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 MAJOR FAIR & FESTIVAL OF INDIA
 

Festivals Of India
India is often described as a land of many religions and languages, but it might as well be described as a land of festivals. Some festivals are observed throughout the country; others have specific regional associations. India celebrates holidays and festivals of almost all the faiths in the world. In one region or the other, festivals happen almost every day, each with a specialty of its own. Each festival in each region has its own particular foods and sweets appropriate to the season and crops, and days are spent in their careful preparation.

There are three National holidays:

Independence Day: This is celebrated on 15th August as India gained independence from British rule on this day in 1947.

Republic Day: This is celebrated on 26th January. On this day India became a republic.

Gandhi Jayanti: This is celebrated on 2nd October which is father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.

Following are some of the major festivals from India.

Diwali:

Deepawali literally means an array of lamps is the Festival of Lights. Depawali 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. Depawali is a festival that lasts 5 days.
In North India, Depawali 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, Depawali has an added significance to the great event of Mahavera 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. For More information on Diwali

Dussehra or Vijayadashmi:

Dussehra or Navratri is one of the most popular festivals of India. Dussehra is the anniversary of the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura, giving the goddess her name Mahishasura-Mardini (the slayer of Mahishasura). Dussehra also commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana of Lanka. The theme of this festival is the victory of good over evil. For more information on Dussehra .


Holi:

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 Kama deva 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.

In North India, grains and stalks saved from the year's harvest are offered to Agni, the God of Fire. Holi fire is a symbol of destruction of all filth and impurity be it physical or mental. For more information on Holi

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 worshipped on this day in every house. A special sweet called Modak is prepared on this occassion. To mark the end of the festivities, the clay idols are immersed in water.


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.

Maha Shivaratri:

On the 14th day of the dark half of Margshirsh month the great night of Shiva is celebrated. On this day the devotees of Shiva observe fast. According to a legend once King Bhagiratha left his kingdom to meditate for the salvation of the souls of his ancestors. He prayed for the holy River Ganga from heaven to wash over his ancestor's ashes to release them from a curse and allow them to go to heaven. But Lord Shiva was the only one who could sustain the weight of her descent. So he prayed to Lord shiva and Ganga descended on Shiva's head, and after meandering through his thick matted locks, reached the earth.

This story is believed to be re-enacted by bathing the linga. The love of water, the primary element of life, is also remembered in this ritualistic action. The linga is bathed with milk, water and honey. It is then anointed with sandalwood paste. People offer wood apple or bel leaves and fruit, milk, sandalwood and jujube fruit or ber to the linga. People decorate the linga with flowers and garlands and also offer incense sticks and fruit.

Ramanavami:
The birth anniversary of Lord Rama is celebrated as Ramanavami in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April). It occurs on the ninth day (navami). The festival commemorates the birth of Rama who is considered to be Maryada Purushottam or The Ideal Man. Ramrajya (the reign of Rama) has become synonymous with a period of peace and prosperity. Mahatma Gandhi also used this term to describe how, according to him, India should be after independence. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed.

Raksha Bandhan:
This is a festival that falls on the brightest night of Shravan month.Raksha Bandhan stirs up one of the deepest and noblest emotions - the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brother and the sister. On this day sisters tie a rakhi — which may be a colorful thread, a simple bracelet, or a decorative string — around the wrist of their brother(s). The word "raksha" signifies protection, and "bandhan" is an association signifying an enduring bond; and so, when a woman ties a rakhi around the wrist of her brother, she signifies her loving attachment to him. He, likewise, recognizes the special bond between them, and by extending his wrist forward, he in fact extends the hand of his protection over her.

Makar Sankranti:
Makara Sankranti festival coincides with the beginning of the sun's northward journey, and falls on January 14 according to the solar calendar. According to legend, Bhishma, a great hero of the Mahabharata, though wounded mortally, waited for this auspicious time to give up his life. For, it is believed that, a person dying on this day reaches the Abode of Light and Eternal Bliss.

In many states, the celebration has a special offering of rice and pulses cooked together with or without jaggery and clarified butter. In many areas of India people distribute til-gud - the sesame seed and jaggery. The til brimming with fragrant and delicious oil, stands for friendship and comradeship and jaggery for the sweetness of speech and behavior.

In Tamil Nadu, Makara Sankranti is celebrated as Pongal, a three-day harvest festival. On Bhogi Pongal, the house is cleaned and the discards are burnt, while children sing and dance around the bonfire. On Surya Pongal, sweet Pongal is prepared and the Sun God is worshipped for a good yearly harvest. The last day of Pongal, Mattu Pongal, is celebrated to pay respects to the cows, the animal that is used in cultivation.

