hindu Festivals
Festivals are a way to provide respite daily activities and provide an outlet of creative expression and general entertainment. These special occasions and festivals are called “utsava”.

Festivals are important because they remove mental and physical exhaustion where as normal vacations and weekends do not. While vacations and weekends relax the mind and body for a while, they themselves become monotonous rituals after sometime, leaving a peculiar feeling of incompleteness afterwards. Although the purpose of the vacations is to help to relax and gain more enthusiasm, cheerfulness and energy for regular work, generally this not true. When the vacation is over, people think, “Oh, now I have to go back to the office. What a bore!”. Often the vacationer is left exhausted, both physically and financially. The result is that work must be done to make up for the lost money. The pleasure of the vacation has, in effect, not removed the pressure, it only added a new one! This undesired result is due to the fact that the entertainment was purposeless.

On the other hand, religious festivals have a very different effect. They provide occasions for merrymaking, but they also provide a noble, divine vision and inspire people to raise their mind to the heights of the great goal. Rather than merely exhausting the participant, they purify the mind and prepare the participant with more enthusiasm, to live life more happily and fully. In short, religious festivals serve the purpose of all other entertainment and at the same time give is much more.

Varieties of Festivals
Religious festivals can be classified into several different groups. Some celebrate the birth of great incarnations of the Lord, such as Sri Ramchandra and Sri Krishna. Similar festivals glorify the life and work of divine masters. For example, Makarsankranti, usually celebrated in January, is fixed at the time when the sun shifts its course and begins moving northward gain. the dominants idea behind these festivals is that we should live more in harmony with nature instead of trying to destroy her and make her our slave.

Holi, the festival of colors, is another great seasonal festival. At this time, everybody splashes colored water or powder all over each other. It is wonderful because it reflects exactly what is occurring in nature at that time when all the flowers of different colors are blossoming! This splashing of colors was also a famous “lila” (pastime) of Sri Krishna.

Other festivals such as Onam or baisakhi, celebrate the harvest time, a time of plenty, signifying both material and spiritual prosperity. Navaratri and Diwali celebrate the victory of good over evil. Finally, there are the adhyatmic festivals, including Shivaratri.
Some important aspects that are similar in the festivals of Sri Rama Navami, Sri Krishna Janamastami, and Maha Shivaratri.

Sri Ram Navami generally comes toward the end of March or beginning of April and is celebrated at noon. Long ago, when the wicked king Ravana ruled in Lanka, the good people were being persecuted by him and unrighteousness prevailed. The suffering people prayed to God for help. Soon He was born on earth as the Prince of Ayodhya to destroy evildoers and to establish the kingdom of righteousness. This is the incarnation of Sri Rama.

Sri Krishna Janamastmami comes in late August or early September and celebrates the midnight birth of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna also incarnated for the purpose of destroying evil and restoring righteousness on earth.

The great festival of Maha Shivratri celebrates the appearance of Lord Shiva at midnight in the form of column of light (jyoti).

Significance of Festivals
The important point to be noted in the celebration of these festivals is the sequence of their three phases: the preparation before the appearance of the Lord, the Lord’s actual appearance or incarnation, and the final joyous celebration after his arrival. Each of these phases is of deep spiritual significance.

These three phases of the religious festivals preparation, incarnation, and celebration represent the three phases of the spiritual progress. Our preparati0on consists of first purifying the mind by withdrawing it from sense objects, then making it single pointed by turning it toward the Lord in japa and meditation. When the mind id fully prepared and all thoughts have ended, the Self which is of the nature of pure Consciousness—is recognized. When the ego has been completely destroyed, life is forever a joyous celebration in the bliss of the Self!
During their lifetimes, both Sri Ramchandra and Sri Krishna destroyed evildoers and reestablished the kingdom of righteousness and happiness in the world. In the same way, when realization takes place within, one recognizes one’s won true Self. All ignorance and ignorance created delusions, all negative tendencies of the mind, get totally destroyed. Thereafter, one lives ever in the experiences of the blissful Self, the kingdom of joy. This joy of realization is represented externally in the festivals by the lighting of the lamps everywhere, by singing and dancing, and by the distribution of sweets (Diwali)!

Related Articals:
 Important Festivals

Vedic Festivals List: All festivals in Hinduism are predominantly religious in character and significance

By: +Prof: Koti Madhav Balu Chowdary

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