Indian Festivals and Holidays

Jun
5
Fri
2020
Sant Kabirdas Jayanti
Jun 5 all-day
Sant Kabirdas Jayanti

Sant Kabirdas (1440-1518 CE) was a famous poet, saint and social reformer of India. The years of Kabir’s birth and death are unclear. Some historians favor 1398–1448 as the period Kabir lived, while others favor 1440–1518. The birth anniversary of Sant Kabir is observed on Jyeshtha Purnima as per Hindu lunar calendar.

Sant Kabir’s writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement. Kabir Panth which is a religious community recognizes him as its founder and its members are known as Kabir Panthis, the followers of Saint Kabirdas.

It is clearly not known about his birth parents but it is noted that he has been grew up by the very poor family of Muslim weavers. He was very spiritual person and became a great Sadhu. He got fame all over the world because of his influential traditions and culture. He was founded in Lehartara, a small town in Varanasi by the Niru and Nima (his care taker parents). His parents were extremely poor and uneducated but they adopted the little baby very heartily and trained him about their own business. He lived the balanced life of a simple house holder and a mystic.

It is considered that he got all his spiritual training from his Guru named, Ramananda, in his early childhood. His writings include Bijak, Sakhi Granth, Kabir Granthawali and Anurag Sagar. The major part of Kabir’s work was collected by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, and incorporated into the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib. The hallmark of Kabir’s work consists of his two line couplets, known as Kabir Ke Dohe.

Sant Kabir was prejudiced by the existing religious mood of that time like Hinduism, Tantrism as well as the personal devotionalism mixed with the imageless God of Islam. Kabir Das is the first Indian saint who has coordinated the Hinduism and Islam by giving a universal path which could be followed by both Hindus and Muslims. According to him every life has relationship with two spiritual principles (Jivatma and Paramatma). His view about the moksha that, it is the process of uniting these two divine principles.

Jun
21
Sun
2020
Longest Day of Year
Jun 21 all-day
Longest Day of Year

The Solstice, derived from the Latin words for “sun stationary” is an astronomical event that happens twice, once in summer and once in winter, each year when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole. Because of Earth’s tilt of 23.4 degrees to its orbit, the noon sun appears to rise and fall in the sky over the course of the year. On this day, the earth’s “circle of illumination” will be from the Arctic Circle on the far side of the earth (in relation to the sun) to the Antarctic Circle on the near side of the earth.

Solstices occur on 20th or 21st June and 21st or 22nd December each year. During summer the day of the solstice is the longest day of the year and during winter the day of the solstice is the shortest day of the year.

During June it is Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere and Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere. In other words during June Solstice it is summer time in the UK, the USA, Canada, Russia, India and China and it is the longest day of the year while it is winter time in Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa and it is the shortest day of the year.

Similarly during December it is Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere and Summer Solstice in the Southern hemisphere. In other words during December Solstice it is winter time in the UK, the USA, Canada, Russia, India and China and it is the shortest day of the year while it is summer time in Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa and it is the longest day of the year.

To avoid any confusion Solstices are preferably referred as June Solstice (Northern Solstice) and December Solstice (Southern Solstice). Summer Solstice is also known as Aestival Solstice.

Jun
23
Tue
2020
Jagannath Puri Ratha Yatra
Jun 23 all-day
Jagannath Puri Ratha Yatra
Jagannath Puri Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra is a huge Hindu festival and it is organized each year at famous Jagannatha temple in Puri. This is one of the most awaited Hindu festivals of the state as well as the country. Chariots of Lord Jagannath is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Odisha, on the second (dwitiya) day of shukla pakshya (waxing cycle of moon) of Ashadh Maas (3rd month in Lunar Calendar). Currently it falls in month of June or July in Gregorian calendar.

This festival has also been mentioned in the Puranas of Hinduism including Padma, Brahma, and Skanda Purana. Lord Jagannatha is considered a form of Lord Vishnu and also revered by the followers of Vaishnavism. Jagannatha literally means Lord of the Universe. Jagannatha temple is one of the four Hindu pilgrimage centers known as Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one’s lifetime. Lord Jagannatha is worshipped along with his brother Balabhadra and his sister Devi Subhadra.