In Uttar Pradesh, it is called the Khichri Sankranti.
In Gujarat, there is a custom of making gifts to near relatives on this day.
Makara Sankranti bears a festive occasion for the people of Rajasthan. Kite Festivals are organized on Makara Sankranti. Kite flyers from all over the world participate in the festival.

Guru Purnima:
Devotional worship of the Guru - the teacher - is one of the most touching and elevating aspect of the Hindu cultural tradition. The auspicious moment of Vyasa Poornima, chosen for observing this annual festival, is no less significant. It was the great sage Vyasa, son of a fisherwoman, who classified the accumulated spiritual knowledge of the Vedas under four heads - Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. The Guru in the Hindu tradition is looked upon as an embodiment of God himself. For, it is through his grace and guidance that one reaches the highest state of wisdom and bliss.

Karwa Chauth:
Karwa Chauth is a very significant festival for the women of North Indian. Karwa means clay pot and Chauth corresponding to the fourth. The festival is celebrated nine days before Diwali, on the fourth day of the waning moon in the Hindu month of Kartik, around October-November Traditionally the Indian woman was expected to uphold family honor and repute. The festival of Karwa Chauth is not only a day when women pray to God for the long and prosperous lives of their husbands, but is also symbolic of their unflagging loyalty towards their spouses. Married women, old and young, begin their fast on the day of Karwa Chauth well before sunrise, and eventually partake of food and water only after spotting the moon. But this is not a solemn day rather a good measure of festivity, rituals and merriment complement its more serious aspects.

Vasant Panchami:

Literally 'the fifth day of spring', Vasanta Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Magha. The festival itself dates to antiquity. It is reminiscent of the festival of Vasantotsava of the ancient times, which was one of the most important celebrations as it marked the beginning of the agricultural season. Vasanta Panchami heralds the spring season. It is hence celebrated with gaiety and festivity to mark the end of the winter, which can be quite severe in northern India. The festive color yellow, symbolic of spring, plays an important part of this day. People wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers in worship and put a yellow, turmeric tilak on their forehead. They visit temples and offer prayers to various gods.

It is also known as Sirapanchami in Bihar and Orissa, when the ploughs are worshipped and the land is furrowed after the winter months. In Bengal, the day is celebrated as Saraswati Puja and is marked by the worship of Saraswati.


Baisakhi:

This is a major Sikh festival - a religious festival, harvest festival and New Year’s Day all rolled into one.
In April, this day marks the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year. In fact this day is celebrated all over the country as New Year day under different names. It is also the time when the harvest is ready to cut and store or sell. For the Sikh community Baisakhi has a very special meaning. It was on this day that the last Guru Gobind Singh organized the Sikhs into Khalsa or the pure ones. By doing so, he eliminated the differences of high and low and established that all human beings were equal.

Hanuman Jayanti:
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman, the monkey god widely venerated throughout India. It is celebrated during Chaitra and is especially important to Brahmacharis, wrestlers and bodybuilders. Hanuman was an ardent devotee of Rama, and is worshipped for his unflinching devotion to the god. From the early morning, devotees flock Hanuman temples to worship him. The officiating priest bathes the idol and offers special prayers to the gods. Then the entire body is smeared with sindoor and oil, a symbol of life and strength. According to a popular belief, once when Sita was applying sindoor to her hair, Hanuman asked her the reason for doing so. She replied that by applying sindoor, she ensured a long life for her husband Shri Ram. The more sindoor she applied, the longer Rama's life would be. The devoted Hanuman then smeared his entire body with sindoor, in an effort to ensure Rama's immortality. Hence Hanuman's idol is always daubed with sindoor.

 

 

RAJASTHAN FAIR & FESTIVALS

 

ELEPHANT FESTIVAL
If you are in Jaipur during March, Elephant Festival is the event to enjoy. It is a wonderful sight to watch the beautifully decorated elephants catwalk in front of a large number of spectators. Elephant festival is a unique kind of festival held in Rajasthan. The festival offers an excellent opportunity to tourists to watch elephants indulging in all types of activities. Discover the festive side of Jaipur with Jaipur Hub.

Elephant processions, races, polo and playing Holi on elephants are some of the events that one can enjoy during Elephant festival. The colorful procession marks the start of the Elephant festival in Jaipur. Though elephants are centre of attraction during the festival one can also see camels and horses beautifully decked up for the occasion.

