- Also called the harvest festival in the Punjab region.
- Religious festival for Sikhs marking the beginning of a new solar year.
- Marked the establishment of the pure Sikhs, thus giving them a definite identity.
- Sikh people join together at Gurudwaras early in the morning for prayers.
- Peaceful processions are conducted in many cities.
- Their traditional folk dance, bhangra is performed, especially in villages.
2014 Date: 14-Apr-14 (Monday)
- Commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to God.
- The event is thus considered a festival of sacrifice.
- The festival celebrates the strong faith of the Muslim devotees in their Islam religion.
- Family sacrifices a domestic animal by slaughter & the meat is then distributed.
- The festival coincides with Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of muslims to Mecca.
- Muslims also perform charity activities for the poor and needy on this day.
2014 Date: 06-Oct-14 (Monday)
BASANT VASANT PANCHAMI
- The festival is associated with Goddess Saraswati (the Goddess of Knowledge).
- Students keep their books at her feet a day before the festival to get blessings.
- The books are taken after the Puja (rituals) on this day.
- Small children on this day are taught to write their first words.
- Artists of various cadres perform in Saraswathi temples to get her blessings.
- People wear yellow garments, yellow jewelry & yellow sweets are distributed.
2014 Date: 04-Feb-14 (Tuesday)
- Bathukamma or Bathukamma Panduga is an important festival dedicated to Goddess Gauri (Goddess Parvati) observed during Navratri (September- October) in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh.
- Festival's story is associated with famous Goddess Sati self-immolating (offering oneself to fire by burning) herself after listening to her father, Daksha, insulting Lord Shiva. Later, she incarnated as Goddess Parvati and married Lord Shiva.
- During the Bathukamma festival women pray for the return of Goddess Sati. It is also called the 'festival of flowers'.
- It is a very important and largest festival celebrated for 9 days by women of Telangana. They gather in large number with their Bathukammas near a pond, lake or temple and form a circle with Bathukamma’s in centre of the circle. They sing songs with clapping hands by going around the circle.
- ‘Mahalaya Amavasya’ is the start date of Bathukamma which goes for 9 days and last day is generally one or two days before Dussera (Durgashtami). A unique dish ‘Maleeda’ is prepared on last day, it is prepared with jaggery (gud) and maize (jowaar).
- Nine days of Bathukamma are also called and celebrated as 'Navarathri' in the rest of India. 9th day is called as ‘Saddulu’ or ‘Pedda Bathukamma’.
2014 Date: 24-Sep-14 (Wednesday)
- Celebrated among brothers and sisters to strengthen their bond of love & affection.
- Commemorates Lord Krishna's visit to his sister after killing the demon Narakasur.
- Subhadra welcomed Krishna with sweets. Bhai Duj became a celebration since then.
- Sisters apply teeka/tilak on their brothers, pray for his long life and give him sweets.
- Brothers in return give them gifts and promise to take care of them the entire life.
- Kite flying is also popular on this day in some parts of India.
2014 Date: 25-Oct-14 (Saturday)
- Bihu is celebrated three times in a year and is the most important festival for the people of Assam.
- Rongali Bihu/Bohag Bihu is the most important and falls in the middle of April (Baisakh). It marks the agricultural 'New Year' (seeding time).
- Kaati Bihu falls in the middle of October (Kartik) and marks the completion of sowing and transplanting of paddies
- Maagh Bihu falls in the middle of January and marks the end of the harvesting period.
- Of all the 3 Bihus, Rongali Bihu is celebrated with greatest excitement as it marks the arrival of spring (agricultural season).
- People of Assam wear new and colourful clothes, visit their neighbors, relatives and friends and distribute sweets.
- They sing traditional Bihugeets (folk songs) and perform group folk dances, they also pray for abundant and rich harvest.
- Women make Pitha, Larus and Jolpan (traditional food made of rice and coconut) which gives the real essence of the season.
2014 Dates: Rongali- 15-Apr-14(Tuesday), Kaati Bihu- 19-Oct-14(Sunday), Magh Bihu- 15-Jan-15(Thursday).
- Buddha Purnima is the birth anniversary of Lord Gautam Buddha.
- Considered as the day when Buddha attained Nirvana (enlightenment).
