- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 starts on June 28 and ends after the holy month of fasting on July 28 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: 28-Jul-14 (Monday)
- Vinayaka Chaturthi is the birthday of the hindu god Lord Ganesha.
- Ganesha is widely worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and fortune.
- It is believed that by worshipping Ganesha, any new business venture flourishes well and achieves phenomenal success.
- Clay models of Ganesha are decorated and placed in houses.
- 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.
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.
2014 Date: 17-Mar-14 (Monday)
- Janmashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna, the Hindu God.
- Kansa was afraid that he would be killed by Krishna if he was born.
- Krishna was however born in jail where his maternal uncle kept his parents captive.
- Celebration usually peak at midnight when Krishna was born.
- Enactments of Krishna's life are presented in many temples and processions.
- To symbolize Krishna's entry, ladies draw footprints with rice flour outside houses.
2014 Date: 18-Aug-14 (Monday)
- Celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of Phalgun month as per Hindu calendar.
- Legendary beliefs say that after the demons came up with a poison- after churning of the ocean- which had the power to destroy the whole world.
- Lord Shiva saved the entire world by drinking that poison upon the request of gods. But goddess Parvati strangled his neck to stop the poison in his neck itself. This changed Shiva's neck color to blue and hence, he is also referred to as 'Neelkanth'.
- People bathe in holy rivers and apply vermilion paste on Shiv Lingam.
- Many visit Shiva temples, take 3 or 7 rounds of the Shiv lingam and pour water/milk over it.
- Some also apply 3 horizontal stripes of holy ash to their foreheads which symbolize spiritual knowledge, purity and spiritual practice of yoga.
2014 Date: 27-Feb-14 (Thursday)
- Jains celebrate the birth of their 24th tirthankara- Lord Mahavira - who was born in 599 BC on this day which falls on the 13th day in the month of Chaitra (sometime in end March/early April).
- It is believed that while he was in his mother's womb, he brought wealth and prosperity to the entire kingdom and hence he was also referred to as 'Vardhman'.
- At the age of 30, he gave up his kingdom & materialistic possessions, meditated a lot, helped people and achieved nirvana/moksha at the age of 72 years in Pavapuri on 'Diwali' day.
- People visit temples and few give a ceremonial bath to statues of Mahavir early morning.
- Many donate to charitable organizations to indirectly help cows, birds and feed poor people.
- Lectures and holy hymns are held to promote the path of ahimsa, meditation and truth.
2014 Date: 13-Apr-14 (Sunday)
- Signifies the termination of winter season and beginning of longer days and shorter nights.
- Also considered as beginning of an auspicious phase according to hindu culture. People believe that any new work can be initiated and it is also a festival of Sun god.
- Kite flying is an important part of this festival in many parts of India.
- People prepare several delicacies like pithey(rice pancake), til laddoo and chikki using jaggery.
- Pilgrims take a dip in the holy water of Ganges and Prayag.
- People wear new dress, do charity and visit friends/family to distribute sweets.
2014 Date: 14-Jan-14 (Tuesday)
MILAD - UN - NABI
- Milad-un-Nabi is the Islamic festival celebrating Prophet Mohammed's birth.
- Shias observe the event combined with their sixth Imam, Jafar - Al- Sadiq.
- His deeds, words & teachings have been preached & practised since his death.
- It is celebrated by holding religious prayers & giving help to the poor.
- People gather in religious institutions to observe teachings of the Prophet.
- No grand ceremony is held as the day also marks the death of Prophet.
2014 Date: 14-Jan-14 (Tuesday)
- A Hindu festival meaning '9 nights', is celebrated for 9 consecutive days.
- Navratri a festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu deity Durga.
- It also signifies the fertility of Mother Earth who feeds her children.
- During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshipped.
- The tenth day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra."
- People wear colorful clothes and perform group dandiya dance in many parts of India.
- Navratri is celebrated twice a year. These 9 days are considered extremely auspicious.
2014 Vasanta/Chaitra Navratri Dates: 31-Mar (Monday) to 08-Apr (Tuesday)
2014 Sharad/Maha Navratri Dates: 25-Sep (Thursday) to 04-Oct (Saturday)
- Rice harvest festival of Kerala state and falls during August/September every year.
- Many believe that Kerala had its golden era during the reign of King Mahabali, who visited his people annually. Festival is celebrated to welcome him in spirit and associated happiness.
- People wear new clothes signifying removal of all bad thoughts/feelings.
- Festivities last for 10 days. People make beautiful flower rangolis and exquisite food.
- A 9-course grand meal- called Onasadya- consisting of about dozen dishes is prepared. Meal is served on banana leaves and people sit on the floor to have the meal.
- Snake boat race- called Vallamkali - is very popular and is held on Pamba river. Hundreds of men oar the decorated boats amidst chanting of songs and cheering spectators.
2014 Date: 07-Sep-14 (Sunday)
- A harvest festival to pay gratitude to Surya for the good crop production.
- It is a four day event: Bhogi Pongal (1st day) dedicated to Lord Indra, Surya Pongal (2nd day) dedicated to the Surya, Mattu Pongal (3rd day) dedicated to Ganesha and Kaanum Pongal (4th day) for 'Meeting and greetings'.
- Women draw kolam (a painting drawn using rice powder and chalk) and prepare prasadam (mix of rice, milk and jaggery).
- New earthen pots are painted and decorated with flowers, turmeric and mango leaves.
- Start from 1st day of Thai (Tamil month).
- 1st Day: People clean and decorate houses.
- 2nd Day: A dish called Sarkkarai Pongal is made in a new mud-pot (Pongapani).
- 3rd Day: People decorate cows and bulls. Cattle races and bull fights are conducted.
- 4th Day: People meet and greet each other.
2014 Date: 14-Jan-14 (Tuesday)
- This festival is devoted to the love & affection between brothers & sisters.
- The sister of Lord Yama (Lord of death) tied a rakhi & granted immortality.
- Yama said whoever gets a Rakhi tied from their sister will become immortal.
- Fancy and colorful rakhis are available in the market few days in advance.
- After worshipping Gods, sisters perform puja for their brothers & tie up Rakhi.
- Brothers, in turn, promise to take care of them their entire life.
2014 Date: 10-Aug-14 (Sunday)
UGADI / TELUGU NEW YEAR / VISHU
- Ugadi is Telugu & Kannada 'New Year' while Vishu is Malayali & Tamil 'New Year'.
- Celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- Festivals start on the first new moon day of the Indian month- Chaitra.
- Ugadi pachadi, which has a mix of 6 different tastes is prepared on this day.
- Vishukkani - An arrangement of fruits, idols of Gods, jewelry is done a day before.
- It's lucky to see Vishukkani first thing in the morning. Elders give Kaineetam (coins) to the younger ones in the family.
2014 Date: Ugadi/Telugu New Year on 31-Mar-14 (Monday), Vishu on 14-Apr-14 (Monday)