Diwali: Festival Of Lights: –
Deepawali literally means an array of lamps is the Festival of Lights. Deepawali is the occasion of joy and jubilation for one and all in the entire Hindu world. All the illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, signifies the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness. Deepawali symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Deepawali is a festival that lasts 5 days.
In North India, Deepawali is associated with the return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing the demon Ravana. The people of Ayodhya, overwhelmed with joy, welcomed Rama through jubilation and illumination of the entire capital.
In South India, Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura.
To the Jains, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahaveer attaining the Eternal Bliss of Nirvana.
Though, Diwali is mainly a 5 day festival but people start preparing for Diwali weeks ahead by cleaning and decorating their households. It is said that Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated.
It is also the beginning of the new financial year for the business community.
Ganesh Chaturthi: –
Ganesh Chaturthi, the birthday of Lord Ganesh, is celebrated in August-September. Ganesh is the elephant headed son of Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva.
In Maharashtra, it is most important festival and is celebrated for 10 days. It is celebrated from 4th to 14th day of bright fortnight of Bhadrapad month. In Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, images of Ganesh made of unbaked clay are worshiped on this day in every house. A special sweet called Modak is prepared on this occasion. To mark the end of the festivities, the clay idols are immersed in water.
Holi: Festival Of Colors: –
The full-moon day in February-March is celebrated as Holi, the festival of colors. Holi is a festival of fun and gaiety for people of all ages. Bonfires are lit and people smear colors on each other. Holi signifies the start of spring and end of winter. People celebrate the new harvest and return of color in nature.
The mythological origin of this festival varies in North and South India.
In the South, especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it is believed that Kama Deva, the God of love, aimed his arrow at his wife Rati. The arrow hit Shiva by mistake. Kama was burnt to ashes by the fire coming out of the third eye of the enraged Lord Shiva. Rati, was so grief-stricken that Shiva relented and granted her the power to see Kamadeva but without a physical form. In Tamil Nadu, the festival known as Kaman vizha, Kaman pandigai, or Kama Dahanam commemorates the burning of Kama.
In the North, it is believed that a mighty King Hiranyakashipu ordered his people to worship him as a God. But Prahlad, his only son, refused to accept his father as a God, because he believed only in Lord Vishnu. The King tried to kill his son, but every time Prahlad was saved as he uttered the name of Vishnu. Finally, Prahlad’s aunt Holika, claiming herself to be fireproof, took the child in her lap and sat in the fire to burn him alive. When the fire subsided, the king found, the child alive while Holika had perished.
Krishna Janmastami: –
The birth of Lord Krishna an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is celebrated on the eight day (Ashtami) of a lunar fortnight in August-September hence the name (Krishna + ashtami). Krishnastami is celebrated over two days. This first day is Krishnastami or Gokulastami. The second day is called Kalastami or more popularly Janmastami.
Men and women fast and pray on the occasion of Janmashtami. As it is the worship of infant Krishna, who was fond of milk and butter, women prepare a variety of delicacies with milk products as offerings. This festival is a community celebration and people visit temples which are specially decorated for this occasion.
Durga Puja or Navaratri: –
This nine-day festival of the Hindus is celebrated in almost all parts of India in the month of Ashvina, and is marked by fasting and praying to different aspects of Devi. Literally ‘nine nights’, this nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar.
It is celebrated as Durga Puja in the state of West Bengal. Durga Puja is the most important and the most eagerly awaited festival of the state. It commemorates the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura.