Great India is a country where one can find variety in everything. This country enjoys every season from high temperatures to shivering colds.
There are such variations in India which draws a huge tourists to travel here every year. Warm and friendly hospitality of the people can be seen no where other than India.
People of India celebrate various festivals and all these festivals are enjoyed by everyone. People join together and share their happiness and feelings with others.
The top 10 most popular HIndu festivals that are celebrated in India are as follows:
1- Holi: Festival of Colors and Joy
Holi is one of the famous Festivals in India. This festival is partied primarily in Northern Part of India. As Deepavali is festival of Light, Holi is festival of Colors. Colorful celebration with colored water and “Bhang” is most catching of this festival. Though now many of the Indians have started to celebrate this festival though out India recently, it would be necessary to know why this festival is celebrated in India. Let’s see little about the history of this festival.
A demon king named Hiranyakshipu was granted immortal boon, which led him to have a life, where he cannot be killed nature or by other form which was granted to him by Lord Brahma, due to his penance for him.
Therefore the King Hiranyakshipu started to torture innocent people and forced the people to worship him as God. But his own son Prahlada, who was a devotee to Lord Vishnu, denied worshiping him. This made the king to go in rage and tried to kill his own son Prahlada.
In this the king’s sister Holika died, but Prahlada did not die, due the miracles of Lord Vishnu. This occasion was celebrated as Holi. However there are many other versions for this festival as per the religious leaders.
Festivals in India are celebrated with significant difference according to their time and culture. Holi is celebrated by spraying color water with spray pumps, in older days bamboo springs was used to spray water.
Color powders are also used to enjoy this festival by applying on making others face with colored powder. Catalytic powders are used instead of natural colors which brings medical issues. Holi is also partied in other fragments of the world.
Countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal and Fiji also celebrate Holi. They have accumulated Holi has part of their life with different historical reason. Nepal has national holiday for Holi. Festivals in India has a unique reason to celebrate, however each festival unites the divided to one.
2- Deepavali: Festival of Lights
Deepavali or Diwali is one of the most important Festivals in India. Deepavali though celebrated throughout the country for one day. It is widely celebrated in North India popularly. Deepavali is commonly known as the festival of lights. Deepa is a short of Deepam, which means light in Tamil and southern languages.
This was the day when Narakasuran was killed by Lord Krishnan. On this auspicious day, people lit light in clay made lamp filled oil. Decorating the house with these tiny pots, this makes the house and the streets look great, awesome and beautiful. Everyone wear new clothes and burn crackers to make the day memorable one. Everyone enjoy sharing their love by distributing sweets and food prepared at their houses.
Deepavali has significant meaning as “awareness of the inner Light”, “winning evil over the good” This is celebrated in the month of October or November, depending on the moon.
This is said to be celebrated in the month of “Karthika” in Tamil Calendar. Children eagerly wait for this day and everyone start preparing for this most awaited day “Deepavali”.
People purchase new clothes, fire-crackers and women start to prepare various home-made sweets. One of the most favorite snacks during this time of Festivals in India would be “Muruku” a snack prepared from flour and fried.
Most of us think that Deepavali is celebrated only in India, but there are countries where Deepavali celebrated and it’s a national holiday. Those countries are Malaysia, Fiji, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and many other countries. Though it’s the same festival celebrated for different reasons in different parts of the country and world. It is celebrated on the same day all over the world and country. This one festival of India unites all the people, bringing peace, happiness and understanding.
Deepavali is not only celebrated by the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and other form of Hinduism, but this is also celebrated by non-hindu people. This is due to the sharing and happiness of sharing makes each and everyone to celebrate the festival. This festival brings indifference among differences. Festivals in India are celebrated with different cause and at different seasons.
3- Ram Navami: Lord Rama’s Birthday
Ram Navami is celebrated on the occasion of Lord Rama’s birthday. In 2012, Ram Navami falls on April first. Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of the Sukla Paksha. Rama is one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. Lord Rama was born to Dasharatha and Kausalya. Dasharatha has three wives; they were Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi.