Lord Jagannatha’s chariot is called Nandighosa. It is forty-five feet high and forty-five feet square at the wheel level. It has sixteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter, and is decked with a cover made of red and yellow cloth. The chariot of Lord Balarama, called the Taladhwaja, is the one with the Palm Tree on its flag. It has fourteen wheels, each of seven-foot diameter and is covered with red and blue cloth. Its height is forty-four feet. The chariot of Subhadra, known as Dwarpadalana, literally “trampler of pride,” is forty-three feet high with twelve wheels, each of seven-foot diameter. This chariot is decked with a covering of red and black cloth.

Ratha Yatra commemorates Lord Jagannatha’s annual visit to Gundicha (गुंडीचा) Mata temple. It is said that to honor the devotion of Queen Gundicha, wife of the legendary King Indradyumna (इन्द्रद्युमना) who built the Puri Jagannatha temple, the Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra leave their regular abode in the main temple and spend a few days in this temple built by Gundicha in their honor.

One day before of Ratha Yatra, Gundicha Temple is cleaned by devotees of Lord Jagannatha. The ritual of cleaning Gundicha temple is known as Gundicha Marjana (मार्जन) and is held one day before Ratha Yatra.

The fourth day after Ratha Yatra is celebrated as Hera Panchami (हेरा पञ्चमी) when Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Jagannatha, visits Gundicha temple in search of Lord Jagannatha. Hera Panchami should not be confused with Panchami Tithi as Hera Panchami is celebrated on the fourth day after Ratha Yatra and usually observed on Shashthi Tithi.

After resting eight days in Gundicha temple Lord Jagannatha returns to his main abode. This day is known as Bahuda (बहुदा) Yatra or Return Yatra and is observed on the eighth day after Ratha Yatra on Dashami Tithi (if we don’t have any skipped or leaped Tithi during Lords’ stay in Gundicha temple). During Bahuda Yatra Lord makes a short stoppage at Mausi Maa temple which is dedicated to Goddess Ardhashini.

It should be noted that Lord Jagannatha returns to his main abode just before Devshayani Ekadashi when Lord Jagannatha goes to sleep for four months. Ratha Yatra is also known as Puri Car Festival among foreign visitors.

It should be noted that rituals of Ratha Yatra start much ahead of Ratha Yatra day. Approximately 18 days before of Ratha Yatra Lord Jagannatha, his brother Balabhadra and his sister Devi Subhadra are given famous ceremonial bath which is known as Snana Yatra. Snana Yatra day is observed on Purnima Tithi in Jyeshtha month which is popularly known as Jyestha Purnima.

Jul
27
Mon
2020
Tulsidas Jayanti
Jul 27 all-day
Tulsidas Jayanti

Tulsidas (1497-1623 C.E.) was a Hindu saint, reformer, philosopher and the poet. Tulsidas is renowned for his great devotion towards Lord Rama. Tulsidas composed several works but he is best known as the author of the great epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana in the vernacular Awadhi language.

According to Hindu lunar calendar, Tulsidas was born on Shravana, Shukla Paksha Saptami (7th day) and this day is observed as birth anniversary of Poet Tulsidas. Tulsidas is also known as Goswami Tulsidas. His birth place is identified at the Rajapur (also known as the Chitrakuta) at the banks of the Yamuna river in UP. The name of his parents is Hulsi and Atmaram Dubey. There is various opinions regarding the birth year of Tulsidas. Many of them say according to the Vikrami Samvat that he took birth in 1554 and other say it was 1532. He lived his life around 126 years. After his birth, he told Rama word instead of crying. That’s why he named as Rambola, he himself had stated in Vinayapatrika. At the fourth night after his birth his father had passed away and Tulsidas had stated in his works Kavitavali and Vinayapatrika about his parents abandonment after his birth. Chuniya (the female maid of his mother Hulsi) took Tulsidas to her town, Haripur and took care of him for next five and a half years till she died. Rambola (Tulsidas) was given the Virakta Diksha (known as Vairagi initiation) and got the new name, Tulsidas. His Upanayana was performed by the Narharidas at Ayodhya when he was just of 7 years old. He came to the sacred city Varanasi when he was just 15–16 years old and got the knowledge of Sanskrit grammar, Hindu literature and philosophy, four Vedas, six Vedangas, Jyotisha from his guru Shesha Sanatana at the Panchaganga Ghat in Varanasi.

