India is the country of festivals. Thousands of festivals are celebrated across India. Lets take a look at the most popular Indian Festivals.
Vijayadashami (Vijayadasami) also known as Dussehra, Dasara or Dashain, is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navaratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.Vijayadashami is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. In the southern, eastern, northeastern, and some northern states of India, Vijayadashami marks the end of Durga Puja, remembering goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura to restore and protect dharma. In the northern, central and western states, the festival is synonymously called Dussehra (also spelled Dasara, Dashahara). In these regions, it marks the end of Ramlila and remembers god Rama’s victory over the Ravan. On the very same occasion, Arjuna alone decimated more than 1,000,000 soldiers and defeated all Kuru warriors including Bhishma, Drona, Ashwatthama, Karna and Kripa, a significant example of victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). Alternatively, it marks a reverence for one of the aspects of goddess Devi, such as Durga or Saraswati.Vijayadashami celebrations include processions to a river or ocean front that involve carrying clay statues of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartikeya, accompanied by music and chants, after which the images are immersed in the water for dissolution and farewell. Elsewhere, on Dasara, towering effigies of Ravan, symbolising evil, are burnt with fireworks, marking evil’s destruction. The festival also starts the preparations for Diwali, the important festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after Vijayadashami.
Diwali is a festival of lights and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. The festival usually lasts five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November). One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “Victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, with many other regional traditions connecting the holiday to Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, Kali, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kubera, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman. Furthermore, it is, in some regions, a celebration of the day Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in Lanka and serving 14 years of exile.
Christmas (or Feast of the Nativity) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centered around it.
The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then further disseminated the information. Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, the church in the early fourth century fixed the date as December 25. This corresponds to the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar. Most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, part of the Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar. For Christians, believing that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than knowing Jesus’ exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas. The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving; completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath; Christmas music and caroling; viewing a Nativity play; an exchange of Christmas cards; church services; a special meal; and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.
Krishna Janmashtami, also known simply as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. It is observed according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in Shraavana or Bhadrapad (depending on whether the calendar chooses the new moon or full moon day as the last day of the month), which overlaps with August or September of the Gregorian calendar.
It is an important festival, particularly in the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism. Dance-drama enactments of the life of Krishna according to the Bhagavata Purana (such as Rasa Lila or Krishna Lila), devotional singing through the midnight when Krishna was born, fasting (upavasa), a night vigil (Ratri Jagaran), and a festival (Mahotsav) on the following day are a part of the Janmashtami celebrations. It is celebrated particularly in Mathura and Vrindavan, along with major Vaishnava and non-sectarian communities found in Manipur, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and all other states of India.Krishna Janmashtami is followed by the festival Nandotsav, which celebrates the occasion when Nanda Baba distributed gifts to the community in honor of the birth.
Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is a Hindu festival celebrating the arrival of Ganesh to earth from Kailash Parvat with his mother Goddess Parvati/Gauri. The festival is marked with the installation of Ganesh clay idols privately in homes, or publicly on elaborate pandals (temporary stages). Observations include chanting of Vedic hymns and Hindu texts such as, prayers and brata (fasting). Offerings and prasadam from the daily prayers, that are distributed from the pandal to the community, include sweets such as modaka as it is believed to be a favourite of Lord Ganesh. The festival ends on the tenth day after start, when the idol is carried in a public procession with music and group chanting, then immersed in a nearby body of water such as a river or sea. In Mumbai alone, around 150,000 statues are immersed annually. Thereafter the clay idol dissolves and Ganesh is believed to return to Mount Kailash to Parvati and Shiva. The festival celebrates Lord Ganesh as the God of New Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles as well as the god of wisdom and intelligence and is observed throughout India, especially in the states such as Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, and is celebrated privately at home in Tamil Nadu in 2020 due to Covid-19 Pandemic. Ganesh Chaturthi is also observed in Nepal and by the Hindu diaspora elsewhere such as in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, other parts of the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa United States, and Europe. In the Gregorian calendar, Ganesh Chaturthi falls between 22 August and 20 September every year.At public venues, along with the reading of texts and group feasting, athletic and martial arts competitions are also held.