They do not have children so Rishi Vasistha advised him to perform Puthra Kamesti Yagna. As the result of Yagna, Yagneshwara appeared and offered a bowl of pudding (payasam) and told him to distribute among his wives.
After consuming this pudding, all the three Queens were conceived. Queen Kausalya gave birth to Lord Rama was born on navami. Queen Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Queen Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharatha.
Panagam is a sweet drink prepared on this auspicious day with jaggery and pepper. Most of the devotees perform fast on this day to gain the blessings of the God Sri Lord Rama. Another famous part of this festival is Ratha Yatra.
The chariot will be decorated with full of garlands and four persons enact as Lord Sri Rama, his wife Sita, his brother Lakshamana and his devotee Hanuman and followed by several soldiers. During the procession, devotees sing all the songs and mantras related to Lord Sri Rama. Another significance of the Ram Navami is Ramayana Parayana.
It is done by a pundit or a professional story teller. It starts on Ugadi and ends on Ram Navami which is of nine days.
Hindu’s usually perform Kalyanotsavam with small deities of Rama and Sita in their homes. At the end of the day, the deities are taken for procession on the streets. It indicates the nine days of Chaitra Navarathri (Maharashtra) also called as Vasanthothsava in (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu).
Devotees get gathered at famous places like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram on this auspicious day. Most of the devotees take bath in Rameshwaram temple before they visit the Lord Rama. By listening to Lord Rama’s story, our souls gets cleaned and we can remain pure.
Lord Rama saved the lives of many people by killing the evil named Ravana. This occasion is celebrated by burning crackers.
4- Navratri: Festival of Maa Durga
Navratri is known as the festival of nights and it lasts for nine days. During this festival many Goddess like Maa Durga, the Goddess of Valor, Maa Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Maa Sharaswati, the Goddess of Knowledge are worshipped and each Goddess is devoted three days.
During Navratari feasting and fasting take precedence besides all normal daily activities.During these nine Navratri days every evening religious dance are performed at several places in order to worship Maa Durga.
First three days of Navratri(1st-3rd)
A small bed of mud is prepared in the puja room of the house on the first day of navaratras n barley seeds are sown on it. After the nine days of puja are over on the tenth day these shoots which r now 3 to 5 inches in length are pulled out and given to devotes as a blessing from god.
These firsth three days of Navratri are dedicated to Maa Durga, the Goddess of power and energy. Various manifestations of Maa Durga, Kumari, Parvati and Kali are worshipped during these three days. These three different manifestation represent the three different classes of womanhood which include the child, the young girl and the matured woman.
Next three days of Navratri(4th-6th)
The goddess of peace and prosperity ”Maa Lakshmi” is worshipped during these days. The fifth day of Navratri is known as Lalita Panchami. As traditional all the literature available in the house are gathered n displayed and a lamp or ‘diya’ is light to invoke Saraswati Maa, the Goddess of Knowledge and art.
Last three days of Navratri(7th-9th)
Seventh and eighth day of Navratri belong to Saraswati Maa who is a symbol of knowledge and is worshipped to acquire spiritual knowledge which in turn helps mankind to get free from earthly bondage. On the eighth day of this festival yagna is performed where Ghee, kheer, and sesame seeds are offered to Maa Durga as holy offering.
The last day of Navratri i.e. the ninth day of navratri is well known as Mahanavami. Kanya Puja is performed on this holy day. On this very day nine young girls representing the nine forms Maa Durga are worshipped. These nine young girls are treated as nine Devi’s n there feet are washed as a mark of respect for the Goddess. At last they r all offered new clothes n gifts by the worshipper. This ritual is performed in almost every part of the country.
5- Janmashtami: A Birth Day of Lord Krishna
People celebrate janmashtami devoting their respect and prayers towards Lord Krishna who was born on this very day. It is believed that Lord Krishna was born in a prison and lots of miracle incidents happened on the birthday of Krishna showing his divine power.
