Vishukani."

The day is full of the elaborate traditional rituals with tokens called "Vishukaineetam", usually in form of coins, being distributed among the downtrodden. People wear new clothes - "Kodi vastram" - and celebrate the day by bursting firecrackers and enjoying a variety of delicacies at an elaborate lunch called the "sadya" with family and friends. The afternoon and evening is spent in the "Vishuwela".

Varsha Pirappu / Puthandu Vazthukal : The Tamil speaking people across the globe celebrate 'Varsha Pirappu' or 'Puthandu Vazthukal', the Tamil New Year, in mid-April. It is the first day of Chithirai, the first month in the traditional Tamil calendar.

The day dawns by observing Kanni or viewing auspicious things such as gold, silver, jewelry, new clothes, new calendar, mirror, rice, coconuts, fruits, vegetables, betel leaves, and other fresh farm products. This ritual is believed to usher in good fortune. It is followed by a ritualistic bath and almanac worship called Panchanga Puja.

Baisakhi April 14 , Friday

Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is Punjabi new year day. It is one of the major festivals of Sikhs and is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and gaiety in the state of Punjab and all throughout the world where there is a significant Sikh population.

For the large farming community of Punjab, Baisakhi Festival marks the time for harvest of rabi crops and they celebrate the day by performing joyful bhangra and gidda dance.

For the Sikh community, Baisakhi Festival has tremendous religious significance as it was on a Baisakhi Day in 1699, that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa-the Order of the Pure Ones.

Buddha Purnima May 10 , Wednesday

Buddha Purnima during Vaishakha month is celebrated as birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha. Gautama Buddha whose birth name was Siddhartha Gautama was a spiritual teacher on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

It is believed that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment and passed away on the same day. Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti, Vesak, Vaishaka and Buddha’s Birthday.

Varalakshmi Vrat August 04 , Friday

Varalakshmi Vrata is a festival to please the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity. Varalakshmi is one who grants boons (Varam). It is an important pooja performed by many women in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The Hindu festival going by the name 'Vara Lakshmi Vrata' is celebrated on the Second Friday or the Friday before full moon day - Poornima in the month of Sravana, also called Sawan in Hindi and Aadi in Tamil which corresponds to the Gregorian months of July–August.

Varalakshmi Vrata is performed by married woman for the well being of all the family members, especially husband, to get progeny etc. It is believed that worshiping Goddess Varalakshmi on this day is equivalent to worshiping Ashtalaksmi – the eight goddesses of Wealth, Earth, Learning, Love, Fame, Peace, Pleasure, and Strength.

Raksha Bandhan August 07 , Monday

Rakhi is basically a sacred thread of Rakhi is basically a sacred thread of protection embellished with the love and affection of a sister for her brother. This day is also known as Raksha Bandhan and celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravana in India.

This frail of thread of Rakhi is considered as stronger than iron chains as it binds the most beautiful relationship in an inseparable bond of love and trust. Rakhi festival also has a social significance because it underlines the notion that everybody should live in harmonious coexistence with each other.

The festival is also celebrated by many communities as a secular festival. This secular aspect is observed among all people, irrespective of their religion.

Krishna Janmastami August 15 , Tuesday

Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm in India in the month of July or August. According to the Hindu calendar this religious festival is celebrated on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon.

Sri Krishna is considered as the one of the most powerful human incarnations of the Lord Vishnu. He was born around 5,200 years ago in Mathura. The sole objective of Sri Krishna's birth was to free the Earth from the evilness of demons. He played an important role in Mahabharata and propagated the theory of bhakti and good karma which are narrated deeply in the Bhagwat Geeta.

Parsi New Year August 17 , Thursday

Parsi New Year, also known as Jamshedi Navroz, is the name of the Iranian New Year. which is celebrated worldwide by Iranian people, along with some other ethno-linguistic groups, as the beginning of the New Year.

Jamshed, the King of Persia, started the Parsi calendar and is named for the holiday. The Parsis believe in the religion of Zoroastrianism and are the largest single group worldwide.

The new year celebration focuses on renewal for the new year. Wearing new clothes, making donations, cleaning the house, and giving gifts are part of the renewal. Government and businesses are open with the restricted holiday.

Hartalika Teej August 24 , Thursday

Hartalika Teej is known by this name due to the legend associated with it. Hartalika word is combination of "Harat" and "Aalika" which means "abduction" and "female friend" respectively.

According to the legend of Hartalika Teej, the friend of Goddess Parvati took her to the thick forest so that her father can't marry her to Lord Vishnu against her wish. On the sudden disappearance of Goddess Parvati, her father thought that someone has kidnaped his daughter. Hence this day is known as Hartalika or Haritalika. As legend goes, Goddess Parvati did severe penance in the forest to please Lord Shiva. Due to great determination of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva blessed her that her wish to marry Him would be fulfilled. As friend of Goddess Parvati helped her to get Lord Shiva as her husband, this day is also marked as the solidarity of friendship among female friends.