- Buddha advised everyone not to cry on his death but follow is teachings.
- Pilgrims visit Bodh Gaya (Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment) to celebrate.
- Religious discourses, prayers, meditation, processions are held on this day.
- Gifts are distributed to the poor & needy symbolizing efforts to bring happiness.
2014 Date: 14-May-14 (Wednesday)
- Chhath Puja, also known as 'Surya Shashti' is a festival celebrated to pay regards to the Sun God (God Surya).
- Puja is performed in order to thank God Surya for sustaining life on earth. It is a great way to pure mind and soul.
- Puja is also performed to seek blessings from the Sun God to promote prosperity and progress in people's life. It is believed that 'Sun worship' helps to cure many diseases, including leprosy.
- However, Chaath Puja is particularly famous in Bihar but it is also celebrated in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Delhi, Chandigarh etc.
- On this day, people wake up early in the morning, take a holy bath in river Ganga (Ganges) and keep fast for whole day, they do not even drink water. People offer prayers and jal (water) to the rising sun.
- People gather in huge quantity around river Ganga to take a holy dip (bath) and to offer jal to Sun God.
2014 Date: 29-Oct-14 (Wednesday)
- Commemorates the belief that Christ was born to Virgin Mary on December 25.
- Jesus Christ was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem (near Jerusalem, Israel).
- Some believe that the word 'Christmas' originated by combining two words- Christ's mass.
- Goa is the most happening place when it comes to Christmas in India.
- Christians dress up a Christmas father, decorate Christmas trees and sing Christmas carols.
- Grand feast is prepared in many houses and markets are decorated with lights.
2014 Date: 25-Dec-14 (Thursday)
- Diwali is associated with Lord Rama's homecoming after 14 years of exile.
- People of Ayodhya celebrated his return by lighting lamps all over the place.
- Diwali is also an important festival for Jains as on this day, the last Jain Tirthankara 'Lord Mahavir' achieved nirvana (moksha) at Pavapuri.
- People wear new clothes, light lamps in their houses & burn crackers.
- Lakshmi Puja (for the Goddess Lakshmi) is conducted in homes/temples.
- Diwali fairs are organized all around the city with cultural festivals & competitions.
2014 Date: 23-Oct-14 (Thursday)
- Festival that signifies worship of the Hindu goddess Durga and refers to all the 6 days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami.
- Festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil.
- In many parts of India, the pujas are held over a 10 day period, which is traditionally also viewed as the coming of the married daughter, Durga, to her father.
- Durga Puja is celebrated in a grand way with many decorating their houses with lights, elephants are decked up with robes and jewellery, processions are taken out through the streets of the city.
- In Kolkata alone more than 2000 pandals are set up, all clamouring for the admiration and praise of the populace.
- Festivities begin with the installation of idols of Durga on the first day of Winter Navaratri and at the end of 6 days, Durga idol is taken for immersion in a procession amid loud chants and drumbeats to the river or other water body.
2014 Date: 30-Sep (Tuesday) to 4-Oct (Saturday)
- Dussehra is a 10 day Indian festival of the victory of good over evil.
- It symbolises victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura.
- It also signifies the triumph of Lord Rama over the demon Ravana.
- Massive effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkarna are burnt in large gatherings.
- Tools are worshipped as a mark of respect and reminder to use them in the right manner.
- Ramlila shows-an enactment of Lord Rama's life, his exile and homecoming- are held in many parts of the city.
2014 Date: 03-Oct-14 (Friday)
EID UL FITR
- 'Eid ul Fitr' marks the 'Breaking of the Fast' and the end of Ramazan(Islamic holy month of fasting). People from different origins in different countries call it either 'Ramazan' or 'Ramadan'. In 2014, Ramadan started on June 28 and ends after one month of fasting with this festival.
- Muslims believe that Allah(God) asks them to fast for a month until last day of Ramazan. Muslims celebrate this day to end the holy month of 'dawn to sunset' fasting. This festival was initiated by Prophet Mohammad in Medina after he migrated from Mecca. Ramazan is also the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which Muslims believe 'Quran' was revealed.
- Festival(Eid) for breaking the fast (Fitr). Muslims are not permitted to fast on this day which concludes the dawn-to-sunset fasting during the last 30 days.
- It is the day of the first sighting of crescent moon shortly after sunset. If the moon is not seen(due to clouds) immediately after the 29th day of the previous lunar month, then it is the following day.
- It is celebrated for one, two or three days with Muslims greeting ‘Eid Mubarak and forgive any differences with others that may have occurred during the year.
- Muslims wake up before sunrise, wear good clothes and offer Salatul Fajr (the pre-sunrise prayer).
- Money is paid to the poor and the needy before performing the ‘Eid prayer'. Elders give gifts- known as 'Eidi'- to children/relatives.
2014 Date: 29-Jul-14 (Tuesday)
- Vinayaka Chaturthi is the birthday of the elephant headed god Ganesha- son of goddess Parvati who is wife of Lord Shiva.
- Ganesha is widely worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and fortune. It is believed that by worshipping Ganesha, any new business venture or job flourishes well and achieves phenomenal success.
- How did Ganesha get an elephant head: According to Hindu mythology...
- Parvati created Ganesha from sandalwood and put him on guard duty at the door ordering Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house while she took her bath.
- When Shiva came home, Ganesha did not allow him to enter inside even after Shiva told him that he was Parvati's husband. In a fit of anger, Shiva severed the head of the child which enraged Parvati. Seeing Parvati's anger, Shiva promised that her son will be alive again.
- Shiva then ordered his squad(Ganas) to bring the head of any creature that was sleeping with its head facing north. It was an elephant that the Ganas found sleeping facing north. They brought the head of the elephant and Shiva fixed it on the child's body and brought him back to life. Lord Shiva also declared that from this day the boy would be called Ganesha.
- Clay models of Ganesha are decorated and placed in houses. The festival lasts for 10 days and ends on Anant Chaturdashi.
- At the end of 10 festive days, the idols are immersed in the sea signifying God's taking away all misfortunes. Cultural activities like dance and music are organised all over city.
- This festival is more popular in Maharashtra and southern India. It is being celebrated for about 350 years since the days of Shivaji (1630-1680).
2014 Date: 29-Aug-14 (Friday)
- Good Friday was the day when Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. It is observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday.
- Bible says that our sins (wrong deeds) are a barrier between God and us. Jesus removed the 'barrier of sins' by taking all our sins upon himself and died in our place for the entire mankind.
- Known as 'Good Friday' even though Jesus met a cruel death because of people's belief that by his death, this day gives mankind the forgiveness of sins and brings god/happiness closer to us.
- Catholics observe fast, attend special church services & participate in parades.
- Church services are usually held around noon till 3 pm to remember the hours when Jesus was crucified.
- Plays are arranged at some places to portray the last days and hours of Jesus's life.
2014 Date: 18-Apr-14 (Friday)
- Celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month & marks the advent of a new year for Maharashtrians and Hindu Konkanis.
- Denotes the end of the harvest season and the beginning of another new one.
- Mythologically, Lord Brahma created the universe on this day.
- People decorate their house with Rangoli, wear new cloths and worship.
- Gudi (a bamboo pole) is put on the house entrance- with a swastika-marked metal pot and silk cloth- to welcome victory and joy.
- Considered as an auspicious occasion to buy jewellry, house or to start new ventures.
2014 Date: 31-Mar-14 (Monday)
- Hanuman Jayanti or Hanumath Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman, the Vanara god.
- Hanuman was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, and is worshipped for his devotion to the God.
- Hanuman Jayanti is an important festival of Hindus. Hanuman is the symbol of strength and energy.
- It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha, during the month of Chaitra.
- The devotees visit temples and apply tilaka of sindoor to their foreheads from Hanuman's idol.
- Spiritual discourses are organised in most of the Hindu temples on this day.
2014 Date: 15-Apr-14 (Tuesday)
- Bonfires are lit in memory of Prahlad- a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
- Holika was burnt but Prahlad escaped due to his unshaken devotion.
- Some people also say that bad deeds/sins are burnt during holika dehan in an effort to cleanse their soul.
- In the Braj region (Mathura, Vrindavan), festive season of Holi lasts up to 16 days.
- People pour colored powder/water on others. For wet colours, flowers of 'Palash' are boiled & soaked in water over night.
- Holi specials like gujiya, malpuas, bhaang, thandai are made in many homes.