The elephant keepers or Mahuts as they are called take great care in decorating elephants. An elephant is decorated with great care from trunk to toe. The caparisoned elephants decorated beautifully with floral motifs present ultimate photo ops to tourists.Jaipur Hub offers complete information on various festivals in Jaipur. Coincide your tour to Jaipur with the Elephant festival

TEEJ FESTAVL
Another festival dedicated to the worship of Shiva and Parvati, this time it is married women who pray for a long, happy marital life during the monsoon months of July- August, Though celebrations are held all over the state, they are particularly colorful in Jaipur where a procesion wends its way through the heart of the old city. Women dress in their finery and spend time in groups at swings that are specially erected for the festivals.


Nagaur Fair Place: Nagaur Time: January-February
Rites & Rituals: The picturesque town of Nagaur stirs to life with the arrival of Nagaur Fair. The cattle fair here is reputed as the second largest in Rajasthan and offers some of the best sight of Rajasthan. The fair attracts visitors from all corners of the world for the trading in cows, camels and horses.

Various games are organized during this four day festival that include tug-of-war, camel races, cock fights and countless others. It offers tourist a memorable extravaganza of fun and frolic. As the sun goes down, the folk musicians, whose voices echo far and wide across the tranquil desert land, create a joyous atmosphere.

Marwar Festival Jodhpur  Place: Jodhpur Time: September-October

Rites & Rituals: Marwar Festival showcases the best of Rajasthan's culture and lifestyle. The festival starts with a bash and for two days the city of Jodhpur reverberates with various festivities. Originally known as the Maand Festival, it features folk music centered on the romantic lifestyle of Rajasthan's rulers.

The festival offers a variety of attractions including camel tattoo show and polo. The various competition take place in and around the impressive Umaid Bhawan Palace, Mandore Fort, Mehrangarh Fort the symbolize the might and valor of this royal land.

The Camel Festival of Bikaner :
The Camel Festival is an event organized in Bikaner by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, every year in the month of January. The Camel Festival begins with a colourful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort, the festivity advances to the open sand-spreads of the grounds, followed by the best breed competition, the tug-of-war contest, camel dance and acrobatics, etc.

Pushkar Camel Fair

The Pushkar Fair begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi, which falls in the month of October-November and goes on for five long days till Kartik Purnima. The fair is synonymous to a cattle fair, as mass trading of cattle, such as camels, horses, cows, goats, and sheep, take place during these five days. After the selling and purchasing of popular breeds, parading of the well bred and decked up cattle take place. Although various animals are traded, camels rule the roost. The camels are washed spanky clean and adorned with various cloths to form interesting patterns. Stalls selling jewelry and other finery for camels are set up. Silver bells and bangles around their hoofs jingle when they walk past the golden sand dunes. A ritual involves piercing the camel's nose. With over 25,000 camels exchanged, the Pushkar Fair is arguably the world's largest camel fair.

Camel Fair

Another striking feature of the Pushkar Fair is the camel competition. Beautifully decorated camels parade while competing in a beauty contest and the best bedecked camel wins the prize. In one of the competition, large numbers of people are made to sit on the camel's back. The camel now lopes across the sand and throws its riders off its back, amidst cheers and jeers from thousands of spectators. The camel which succeeds in accommodating the maximum number of people on its back, wins the competition. Though spectators take pleasure in the festivity and fervor, it is the animal that enjoys the most. The camels are seen preening before the crowd, seeming to enjoy every bit of attention that they receive during these five days.

The fair is also the time when the varied art of colorful Rajasthan is exhibited in front of the curious tourists. From jewelry items for cattle, ranging from saddles, saddle-straps, beads, strings and cowries, to items specifically exhibited for the human folks, the array of artifacts exhibited is just endless. Silver ornaments and bead necklaces from Nagaur, patchwork, printed textiles as well as the famous tie 'n' dye fabrics from Ajmer are a major attraction. Fashion however does not end here. The fair is also known for the varied body tattoos it offers. Since this is the time to gear up the town's otherwise slacking business, every household is seen to set up some or the other stall to allure the passing crowd. A rural bazaar that it is, one either has to walk or hire a camel while trotting around. There are food stalls as well. However, since Pushkar is a religious site, non-vegetarian food as well as alcohol is strictly prohibited.

Pushkar Camel Fair 2013 Date: 9 - 17 November
Pushkar Camel Fair 2014 Date: 30 October - 6 November
 

   
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