Indian Festival: भारतीय त्योहार, What are festivals? How to celebrate them?

Indian Festivals (भारतीय त्योहार) give us so much excitement that we can not live without celebrating them. India is a land of festivals. Festivals in India are awaited all year long and are celebrated with great pomp and show. The entire atmosphere is filled with joy and enthusiasm during the festive season.
Indian Festival, भारतीय त्योहार
Indian Festival - भारतीय त्योहार

Introduction

Indian festivals are based on religious beliefs. Indians worship various Gods and Goddesses and the various festivals they celebrate are dedicated to one deity or the other. These festivals are a way to offer prayers to the deities and seek their blessings to bring in happiness, prosperity and love.
See Indian Festivals List with Dates
In India festival time is awaited all year round particularly by the students. They look forward to the festivals owing to various reasons. One of the main reasons for this is that the schools and colleges are closed during the festivals and this offers a respite from the mundane routine and strict study schedule. Students also love festivals as it is time to meet their cousins and relatives who bestow them with gifts. Besides, they get to eat a lot of delicious sweets and wear new dresses.

Indians give special importance to their festivals. Special arrangements are made for the celebration of various festivals each year. Be it the villages or the big cities there is joy all around. All the places are decked up during the festival season. Some of the main Indian festivals include Diwali, Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Pongal and Bhai Duj.

Importance to Festivals

The importance of festivals in India can very well be seen in the way these are celebrated. People do not only celebrate festivals at home but also visit their near and dear ones to celebrate them together. The celebrations are also done in schools and workplaces. Our culture holds high regard for religious practices. People in India are mostly God fearing.

Since, the Indian festivals have certain religious connotations attached to them, Indians celebrate these with all their heart to please their deities and bring in positivity and happiness in their life. For instance, Diwali is celebrated to celebrate Lord Rama’s return to his home town, Ayodhya. Janamashtmi celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, Durga Puja is celebrated to offer prayers to Goddess Durga and her various avtars and Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to offer prayers to Lord Ganesha.

Celebrating Indian Festivals

People in our country love celebrating the festivals with their near and dear ones. Each Indian festival has its own unique way of celebration and people follow the tradition while celebrating the same. However, some things remain common for instance people decorate their houses with flowers and lights during the festivals and wear new clothes. They visit each other and exchange gifts. Special sweets are prepared at home to treat the guests.

People of India also hold great regard for the National festivals of the country. Gandhi Jayanti, Independence Day and Republic Day are the three national festivals of our country. These festivals are a symbol of unity and progress. They remind us of our patriotic leaders who served the country selflessly. National festivals are celebrated with equal zeal. The entire atmosphere is filled with the feeling of patriotism during these festivals.

Celebrations in Schools/Colleges

Festivals in India are not only celebrated at home with family but are also celebrated in schools and colleges. The educational institutes are decked up with flowers, lights, beautiful posters and colourful drapes during festivals. Students are asked to come in ethnic wear to add to the colour of the festivals.

The usual classroom sessions are replaced by fun activities on these days. Cultural programs and other interesting activities form a part of the festive celebrations in schools and colleges. Students as well as teachers participate in these activities whole heartedly and the entire atmosphere is filled with joy and laughter.

These celebrations are usually done a day before the festival as it is a holiday on the day of the festival.

Important Indian Festivals

The main festivals of India are the ones that people belonging to all the religions and regions in our country look forward to and celebrate with great fervour. Here are some top Indian festivals:

1. Holi

Holi
Holi
Holi is the festival of colour. It is one of the most fun-filled Indian festivals. Though it has a religious connotation to it, the whole purpose on this day is to have fun and let lose. People apply colour on each other and eat sweets. This festival is celebrated collectively in housing societies and residential colonies.

People gather around to colour each other and throw water on one another as a part of Holi celebration. Loud music is played at most places and people groove to the beats of foot tapping songs as they enjoy this festival. At some places, people even beat each other with sticks and throw mud on each other as a tradition.

2. Diwali or Deepawali 

Diwali, Deepawali
Diwali or Deepawali
Diwali is one of the main festivals of our country. People celebrate it with great joy and enthusiasm. The preparation for its celebration begins almost a month before the festival. People clean their houses and shop for decorative items to deck up their place. The houses are decorated with lights, candles and diyas. People make rangolis, worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha and burn fire crackers to celebrate this festival. The entire country lights up on this day.

Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped during the evening hours on this day as it is believed that this brings in prosperity and good luck.