All guards and soldiers of the prison fall in deep sleep while heavy rain and thunderstorm were going on outside. It is also said that King Kansa came to know that his mothers 8th son will kill him and so he imprisoned his parents where this little Krishna took birth.
Just after the birth of Lord Krishna, Vasudevar got divine instruction to take the child away from that place. He was instructed to take the child to the house of Nandagopar in Gokulam and exchange him with an infant girl just born to the Nandagopar’s wife.
The chains tying Vasudevar were broken and the doors of the prison went open in a miracle. Just as he came out of prison with Krishna in his hands, a snake with five heads appeared with its hood flattened like an umbrella so as to protect them from rain. Reaching the place, Vasudevar exchanged his kid with the girl child born to Yesodha.
Vasudevar returned back to the prison with the girl child and the doors again got locked. The soldiers got awake and say the child in vasudevar’s hand. They informed King Kansa and he came to kill the child.
Seeing the girl child he was shocked and as he tried to kill the child, the kid slipped from his hand and told him that I am not the kid who will kill you but the child that is supposed to kill you is already in a safe place. Saying this, girl child vanished and it is believed that it was Goddess who came to save Krishna from Kansa.
As per the Hindu religion, Lord Krishna was the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu who actually took ten avatars on the earth to save good people from the evils. Lord Krishna was born in the Sravana month on the midnight of the eight day after the fool moon. The star being Rohini, it is also known as Ashtami Rohini.
This day of Janmashtami is celebrated throughout the country and every Krishna temple has special prayers seeking the blessing of Lord Krishna.
Not just within India, but Hindu organizations in all over the world conduct shobha yatra where small kids get dressed up as little Krishna and Gopikas. The festival of Janmashtami is celebrated with much more joy and pleasure in Maharashtra. Here this festival is celebrated in the form of Dahi Handi which is the main attraction in Maharashtra. People come from different places to enjoy this occasion and be a part of it.
6- Ganesh Chaturthi: A Festival of Lord Ganesha
Ganesh Chaturthi is a native Indian festival that is celebrated all over India. The spectacular festival is a celebration of the birth of Hindu god Ganesh.
Although the festival is celebrated as a pan Indian festival, the celebrations in the state of Maharashtra are the most popular. The celebrations observe various cultural proceedings, which unite the public like none other in a sense of togetherness and belongingness.
The celebration culminates with the immersion of the idol into the water. Huge processions, prayers, fairs are a part of the festival that allow the people to carry the idol to a river, lake or ocean.
These mega scale processions are accompanied by ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya’, a chant that is one everyone’s mouth. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is the major festival of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.
Celebrations in Maharashtra
The festival is celebrated in every Hindu household in the state, over a period of ten days.
The celebrations begin by installing small to midsized idols of Lord Ganesh in individual households, which are worshiped by the family, friends, and at times even neighbors (who drop in to get a darshan of their beloved deity)! It is not only celebrated at an individual level, but also at the society level.
Large pandals (temporary shades intended for pujas) are put up, and idols of lord Ganesh are worshiped by the society as a unit!
Various cultural events are played out as a part of the festival that spans over the ten days. This celebration culminates on the tenth day, when people immerse the just-worshipped idol in the local water body.
Celebrations in Karnataka
In the state of Karnataka however, the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with prayers, which are offered to the mother of Lord Ganesh. The significance of this act is so that the women in the state have happy and blessed married lives.
The celebrations generally occur at various Ganesh temples in the state, where prayers are offered to both Gauri (mother of Lord Ganesha) and Lord Ganesh. The festival is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi in the state of Karnataka.
Celebrations in Rajasthan
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi in Rajasthan is celebrated by worshipping the image of Lord Ganesh. The image is bathed with red kumkum, while idols of the beloved idol are covered with a garland of red flowers. The image of the idol is then placed near the entrance of every household in the state.
