Festivals
 
 
Introduction
   

Festivals are an important means of spiritual regeneration in Hinduism. In addition to National festivals, there are many state festivals celebrated by Hindus in Bharat (India). In one way or another, Hindu festivals are associated with Hindu deities. Through these festivals Hindus affirm their faith in their religion, culture and spiritual heritage that has existed for thousands of years.

Festivals are as much a part of the fabric of Indian culture, just as rituals are linked with religions. These festivals provide a break from the monotonous daily routine life of Indians. It allows the average person also to have a complete changes from his work and to revive his spiritual, social and family ties.They have a great cultural appeal also.

In the olden days, the Kings of Bharat used to celebrate all the festivals with great pomp.Conducting prayers, poojas and sacrificial rites (homas) used to be the central activity on these days. Many of them used to conduct mass-feeding, as also distribution of clothes and gifts to the poor and needy. Such acts of charity are highly recommended by scriptures also. They are useful means of distribution of wealth.

Nowadays, in the present context, major festivals are celebrated in a collective manner.Ganesh Chaturthi celebrated in Pune (and most parts of Maharashtra) , Durga

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pooja celebrated in Kolkata , Navaratri in Gujarat and Dussera in Mysore need a special mention.Big shamianas or pandols are erected and collective aartis and poojas are conducted.Most of them start or end with long processions.The garbas performed in Gujarat have become well-known throughout the country. A person has to really experience these events, as all other ways of describing them would defy the real inner experience.

Many festivals are also important days of fasting and keeping vigils. Many people perform poojas on these days.It is rather difficult to classify the Hindu festivals into major ones and minor ones. A day, considered as extremely auspicious from the astrological point of view-as for instance, Akshayatrutiya or Balipadyami - may not be celebrated with pomp and gaiety.

A festival, like the Holi, though extremely popular, does not have much astrological significance. It is only a spring festival of revelry, singing and dancing.It is considered a day when even enemies should dance together and become friends!

The norm adopted here for grouping a particular festival as a major one, is its popularity and widespread celebration, though astrological and religious significance too are taken note of. Relevant additional information is provided wherever needed.

We hope to inspire our readers to know about the popular and significant festivals of our motherland.

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