India is a land of festivals, a fact this book celebrates. Compiled from the speaking Tree column published in the Times if India, this book brings out the essence of festivals celebrated across regions and religions. Be it a festival welcoming the new season or celebrating the birthday of a divine guru, or one that thanks the full moon-every flavor of faith is captured here. A complete treat for your soul. This book is for all reasons and all seasons.
“A year has 365 days but India has 366 festivals,” Mark Twain may have said this in a jest but he was not too wide off the mark as no other country can boast celebrating as many festivals as India does.
Some festivals welcome the seasons of the year- the harvest, the rains, while others celebrate religious occasions, the birthdays of divine beings, saints, and guru (revered teachers), or the full moon, or the advent of the New Year:
The concept of universal brotherfood encompasses all these festivals and the vibrant colours, warm hospitality and infectious they have acquired social and cultural significance. Every celebration centres around the rituals of prayer, seeking blessings exchanging goodwill, decorating houses, wearing new clothes, music, dance and feasting. In a way these festivals seek to strike a balance between the temporal and the spiritual, between man’s quest for salvation and his thirst for wordly pleasures. It is therefore, not surprising if days of fasting are often followed by nights of feasting.
The book in your hand, the sixth in The speaking Tree series, is a compilation of the finest of thoughts on Indian festivals, published in The Times of India over the years. As you will discover, the writers of these pieces take a look at festivals mostly from a spiritual angle.
The book is divide into four sections, each devoted to festivals that are celebrated in a particular season. Thus the section titled spring covers all major festivals occurring during that period vasant panchami , shivratri, Good Friday, Mahavir Jayanti. The festivals that have been featured in the section Summer & Monsson. Autumn is witness to the celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi, Dusshera, and Ramadan to name a few, while winter celebrates Diwali, Phoolwalon Ki-Sair, Christmas, Haj, Makar Sankranti and many more.
Every religion teaches one to respect and have tolerance for the other. These create non-separation, inculsion of everything. These festivals bring everyone together. It is here that the essence of festivals and their celebrations lie.
Note: Most of the Hindu feastivals adhere to the lunar calendar and both the full moon (purnima) and the new moon are considered auspicious. Even the festivals of the Muslims community depend on the sighting of the new moon, which is why dates of many of these festivals vary from year to year.
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