Navaratri is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days) and is celebrated every year in the autumn. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere. Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navaratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.In the eastern and northeastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navaratri, wherein goddess Durga battles and emerges victorious over the buffalo demon Mahishasur to help restore Dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with “Rama Lila” and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana. In southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated. In all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.Celebrations include worshipping nine goddesses in nine days, stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism. The nine days are also a major crop season cultural event, such as competitive design and staging of pandals, a family visit to these pandals and the public celebration of classical and folk dances of Hindu culture. Hindu devotees celebrate Navratri by fasting. But, fasting is not the correct way to please Maa Durga during Navratri or Shradha Navratri. Holy Bhagavad Gita has also denied fasting. It is clearly mentioned in Holy Bhagavad Gita Adhyay 6 Shlok 16 that this Yog Sadhna is not successful for those who sleep too much or don’t sleep, nor for those who eat too much or don’t eat, i.e., fasting. That’s the reason we did not get the true fruits of Worship. On the final day, called the Vijayadashami or Dussehra, the statues are either immersed in a water body such as river and ocean, or alternatively the statue symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil’s destruction. The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays, Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra or Dashain.
Raksha Bandhan, also Rakshabandhan, or Rakhi, is a popular, traditionally Hindu, annual rite, or ceremony, which is central to a festival of the same name, celebrated in India, Nepal and other parts of the Indian subcontinent, and among people around the world influenced by Hindu culture. On this day, sisters of all ages tie a talisman, or amulet, called the rakhi, around the wrists of their brothers, symbolically protecting them, receiving a gift in return, and traditionally investing the brothers with a share of the responsibility of their potential care. Raksha Bandhan is observed on the last day of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Shraavana, which typically falls in August. The expression “Raksha Bandhan,” Sanskrit, literally, “the bond of protection, obligation, or care,” is now principally applied to this ritual. Until the mid-20th-century, the expression was more commonly applied to a similar ritual, also held on the same day, with precedence in ancient Hindu texts, in which a domestic priest ties amulets, charms, or threads on the wrists of his patrons, or changes their sacred thread, and receives gifts of money; in some places, this is still the case. In contrast, the sister-brother festival, with origins in folk culture, had names which varied with location, with some rendered as Saluno, Silono, and Rakri. A ritual associated with Saluno included the sisters placing shoots of barley behind the ears of their brothers.Of special significance to married women, Raksha Bandhan is rooted in the practice of territorial or village exogamy, in which a bride marries out of her natal village or town, and her parents, by custom, do not visit her in her married home. In rural north India, where village exogamy is strongly prevalent, large numbers of married Hindu women travel back to their parents’ homes every year for the ceremony. Their brothers, who typically live with the parents or nearby, sometimes travel to their sisters’ married home to escort them back. Many younger married women arrive a few weeks earlier at their natal homes and stay until the ceremony. The brothers serve as lifelong intermediaries between their sisters’ married and parental homes, as well as potential stewards of their security.
In urban India, where families are increasingly nuclear, the festival has become more symbolic, but continues to be highly popular. The rituals associated with this festival have spread beyond their traditional regions and have been transformed through technology and migration, the movies, social interaction, and promotion by politicized Hinduism, as well as by the nation state. Among women and men who are not blood relatives, there is also a transformed tradition of voluntary kin relations, achieved through the tying of rakhi amulets, which have cut across caste and class lines, and Hindu and Muslim divisions. In some communities or contexts, other figures, such as a matriarch, or a person in authority, can be included in the ceremony in ritual acknowledgement of their benefaction.
Holi is a popular ancient Hindu festival, also known as the Indian “festival of spring”, the “festival of colours”, or the “festival of love”. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil. It originated and is predominantly celebrated in India, but has also spread to other regions of Asia and parts of the Western world through the diaspora from the Indian subcontinent.
Holi celebrates the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love, and for many it’s a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. The festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season. It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna, which falls around middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan (burning of demon holika) or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, or Phagwah. Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular among non-Hindus as well in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia. In addition to India and Nepal, the festival is celebrated by Indian subcontinent diaspora in countries such as Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, Malaysia, Jamaica,, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In recent years the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan where people gather, perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – a free-for-all festival of colours, where people smear each other with colours and drench each other. Water guns and water-filled balloons are also used to play and colour each other. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children, and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes come together to throw coloured powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. Some customary drinks include bhang (made from cannabis), which is intoxicating. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up and visit friends and family.
