Fairs and Festivals of India
India is a land of often bewildering diversity. It
is a jigsaw puzzle of people - of every faith and religion, living together
to create a unique and colourful mosaic. There is a festivals celebrate the various harvests celebrate the various
harvests, commemorate great historical figures and events, while many express devotion to the deities of different religions. Every celebration centres
around the rituals of prayer, seeking blessing, exchanging goodwill,
decorating houses, wearing new clothes, music, dance and feasting.
» Fairs and Festivals in India
Common Indian Customs and Traditions
MAKAR SANKRANTI : Is a celebration of spring on the occasion of the
'ascent' of he sun to the north (Uttarayana). In Maharshtra,
Karnataka as well as parts or Andhra, Makar Sankranti is a day of goodwill and
friendship. Sesame ladoos and sugar drops are distributed as a symbol of he
need to be generous and kind to everyone. Women wear new clothes, new glass
bangles and hold get-togethers to share sweets and gifts. A New bride is given
ornaments made of sugar drops and her new relatives are invited to meet and
welcome her at a Haldi Kumkum celebration.
LOHRI : In the North Makar Snakranti is called lohri.
It is the only Hindu festival which falls regularly on the 14th of January
every year. Lohri is the time after which the bring cold of winter begins to
taper off. On this day the children go from door to door to collect funds for
community bonfires which are lit in the evening. Lohri is more of a community
festival, where the birth of a son or the first year of marriage is celebrated
with great fun and frolic. People gather around the bonfires and offer sweets,
crisp rice and popcorn to the flames. Songs are sung to the beat of vigrous
claps and greetings and exchanged.
VASANT PANCHAMI : Is a ceremonial welcome to spring on the fifth day of the
waxing moon of Magh, When Saraswati, Shiva- Durga and Vishnu-Lakshmi are
worshipepd. People wear colourful attires, especially in bright shades of
yellow and they dance, sign and make merry.
In west Bengal,
'Saraswati' - the Goddess of learning in worshipped. The
festival is celebrated with great fervour in the university town of
MAHASHIVARATRI : On the 14th night of the dark half of Magh occurs the festival of Mahashivaratri, the
great night of Lord Shiva. The devotees stay awake throughout the night
offering their prayers to Lord Shiva. They offer special food made from the
fruits of the season, root vegetables and coconuts to Lord Shiva. Having
observed the requirements of the all night fast, devotees eat the prasad
offered to Shiva. Special celebrations are held in some of the major Shaivite
temples at Varanasi, Kalhasti (Andhra Pradesh) and Chidambaram (Tamil
SURAJKUND CRAFT MELA : In order to promote the traditional Indian handicrafts, a delightful handloom and
handicrafts fair is held annually at Surajkund. Skilled artisans and craftsmen
display their skills and crafts in a rural setting. Cultural programmes and
rural cuisine are also a part of this colourful fair.
HOLI : Is the most boisterous of all Hindu festivals,
observed all over the North. It heralds the end o winter and the beginning of
the spring. The night before the full moon, crowds of people gather together
and light huge bonfires to burn the residual dried leaves and twinge of the
winter. People throw coloured water and powders (gulal & kukkum) at each
other and make merry. Singing and dancing add to the gaiety of the
In the northern, western as well as eastern regions. Holi
celebrates the joyful raasleela of Krishna and the gopis. They play phag which
is a game of many colourful hues. It is a joyous celebration of he rejuvenation
of nature, and renewed hope of happiness and peaceful coexistence. Especially
famous is the Lathmaar Holi of Barsana and Nandgaon. In Anandpur Sahib, Sikhs
celebrate a special festival Hola Mohalla on the day after Holi. It marks a
displays of ancient martial arts and mock battles. Holi is also an occasion for
the celebration of the burning of Kama, the Hindu cupid, with the fire that
emanated from Lord Shiva's third eye.
RAMNAVAMI : The birthday of Lord Rama, the celebrated
hero of the famous epic, the Ramayana, is enthusiastically celebrated on the
ninth day of the waxing moon of chaitra. Temples are decorated, religious
discourses are held and the Ramayana is recited for ten days. People gather in
thousands on the banks of the sacred river Saryu for a dip.
devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock image of him in cradles to
celebrates his birth. Rathyatras or chariot procession of Rama, his wife Sita,
brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanumana re taken out from many
ID-UL-ZUHA : TIs a Muslim festival celebrated all over India. Prayers are offered in the mosques and
special delicacies are prepared and served among family and friends on the
KHAJURAHO DANCE FESTIVAL : Is a week-long festival of classical dances held at the Khajuraho Temples, built by
the chandella kings.
GOOD FRIDAY : Is observed all over India by the Christians. This is the day when Lord Christ was
crucified. The Christians offer special prayer services in the
BAISAKHI : Is celebrated in Punjab with great fervour. It was on this day that Guru Gobind Singh founded
the Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood). The holy book of the Sikh, Granth Sahib is taken
in a procession, led by the Panj Pyaras (five senior sikhs) whoa re symbolic of
the original leaders. The occasion is marked by lot of feasting and merry
making. All night revelries termed Baisakhi di Raat (Night of Baisakhi) or
Baisakhi da Mela (Baisakhi fair) are held, where men and women dance to the
rhythmic beat of drums.
In Kerala the festival is known as Vishu. A display
of grain, fruits, flowers, gold, new cloth and money, is viewed early in the
morning to ensure a prosperous year ahead.
Known as Rangali Bihu in Assam,
the festival is celebrated with lively dances, music and feasting.