Religious Festivals in India

Holi



Holi - the festival of colors - is the most fun-filled Hindu festival. It's an occasion that brings in joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course, lots of bright colors!

Every year it is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March and glorifies good harvest and fertility of the land. It is also time for spring harvest and riotous fun. Holi is also celebrated as 'Vasant Mahotsava' and 'Kama Mahotsava'.

During Holi, squirting colored water on passers-by, dunking friends in mud pool amidst teasing and laughter, getting intoxicated on bhaang and reveling with companions is perfectly acceptable. In fact, on Holi, you can get away with almost anything by saying, "Don't mind, it's Holi!" (Hindi = Bura na mano, Holi hai.).

Draped in white, people throng the streets and smear each other with bright hued powders and squirt coloured water on one another through pichkaris (big syringe-like hand-pumps), irrespective of caste, color, race, sex, or social status. Whatever be the choice of colour, nobody remains in their original state at the end of the play. And everybody takes delight looking at the other. Really, the other name of the festival is FUN.

Days before Holi, the markets get flooded with the colours of every hues. This aptly sets the mood of the people till the actual day of Holi. It is such a colourful and joyous sight to watch huge piles of bright red, magenta, pink, green and blue everywhere on the streets. Buying those colours seems as you are bringing joys and color to your home and into your life.

And, it is not just children, but the young and the old alike who take delight in this joyous festival of colours. Seniors too, move in their groups. Their enthusiasm is at times greater than that of their children as they forget the bars of age and follow their hearts. To youth, Holi gives a chance to explore the heights of their enthusiasm as they climb the human pyramids to break the pot of buttermilk and to express their love to their beloved by applying colour.

For, Holi knows no bars, everybody feels it is their right to enjoy and enjoy they do. Songs, dance, drinks, food everything goes in excess when it is time for Holi. It can be said, "Life turns Colourful" when it is time for Holi.

Radha-Krishna Legend

Holi is also celebrated in memory of the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha. The young Krishna would complain to his mother Yashoda about why Radha was so fair and he so dark. Yashoda advised him to apply colour on Radha's face and see how her complexion would change. In the legends of Krishna as a youth he is depicted playing all sorts of pranks with the gopis or cowgirls. One prank was to throw colored powder all over them. Holi is celebrated with eclat in the villages around Mathura, the birth-place of Krishna.

Some special recipes for Holi :
  • Gujhia or Gujia.
  • Kanji Ke Vade.
  • Thandai.
  • Thandai (Alternate Recipe).
  • Shakalpara.
  • Jal Jeera.
  • MalPua.
  • Moong Dal Vada.

Raksha Bandhan



Raksha Bandhan is the festival meant to tighten the knot of relation between a brother and a sister. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Shravan (month according to Hindi calendar) which comes in the month of August. Raksha Bandhan is also known as 'Rakhi'. In this festival, sisters tie an auspicious thread on the wrist of their brothers. Raksha Bandhan means 'Bond of Protection'. This festival is celebrated to protect brothers from evil things and sisters also pray to God for the well-being and long life of their brothers. On this day, girls wear new clothes and don't eat anything before tying the rakhi on their brothers' wrist. They put red vermillion (tika) on their brothers' forehead, give them sweets to eat and tie the rakhi on their wrist. Brothers, on the other hand, give gifts on Rakhi as the token of love and blessings to their sisters. This festival sweetens the relation of brother and sister.

History of Rakhi

There are many stories related with Raksha Bandhan. One story comes from the epic Mahabharata, in which Draupadi, the wife of Pandavas tied a strip of her sari around Lord Krishna's wrist to stop it from bleeding which was wounded in the battlefield. Seeing this, Lord Krishna was deeply touched and he confirmed Draupadi as his sister. He promised to protect her from all evils and help her anytime when she will be in any problem. Lord Krishna saved her prestige at the time of 'Chir Haran' which happened with her in the court of King Dhritarashtra, where in the gambling Pandavas lost her to the Kauravas. Another story related to this festival is of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun. When the widowed queen Rani Karnavati realized that her land is going to be conquered by the Emperor Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to the Emperor Humayun. He became emotional and came to save the Rani and her kingdom but he was too late.

According to another legend, the Demon King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, who, in turn, had taken up the task to guard his kingdom, leaving his own abode in Vaikunth. Goddess Lakshmi who desired to accompany her lord back to her abode, disguised as a woman and seek refuge till her husband came back. During the celebrations of Shravan Purnima, Lakshmi tied the sacred thread to the King. When asked about her identity and her purpose, she revealed the truth. Touched by this, he sacrificed all he had for the Lord and his devoted wife. Thus, the festival came to be known as Baleva, that is Bali Raja's devotion to the Lord. It is said that since then it has been a tradition to invite sisters in Shravan Purnima for the thread tying ceremony or the Raksha Bandhan.

Rakhi Legends

One of the more popular myths strengthening the belief in the power of rakhi is the prayer of Indrani for Lord Indra. Lord Indra, who once was challenged by the demons and renewed his powers to beat them when Indra's wife and Brihaspati tied a sacred thread on his wrist. Yama, the God of death, blessed his sister and all sisters tying rakhi with the promise of nurturing and protection. In the final climactic episodes of the Mahabharata, Lord Krishna told Yudhishthir to tie the rakhi for protection during war. Draupadi once tied a strip of cloth to the bleeding hands of Lord Krishna and was bestowed with brotherly protection.

Some Special Recipes for Rakhi
  • Besan Fruit Curd
  • Gulab Jamun
  • Kalakand
  • Mango Burfi

Diwali



The word "Diwali" is the corruption of the Sanskrit word "Deepavali" -- Deep meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. It means a row of lights. Every home, the hut of the poor or the mansion of the rich - is alit with the orange glow of twinkling diyas-small earthen lamps - to welcome Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Multi-colored Rangoli designs, floral decorations and fireworks lend grandeur to this festival which heralds joy, and happiness in the coming year.

History

Deepavali is celebrated in Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. In each of these the significance varies. For Jains the day marks as the day when Mahavira attained nirvana in 527 B.C. Sikhs associate Deepavali or Diwali with the release of their sixth guru from prison named Guru Hargobind. Hindus celebrate Diwali for more than one reason. The most popular association is with day that Ram, the son Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, returned from his banishment after 14 years. His return was welcomed by deep or diya that were lit in ghee. Another association is with the death of Narakasura by Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This is celebrated one day before Deepavali as Naraka Chaturdashi. The other is the Govardhan Puja. This is celebrated one day after Deepavali. This day holds the significance of Krishna defeating Indra.

Diwali or more aptly Deepawali is very enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days and each day has its significance with a number of myths, legends and beliefs.

In UP, Diwali finds its origins in the legend of Lord Rama (one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu) and his victory over the evil king, Ravana, who had kidnapped Sita, Rama’s wife. Rama, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and above all, the ideal king after one month of fierce war with Ravana, the victorious Rama, Laxman and Sita returned to Ayodhya on this day. The whole city was decorated with flowers and garlands.

Every house adored beautiful look of cleanliness and was lighted with candles and lamps. Perfumes and scent filled the air. Every street was cleaned and watered, and decorated with hand-painted colorful designs.

Lakshmi Pooja, or the worship of the goddess of wealth, is the main event on Diwali in North and West India. It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure on Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi likes cleanliness, and she will visit the cleanest house first. This is also the reason why the broom is worshiped on this day with offerings of haldi and kumkum (turmeric and vermilion). Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess. They are believed to light up her path.

Lakshmi Puja consists of a combined puja of five deities: Ganesha is worshiped at the beginning of every auspicious act as Vighnaharta; Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in her three forms - Mahalakshmi (the goddess of wealth and money), Mahasaraswati (the goddess of books and learning), and Mahakali; Kuber (the treasurer of the gods) is also worshiped.

Five types of fruits and flowers are offered to the Gods as well. Kulias (or small-sized gharas / earthen pots), are filled with kheel (puffed rice) with a batasha (a sweet made only out of sugar) are kept alongside. Lakshmi is also worshipped in the form of actual currency - silver or a gold coin in order that prosperity become a part of the household. Thereafter, an offering (in the form of some sweet or the other) is made to the Gods and everyone in the family partakes a bit from the same.

All the diyas, except the main one, are then picked up from the rangoli and taken to the darkest corners of the house in order to dispel the evil spirits, which may be hiding there.

Five Days Of Diwali Festival:

  • Dhanteras or Dhan Trayodashi.
  • Narak chaturdashi or Choti Diwali.
  • Diwali or Deepawali.
  • Govardhan or Bali Pratipada or Gudi Padwa
  • Bhai Dooj or Bhav Beej or Yam Dwitiya.

Some Special Recipes for Diwali :
  • Meetha Khaja.
  • Meethi Kachauri.
  • Kaddu Ki Sabzi.
  • Dahi Vada.
  • Moong Dal Vada.
  • Badam Doodh.
  • Mawa Pinnie.
  • MalPua.
  • Veg Makhanwala.
  • Masala Kajoo.
  • Poori.
  • Kachumber Salad.

Krishna Janmashtami



Krishna Janmashtami is the celebration of the birth of Lord Shri Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is believed to have been born about five thousand years ago in Mathura in 'Dwapar Yuga'. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami and sometimes simply as Janmashtami. It is essentially a Hindu festival. The festival is generally observed on Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadrapada in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra is ascendant. This is usually in the months of August and September in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigor by Hindus all over India and abroad. People observe fast the whole day, sing hymns and conduct prayers at midnight to rejoice the birth of Lord. Ras lila, dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature that is showcased in every part of the country, as it re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna's youthful days. Another interesting aspect of Krishna Janmashtami is the practice of Dahi-Handi. This game portrays the playful and mischievous side of Krishna, where teams of young men form human pyramids to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it.

Famous Places to Celeberation Janmashtami

Janmashtami celebration in Vrindavan

Vrindavan and Mathura is the stronghold of Janmashtami celebration. In Vrindavan, which is home to Banke Bihari Temple housing Banke Bihari, another endearing name for Lord Krishna, huge elaborate preparations are made including lighting and decoration. ISKCON temple, dedicated to Krishna consciousness sees large-scale participation of devotees. Apart from the devotional songs and mantras, 'Raasleela' is performed by several professional artists for Vrindavan sees huge gatherings of devotees from all across the country. There is no limitation to the number of plays and skits being staged in Shri Krishna Janmashtami programmes.

Janmashtami in Mathura

Among Janmashtami celebration, Mathura is credited for its various unique ceremonies. After the infant Krishna is bathed and rocked, a prasad of 'Chhappan Bhog', a platter of fifty-six dishes is offered and is later given out for distribution. The whole city takes on a jewelled look as plenty of flower decoration and lighting is done in both temples and houses on Shri Krishna Janmashtami. 'Jhanki' is another traditional art form that focuses on bringing out pastoral and childhood scenes from the life of Krishna. On Janmashtami, several jhankis are put up, such as 'janmlila'. 'Ghattas' is another unique feature wherein all the temples in Mathura are adorned with the same colour including the idol of Krishna for a month.

Janmashtami celebration in Dwarka

In Dwarka, the kingdom founded by Lord Krishna, the day starts on a zesty note, with 'dahi-handi' custom being followed with full vigour and participation as it is brought to a nail-biting finish. While an army of people join in to create the pyramid to break the earthen pot, the group forming the pyramid is challenged with a constant gush of water. Crowds wait with bated breath as to how the buttermilk pot will be broken.

Sumptuous meals are served as families and relations get together. Sweets made of milk, butter and ghee are prepared in bulk and offered to guests generously.

Some Special Recipes for Janmashtami :
  • Gopalkala.
  • Khoya Burfi.
  • Milk Poli.
  • Rice Chakli.
  • Singhare Ki Puri.

Durga Puja or Navaratri



The 9 night’s festival of Navratri is celebrated twice a year. First in March-April is also known as Vasant Navratri, which begins on Chaitra Month of Hindu Calendar. This festival of nine nights in Hinduism is dedicated to Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. It is also known as Chaitra Navratras or Spring Navratri or Basant Navratri. As this Navratra coincides with Ram Navami, it also referred as Ram Navratri.

The second and most celebrated 9 night’s festival of Navratri begins on the new moon day of Ashvina month in Hindu calendar. This is also known as Shardiya Navrati. This nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar and hence is the most celebrated time of the year. On the tenth day of Ashvina Navratri, the holiday of Dussehra, or Vijayadashmi is celebrated to signify the victory of good (Rama) over evil (Ravana).

The essence of this festival consists of fasts and worship of nine aspects of Durga, one on each of the nine days. In some parts of India the first three nights, she is worshipped as Durga or Kali, the succeeding three nights as Maha Lakshmi and the last three nights as Maha Saraswati. In Bengal Navratri is celebrated as Durga Pooja. It is believed that Durga who was the personification of power of all male gods fought with demon Mahishasura for 9 days and on tenth day vanquished the evil.

The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days.

  • Durga: goddess beyond reach;
  • Bhadrakali: the auspicious power of time;
  • Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world;
  • Annapurna: giver of food and plenty;
  • Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess;
  • Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death;
  • Chandika or Chandi: violent, wrathful, furious;
  • Lalita: playful;
  • Bhavani: giver of existence.

The festivities culminate on the tenth day on Vijayadashmi or Dussehra.

In North India the nine-day period from the first to the ninth day in the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra is also known as Navaratri and is dedicated to the worship of nine different aspects of Devi. The ninth day in this month is also celebrated as Ramanavami.

In Gujarat, this is the time for the joyous Garba and Dandia dances and people pour out at night to participate in this community festival. In Tamil Nadu, the first three days of the festival are dedicated to Lakshmi, the next three to Durga and the last three to Sarasvati.

Some Special Recipes for Navratri fast :
  • Kachhe Kele Ki Kofte.
  • Kotu Parathas.
  • Kotu Pakora.
  • Sabudana Vada.
  • Arbi Laziz.
  • Rajasi Aloo.
  • Fruit Raita.
  • Vrat ke Chawal.
  • Sabudana Kheer.

Dussehra



Dussehra or 'Vijayadashami' is celebrated as the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and also the triumph of Goddess Durga over a demon called 'Mahishasura'. Dussehra Festival is celebrated every year usually in September/October. Dussehra or Vijayadashami is the most popular of Indian festivals that holds sway in all parts of the country. Dussehra prominently stands out as a festival that reinforces the power of goodness over evil. For Hindus, it is a most favourable time to observe fast, perform rituals and celebrate. The festival is marked by a nine-day worship of Maa Shakti or five-day puja of Maa Durga which is brought to an invigorating end on the tenth day, celebrated as 'Dussehra'. In West Bengal it is known as 'Durga Puja', in Mysore 'Dasara' and in Gujarat 'Navratri.'

In Other Areas Dussehra known as

In Gujarat, the exuberant Navaratri celebrations include dancing the lively and fascinating Garba dance. The men and women dance around an earthen lamp while singing devotional songs accompanied by rhythmic clapping of hands and wooden sticks.

In Himachal Pradesh, a week -long fair is held in the hill town of Kullu, From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in elaborate processions to the mainground in Kullu, to pay homage to the reigning deity, Raghunathji or Lord Rama.

In Tamil Nadu, the first three days are dedicated to the worship of Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the next three days to Saraswati, Goddess of learning and arts and the last three days to Shakti, Goddess of might and power. Vijayadashami is an auspicious occasion for children to commence their education in classical dance and music, and to pay homage to their teachers.

'Ramlila' is inextricably woven with Dussehra celebration and is religiously performed every year. It is an episode or scene-oriented performance from the Ramayana and is rich in songs, dialogues and action. Ramlila is a very interactive art form as the audience can participate in impromptu singing and narration. 'Ramlila' is noted for some critical scenes such as the Lanka battle scene and dialogues between Gods. Volunteers involve themselves in everything from doing up the stage, designing masks and creating the effigies.

On the tenth day, larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son Meghnath and his brother Kumbhakarna, are burned. These effigies are filled with fireworks. The result is a deafening blast, enhanced by the shouts of merriment and triumph from the spectators. By burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of virtue and goodness. Elaborate and gay processions depicting various scenes of the Ramayana in the form of tableaus are taken out through bazaars and main streets.

Bonfires and fireworks abound on Dussehra, within residential colonies as well as public places. The burning of effigies of Ravana is a spectacular event.

Some Special Recipes for Dussehra:
  • Mootichur Ladoo.
  • Lauki Ka Raita.
  • Malpuda.
  • Sevai Payasam.

Maha Shivaratri



Lord Shiva, also known as Mahadeva, is one of the three Gods of Hindu Trinity. His abode is believed to be at Mt Kailash in the Himalayas. Shivaratri is essentially a Hindu festival that is celebrated by Shiva devotees in all parts of India. Shiva Ratri is said to be the night when Lord Shiva first appeared by His own Divine Grace. The words literally mean 'the night consecrated to Shiva' and falls on the fourteenth day of the waning moon in the month of Phalgun (according to the Hindu calendar). Maha Shiva Rathri is celebrated throughout India with much zeal and vigor. According to the scriptures and Vedas, it is believed that Shiva is the god of favors. Devotees can get his blessing by devoting themselves truthfully to him. Many devotees practice meditation and penance to receive boons from Lord Shiva on this day. Unmarried girls too worship him and fast on this day because it is believed that worshipping Lord Shiva will help young women get their desired husband.

Mahashivratri Celebrations

Frenzied energy and robustness of spirit is evident on the auspicious day of Shivratri. 'Om Namah Shivaya' and ringing of temple bells are constantly heard in temples from afar. The rituals and celebration continue till night time. Devotional songs, bhajans and mantras rend the air with spiritual vibrations. On the day of Maha Shivratri, constant recital of 'Shiv Chalisa' and 'Mahamrityunjaya Mantra' using a Rudraksha Japa Mala is also believed to cleanse the soul. Special celebration is also organized at ashrams and spiritual centres dedicated to Shiva worship. On the day of Mahashivratri, dedicated cultural programmes are organized. Mahashivratri celebration keeps up the energetic tone throughout the night.

Maha Shivratri in India

In Mandi, in Himachal Pradesh, the ancient Bhuthnath hosts the biggest Shivaratri Puja in the country while a seven-day long annual fair is held, its first day coinciding with the auspicious day of Shivaratri. In Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho is the most frequented site for Shivratri puja. In Orissa, people visit Lingaraj Temple for its Shivaratri celebration. At the temple of Tarakeshwar, farther away from Kolkata, devotees bathe the lingam with pure Ganges water and flowers.

Traditionally, priests perform Maha Shivaratri Puja and 'abhishek' of the 'lingam' ritualistically through the night. Since Maha Shivratri is one of the most pious days in the Hindu calendar, the twelve major seat of Shiva worship called 'Jyotirlingas' witnesses unmatched fervor and utmost participation. The entire night during Shivratri celebration reverberates with exalted spiritual energy. A combination of five pure ingredients comprising milk, butter, curd, honey and sugar is offered to Lord Shiva.

Some Special Recipes for Mahashivaratri :
  • Apple Kheer.
  • Kothu Porotta.
  • Thandai.
  • Arbi Masala.
  • Saboodana Kheer.

Eid ul Fitr



Eid ul Fitr - Among Muslim festivals, Eid-ul-Fitr, the 'fast-breaking' festival stands out in its popularity and religious significance. Eid-ul-Fitr is a celebratory day that generates the deep devotion and surrender to Allah during Ramadan. It refers to the breaking of the month-long routine of fasting from sunrise to sunset. 'Eid' itself implies a 'festive' occasion that spreads joy and happiness all around. It is the momentous day of Eid-ul-Fitr that hails the Shawwal month. Eid is a three-day long celebration that reaffirms the ideals of piety, empathy, charity and solidarity among Muslims all over the world. It is celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm and affection.

The importance of Eid-ul-Fitr is associated with an actual event in the history of Islam. Allah sent an angel to reveal his words over a period of 23 years. These teachings formed the Holy Quran. Following the successful completion of the month of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr becomes a great occasion to thank Allah for giving believers the will-power and endurance to observe the month-long fast and follow rules in personal conduct. It is also a time to renew one's faith in Allah and seek his blessings. The Islamic practice of giving 'zakat' is also upheld during this time. Just before Eid, Muslims part with some portion of their earnings and grains for the poor, so that they too can celebrate Eid with full fervour.

On this fortunate day of Eid-ul-Fitr festival, morning prayers are followed by a sermon and a congregational prayer at the mosque. Muslims offer Eid prayer 'Do Rakat Namaz' on this day. Then, dressed in new clothes they proceed to greet their family, relatives and friends 'Eid Mubarak'. This is done through friendly embraces and handshakes, as good gestures of unity. The ritual of distributing alms on this day is observed throughout the ongoing celebrations.

Eid-ul-Fitr Celebrations

Men typically wear white clothes that stand for purity while women and children are attired in especially tailored, bright-coloured clothes. Children also receive gifts or money by relatives. The festival is also associated with extravagant and lavish decorations, dinner parties and enjoyment. Muslim families host gatherings of and relatives, friends and neighbors and serve them sumptuous meals. The festive meals comprise a lavish spread of dishes along with the popular milk-based sweet preparation called 'seviyan'. The spirit of Eid transcends community and religious barriers, and the sight of even non-Muslims partaking of Eid celebrations is a common one.

Great importance is attached to Eid-ul-Fitr in India, as it is an important public holiday. All schools, colleges and public institutions remain closed to mark the significance of this day. Also, there exists a considerably large population of the Muslim minority, which adds to the cultural demographics of India. With time, these traditions have strengthened their interaction and intermingling with the Indian culture. Eid-ul-Fitr has, thus, seeped into India's cultural milieu and is looked forward to by everyone.

Id- Milad

Id- Milad is an important Muslim festival celebrated on the birth anniversary of the Islamic prophet known as Muhammad. It is also referred as Mawlid an-Nabi and Milad an-Nabi in Arabic the word "Mawlid" is an Arabic word, which literally means to give birth or bear a child. The festival is not new but many centuries old and is practiced in a majority of Muslim countries. The early celebrations have been influenced by the Sufi saints in Egypt with public orations followed by a feast. In the olden days this festival was first originally celebrated only by a group of people belonging to the ruling class Muslims known as Shia's. In the following years to come the festival was spread to other Islamic cities and the festival was adopted by the Sunni's in time. It was not until the 1910 did Id-Milad came to be recognized officially as a festival and was declared a national holiday in many Muslim countries.

Common Celebrated

Id-Milad is commonly celebrated in all Muslim ruling countries to honor Prophet Muhammad who introduced Islam and revolutionized the religious scene in the Middle East in the following years. Id-Milad is not only celebrated in Muslim countries but also in other non-Muslim places where there is a large population of Islamic followers. India, Britain and Canada are seen celebrating this day with the same fervor and enthusiasm. Most educational and governmental offices are closed on this day, in India. Kenya and Tanzania also celebrates this festival. Despite being a Muslim country, Saudi Arabia has not declared Id-Milad as a national holiday.

Christmas



Christmas Festival - The word 'Christmas' is a modern version of the old English term ‘Cristes Maesse’, which refers to Mass of Christ. Christmas Day is celebrated on 25th December to mark the birth of the infant Christ and to convey his message of love and eternal life of the soul. The twelve days between Christmas and the Epiphany relate to the baptism of baby Jesus.

Christmas is the most significant festival for the Christian community and has acquired prominence even in non-Christian communities. Today, Christmas has evolved into a week-long festival of nostalgia, family get-togethers, charitable dos and musical sojourns. Christmas is an opportunity for soaking in its quaint traditions and endearing rituals. The soul-stirring festive occasion not only sends a wave of joy to people all around, it brings into its fold even non-practicing Christians. Imbued with the spirit of love, sharing and togetherness, Christmas festival touches everyone’s hearts.

Many Christmas beliefs and rituals owe allusions to pre-Christian, pagan and Norse traditions. The legends and myths of the Yule log and Santa Claus has Celtic roots. The Norse god Odin, believed to reside in the far north is associated with Santa Claus riding on the sleigh. The Nimrod Tree, a pagan symbol for the re-emergence of the sun, has now been replaced by wreaths, branches, boughs, and trees. Decorating trees and dancing around the trees were part of the many rituals to celebrate the winter solstice as was the fire festival called Yule.

Some typical symbolic decorations include the Christmas tree, lights, streamers, poinsettia flowers, candles, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. The red and green colours of Christmas signifying passion and fertility are as ubiquitous as red berries and green leaves of holly. The legend of kissing under the mistletoe tree owes to the practice of calling truce between soldiers in Norse mythology.

Celebrations and Rituals

Christmas is the season of holiday in most countries. In Europe it is also the season of shopping. People shop like crazy during Christmas. That is why it is also the season of gifts! It is time to get together and spend some quality family time. The celebrations start on Christmas Eve, otherwise, the evening before Christmas. People usually sit up till 12 to wish each other "Merry Christmas!" The house is decorated with Christmas tree, bells, angels, lights and so on. Christmas morning all the children run to the Christmas tree to find the gifts that "Santa Clause" might have left for them. People make tarts and cakes. Plum cakes are the most famous during Christmas. Indian urban celebrations might vary a little in terms of food and clothing, but the spirit of the festival more or less remains the same. In Hindi, Christmas is known as Bada Din.

Some Special Recipes for Christmas :
  • Caramel Cup Tassies.
  • Carrot Cake.
  • Cherry Cookies.
  • Chocolate Cupcakes.
  • Christmas Wife Saver.

Easter



Easter is a very significant day in the Christian religion. It defines and redefines the entire scriptures of Christianity. The three events in the life of Jesus Christ mark the three days of significance among Christians: birth, death and resurrection. Birth is Christmas, death is Good Friday and resurrection from the dead is celebrated as Easter. Although Christians are divided into numerous denominations, these days hold significance among all. According to the scriptures Easter marks the return of hope in the lives of humankind; hope of forgiveness and an eternal life. For, it is believed that Jesus Christ died for the sins of humans, sparing them the punishment of their sins, which was death, thereby, claiming the victory over Satan and his evil schemes of tempting humans to commit sin so that they would never return to God.

Celebrations and Rituals

The rituals of Easter start from one month or forty days before the exact date. Forty days before Easter, Christians keep a fast known as Lent, during which they give up something that they cherish most. This can be anything, right from giving up eating meat or even chocolate to eating just once a day. The point of this fast is to spend time in penance and prayer. Although traditionally this fast is for forty days, some people also keep it for one week or a day. The Sunday that comes before Easter is known as the Palm Sunday. It was the day Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem. It is called Palm Sunday because palm leaves were spread out for him welcome. The Friday after this is the Good Friday, the day of crucifixion. Usually evening prayers are held on this day to remember the sacrifice of Jesus. Holy Communion is held on this day. It is a ritual that commemorates the last supper Jesus had with his disciples when he told them that he was going to be crucified. Wine and bread are taken as holy sacraments wherein the wine signifies blood and bread signifies flesh. The Saturday is kept as a day to be spent in prayer. On the Sunday of Easter, usually a very early morning church service is kept.

Common Celebrated

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday that falls after the full moon. This is according to the Jewish Lunar calendar. Usually according to the Gregorian calendar, it falls somewhere in April. It is celebrated throughout the world wherever there are Christians. It is celebrated in many different ways. As Christianity has spread throughout the world, each region has its own cultures and traditions pertaining to the festival. As Christians put it, Easter symbolizes God's unconditional love for humankind. It also symbolizes the victory of good over evil. It brings forth a time of repentance and forgiveness. Every Christian household rejoices this Sunday morning with a renewed hope of starting afresh.

Easter Across The World
  • Easter in England.
  • Easter in Germany.
  • Easter in Australia.
  • Easter in Mexico.
Some Special Recipes for Easter
  • Ambrosia Salad
  • Apricot Snowballs.
  • Banana Nut Bread.
  • Bavarian Brownies.
  • Black Walnut Cake.

Buddha Purnima



Buddha Purnima - Buddha Purnima, reverentially, the most important day for the followers of Buddhism, commemorates Lord Buddha's enlightenment in 588 B.C and also his attainment of the highest of spiritual goals, 'Nirvana' in Bodh Gaya and 'Parinirvana' (or "final cessation") in Kushinagara. Alternatively called Buddha Jayanti, this day consecrates the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha who was born in Lumbini, Nepal. As the name itself suggests, Buddha Purnima is observed on a bright full moon in the Vaisakha month (April/May), a time especially suited for introspection, charity and puja. This year, Buddha Purnima in India will be celebrated on May 21, 2016.

History

Historically, the importance of Buddha Purnima goes back to the era of Chinese scholarship where the day is mentioned in the works of the Chinese scholar, Fa-Hien. Buddha Purnima is known by different names in different countries. As per the native tongue of different countries, Nepal observes 'Swanyapunhi', Singapore upholds Lord Buddha's teachings on 'Vesak Day', Indonesia celebrates 'Hari Waisak', while Thailand commemorates this day as 'Visakha Bucha Day'. Buddha Jayanti is celebrated across south-east Asian countries that have a recognizable Buddhist population. Countries that observe Buddha Purnima include Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tibet, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Korea, China, Cambodia, and Japan.

Buddha Purnima celebrations

The holy Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, which is the main shrine dedicated to Lord Buddha sees hordes of followers descending on the site on this day. Sarnath, near Varanasi, where the Buddha preached his first sermon is another important site for Buddha Purnima celebrations. Followers from Thailand, Tibet, Bhutan and various other places visit Sarnath on this day for blessings.

The most important and visual aspect of Buddha Purnima celebrations is the procession in Bodh Gaya that starts from the 80-ft tall Buddha statue up to the Mahabodhi tree, the fig tree, representative of Lord Buddha's Enlightenment. The Mahabodhi tree is worshipped in a ritualistic way with water, incense, flowers, diyas and candles. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, a strong symbolic and architectural gem, housing the majestic statue of Buddha is decorated with colorful flags and flowers for Buddha Purnima celebrations. The temple premises and adjoining locality are lit up in equal measure and decorated with colorful flags in yellow, white, red and blue at various places. A Buddha statue is also worshipped which stands near the consecrated 'Vajrasana' or the 'Diamond Throne', which exists from King Asoka's age.

Since purity is one of the hallmarks of this day, 'Kheer', a sweet-dish made with rice and milk is prepared. Meat-eating is totally abstained from. Devotees generally prefer to dress in white. To mark the occasion, fairs are also held. As a symbolic gesture, on Buddha Purnima, Buddhists in India and other Buddhist countries make special efforts to light up their houses while streets are gloriously illumined with lights. In Orissa, Dhauligiri is a Buddhist site known for Buddha Purnima celebrations.

In Sikkim, scriptures are read before the Buddha statue throughout the day. Devotees gather in huge numbers to listen to discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha. Followers wear white robes on the day of Buddha Purnima. In Nepal, traditionally, this day witnesses a large congregation around Buddhists stupas. Likewise, Lumbini, the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha, also sees mass participation of Buddhists from everywhere. In Sri Lanka, homes are brightly illuminated. In Japan, April 8th marks the Buddha's birthday, and a traditional way of worshipping is using spring flower for shrines and placing small Buddha idols on them. In Myanmar, Buddhists water and worship the Bodhi trees.

Mahavir Jayanti



Mahavir Jayanti is the most important Jain festival. It celebrates the birth of Saint Mahavir in a small town called Vaishali. The importance of the festival owes to the fact that Saint Mahavir was the founder of Jainism as a religion. It is a peaceful religion that cherishes simplicity. Their core values are such that they do not believe in killing even an insect. The mood of this festival is also without any kind of drama, just a quite celebration with respect to their saint. There are dominantly four types of Jains: Digambars and Svetambaras, Deravasis and Sthanakvasis. The worship rituals of Jains are not very elaborate or striking as their leader Mahavir was against idol worship in its ideal sense. Out of the four sects only Deravasis go to temples, while the others regard their ideal faith to be purest when internalized.

History

Mahavir Jain was born in the 5th century B.C. He was born in a palace of Vaishali to King Siddhartha and Queen Trisala. During the pregnancy, the queen is said to have had dreams of auspicious nature. The number of dreams varies in belief of each sect. After running his kingdom faithfully till 30 years of his age, the great saint gave up all luxuries and comforts of palace for penance. For twelve long years the saint had been under penance. At this time he was enlightened. He was known to be the 24th and the last tirthankara to have received enlightenment. He gave up all redundancies of life. He would eat on his palms refusing to use a plate. He also gave up wearing clothes. Getting rid of these rudimentary materials he focused on the real things and the real meaning of life. He preached the importance of truth and non-violence along with the message of not owning anything and not stealing. He later formulated all his teachings into a religion that he names Jainism.

Celebrations And Rituals

The festival is celebrated throughout the country among Jain communities. Although they believe in simplicity and avoid grandiosity, there are some significant ceremonies that they uphold. One of the most significant traditions of this day is the visit to various tirthankar statues and temples. There are processions with pictures and images of Mahavir. The temples have varied pujas to honor the statue of Mahavir by flowers, rice, fruits and abhishek it with milk. There are places of gathering or temples where the core values and message of Mahavira is preached. Some places his life history is also told. Some of the believers also observe a fast on this day. Kheer is prepared in most houses as a sweet dish.

Commonly Celebrated

Lord Mahavira, as it is believed in Jainism was born somewhere around the 5th century B.C. His birth date according to Lunar calendar is on the thirteenth day of the month of rising moon called Chaitr. According to the Gregorian calendar it falls somewhere in the month of April. The most important places of celebration of Mahavir Jayanti are Gujarat and Rajasthan. Gujarat is said to have to maximum number of Jain shrines. They are also the states where highest numbers of Jains reside. In India, Gujarat holds the biggest fair for this festival. Palitana and Girnar are some of the most significant places of worship of the state. Yet Vaishali, in Bihar, being the birth place of Mahavir, has its own importance and also celebrates this Jayanti significantly.

Since purity is one of the hallmarks of this day, 'Kheer', a sweet-dish made with rice and milk is prepared. Meat-eating is totally abstained from. Devotees generally prefer to dress in white. To mark the occasion, fairs are also held. As a symbolic gesture, on Buddha Purnima, Buddhists in India and other Buddhist countries make special efforts to light up their houses while streets are gloriously illumined with lights. In Orissa, Dhauligiri is a Buddhist site known for Buddha Purnima celebrations.

In Sikkim, scriptures are read before the Buddha statue throughout the day. Devotees gather in huge numbers to listen to discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha. Followers wear white robes on the day of Buddha Purnima. In Nepal, traditionally, this day witnesses a large congregation around Buddhists stupas. Likewise, Lumbini, the sacred birthplace of Lord Buddha, also sees mass participation of Buddhists from everywhere. In Sri Lanka, homes are brightly illuminated. In Japan, April 8th marks the Buddha's birthday, and a traditional way of worshipping is using spring flower for shrines and placing small Buddha idols on them. In Myanmar, Buddhists water and worship the Bodhi trees.

Ganesh Chaturthi



Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebration of the birth of Ganesh.

Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi is one of the most colorful and widely celebrated festivals in India. Large number of people observe Ganesha Chaturthi poojas at home. Here is an explanation on how to perform Ganesha puja at home as mentioned in Hindu scriptures.

Ganesha puja on the Chaturthi day is usually performed at noon but nowadays people perform it when all the family members are present.

Requirements
  • A Clay image of Lord Ganesha.
  • Red flowers.
  • Druva Grass blades.
  • Modak (jaggery filled sweet).
  • Coconut.
  • Red chandan (Sandalwood paste).
  • Incense and agarbathis.
The Puja

First clean the house and take a bath.

A Clay image of Lord Ganesha is installed in a raised platform. Pray to Lord Ganesh and you can recite mantras or bhajans dedicated to Lord Ganesha.

Next step is to invoke Ganesha into the image. This is known as pran-prathishta. The Pran Prathista mantra in Sanskrit to be invoked is found in the Rig Veda.

History and Origin of Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

The exact date of starting of puja on the Ganesha Chaturthi festival is not known by anyone however, according to the history it has been estimated that Ganesh Chaturthi was getting celebrated as a public event in the Pune during the time of Shivaji (founder of the Maratha Empire) during 1630 to 1680. Since Shivaji’s time, it was started celebrating regularly as Ganesha was Kuladevata of their empire. After end of Peshwas, it remained as a family celebration however revived again in 1893 by the Lokmanya Tilak (an Indian freedom fighter and social reformer).

Ganesha Chaturthi was started celebrating by the Hindu people as an annual domestic festival with a huge preparation. Gradually, it was started celebrating as a national festival to remove the conflicts between Brahmins and non-Brahmins as well as bring unity among people. People in the Maharashtra started celebrating this festival with lots of courage and nationalistic fervour during the British rule in order to get free from the cruel behaviour of Britishers. The ritual of Ganesh Visarjan was established by the Lokmanya Tilak.

Gradually, this festival was started celebrating by the people through community participation instead of family celebration. People of the society and community, get together to celebrate this festival as a community festival and to perform intellectual speech, recite poetry, dance, devotional songs, play, musical concerts, folk dances, recite mantras, aarti and many more activities in the group. People meet together before date and decide everything about celebration as well as how to control over large crowd.

Ganesh Chaturthi, a sacred Hindu festival, is celebrated by the people as a birth day of the Lord Ganesha (a God of God, means supreme God of wisdom and prosperity). The whole Hindu community celebrates together annually with full devotion and dedication. According to the Hindu mythology, it is believed that Ganesh was born on Chaturthi (4th day of bright fortnight) in Magh month. Since then, birth date of Lord Ganesha was started celebrating as Ganesh Chaturthi. Now-a-days, it is celebrated all over the world by the people of Hindu community.

In Maharashtra, it is most important festival and is celebrated for 10 days. It is celebrated from 4th to 14th day of bright fortnight of Bhadrapad month. In Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, images of Ganesh made of unbaked clay are worshipped on this day in every house. A special sweet called Modak is prepared on this occassion. To mark the end of the festivities, the clay idols are immersed in water.

Guru Nanak Jayanti



  • Place of Celebration: North India (Punjab and Haryana)
  • Time of Event: October/November
  • Significance of Festival : Sikh festival

Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru and the founder of the Sikh religion, was born on the full moon day in the month of Kartik as per the Hindu calendar. Guru Nanak Jayanti Sikh festival falls in the month of Kartik (October/November). Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak's Birthday and the other Gurpurbs with an Akhand Path, a reading of the Sikh holy scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, continuously from beginning to end. This is done by a team of Sikh men and women, each reading for 2-3 hours over 48 hours, beginning two days before and ending early on the morning of the birthday. On the penultimate day of Guru Nanak Jayanti, a procession takes place in the morning, which is more commonly known as the 'Prabhat pheri'. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyares, head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag). Local bands playing religious music form a special part of the procession.

Sikhs also visit gurdwaras where special programs are arranged and kirtans (religious songs) are sung. Houses and gurdwaras are lit up to add to the festivities. Guru Nanak Dev's life served as a beacon light for his age. He was a great seer, saint and mystic. He was a prolific poet and a unique singer of God's laudation. A prophet of peace, love, truth and renaissance, he was centuries ahead of his times. His universal message is as fresh and true even today as it was in the past and Sikhs all over the world, practice what Guru Nanak Dev preached, to reaffirm their beliefs in the teachings of their founder.

Sometimes the festival extends into the evening, with prayers and hymns continuing long into the night. Sikhs who are unable to visit the Gurdwara during the festival will hold a similar ceremony in their own homes.

Various lectures and poems are recited in the praise of Guru. Langar (special lunch) is served to people. The celebrations of Guru Nanak birthday are especially grand in the twin states of Punjab and Haryana.

Karah Parasaad is served after Path. This is a sweet-tasting food which has been blessed. It is made from semolina or wheat flour, sugar and ghee (clarified butter) and is served warm. The congregation will then share a langar (meal) from the free kitchen. Men, women, and children, participate in this karseva as service to the community by cooking food and distributing it in the 'Guru ka Langar', with the traditional 'Karah Prasad'. Celebrations may also include fireworks.

Guru Nanak Jayanti Significance

The birthday of the first Sikh guru is celebrated as Guru Nanak Jayanti in India and worldwide where Sikhs reside with immense fervor and gaiety. The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy Book of Sikhs, is read out continuously without a stop prior to the festival. Processions are carried out that consist of singing hymns and carrying the holy book on a float decorated with flowers. The main holy day is spent in reciting morning hymns and hymns from the Sikh scriptures. Guru Nanak Jayanti has a lot of religious and historical significance for the people of Sikh religion. Read through the following lines to know why Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated. Importance Of Guru Nanak Jayanti Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the founder of the Sikhism religion and the first of the 10 Sikh gurus. He was born in 1469 A.D. into a Bedi Kshatriya family in the village of Rai Bhoi di Talwandi, now known as Nanakan Sahib near Lahore in Pakistan. His father, Mehta Kalyan Das Bedi, better known as Mehta Kalu, was the accountant of crop revenue in the village, while his mother, Tripti Devi was a homemaker. He had one elder sister, Bebe Nanaki. Since childhood, Nanak was attracted towards spirituality, purity, justice, devotion and goodness. While his father used to give him money for buying goods from the marketplace, Nanak distributed all the money to a band of indigents he saw on the way or in the bazaar. Though he was born in a Kshatriya (warrior) family, Nanak studied both Hinduism and Islam. He got married to Mata Sulakhani and had two sons. However, Nanak soon realized his real calling and abandoned his family and wandered in the forests to become an ascetic. While wandering in the jungles for years, he was highly influenced by both Hindus and Muslims, especially Sufis. He was highly impressed by Kabirs teachings. Nanak then started preaching .There is no Hindu, there is no Mussulman. In a young age, he underwent a profound spiritual experience. While taking a bath in the river Baain, he disappeared and reappeared after three days. It is said that during that time Nanak came in direct communion with God. Nanak used to sit with holy men, pandits and mullahs and spend hours with them in long discussions. Nanak was a great seer, saint, mystic, prolific poet and unique singer of Gods laudation. His only message was to spread love, peace, truth and renaissance. Even today, Sikhs all across the world practice Guru Nanaks. preaching to reaffirm their belief in the founders teachings. Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with pride, honor and great respect. Processions are carried out and the gurudwaras are decorated and illuminated.

Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti



Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti (also spelled Govind Singh) is a Sikh festival that commemorates the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. It is a religious celebration in which prayers for prosperity are offered.

Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth guru and was one of the most celebrated gurus. He belonged to Sikh gurus' sacred lineage. He formalised faith and helped in forming the pre-form of Sikhism, Khalsa. At a very young age of eleven, Guru Gobind Singh succeeded his father. He always carried his two swords, which are known as 'Piri' and Miri'. Both these swords denote Shakti and Bhakti. He helped in fighting against oppression of the Sikh by the Mughal rulers. Guru Gobind Singh was one of the last of ten Gurus. Because of his huge contribution towards Sikhism, the tenth guru is considered as the eternal guru. Guru Gobind Singh had established a book Guru Granth Sahib, which is followed by the Sikhs even today.

As far as Sikhs Nanakshahi calendar is concerned, every year, Guru Gobind Jayanti falls on January 5. However, the Hindu Vikram Calendar suggests that the Jayanti may come during late December. This festival can happen twice a year, which is very rare.

Guru Gobind Jayanti is celebrated when Guru Gobind Singh was ordained and it is also called as Gurgaddi Divas. Hundreds thousands of devotees and pilgrims throng Amritsar's Golden Temple. In northern India, tourists prefer visiting the Golden Temple as a major attraction. The influx of tourists increases during the festivities time.

Government institutions, offices, banks, businesses and public transport services remain open on Guru Gorvind Singh Jayanti as it is a restricted holiday. The holidays depend on where the individual stays and his/her proximity to the festival. Focusing on the religious observance, some schools also remain open.

Celebration

Guru Gobind Jayanthi is celebrated by bursting crackers, and lighting diyas and lamps in their houses and Gurudwaras around by most Sikhs. The Gurudwaras appear all lit up. On this day the Gurudwaras organised processions and special prayers. Prakash Utsav is another name for this festival. The Gurudwara prepares food for all the visitors, irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. Before serving the food, all the Sikhs get together and recite the Guru Grantha Sahib. Special gatherings for prayer are also held at the worship place Gurudwara.

The tourists can feel and experience what a real Indian culture feels like when moving along the streets in procession, and listening to all the devotional and folk songs of the area. During these processions, sweets and Sharbat, which is a sweetened drink, is distributed to the children and adults around the city and the locals. These large processions usually pass through the markets in India. If you have an appetite for Punjabi cuisine, then you will definitely have more than one reason to rejoice. During this day, local delicacies like Puligore (tamarind rice dish) and Holige, which is sweet bread accompanied by Ugadi Pachadi (sweet and sour chutney made of neem flowers, raw mango, tamarind and type of sugar jiggery), are made and shared to everyone you know in abundance.

On the tenth guru's birthday, historical lectures are organised and poems are recited in order to praise him.

Guru Govind Singh Jayanti Observances

Note: Individuals can take a limited number of restricted holidays but government offices and most businesses remain open. This system gives individuals the flexibility to take time off to celebrate a holiday within India's vast religious and cultural society.

Hanuman Jayanti



Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated every year by the people in India to commemorate the birth of Hindu Lord, Hanuman. It is celebrated annually in the Hindi month of Chaitra (Chaitra Pournima) on 15th day of the Shukla Paksha.

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon day (pournima) of the Hindu lunar month of Chaitra. A special feature of Hanuman Jayanti is that according to some religious almanacs (panchangs) the birthday of Shri Hanuman falls on the fourteenth day (chaturdashi) in the dark fortnight of the month of Ashvin while according to others it falls on the full moon day in the bright fortnight of Chaitra. On this day, in a Hanuman temple spiritual discourses are started at dawn. Hanuman was born at sunrise. At that time the spiritual discourse is stopped and the offering of food (Prasad) is distributed to everyone.

Significance of Hanuman Jayanti Celebration

Hanuman Jayanti celebration indicates the balanced coexistence of the whole human fraternity with the nature’s incredible creature, Lord Hanuman from Vanara community. People from the Hindu religion worship Lord Hanuman as a divine creature. This celebration has lots of importance to all however Brahmacharis, wrestlers and bodybuilders are specially inclined towards this celebration. There are many names through which Lord Hanuman is famous among his devotees like Bajrangabali, Pavanasuta, Pavankumar, Mahavira, Balibima, Marutsuta, Anjanisut, Sankat Mochan, Anjaneya, Maruti, Rudra and many more.

Hanuman avatar is considered as the 11th Rudra avatar of the Lord Siva with great devotion, strength, knowledge, divine power, bravery, intelligence, spirit for selfless service and etc. He has devoted his life only for his Lord Rama and Mata Sita and never shows his bravery and intelligence without any purpose. The devotees of the Lord Hanuman always pray him for getting blessed with the same for their bright future. He is worshipped in many ways by his devotees; some meditates by repeating his name many times to get power, fame, success and etc in the life whereas some reads the Hanuman Chalisa to get the same.

History behind Celebration of Hanuman Jayanti

Once, a great saint named Angira went to visit the heaven king, Indra and welcomed there through the dance presented by a damsel named, Punjiksthala. However, saint was not used of that type dance and started meditating on his God. After the end of dance, he was asked by the Indra about the performance of dance. He was silent and said that I was in deep meditation to my Almighty because I have no interest in such dance. It was very ashamed to the Indra and damsel; she started disappointing the saint and then cursed by the Angira that “Behold! You shall degrade to earth from Swarg. You will be born as a female monkey in the mountain forests”.

She then felt sorry and regretted to the saint then a merciful saint supported her through blessings like, “A great devotee of Paramatma will be born to you. He will forever serve Paramatma”. She became the daughter of Kunjar (king of the monkeys on earth) and got married to the Kapiraj Kesari of the Mount Sumeru. She gave birth to the Hanuman with the help of five divine factors such as curse and blessings of the saint Angira, her prayers, blessings of Lord Shiva, blessings of Vayu deva and Putreshti Yagna’s fruit. It is considered that Lord Shiva had to rebirth as a human being on the earth in his 11th Rudra avatar in the form of Hanuman as He could not serve to the Lord Rama by being in His real form.

The whole Vanara community including all the human fraternity was happy and celebrated his birthday with great enthusiasm and joy by dancing, singing and lots of activities. From then, it was started celebrating as a Hanuman Jayanti by his devotees to get strength and wisdom like him.

Ritualistic worship

1. Ritualistic worship of Shri Hanuman (Maruti) There is a specific science to the ritualistic worship of each Deity. This means that, actions done in a particular way during the ritualistic worship, have a specific underlying science. Just by following these actions, we can get maximum benefit of that Deity's Principle. The following questions and answers contains the divine knowledge received by the seekers regarding exactly how some routine actions should be performed during the ritualistic worship of Shri Hanuman (Maruti).

  • 1. Applying sindoor
  • Q. - How should a worshipper apply sindoor before starting the ritualistic worship of Maruti ?
  • Ans. - Sindoor should be applied with the ring finger.
  • 2. Offering flowers
  • Q. - Which flowers should be offered? In what number? What is the method of offering the flowers ?
  • Ans. - Flowers and leaves of calotropis (ruee) Five or multiples of five. The stems of flowers should be turned towards the Deity.
  • 3. Waving incense sticks
  • Q. - Incense sticks of which fragrances should be used? How many incense sticks should be used ? What is the method of waving ?
  • Ans. - Kewda, Chameli (Jasmine) and Ambar. Two incense sticks. Holding them between the index finger and thumb of the right hand, the incense sticks should be waved thrice, in a clockwise direction, in a full circle.
  • 4. Circumambulation
  • Q. - How many circumambulations should be performed around Maruti ?
  • Ans. - Minimum five but if a worshipper wants to perform more, then they should be in multiples of five.