Lohri is a popular Punjabi winter folk festival celebrated primarily in the Punjab region. The significance and legends about the Lohri festival are many and these link the festival to the Punjab region. It is believed by many that the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. Lohri marks the end of winter, and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere by Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. It is observed the night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar and typically falls about the same date every year (January 13). Lohri is an official restricted holiday in the state of Punjab, India, Haryana and NCT of Delhi where the festival is celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. But it is not a holiday in Punjab, Pakistan. It is, however, observed by Hindus, Sikhs and some Muslims in Punjab, Pakistan.
Eid al-Fitr, (sometimes known as Eid ul-Fitr), also called the “Festival of Breaking the Fast”, is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. This religious Eid is the only day in the month of Shawwal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities, so the day of celebration varies by locality.
Eid al-Fitr has a particular salat (Islamic prayer) that consists of two rakats (units) generally performed in an open field or large hall. It may only be performed in congregation (jamāʿat) and features six additional Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying “Allāhu ʾAkbar”, meaning “God is the greatest”) in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam: three at the start of the first rakat and three just before rukūʿ in the second rakat. Other Sunni schools usually have twelve Takbirs, similarly split in groups of seven and five. In Shia Islam, the salat has six Takbirs in the first rakat at the end of qira’a, before rukūʿ, and five in the second. Depending on the juristic opinion of the locality, this salat is either farḍ فرض (obligatory), mustaḥabb مستحب (strongly recommended) or mandūb مندوب (preferable).
Chhath is an ancient Hindu Vedic festival historically native to the Indian subcontinent, more specifically, the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and the Madhesh region of Nepal. The Chhath Puja is dedicated to the solar deity Surya and Shashthi devi (Chhathi Maiya) in order to thank them for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes. This festival is observed by Biharis & Nepalese along with their diaspora.The festival does not involve idolatry and is dedicated to worship the Chhathi Maiya (Shashthi Mata) and sun God Surya along with his consorts Usha and Pratyusha the Vedic Goddess of Dawn and Dusk respectively. It is believed that the main sources of Sun’s powers are his wife Usha and Pratyusha. In Chhath, there is combined worship of both the powers along with the Sun. In the morning, worship of the first ray (Usha) of the Sun and the last ray (Pratyusha) of the Sun in the evening are offered to both of them. And the rituals 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 prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun. Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the river banks.Environmentalists have claimed that the festival of Chhath is one of the most eco-friendly religious festivals that should be used to spread “the message of nature conservation”. Moreover, it’s arguably one of few Hindu festivals that transcend the rigid caste system, which emerged in the post-Vedic period, to touch upon the ideas of “equality, fraternity, unity and integrity. Every devotee—elite or middle class (and caste)—prepares almost similar Prasad and other items to offer to the Almighty. All the devotees without any distinction in caste, colour or economy, arrive at the bank of rivers or ponds for extending prayers.”Although the festival is observed most elaborately in Madhesh (southern) region of Nepal and Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and UP, it is also more prevalent in areas where migrants from those areas have a presence. It is celebrated in all Northern regions and major Northern urban centers in India. The festival is celebrated in the regions including but not exclusive to the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan Mumbai, Mauritius, Fiji, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, other parts of the Caribbean, United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Macau, Japan and Indonesia.Chhath Puja, also known as Sun Shashthi is celebrated on Kartik Shukla Shashthi. This festival is celebrated after 6 days of Diwali and mainly celebrated in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand with great fanfare. On Chhath Puja, worshiping Sun God and Chhathi maiya helps you gain health, wealth and happiness. In the last few years, Chhath Pooja has got a special significance as a folk festival. This is the reason why the festival is celebrated with great pomp and show.
Vaisakhi, also pronounced as Baisakhi is a historical and religious festival in Sikhism. It is usually celebrated on 13 or 14 April every year, and celebrates the start of the month of Vaisakha. For Sikhs, the day commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. For many Hindus, the holiday is known as Vaisakha Sankranti and celebrates the Solar new year, based on the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar. Vaisakhi marks the first day of the month of Vaisakha. It is additionally a spring harvest festival for many Indians.Vaisakhi observes major events in the history of Sikhism and the Indian subcontinent that happened in the Punjab region. The significance of Vaisakhi as a major Sikh festival marking the birth of Sikh order started after the persecution and execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur for refusing to convert to Islam under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This triggered the coronation of the tenth Guru of Sikhism and the historic formation of Khalsa, both on the Vaisakhi day. Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as Maharaja of the Sikh Empire on 12 April 1801 (to coincide with Vaisakhi), creating a unified political state. Sahib Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak dev, conducted the coronation. Vaisakhi was also the day when the British colonial empire official, General Reginald Dyer, committed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on a gathering, an event influential to the Indian movement against colonial rule.
Independence Day (India)
Independence Day is celebrated annually on 15 August as a national holiday in India commemorating the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom on 15 August 1947, the day when the provisions of the 1947 Indian Independence Act, which transferred legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly, came into effect. India retained King George VI as head of state until its transition to a full republic, when the nation adopted the Constitution of India on 26 January 1950 (celebrated as Indian Republic Day) and replaced the dominion prefix, Dominion of India, with the enactment of the sovereign law Constitution of India. India attained independence following the Independence Movement noted for largely non-violent resistance and civil disobedience.
Independence coincided with the partition of India, in which British India was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan; the partition was accompanied by violent riots and mass casualties, and the displacement of nearly 15 million people due to religious violence. On 15 August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. On each subsequent Independence Day, the incumbent Prime Minister customarily raises the flag and gives an address to the nation. The entire event is broadcast by Doordarshan, India’s national broadcaster, and usually begins with the shehnai music of Ustad Bismillah Khan.
Independence Day is observed throughout India with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events. It is a national holiday.
Buddha’s Birthday is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated in most of East Asia commemorating the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha, who was the founder of Buddhism. According to Buddhist tradition and modern academic consensus, Gautama Buddha was born c. 563–483 BCE in Lumbini (what is now Nepal) and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu.The exact date of Buddha’s birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars. The date for the celebration of Buddha’s birthday varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.
In South and Southeast Asia, the Buddha’s birth is celebrated as part of Vesak, a festival that also celebrates the Buddha’s enlightenment and death. In East Asia, the awakening and death of the Buddha are observed as separate holidays.
Pongal, is also referred to as Thai Pongal ( also spelled Tai Pongal), is a multi-day Harvest festival of South India, particularly in the Tamil community. It is observed at the start of the month Tai according to Tamil solar calendar, and this is typically about January 14. It is dedicated to the Hindu sun god, the Surya, and corresponds to Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival under many regional names celebrated throughout India. The three days of the Pongal festival are called Bhogi Pongal, Surya Pongal and Maattu Pongal.According to tradition, the festival marks the end of winter solstice, and the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam) when the sun enters the zodiac Makara (Capricorn). The festival is named after the ceremonial “Pongal”, which means “to boil, overflow” and refers to the traditional dish prepared from the new harvest of rice boiled in milk with jaggery (raw sugar). To mark the festival, the pongal sweet dish is prepared, first offered to the gods and goddesses (goddess Pongal), followed sometimes with an offering to cows, and then shared by the family. Festive celebrations include decorating cows and their horns, ritual bathing and processions. It is traditionally an occasion for decorating rice-powder based kolam artworks, offering prayers in the home, temples, getting together with family and friends, and exchanging gifts to renew social bonds of solidarity.
On January 2, 2019, Nair Service Society celebrated the 142nd Mannam Jayanthi at NSS headquarters, Perunna in Changanassery.
Bhogi is the first day of the four-day Makara Sankranti festival. According to the Gregorian calendar it is usually celebrated on 13 January. It is a festival celebrated widely in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
On Bhogi, people discard old and derelict things and concentrate on new things causing change or transformation. At dawn, people light bonfires with logs of wood, other solid-fuels, and wooden furniture at home that are no longer useful. This marks the end of the year’s accounts and the beginning of new accounts on the first day of the harvest on the following day.
New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar’s year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner. In the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar system today, New Year occurs on January 1 (New Year’s Day). This was also the first day of the year in the original Julian calendar and the Roman calendar (after 153 BC).Other cultures observe their traditional or religious New Years Day according to their own customs, typically (though not invariably) because they use a lunar calendar or a lunisolar calendar. Chinese New Year, the Islamic New Year, and the Jewish New Year are among well-known examples. India, Nepal and other countries also celebrate New Year on dates according to their own calendars that are movable in the Gregorian calendar.
During the Middle Ages in Western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, authorities moved New Year’s Day, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, including March 1, March 25, Easter, September 1, and December 25. Since then, many national civil calendars in the Western World and beyond have changed to using one fixed date for New Year’s Day, January 1— most doing so when they adopted of the Gregorian calendar.
Vasant Panchami, also called Sarasvati Puja in honor of the goddess Saraswati, is a festival that marks the preparation for the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated by people in the Indian subcontinent in various ways depending on the region. Vasant Panchami also marks the start of preparation for Holika and Holi, which take place forty days later. The Vasant Utsava (festival) on Panchami is celebrated forty days before spring, because any season’s transition period is 40 days, and after that, the season comes into full bloom.
Republic Day (India)
Republic Day is a national holiday in India. It honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India and thus, turning the nation into a newly formed republic.The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country’s transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the date for Republic day because it was on this day in 1929 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress in lieu of the Realm status as a Dominion later instated by the British Regime.
Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan or Maghi or simply Sankranti, also known in Bangladesh as Poush Sankranti, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, dedicated to the deity Surya (sun). It is observed each year the day Sun enters the Capricorn zodiac which corresponds with the month of January as per the Gregorian calendar. It marks the first day of the sun’s transit into Makara rashi (Capricorn), marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days.Makar Sankranti is one of the few ancient Indian festivals that has been observed according to solar cycles, while most festivals are set by the lunar cycle of the lunisolar Hindu calendar. Being a festival that celebrates the solar cycle, it almost always falls on the same Gregorian date every year (January 14), except in some years when the date shifts by a day for that year (January 15). As a result, it can fall on different date of the Hindu calendar each year.
Tusu festival is the most important festival of Kudmi and tribals of Jharkhand. It is celebrated in the month of Paush after the harvest in winters. The literal meaning of Tusu is virgin. There is no specific written source of the history of this festival, but there are many rituals in this festival and it is very colorful and full of life.
Onam is an annual holiday and festival celebrated in southern Indian state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival celebrated by Malayalis whose date is based on the Panchangam and falls on the 22nd nakshatra Thiruvonam in the month Chingam of Malayalam calendar, which in Gregorian calendar overlaps with August–September. According to legends, the festival is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.Onam is a major annual event for Malayali people in and outside Kerala. It is a harvest festival, one of three major Hindu celebrations along with Vishu and Thiruvathira, and it is observed with numerous festivities. Onam celebrations include Vallam Kali (boat races), Pulikali (tiger dances), Pookkalam (flower Rangoli), Onathappan (worship), Onam Kali, Tug of War, Thumbi Thullal (women’s dance), Kummattikali (mask dance), Onathallu (martial arts), Onavillu (music), Kazhchakkula (plantain offerings), Onapottan (costumes), Atthachamayam (folk songs and dance), and other celebrations. It is the New Year day for Malayalis.Onam is the official state festival of Kerala with public holidays that start four days from Uthradom (Onam eve). Major festivities take place across 30 venues in Thiruvananthapuram, capital of Kerala. It is also celebrated by Malayali diaspora around the world. Though its origins are often attributed to aspects in Hindu mythology, Onam is celebrated as a cultural festival across all communities in Kerala.
Rama Navami (Hindi: राम नवमी) is a Hindu spring festival that celebrates the birthday of Rama, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu. Rama is particularly important in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Indian Express, Friday, 31 March 2006.The festival celebrates the descent of Vishnu as the Rama avatar, through his birth to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya in Ayodhya. The festival is a part of the spring (Vasanta) Navratri, and falls on the ninth day of the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of Chaitra, the first month in the Hindu calendar. This typically occurs in the Gregorian months of March or April every year. Rama Navami is an optional government holiday in India.The day is marked by Rama Katha recitals or reading of Rama stories, including the Hindu sacred epic Ramayana. Some Vaishnavite Hindus visit a temple while others pray within their homes, and some participate in a bhajan or kirtan with music as a part of puja and aarti. Some devotees mark the event by taking miniature statues of the infant Ram, washing and clothing them, then placing them in cradles. Charitable events and community meals are also organized. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus. Some mark this day by vrata (fasting).The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya and Sita Samahit Sthal (Uttar Pradesh), Sitamarhi (Bihar), Janakpurdham (Nepal), Bhadrachalam (Telangana), Kodandarama Temple, Vontimitta (Andhra Pradesh), Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), Vaduvur Sri Kothandaramaswamy Temple (Tamilnadu), Sri Rama Pada Temple, Dhanushkodi, Rameshwaram (Tamilnadu), Eri Katha Ramar temple, Maduranthakam(Tamil Nadu), Eri-Katha Ramar Temple, Thirunindravur (Tamilnadu), Sri Kodanda-Ramar Temple,Thirupullani (Tamilnadu), Sri Kodandaramar Temple, T-Nagar, Chennai (Tamilnadu), Sri Parathasarathy Temple (Sri Ramar Sannidhi), Thiruvallikeni, Chennai, Jharkhand (hazaribag, chatra, Ranchi, lamta shiv Mandir), (Tamil Nadu). Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as Shobha yatras of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman, are taken out at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.
Losar (Tibetan: ལོ་གསར་, Wylie: lo-gsar; “new year”) also known as Tibetan New Year, is a festival in Tibetan Buddhism. The holiday is celebrated on various dates depending on location (Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India) tradition. The holiday is a new year’s festival, celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar, which corresponds to a date in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. In 2020,
the new year commenced on the 24th of February and celebrations ran until the 26th of the same month. It also commenced the Year of the Male Iron Rat.The variation of the festival in Nepal is called Lhochhar and is observed about eight weeks earlier than the Tibetan Losar.
Maha Shivaratri (IAST: Mahāśivarātri) is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of the god Shiva. The name also refers to the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance. There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month’s 13th night/14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March, or Phalguna as per North Indian Hindu calendar while the same day is considered to fall in Maagha Maas Krishna Paksha as per South Indian Hindu calendar) and before the arrival of Summer, marks Maha Shivaratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”.It is a major festival in Hinduism, and this festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as honesty, non-injury to others, charity, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva. The ardent devotees keep awake all night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. The festival originated in circa the 5th century CE. According to the South Indian calendar, Maha Shivaratri is observed on Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in the month of Magha, and in other parts of India, on 13/14 night of Krishna Paksha in Phalguna of Hindu calendar, the Gregorian date however remaining the same.In Kashmir Shaivism, the festival is called Har-ratri or phonetically simpler Haerath or Herath by Shiva devotees of the Kashmir region.
Hazarat Ali Birthday
Tusu festival is the most important festival of Kudmi and tribals of Jharkhand. It is celebrated after harvest in winter in the month of Paush. The literal meaning of Tusu is virgin. There is no specific written source of the history of this festival, but there are many rituals in this festival and it is very colorful and full of life.
Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Jayanti, also known as Gurpurab, is the most important festival for the followers of the religion of Sikhism. It is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev. The festival is celebrated on the day of Kartik Poornima, which is the fifteenth lunar day in the month of Kartik according to the Hindu calendar, and usually falls in the month of November by the Gregorian calendar.
Dhanteras (Hindi: धनतेरस), also known as Dhanatrayodashi (Sanskrit: धनत्रयोदशी), is the first day that marks the festival of Diwali in India.
It is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindi calendar month of Ashvin. Dhanvantari, who is also worshipped on the occasion of Dhanteras, is considered the God of Ayurveda who imparted the wisdom of Ayurveda for the betterment of mankind, and to help rid it of the suffering of disease.The Indian ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, announced its decision to observe Dhanteras, as the “National Ayurveda Day”, which was first observed on 28 October 2016. Usually, Gujarati families will enjoy a meal of daal baath and malpura to ring in the new year.
Bhai Dooj, Bhaubeej, Bhai Tika, Bhai Phonta is a festival celebrated by Hindus on the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar or of Shalivahan Shaka calendar month of Kartika. It is celebrated during the Diwali or Tihar festival and Holi festival. The celebrations of this day are similar to the festival of Raksha Bandhan. On this day, sisters give gifts to their brothers. In the southern part of the country, the day is celebrated as Yama Dwitiya.In the Kayastha community, two Bhai Doojs are celebrated. The more famous one comes on the second day after Diwali. But the lesser-known one is celebrated a day or two after Diwali.
In Haryana, a ritual also followed, a dry coconut (named gola in regional language) with klewa tied along its width for worshipping is also used at the time of doing aarti of a brother.
According to Hindu religion, Lord Parashurama was born to put an end to the atrocities on Brahmins and sages. It is said that worshiping on the day of Parshuram Jayanti gives auspicious results. There is a special significance of doing charity on this day. It is believed that those people who do not have children should observe this fast. On this day, along with Lord Parashuram, the blessings of Vishnu ji are also received.
Govardhan Puja (IAST: Govardhana-pūjā), also known as Annakut or Annakoot (meaning a “mountain of food”), is a Hindu festival in which devotees worship Govardhan Hill and prepare and offer a large variety of vegetarian food to Krishna as a mark of gratitude. For Vaishnavas, this day commemorates the incident in the Bhagavata Purana when Krishna lifted Govardhan Hill to provide the villagers of Vrindavan shelter from torrential rains. The incident is seen to represent how God will protect all devotees who take singular refuge in him. Devotees offer a mountain of food, metaphorically representing the Govardhan Hill, to God as a ritual remembrance and to renew their faith in taking refuge in God. The festival is observed by most of Hindu denominations all over India and abroad.
For Vaishnavas, particularly the Pushtimarg of Vallabha, the Gaudiya Sampradaya of Chaitanya and the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, it is one of the important festivals. The Annakut festival occurs on the first lunar day of the Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) in the month of Kartik, which is the day after Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Gandhi Jayanti is an event celebrated in India to mark the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. It is celebrated annually on 2 October, and it is one of the three national holidays of India. The UN General Assembly announced on 15 June 2007 that it adopted a resolution which declared that 2 October will be celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence.
Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy and Great Friday), and Black Friday.Members of many Christian denominations, including the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Oriental Orthodox and Reformed traditions, observe Good Friday with fasting and church services. In many Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist Churches, the Service of the Great Three Hours’ Agony is held from noon until 3 pm, the time duration that the Bible records as darkness covering the land to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Communicants of the Moravian Church have a Good Friday tradition of cleaning gravestones in Moravian cemeteries.The date of Good Friday varies from one year to the next on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Eastern and Western Christianity disagree over the computation of the date of Easter and therefore of Good Friday. Good Friday is a widely instituted legal holiday around the world, including in most Western countries and 12 U.S. states. Some countries, such as Germany, have laws prohibiting certain acts, such as dancing and horse racing.
Valmiki Jayanti marks the birth anniversary of the great author Maharishi Valmiki. It is celebrated every year on the full moon day during the month of Ashwin.
Maharishi Valmiki was the first poet of Sanskrit literature and is believed to have drafted the first ever Sanskrit shloka.
Valmiki authored the epic Ramayana which contains 24,000 shlokas and 7 cantos. It is believed that when Rama banished Sita, after people questioned her ‘purity’, Valmiki rescued her and provided shelter.
Eid al-Adha (or Eid al-Azha and Eidul Azha; EED əl AH-də, - AHD-hah; Arabic: عيد الأضحى, romanized: ʿĪd al-ʾAḍḥā, lit. ’Feast of the Sacrifice’, IPA: [ʕiːd al ˈʔadˤħaː]) is the latter of the two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year (the other being Eid al-Fitr). It honours the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God’s command. (The Jewish and Christian religions believe that according to Genesis 22:2, Abraham took his son Isaac to sacrifice.) Before Ibrahim could sacrifice his son, however, Allah provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this intervention, animals are sacrificed ritually. One third of their meat is consumed by the family offering the sacrifice, while the rest is distributed to the poor and needy. Sweets and gifts are given, and extended family are typically visited and welcomed.In the Islamic lunar calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, and lasts for four days. In the international (Gregorian) calendar, the dates vary from year to year, shifting approximately 11 days earlier each year.
Muḥarram (Arabic: ٱلْمُحَرَّم) is the first month of the Islamic calendar.It is one of the four sacred months of the year when warfare is forbidden. It is held to be the second holiest month, after Ramaḍān.
The Tenth day of Muharram is known as the Day of Ashura. Better known as part of the Mourning of Muharram, Shia Muslims mourn the tragedy of Imam Hussein’s family, and Sunni Muslims practice fasting on Ashura.