Hartalika Teej Vrat is observed during Shukla Paksha Tritiya of Bhadrapada month. On this day, makeshift statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are made with the sand and worshiped for marital bliss and progeny.

Ganesh Chaturthi August 25 , Friday

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh. On Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.

It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month. Currently Ganesh Chaturthi day falls in month of August or September in English calendar. The Ganeshotsav, the festivity of Ganesh Chaturthi, ends after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi which is also known as Ganesh Visarjan day. On Anant Chaturdashi, devotees immerse idol of Lord Ganesh in water body after a gala street procession.

The festival is celebrated by families at home, by people at their places of work and in public. The public celebration involves installing clay images of Ganesha in public pandals (temporary shrines) and group worship. At home, an appropriately-sized clay image is installed and worshipped with family and friends. At the end of the festival, the idols are immersed (and dissolve) in a body of water such as a lake or pond.

It is celebrated throughout India, especially in Maharashtra, and telangana. There is a grand celebration in the state of Maharashtra by traditional instrument called dhol and tasha. It is also celebrated in the other parts of India such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and other parts of western and southern India. Abroad, Ganesh Chaturthi is observed in the Terai region of Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora in the United States, Canada and Mauritius.

Onam September 04 , Monday

Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities.

According to a popular legend, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.

Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Popularity and presentation of rich culture of the state during the carnival made Onam the National Festival of Kerala in 1961. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the dynamic festival called Onam.

Navaratri September 21 , Thursday

Navaratri is a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga. The word Navaratri means 'nine nights' in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.

During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Devi are worshipped. The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra" (also spelled Dasera).

Navaratri is an important major festival and is celebrated all over India and Nepal. Diwali the festival of lights is celebrated twenty days after Dasera. Though there are in total five types of Navaratri that come in a year, Sharad Navaratri is the most popular one. Hence, the term Navaratri is being used for Sharada Navaratri here.

Vijayadashami, Dasara, Dussehra September 30 , Saturday

Vijayadashami also known as Dussehra or Ayudhapuja is an important Hindu festival celebrated in a variety of ways in Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan.

It is celebrated as victory of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana and also triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo Demon Mahishasura. Vijayadashami is also known as Dussehra or Dasara. In Nepal Dasara is celebrated as Dashain.

Dhanteras / Dhantrayodashi October 17 , Tuesday

Dhanteras is the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival as celebrated primarily in Northern & Western part of India. In south India it is known as Dhanalakshmi pooja. The festival, known as "Dhanatrayodashi" or "Dhanvantari Trayodashi".

The word Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day as per Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Aaswayuja in the Amaavasyanta Luni-Solar Calendar.

On Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day. Lord Kubera, the God of assets and wealth is also worshipped on this day.

Diwali / Lakshmi Puja October 19 , Thursday

Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. The word Diwali means rows of lighted oil lamps. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness or good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.

The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.Deepavali also marks a major shopping eriod in nations where it is celebrated.

It is marked by four days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy. the festivities start with Dhanteras (in Northern and Western part of India), followed by Naraka Chaturdasi on second day, Deepavali on the third day, Diwali Padva dedicated to wife–husband relationship on the fourth day, and festivities end with Bhau-beejdedicated to sister–brother bond on the fifth day. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.

On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas and some Newar Buddhists also celebrate Diwali remembering Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism.

Bhai Duj October 21 , Saturday

Bhai Dooj is a festival celebrated by Hindus of India and Nepal on the last day of the five-day-long Diwali or Tihar festival. Bhai Dooj comes every year on the fifth and last day of Diwali, which falls on a new moon night. The name 'Dooj' means the second day after the new moon, the day of the festival, and 'Bhai' means brother.

The celebrations of this day are similar to the festival of Raksha Bandhan. On this day, sisters pray for a long and happy life for their brothers, by performing the Tika ceremony.

Chhath Puja October 26 , Thursday

Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya and Chhathi Maiya (ancient Vedic Goddess ; Usha - wife of Sun God ). The Chhath Puja is performed in order to thank Surya for sustaining life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.

This festival is observed by Nepalese and north Indian people along with their diaspora. The Sun, considered as the god of energy and of the life-force, is worshiped during the Chhath festival to promote well-being, prosperity and progress.

In Hinduism, Sun worship is believed to help cure a variety of diseases, including leprosy, and helps ensure the longevity and prosperity of family members, friends, and elders. The rituals of the festival are rigorous and are observed over a period of four days. They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (Vratta), standing in water for long periods of time, and offering prashad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun.

Tulsi Vivah November 01 , Wednesday

Tulsi Vivah is the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil) to the Hindu god Vishnu or his Avatar Krishna in the form of in form of Shaligram (black stone).This ceremony can be performed any time between Prabodhini Ekadashi - the eleventh lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month Kartik to the full moon of the month (Kartik Poornima) but usually it is performed on the eleventh or the twelfth lunar day.

The day varies from region to region. The Tulsi wedding signifies the end of the monsoon and the beginning of the Hindu wedding season.

Christmas December 25 , Monday

A Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way. Today, Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts.