Festivals in the first category have become more universal and widely celebrated; the most important ones are Indian public holidays. Festivals in the third category are often exclusively regional, or regional variations of
|Janmastami celebrations at a temple|
.............................................................................Purposes of Festivals
Festivals are generally times for celebration and remembrance. Other purposes are:
To create a special atmosphere, diverting the mind from worldly concerns and joyfully focusing on spiritual matters.
To invoke the soul's natural qualities by creating an environment replete with auspiciousness and the abundant gifts of nature.
To give people spiritual impetus and inspiration, which helps them perform their daily duties.
To dovetail the natural tendency for celebration with spiritual goals.
To forge a healthy sense of belonging by peacefully bringing together individuals, families and communities.
Main Practices during Festivals
Fasting and feasting
Distribution of food (especially prasad)
Giving in charity (to temples, saints, the poor, etc)
Visiting the temple
Glorification of God (kirtan, bhajan, story recitals, dance, drama)
Manufacture and worship of temporary deities
Taking temple deities in procession
Wearing new clothes
Decorating houses, streets and temples with fruits, flowers, leaves and banana leaves
|Kids Celebrating Makar Sankranti Festival|
Ratha Yatra, originally from Puri and now celebrated annually in London and in other cities worldwide
There are three main types of festivals:
1. Celebrating a significant event in the life of a deity e.g. Janmashtami is Krishna's birthday.
2. Celebrating a significant event in the life of a holy person e.g. the birthday of a particular guru.
3. Seasonal festivities or customs, e.g. spring festivals like Holi.
Festivals in the first category have become more universal and widely celebrated; the most important ones are Indian public holidays. Festivals in the third category are often exclusively regional, or regional variations of broader festivals e.g. Pongal in Tamil Nadu, which marks Makara Sankranti. Others, such as Holi, are celebrated internationally. Special days within the second category are often relevant only to a particular group (sampradaya) for whom the particular saint has significant relevance.
Twelve Important Festivals
The following is a list of twelve main festivals along with their corresponding deities and any related stories.
The proud merchant
Indra wears a rakhi
Durga kills Mahisha, and others
Stories of Lakshmi/Ramayana
|Ratha Yatra, originally from Puri and now celebrated annually in London and in other cities worldwide|
"Utsava means 'pleasure.' Whenever some function takes place to express happiness, it is called utsava. Utsava, the expression of complete happiness, is always present in the Vaikunthalokas, the abode of the Lord."
I like Navaratri the best because of all the dancing. My second favourite is Raksha Bandhan, when I tie a rakhi on my brother's wrist.
By: +Prof : Koti Madhav Balu Chowdary