Muslims mourn the martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī and his family, honoring the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events. Shia Muslims eat as little as possible on the 10th of Muharram however this is not seen as fasting. Some (children, elderly or sick) don’t eat or drink until Zawal (afternoon) as a part of their mourning for Husayn. In addition there is an important ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Husayn ibn Ali. In the Shia sect, it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.
Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti
Guru Gobind Singh ji was the 10th religious leader of the Sikhs. He was born to mother Gujri ji and father Shri Tegh Bahadur ji. When Guru Gobind was born, father Guru Tegh Bahadur ji was in Bengal at that time.
The festival of lights has a special place in Sikhism. In India, not only the people of Sikh religion, people of other religions also celebrate Prakash Parv with enthusiasm. Actually, the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th religious leader of Sikhs, is celebrated as Prakash Parv. Guru Gobind Singh ji was a great freedom fighter as well as a good poet. The example of Guru Gobind Singh’s sacrifice and valor is given till date. Also, history books are full of stories of his bravery. Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary is on 20 January.
Jumu’atul-Widaa’ (Arabic: جمعة الوداع meaning Friday of farewell, also called al-Jumu’ah al-Yateemah Arabic: الجمعة اليتيمة or the orphaned Friday Urdu: الوداع جمعہ Al-Widaa Juma) is the last Friday in the month of Ramadhan before Eid-ul-Fitr.
Martyrs' Day (India)
In India, there are six days declared as Martyrs’ Day (at national level also known as Sarvodaya day). They are named in honour of those who are recognised as martyrs for the nation.
30 January is the date observed in the national level. The date was chosen as it marks the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1948, by Nathuram Godse. On Martyr’s Day the president, the vice president, the prime minister, the defence minister, and the three Service Chiefs gather at the samadhi at Raj Ghat memorial and lay wreaths decorated with multi-colour flowers. The armed forces personnel blow bugles sounding the Last Post. The inter-services contingent reverse arms as a mark of respect. A two-minute silence in memory of Indian martyrs is observed throughout the country at 11 am. Participants hold all-religion prayers and sing tributes.
Agrasen Jayanti (literally “Agrasen’s birthday”) is the birth anniversary celebrations of a legendary Hindu king Agrasen Maharaj. He was king of Agroha, and it was from him that Agrawal originated. Agrasen Jayanti is observed on the fourth day of Ashwin month of Hindu calendar.The Government of India issued a postage stamp in honor of Maharaja Agresen in 1976 on occasion of his 5100th Jayanti.
Missionary Day (French: Arrivée de l’Évangile) is an official holiday in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France. It is celebrated annually on 5 March, to mark the arrival of the London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries in 1797 when their ship Duff landed at Matavai Bay. It is a non-working holiday.
Ambedkar Jayanti or Bhim Jayanti is an annual festival observed on 14 April to commemorate the memory of B. R. Ambedkar, Indian polymath and civil rights activist. It marks Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s birthday who was born on 14 April 1891. Since 2015 it has been observed as an official public holiday throughout India. Ambedkar Jayanti is celebrated not just in India but all around the world. Ambedkar struggled for equality throughout his life, hence his birthday is celebrated as ‘Equality Day’ in India, and the demand to declare this day as “International Equality Day” goes to the United Nations.
Ambedkar Jayanti processions are carried out by his followers at Chaitya Bhoomi in Mumbai and Deeksha Bhoomi in Nagpur. It is a customary for senior national figures, such as the President, Prime Minister and leaders of major political parties, to pay homage at the statue of Ambedkar at the Parliament of India in New Delhi. It is celebrated throughout the world especially by dalits, adivasi, labour workers, women and also those who embraced Buddhism after his example. In India, large numbers of people visit local statues commemorating Ambedkar in procession with lot of fanfare. In 2020, the first online Ambedkar Jayanti was celebrated in the world.Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti is a public holiday in more than 25 states and union territories of India, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal etc..
Mahavir Janma Kalyanak
Mahavir Janma Kalyanak is one of the most important religious festivals in Jainism. It celebrates the birth of Mahavir, the twenty-fourth and last Tirthankara of present Avasarpiṇī. On the Gregorian calendar, the holiday occurs either in March or April.