He got married to the Ratnavali (the daughter of Dinbandhu Pathak of Mahewa village and Kaushambi district) at the 13th day of the Jyeshta month (May or June) in the year 1583. After some years of the marriage he got a son named Tarak who died in his toddler state. Her wife remarked that devote yourself to the God fully. He then left her wife and went to the holy city of Prayag (where he renounced the stages of Grihastha life and became a Sadhu). According to the some authors, he was unmarried and Sadhu from the birth. He died on the river bank of Gange at the Assi Ghat in the month of Shraavan (July or August) in 1623.

Tulsidas was acclaimed to be a reincarnation of Maharishi Valmiki, the composer of the original Ramayana in Sanskrit. He is also considered to be the composer of Hanuman Chalisa, a popular devotional hymn in Awadhi dedicated to Lord Hanuman.

Goswami Tulsidas lived his whole life as well as died in the city of Benares society in the India. The famous Tulsi Ghat on the Ganges River in Varanasi is named after him. The famous Sankatmochan Temple dedicated to God Hanuman is believed to be founded by Tulsidas.

Jul
31
Fri
2020
Bakrid, Eid al-Adha
Jul 31 all-day
Bakrid, Eid al-Adha

Eid al Adha or Eid ul Zuha or Bakrid is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim lunar calendar, known as the Hijri calendar. This holy day is celebrated by the Muslim community throughout the world on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijjah and holds a special place in the hearts of the entire community. The holy day of Bakrid is known as Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and means “Feast of the Sacrifice”.

This festival was named thus, as its origin lay in the Islamic history as per which, it was on this day that God decided to test the faith of Abraham. It so happed, that Abraham, who was one of the Prophets of God saw a dream in which, the almighty commanded him to sacrifice his son. Abraham and his son both showed willingness to perform this ultimate sacrifice and just as after slitting his son’s throat Abraham looked at the alter, where he expected to find his son’s lifeless body, he saw a dead ram instead and his son was standing hail and hearty. God delivered his son from death, as the duo had passed his test of faith. Thus, to commemorate the devotion, spirit of sacrifice and unquestioning faith in the almighty, Muslims perform animal sacrifice and offer prayers, to mark this occasion.

The celebrations of Bakrid also corresponds with another significant event that occurred in the history of Islam i.e. the completion of the holy Quran, this makes the revelry twofold.

The word ‘bakri’ means goat in Hindi, thus giving rise to the name Bakr-Id. It occurs after the Hajj pilgrimage, which is the fifth pillar of Islam, undertaken by the Muslims. It is celebrated with ritualistic fervor in Andhra Pradesh and in particular, the old city of Hyderabad.

Aug
3
Mon
2020
Raksha Bandhan
Aug 3 all-day
Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is a special Hindu festival which is celebrated in India and countries like Nepal to symbolize the love between a brother and a sister. This is celebrated in Shravana month during full moon day or Purnima day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar. It typically falls in the August month of Gregorian calendar. Bhadra prevails during first half of Purnima Tithi and one should avoid tying Rakhi during Bhadra.

The festival is made up of two words, namely “Raksha” and “Bandhan.” As per the Sanskrit terminology, the occasion means “the tie or knot of protection”. Together, the festival symbolizes the eternal love of brother-sister relationship which does not mean just the blood relationships only. It is also celebrated among cousins, sister and sister-in-law (Bhabhi), fraternal aunt (Bua) and nephew (Bhatija) and other such relations. There are several stories related to the celebration of this special festival.

As per an account of Bhagavata Purana and Vishnu Purana, when Lord Vishnu won the three worlds from the demon King Bali, he asked by the demon king to stay beside him in the palace. The Lord accepted the requested and started living with the demon king. However, Goddess Lakshmi, wife of Lord Vishnu wanted to return to his native place of Vaikuntha. So, she tied the rakhi around the wrist of demon king, Bali and made him a brother. On asking about the return gift, Goddess Lakshmi asked Bali to free her husband from the vow and let him return to Vaikuntha. Bali agreed to the request and Lord Vishnu returned to his place with his wife, Goddess Lakshmi.

According to the ancient legend of Bhavishya Purana, once there was a fierce battle between Gods and demons. Lord Indra was fighting the battle on the side of Gods was having a tough resistance from the powerful demon King, Bali. The war continued for a long time and did not came on a decisive end. Seeing this, Indra’s wife Sachi went to the Lord Vishnu who gave her a holy bracelet made up of cotton thread. Sachi tied the holy thread around the wrist of her husband, Lord Indra who ultimately defeated the demons and recovered the Amaravati. Unlike, the present times, those holy threads were not limited to brother-sister relationships.