A visitor is required to apply a pinch of the mixture of kumkum and haldi at their necks and foreheads. Ladoos, among other sweets are offered to the idol and then to the visitors and devotees in the state.
7- Maha Shivratri: A Festival of Lord Shiva
Maha Shivratri or ‘The night of Lord Shiva’ is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm in the Indian subcontinent. The festival occurs on the 14th day of the Hindi calendar month Phalgun (Around February, according to the Standard English calendar).
Throughout the day, the devotees perform puja along with a fast as auspicious rituals. Lord Shiva or Mahadev, is one among the 3 Lords of the Hindu Trinity. Maha Shivarathri festival is celebrated all over India with great vigor and zeal.
Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated as a folk festival in West Bengal. Girls in the state keep fast and offer their sincerest prayers to Lord Shiva so that they get blessed and live happier married life and good husbands. Staying awake throughout the night is a part this festival.
The Tarakeshwar temple, which is situated on the outskirts of the bustling city of Kolkata (approximately 57 kms away), bare-footed devotees carry containers of water from the sacred river Ganges, to pour over the stone image of the Lord Shiva, and offer the flower garlands to the granite phallus, as a symbol of their faith and devotion.
Celebrations in South India
In Andhra Pradesh, The Maha Shivaratri festival is most popular at Sri Kalahasteshwara Temple, located at Kalahasti. Other place where the festival is celebrated with a lot of zeal is Bharamarambha Malikarjunaswamy Temple, located around the Srisailam. All of these places attract a lot of devotees from all parts of the neighboring states, as well as from all over the country.
Celebrations in North and West India
In Jammu and Kashmir, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated for a long period of 15 days. In Rajasthan however, the festivities are flanked by a special ceremony to initiate the auspicious rituals. It is widely believed to be an auspicious time for the devotees, pilgrims, and tourists to travel to the twelve Jyotirlinga located at different parts of the Indian subcontinent. This is sure to earn blessings from Lord Shiva, and improve their lives in ways more than one.
There are a range of rituals and norms that are associated with Maha Shivaratri festival. The devotees and followers take a dip in a river which is nearby in the wee hours of the night, right before sunrise and visit the temples to offer prayers to Lord Shiva with Bilva leaves. The devotees here too, observe a daylong fast, like most of the other states in India.
8- Raksha-Badhan: Relationship between Brother and Sister
Raksha-Bandhan is one of the unique Festivals in India. This festival has unique which doesn’t dwell in many countries and culture. This festival is primarily partied in India.
The uniqueness of this festival is that it is celebrated for the relationship between brother and sister. Raksha-Bandhan means Word of protection. It’s the faith and confidence that every sister has on her brother during difficult times. Brothers are to protect their sister from every difficult situation and help them at all situation.
And also sister’s tie a knot with a red thread which is a sacred thread called Rakhi on their brother’s wrist and forehead. This represents the love and their prayers for their well-being. Raksha-Bandhan becomes popular in the period of Rani Karnavati of Chittoor who was a widow.
When she and her kingdom were threatened by the emperor Bahadur shah, Rani Karnavati sent a Rakhi to Emperor Humayun. Humayun was greatly moved and tried to help but the help was in Vain. The religious reason for this Festival in India remains different and is based on the epic of the Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi.
Rakhi in the modern world has become one of the humanitarian festivals. This festival brings known and unknown closer. Girls and married women tie this Rakhi to soldiers and jawans. This symbolizes, the brothers protecting and saving the country. By this way of celebrating this festival, many people are made to felt the love and wanted within them.
Many girls indeed tie this knot to safeguard themselves, so that boys would protect them instead of proposing and hurting. Boys when they have this red Vermillion tied to their wrist, they make themselves responsible to protect the girls who tied the rakhi.
On this festival day, Women color their hands using mehndi and decorate their palms and feet. During this day, men and women with brothers and sisters wear traditional dress and girls don’t have food until they tie a rakhi to their brothers. When a Rakhi is tied, the brother gives gift or money as a symbol of love and blessing to their sisters.
This also symbolizes the relationship of their natal home for the married women. This festival is one of the Festivals in India which spreads harmony and peace throughout the world.
9- Karwa Chauth: Praying for husband’s long life
The festival of Karwa Chauth is basically a festival of fast, that is of particular significance to married Hindu women all over India. The women believe in the faith that the auspicious festival ensures richness, well-being and long life of their husbands. The origin of the Karwa Chauth festival is based on a very old and noble idea. In a sense, the modern day’s celebrations have lost its true sense as the outlook of this festival has drastically changed.
The festival of Karwa Chauth is mostly celebrated by the entire North Indian states, or people from this community who have settled in the parts of the globe. The most important and the primary characteristic of this auspicious calendar day is that a women belonging to north Indian communities are required to fast from dawn to dusk.
This fast can only be broken if they have seen the moon at night. The uniqueness of the festival lies in the fact that, nowhere else on the planet will one find a wife who goes without food or water, just to pray to the gods to ensure the longevity of her husband, and in turn, their married lives
The festival is observed on the 4th day of the month of Ashwin, (also known as Kartik according to some calendars). There are various traditions and rituals associated with the celebration of Karva Chauth.
The most important and significant ceremony involve the worshipping of the ‘karvas’ (spherical clay pots which have symbols) by women who are married, along with sweets). These karvas are exchanged among many other women who are married.
Married women in every north Indian households observe fasts that continue all throughout the day. This is followed by worshipping the ‘karva’ while the elderly women of that particular household chant the story of the Karva Chauth (the Legend of Vrata Katha). Once the moon rises and it is sighted by the women in the family, special prayers are offered and the fast is finally broken. The fast has to be broken by eating food and drinking water off the husband’s hands.
In modern day, however, the festival is losing its significance in the sense that, with each passing year, the celebrations are being commercialized; while the fasting has been turned into a full-blown event. The scale of the festival has grown manifold with each passing day. Karva Chauth, or the fast festival, as a result now promises to grow bigger every year. The Halwais, the Churiwallis and Mehendi have conventionally been active on this day.
10- Pongal: Popular Festival of Hindus in South India
Pongal is one of Festivals in India, which is celebrated only in Southern part of India. This festival was celebrated by the farmers and dedicated to the corps and farms they relied on. The history of this festival dates back to 200 BC, when it became popular. The story of this festival is as usual, where the story revolves around the epic of Indian Hindu Gods.
Lord Shiva ordered his bull ”basava” to visit the people and tell them to take oil bath daily as they eat food daily. But, Basava forgot to tell people to bath and told only to eat daily. When Lord Shiva learnt about this punished his bull by sending him to live on the earth and help the humans to plough their fields and grow more grains. This gave rise to the celebration of Pongal.
Pongal is celebrated for four days, with four days celebrated for different purpose. The first day of this season celebrated to remind the demolishing of Old and a new Beginning. This is called as Bogie.
People on this day symbolically burn all the old things and clean their house and place, meaning that they let the Old go and start with new life. And also the Bogie is the Last day of the winter season according to Tamil Calendar and beginning of Harvest season.
The second day is the day where people celebrate for their harvested grains by offering these grains to the gods as symbol to thanks giving.
The third day is the day of Cow and Bull, as these animals are used in the work and plough the fields; this is called as Mattu Pongal. And the final day is the day where people meet and greet each and everyone called as Kannum Pongal. On these four days, people share what they have and enjoy these days fun and love.
During these days, several food items are cooked with the grains and greens that are cultivated in their farm. These are shared everyday among the people to show gratitude and love. Pongal is also celebrated as “Dravidian Harvesting Festival”. This is one of the Festivals in India where only the southern States celebrate.
This festival is called as Sankaranti in Karnataka. This is only Festivals in India which is dedicated to Nature and products from the nature. Let’s also thank the nature for giving us the food we eat and the air we breathe.