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Essay/Term paper: Festivals and holidays of india

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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There are many holidays and festivals in

India. In my report I will explain what the holidays of Holi,

Diwali, Dussera, and Basanto commemorate. I will give

details about their dates and customs.

****************************** Holi: The Fire

Festival The Hindu Fire Festival, called Holi or Basaat is

celebrated in India on the fifteenth day of the Light Half of

the Moon, in the Hindu month of Phalguna (March). Holi is a

spring festival for Hindus. It is celebrated before the

monsoon, the great rainstorms which come each year. Holi is

a joyous holiday and is celebrated by Hindus of all ages.

Boys and girls squirt water pistols, sometimes large pumps

filled with saffron or red-colored water. The Hindus favorite

colors are red, crimson and saffron. In Bengal, the Holi

festival is associated with the life of Krishna, a Hindu god. In

Bengal the colored powders are used without the water, for

the fun. Before indulging in a feast in honor of Holi, the

children change out of their sporty clothes that are covered

in red and put on fresh, clean garments. It is customary to

exchange gifts in honor of this spring festival.

****************************** Diwali: The Festival

of Lights The Hindu New Year, Diwali, is celebrated on the

last night of autumn, in October or November. It is a holiday

which is celebrated throughout India. It comes at the end of

the monsoon rains, when the weather is nice and mild, and

lasts for five days. For this holiday, daughters return to their

parents' homes, houses are cleared, walls are decorated with

designs drawn in white rice flour water and then colored.

Business account books are closed and new ones are

opened ceremoniously, new clothes are worn and friends are

entertained. Before the festival, special food is prepared to

be offered in the Hindu temples. In preparation and in honor

of this festival of lights clay saucers are filled with mustard oil

and floating cotton wicks, giving a soft, glowing light to the

homes. These lights are called chirags, and are placed on the

window sills and rooftops of houses; along the roads, and on

the banks of rivers and streams. Women and girls who live in

the sacred city of Banares, take their chirags to the banks of

the Ganges River. They quietly light them and put them in the

river to float along the water. They hope for their clay boats

to float to the other side with the wicks still lit. If they remain

lit, it is a sign of good luck. The reason for the lights is to

direct Lakshmi; goddess of prosperity to every home. There

are a few versions of the origin of this festival. In the northern

part of India, it is associated with the autumn season and the

harvest. They believe that Lakshmi returns to the plains and

lowlands every autumn, after her stay in high country during

the summer months. She visits people's homes on that night

and needs the light to guide her way. By assuring that she

reaches their homes they are assuring that their blessings will

be great and meaningful.

****************************** Dussera: The

Victories of Rama During the ten day Festival of the Divine

Mother a pageant is presented in every city, town or village

throughout northern India. The pageant is presented for two

hours each day, ten days in a row. This annual pageant is

called Ram Lila, based on the famous and sacred Hindu epic

Ramayana, which consists of 24,000 stanzas. The Ram Lila

shows some happening of the great epic that are well known

to all Hindus, adults and children. Every year the people in

India gather in the market places and watch the Ram Lila

with excitement as if they are seeing it for the first time.

Towns compete to see who will put on a richer display of

costumes and better music. The pageant's story concerns

mainly the events in the wars between Rama, the seventh

incarnation of the Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, and Ravan,

the cruel demon with ten faces and twenty hands, who

threatened to conquer the earth below and the gods in

heaven. Rama's forces were under the command of General

Hanuman, a monkey. Hanuman led great victories over

enemies of mankind and gods. The most exciting part of the

pageant is a battle scene with Hanuman. The ten day

pageant ends with the death of Ravana, who is burned in

effigy. An image of the dead demon is made of bamboo and

colored paper, and is placed on a platform and blown up

with fireworks. The audience stamps their feet and this

symbolizes victory for Rama over Ravana; good over evil.

****************************** Basanta: The First

Day of Spring On the first day of spring, in the Muslim

calendar, Basanta is celebrated. Basanta, which in Sanskrit

means yellow, is the sacred color of India and is the symbol

of spring. On this festival everyone wears yellow on parts of

their clothing. Hindu poets of ancient days wrote poems

about spring. Many of them were to Basanta, and in some

way connected the arrival of spring with Saraswati,

Brahma's wife, the goddess of the sixty-four arts and

sciences. On this holiday, the family fasts until noon and then

they go to a field for a picnic lunch and enjoy the outdoors.

Offering of white mango bloom or any white flower is

brought for Saraswati. This begins the season when boys

and their fathers like to fly their flat tailless kites made of

colored tissue paper and bamboo.

****************************** CONCLUSION In

this report I learned much about India's religious holidays. I

learned about the many Hindu gods and about India's

people. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Millen, Nina, Children's

Festivals From Many Lands. New York: Friendship Press,

1964. 2. Dobler, Lavinia, Customs and Holidays Around the

World. New York: Fleet Publishing Co., 1962. 3. Gaer,

Joseph, Holidays Around the World. Boston: Little, Brown



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