Fairs & Festivals of India
Owing to its religious, cultural and regional variations, India has a large number of
festivals and fairs. In one region or the other, festivals happen almost every day, each
with an specialty of its own. Most of the festivals are particular events connected with the
seasonal changes and garnished with some popular legend. Some festivals welcome the
seasons of the year, the harvest, the rains or the full moon. The celebrations are splashed
with colour, dances and songs.
Birthdays of divine beings, saints and gurus are also celebrated as festivals. Certain
festivals are associated with a particular state of town and others like Diwali, Shivrathri etc
are common to most parts of India. Some of the festivals are called by different names
and is celebrated in a different fashion in various parts of the country. Only a few of the
festivals take place on a particular date. Most of them follow the lunar or solar calendar
and hence the exact date of the festivals varies from year to year.
There are Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian festivals but the Hindu
festivals are the most. There are celebrations connected with temples, churches and
mosques. Besides the religious and seasonal festivals, there are Music and dance
festivals which attract the country's best performers of classical and folk dance, music and
Place: All over
Significance: Festival of Lights
Deepavali or Diwali (Festival Of Lights) is a beautiful festival of Hindus. Celebrated 21
days afterDussehra, it marks the return of Lord Rama (Hero of the epic Ramayana) to
Ayodhya after his 14 years exile. Thousands of traditional clay lamps are lit in houses all
over the country. Lakshmi -the goddess of wealth and prosperity is worshipped. The
houses are cleaned and decorated with designs drawn on the floor (kolams). It is believed
that Lakshmi only enters homes that are clean and spotless. People wear new apparel,
consume a rich and sumptuous feast and burst crackers.
It is celebrated for five days. Each day dedicated to a special thought. First day -
Dhanteras or Dhantrayadashi is celebrated in favour of goddess Lakshmi. Poojas are
performed and devotional songs are sung in praise of the goddess. Small foot steps are
made with rice flour and vermilion powder on the floors of the houses depicting the arrival
of the goddess. Earthen lamps filled with oil having cotton wicks are arranged in neat
rows along the walls and parapets in the verandahs. These lamps are lit in the evening
and kept throughout the night. Glittering lights are a splendid spectacle.
Rath Yatra (Car Festival)
Place: Puri, Orissa
Significance: Chariot Festival
This spectacular chariot festival celebrated for 8 days, is held at the famous Jaganath
Temple at Puri (Orissa). Thousands of devotees flock to Puri during the occasion as they
believe that a glimpse of Lord Jagnath in his chariot gives salvation.
Images of Lord Jaganath - the Lord of the Universe, his sister Subhadra and brother
Balbhadra are taken out in a procession in three immense chariots. The main chariot is
14 meters high and 10 meters square with 16 wheels. The deities are brought out of the
temple to the chariots by rhythmic movement called 'Pahandi' in a royal procession to the
accompaniment of the beat of the 'cymbals' and drums and chanting of prayers by
The pushing and shoving to seat Lord Jagannath on his chariot continues for hours. The
god it seems is testing the perseverance of his devotees. The devotees in turn coax,
cajole, they promise sweetmeats and other delicacies, when all this fails they call the Lord
names and even give blows to the idol, all the while the surging crowd chants, sings and
dances. It is believed that on these days Lord Jagannath will descend from his pedestal
and mingle with his devotees with no barrier between them. After seating the idols, the
traditional King of Puri sweeps the Chariots with a golden broom.
Place: South Kashmir, Jammu Kashmir
Venue: Amarnath Cave
Significance: A Pilgrimage of Lord Shiva
The pilgrimage is undertaken in the month of Shravan (July -August) each year and lasts
for approximately 40 days. Thousands of pilgrims make an arduous trek up to the
Amarnath cave, located at a height of 3,888 m in the Kashmir Himalayas through rocky
terrains, snowy mountains under unpredictable weather conditions. They come to worship
the sacred ice 'lingam' -a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva, which is a natural phenomenon
and considered a miracle.
Amarnath yatra started in the year 1850 AD. Devotees believe that one can get salvation
by witnessing 'Shiv lingam'. There are several legends behind its origin.
It was a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik who discovered the cave and the naturally formed
shiv lingam. According to popular belief, Buta malik was given a sack of coal by a sadhu.
But when he open the sack at home, he found that it was full of gold. Overjoyed he went
back to thank the sadhu but found the cave on the spot where they met. From then on the
cave was venerated as a pilgrim centre and a representative from the Malik family would
be present at the holy shrine along with the Hindu priest during the time of the
Place: North India
Significance: Birth anniversary, enlightenment and death of Budha
Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the Buddha, is the most
important festival of the Buddhists and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. This festival
falls on full moon day in the month of April. It was on this same day that Buddha got
enlightenment and also attained Nirvana or salvation. So, the Buddhists consider the day
to be more auspicious than any other day of the year. It is also believed that Yashodara,
Gautam's wife, his charioteer Channa and even his horse Kantaka were born on the
Gautam Buddha was born as a prince in 544 BC in Lumbini, Nepal on a Full Moon day in
the month of Vaisakh. When he was born it was predicted that the child would redeem the
world. Even as a young prince he was touched by the pain and sickness of others. Later
he renounced the world and became an ascetic. At the age of 35, he attained
enlightenment on the full moon day of Vaisakh. He traveled far and wide preaching the
truth and gained a large following consisting of scholars, sanyasis, rulers of states and
others, thus forming the Buddhist community.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra 2015
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is one of the world’s most sacred pilgrimage spots. This
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