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Deccan Herald » Festivals
January 11:                           Bakrid
The feast of sacrifice, Idul-Adha, in India pronounced Idul Azha and popularly known as Baqri Id, is celebrated on the tenth day of the month Dhu'l Hijja. It is the sacrifice made by the pilgrims and performed as part of the ceremonies of the great pilgrimage. While the pilgrims are making their sacrifices at Mina, the ceremony is observed simultaneously by Muslims everywhere. It is prescribed in the Quran...
January 14:                             Makara Sankranthi
Certain Hindu festivals are associated with the annual cycle of seasons. Pongal or Sankranthi in the South, is celebrated to mark the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest. It is the biggest harvest festival, spread over 3 days. Pongal denotes a sweet preparation made from rice. Each of the three days are marked by different festivities....
March 14:                       Holi
Holi is held in early spring at the full moon of Phalgun. The festival is fun-filled and a popular occasion in the northern part of India. It is an occasion when people smear each other with bright colored powders, known as Gulal, and colored water. The festival is called a bright festival as a wide range of bright colors is used during it. The people believe that the bright colors represent energy, life, and joy.
March 30:                    Ugadi
Ugadi heralds the beginning of the New Year, new month and new day. It also marks a beginning of new life with plants acquiring new life, shoots and leaves. People consume Bevu (neem) and Bella (jaggery). The inner significance of this is to indicate that life is a mixture of good and bad, joy and sorrow, success and disappointment, and all of them have to be treated alike. Ugadi marks the beginning of a new Hindu lunar calendar with a change in the moon's orbit. This festival is celebrated with fervour in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Known as Ugadi in AP and Karnataka, it is known as Gudipadava in Maharashtra.
April 7 :            Ramnavami
Ramnavami, the nine-day Hindu festival, celebrated in the month of April (Chaitra), is when Lord Vishnu took the seventh avtar and Lord Ram was born to destroy the demon King Ravana
April 11:         Mahaveer Jayanthi
The main Jain festival of the year is Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. This religious event is largely observed by the Jains by visiting sacred sites and worshipping the Teerthankara. The event holds special significance in Gujarat and Rajasthan due to the ancient shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat. Mahavir Jayanti is also celebrated at Parasnath Temple in Kolkata and at Pawapuri in Bihar.
April 16:         Easter
On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as it is told in the Bible. This holy day celebrates the triumph of life over death.
May 13:            Buddha Purnima
The Buddha was born on the full-moon day in the month of Vaisakh in 563 BC. He achieved enlightenment as well as nirvana on the same date. 
August 16:       Krishna Janmashtami
This is a festival dedicated to Lord Sri Krishna and commemorates his birth. This festival occurs on the eight day (Astami) of a lunar fortnight hence the name.
August 27:     Ganesh Chaturthi
Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom. Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival in his honour and is celebrated with geity and fervour.
Images of Ganesha are installed within homes as well as in places of assembly. Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration and Ganesha is fervently worshipped for about seven to ten days. On the day of the Chaturthi, the last of the days dedicated to the elephant-headed god, thousands of processions converge on the beaches , tanks and rivers for immersion the holy idol. This immersion is accompanied by drumbeats, devotional songs and dancing.

Ganesha is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu pantheon. He is closely associated with the daily lives of millions of Hindus even today. As he is reputed to be a remover of obstacles he is propitiated before the beginning of any new venture whether it is the building of a new house, the writing of a book, the beginning of a journey or the starting of a new business. His images adorn the walls of innumerable business establishments across India. It is customary for businessmen to seek his blessings each morning before they get down to business. Ganesha is also the god of wisdom and prudence. These qualities are signified through his two wives: Buddhi(wisdom) and Siddhi (prudence).
The penultimate day of the ten-day harvest festival of Onam is called Uthradam. It is the time for sports, festivities, and ritual celebrations in Kerala. Uthradam is the day when people prepare to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali. In some parts of Kerala, Onam festivities start from Uthradam itself. Some people also call Uthradam as the first Onam and the next day Thiru Onam as the second Onam. 
On the day of Uthradam tenants and dependents of Nair Tharawads (traditional large joint families sharing a common kitchen)bring produce of their farms or the product of their toil to the Karanavar (eldest member of the Tharawad). These gifts from the tenants to the Karanavar are called Onakazhcha. Karanavar greets these people warmly and treats them with a sumptuous meal on Thiru Onam. Village artisans also bring their handicrafts to the Karanavar and are graciously rewarded. 

