Festivals are an integral part of every country and community. They add color, enthusiasm and harmony to life and this feeling of oneness and joy can easily be seen in the vast number of joyful events that are celebrated in India. Every month sees at least one festival being celebrated across the country with great joy. Here is an introduction to four main Indian Hindu festivals that are celebrated by people of all faiths.
Deepawali – The Festival of Lights
Diwali or Deepawali is the festival of lights and celebrated with immense passion, fervor and joy by Indians all acroos the world. It is celebrated by lighting diyas (earthen lamps) to welcome the Gods and Goddesses into the home and also, to thank them for their blessings. New clothes, visits to friends and family members, exchanging gifts and decorating the whole house are all a part of Diwali celebrations.
Prayers and religious ceremonies or Pujas are conducted, in the evening, in the presence of all family members. Firecrackers have been an important part of Diwali celebrations, however, now due to growing awareness about environmental pollution, their use has reduced. Drawing a rangoli decoration is part of decorating the house. A rangoli is a pattern traced on the floor with chalk and then, filled in with flower petals or colored powder or dyed sawdust.
Holi – The Festival of Colors
Holi is a unique and truly colorful Indian festival. On Holi day, which usually falls during Spring season, one can see clouds of colors filling the air and listen to drums beating a festive rhythm. Like most Indian festivals, this one also celebrates the triumph of good over evil and festive bonfires are lit to celebrate the death of evil. Abundance, prosperity and harmony in life are a few other things that this festival celebrates.
Dussera – The Triumph of Good over Evil
Dussera or Dusshera is a festival that comes before Deepawali and is celebrated to mark the triumph of good over evil. Large firecracker-laden effigies of three demons or Rakshas are burnt and the tale of the Hindu god, Lord Rama’s victory over these demons is narrated. Dussera occurs on the day after Navratri or Festival of Nine Nights ends. It also occurs 14 days before Deepawali.
Rakhi – The Festival for Brothers and Sisters
Rakhi or Rakshabandhan is a beautiful Indian festival that celebrates the bond of a brother and sister. The day begins with great festivity and prayers. Indian sisters all across the world tie a sacred thread or rakhi on their brothers’ wrist and pray for their health, well-being and long life. Brothers, in turn, promise to protect (rakhi) their sisters and gift them with cash and other gifts. It is a day of profound sentiments and emotions.
These festivals are an important part of Indian lives, tradition and culture. Although, the way of celebrating them may have changed with time and modernism, the emotions and sentiments associated with each festival remain. They bring people together, unite communities, strengthen relationships and create a sense of belonging and harmony.