Indian calendar is one long procession of festivals and fairs. These are as varied in origin as they are large in number. They reflect India's culture, civilization and history. They are a celebration of life itself and a cementing force of Indian society. Most of the festivals like Janmashtami, Ram Navami, Christmas, Buddha Purima, Durga puja and Gurpurabs celebrate religious occasions and birthdays of gods and guru and are marked by traditional ceremonies, ritual practices, worship, prayer and solemnity. Other festivals like Basant Panchami, Bihu, Lohri, Holi, Baisakhi, which mark of seasons of the year and harvesting of crops, are occasions for fun, frolic, feasts, music and dance. Karwa Chauth and Raksha Bandhan are festivals which are unique. Mohurram is not a festival but a martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of prophet Mohammad, which is marked by observance of 10 day mourning.
A number of festivals have evolved from ancient legends and celebrate the victory of good over evil. A number of them are common to most parts of India, sometimes, under different names. If one can be in the right place at the right time, it is possible to witness a festival each day. The festivals of India are so numerous that they run almost all the year round.
Indian festivals are thus a mosaic of myriad practices which, though diverse, are not divisive. In fact, whatever be the denomination of the festival, there is an emotional, if not physical, participation in the celebrations by members of all communities regardless of caste, creed and faith. This is what has kept India going strong for ages.
About the Author
Kartar Singh Bhalla is deeply involved in the study of various religions. He is honorary Consul General of the Republic of Nauru in India since 1985, Secretary General of the Hony Consular Corps Diplomatique- India, Member of Governing Board, Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific. He was Parliamentary Consul to the Parliament f Nauru. His writings include "Let's know Sikhism" and "Major Religions in India".
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