Onam, the foremost festival among the cultural repertoire of Malayalees, falls in the harvest season. Chingam or Bhadrapada, the first month of the calendar ushers in Onam. After the rain drenched Karkidakam with its privations, Chingam is a welcome month of plenty. This picturesque ten-day harvest festival is celebrated with traditional fervour with visit to temples, family get-togethers, gifting each other clothes called Ona-kkodi and lots of merry making.
Onam originated as a joyous annual reminiscence of the golden rule of King Mahabali, a mythical king, who ruled Kerala a very long time ago. It recalls the sacrifice of the great king, his true devotion to God, his human pride and his ultimate redemption. Onam welcomes the spirit of a great king, wish him well and assures him that his people are happy.

September  21- October 2:     NAVARATRI:  
When the last showers of the monsoon are beginning to fall sparsely between spells of bright sunshine , comes the month of Ashwin. In this month, the festive season in India reaches a crescendo with the beginning of the nine-day Navaratri festival. 
October 24:      RAMADAN:  
 For more than a billion Muslims around the world,Ramadan is a "month of blessing" marked by prayer, fasting, and charity. This year Ramadan began on Oct 4, with the sighting of the new moon.
October 20:           KARWA CHAUTH:  
Karwa Chauth is a fast undertaken by married Hindu women who offer prayers seeking the welfare, prosperity, well-being, and longevity of their husbands. It is said to have an extraordinary observance rate among married Hindu women. After a bath well before dawn, the woman adorns new clothes and partakes of a meal of very select grains and fruit. For the rest of the day, she abstains from food and even water. The fast is not to be broken until the moon is sighted. The woman then sees the face of her husband and breaks the fast.
                                 Deepavali - A  five day fiesta                                                  
October 19:      DHANTERAS
DhanTeras falls on the thirteenth day of the month of Ashwin and marks the beginning of Diwali. 
Dhanteras is celebrated to seek blessings of Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The day is considered auspicious and people purchase gold or silver or at least one or two new utensils. This day is of particular significance to the mercantile community.
October 20:        NARAKA CHATURDASI:
The word 'Diwali' means an array of lights. The people of Dwaraka greeted Lord Krishna with illumination and rejoicing in honour of his victory over Narakasura on this day. The darkness of the Chaturdasi night compelled them to use many lamps on the occasion, and subsequently the illumination became a part of this celebration.
October 21:       LAKSHMI  POOJA:
The THIRD day of the festival of Diwali is the most important day of Lakshmi pooja which is entirely devoted to the propitiation of Goddess Lakshmi. This day is also known by the name of "CHOPADA-PUJA". 
October 23:        BALIPADYAMI:
The Fourth day is Padya or Varshapratipada which marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat. Another legend is about King Bali of the nether world mighty power had become a threat to the gods. In order to curb his powers Lord Vishnu in the guise of a Batu Waman- a small boy- visited him and begged him to give him only that much land which he could cover with his three steps.
October 24:        BHAYYA-DHUJ:
The fifth and final day of Diwali Festival is known by the name of "Bhayya-Duj" in the Hindi-speaking belt "Bhau-Bij" in the Marathi-speaking communities and in Nepal by the name of "Bhai-Tika".
November 13:    TULSI VIVAH:
Normally celebrated a fortnight after Deepavali, it signifies the day Tulsi married Lord Vishnu.
On this day, Tulsi `katte' or vrindavan is decorated like a bride. Sugarcane and branches of tamarind and amla trees are planted along with the tulsi plant. Various dishes are offered to Lord Vishnu. In Karnataka, the day is called Tulsi Habba (festival) while others call is Tulsi Vivah, or the wedding day of Tulsi with the Lord.
November 5 :     GURU NANAK JAYANTHI :
Sikhs celebrate Gurupurab festival with religious fervour, marking the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikh religion. Devotees queue up in holy Gurdwaras and light candles to mark the occasion. They visit shrines, chant hymns and eat a `langar' or community meal in the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. They take out processions amidst chanting of hymns.
KARTIK POORNIMA: Kartik Poornima celebrated on the 15th of the full moon day of Kartik (November-December), alluding to Shiva's destruction of the demon Tripura. It signifies the subjugation of evil and fostering goodness. Fireworks and lamps are lit in celebration of the victory. It is therefore also called the Dev-Deepavali or Diwali of the Gods. The ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly-lit earthern lamps. Visitors throng in large numbers to watch this spectacular event.
Christmas is a holiday in the Christian calendar, usually observed on December 25, which celebrates the birth of Jesus. According to the Christian gospels, Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem, where she and her husband Joseph had traveled to register in the Roman census. Christ's birth, or nativity, was to fulfill the prophecies of Judaism that a messiah would come, from the house of David, to redeem the world from sin. 
Christians in India decorate banana or mango trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches with red flowers. They give presents to family members and baksheesh, or charity, to the poor people. In India, the poinsettia is in flower and so the churches are decorated with this brilliant bloom for the Christmas Midnight Mass.
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