3. Karva Chauth

This is mostly celebrated in North India. On this day, women observe fast for the long life of their husbands. It is believed that fasting on this day pleases God who renders good health and long life to the husbands. Women don’t eat or drink anything during the day. They dress up traditionally during the evening and perform pooja. They have food and water only after seeing the moon at night.

4. Dussehra

It is believed that it was the day when Lord Rama killed Ravana to free Sita from his clutches. It marks the victory of the good over the evil. Huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath are burned in different parts of the country on this day to celebrate the occasion.

5. Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan
Raksha Bandhan is yet another Indian festival which is celebrated all across the country. This festival is celebrated to strengthen the brother-sister bond. Sisters visit their brothers on this day and tie rakhi on their wrist. The brothers in turn promise to protect their sisters and be there for them in the hour of need. This is followed by exchange of sweets. The brothers also bring special gifts for their sisters on this day. Those who cannot visit each other send rakhi and gifts via post.

This is indeed a beautiful tradition which is being followed since ages. There are many mythological stories behind the celebration of Raksha Bandhan. This is not only a time for the brothers and sisters to bond but is also a time to strengthen the familial ties. The celebration takes place early in the morning and it is followed by family brunch.

6. Krishna Janmashtami

Janmashtami
Krishna Janmashtami
Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Lord Krishna, Maha Shivratri is celebrated to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and Gurpurab is celebrated to rejoice the birth of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru.

7. Navratri, Durga Puja and Dussehra

The nine days of the Navaratri festival honor the mother goddess Durga in all her incarnations. The tenth day, called Dussehra, celebrates the defeat of the demon king Ravan by Lord Ram and monkey god Hanuman. It also coincides with Durga's victory over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. In eastern India, the festival is observed as Durga Puja. It's the biggest festival of the year in Kolkata. Huge statues of the Goddess Durga are made and immersed in the river there. In Delhi, nightly plays are held around the Red Fort, recounting episodes from the life of Lord Ram.

People observe fast during navratras and worship different avatars of Goddess Durga each day to seek her blessings.

8. Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to rejoice the birth day of Lord Ganesha. The festivities continue for ten days. It is believed that Lord Ganesha comes to Earth during these days every year and spreads joy everywhere. His devotees believe that whoever worships Lord Ganesha during these days is freed from all the problems and negativity in life.

Idols of Lord Ganesha are brought home and prayers are sung in his praise every day. These idols are then immersed in river on the last day of the pooja.

9. Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is another major Hindu festival. It is known by different names in different parts of the country. In Assam it is known by the name Bihu, in Tamil Nadu it is referred to as Pongal, in Gujarat it is called Uttarayan and in Bengal it is known as Poush Parbon. The day is extremely auspicious for the Hindus. It is believed that taking holy dip in the sacred river Ganga on this day can help get rid of all the bad deeds and cleanses ones aura.

10. National Festivals

Gandhi Jayanti, Republic Day and Independence Day are the three national festivals
 National festivals
Gandhi Jayanti, Republic Day and Independence Day are the three national festivals celebrated in the country. Our national festivals especially Independence Day reminds us of the struggle and sacrifice that our people went through to gain independence. All three national festivals of India are given special importance. The whole country gets immersed in patriotism during this time. These festivals are celebrated in full swing across the country. These are a way to pay respect to our brave patriotic leaders.
Read in detail about national festivals:
  1. Gandhi Jayanti: Gandhiji’s Birthday Celebration
  2. Republic Day: Republic Day Celebrations
  3. Independence Day: The Independence Day Of India

11. Onam

Onam is the biggest festival of the year in the south Indian state of Kerala. This lengthy harvest festival marks the homecoming of mythical King Mahabali, and it showcases the state's culture and heritage. People decorate the ground in front of their houses with flowers arranged in beautiful patterns to welcome the king. The festival is also celebrated with new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, dancing, sports, games, and snake boat races.

12. Pushkar Camel Fair

An astonishing number of camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar, in India's state of Rajasthan, for the Pushkar Camel Fair. The camels are dressed up, paraded, shaved, entered into beauty contests, raced, and of course traded. If you want to see the camel trading, make sure you arrive before the start of the festival because it gets underway and winds up early.

13. Temple Festivals in Kerala

Kerala has many temples that hold annual festivals in honor of the presiding local god or goddess. Each festival has a different set of legends and myths behind it, depending on the temple deity. However, most revolve around the presence of elephants to honor the deity. The large processions of elephants, resplendent in ornaments, are the main attraction at these festivals. The processions are accompanied by colorful floats, drummers and other musicians. Some processions feature towering effigies of horses and bulls.