Based on an account of Mahabharat, Draupadi, wife of Pandavas tied a piece of cloth from her sari to Lord Krishna when he hurt his finger while setting off his Sudarshan Chakra to fight evil and Kunti tied the rakhi to grandson Abhimanyu before the epic war.

Another legend says that the death God, Yama did not visit his sister Yamuna for a period of 12 years who ultimately became very sad. On the advice of Ganga, Yama went to meet his sister Yamuna who has very happy and performed hospitality of her brother, Yama. This made the Yama delighted who asked Yamuna for a gift. She expressed her desire to see her brother again and again. Hearing this, Yama made his sister, Yamuna immortal so that he could see her again and again. This mythological account forms the basis of festival called “Bhaiya Dooj” which is also based on the brother-sister relationship.

The festival is celebrated in different forms in different areas and is also known by different names. The festival is mainly celebrated by the Hindus in the northern and western parts of India along with countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Mauritius. The occasion is also revered by the Jain community where Jain priests give ceremonial threads to the devotees. This festival devoted to the brother-sister love is observed by the Sikhs as “Rakhardi” or Rakhari.

Aug
11
Tue
2020
Shree Krishna Janmashtami
Aug 11 – Aug 12 all-day
Shree Krishna Janmashtami

Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Janmashtami is a religious and one of the most important festival commemorating the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as KrishnashtamiGokulashtamiAshtami RohiniSrikrishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanthi. Krishna was born on ‘Ashtami’ or the ‘eighth day’ at midnight in the holy month of Shravana. Most of the time, Krishna Janmashtami is listed on two consecutive days. The first one is for Smarta Sampradaya and other one is for Vaishanava Sampradaya. Vaishanava Sampradaya date is the latter one. A single date for Janmashtami means that both Sampradaya would observe Janmashtami on the same date.

The reason behind this unanimity is the institution of ISKCON. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as ISKCON is founded on the principles of Vaishnava traditions and most followers of the ISKCON are the followers of Vaishnavism. In North India most people observe Janmashtami on the day chosen by ISKCON. Many people who are not the followers of Vaishnavism don’t even understand that ISKCON traditions are different and the most appropriate day to observe Janmashtami fasting might not be same as that of ISKCON. In ISKCON tradition, Janmashtami will be celebrated on 3rd Sepetember 2018.

Raas lila, a night vigil (jagarana), fasting (upavasa) and celebrations (mahotsava) are important parts of Janmashtami. The event is particularly celebrated by ardent Vaishnavism followers because Krishna is was the eighth avatar of God Vishnu. Lord Krishna’s uncle, King Kansa, wanted to kill him. So as soon as he was born, his father Vasudeva took him across the Yamuna to Gokul where he was then taken care of by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. On Janmashtami, devotees honour how Krishna emerged victorious over the trials and tribulations over his birth, and later over the evil King Kansa.

Believers fast the whole day, spending the time singing devotional songs. They also maintain a vigil into the night as Krishna was born at midnight. The devotees offer ‘chappan bhog’, a list of 56 dishes, to the God on the following day known as ‘Nanda Utsav’. After the offering, the prasad is then distributed and shared among the devotees.

Aug
15
Sat
2020
Independence Day
Aug 15 all-day
Independence Day

The Independence Day of India is celebrated religiously throughout the Country on the 15th of August every year and it reminds every Indian about the dawn of a new beginning. It was the day when India was declared independent from British colonialism. Today, Independence Day is considered as a national festival and regardless of religion, class, race, and creed, it is celebrated and rejoiced with several events and cultural programs. It is a day of celebration when we rejoice our freedom and pay homage to those who laid down their lives winning it for us. A festival every Indian holds dearest to his heart, Independence Day commemorates the arduous journey that was undertaken by millions of brave Indians to break away from the shackles of colonial rule. Incidentally, India is not the only country to celebrate Independence Day on August 15, here are five more countries Republic of Congo, North Korea, South Korea, Bahrain and Liechtenstein celebrate their freedom on the same day.

India, world’s largest democracy, is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Our Independence struggle involved wide spectrum of political organisations of India, their philosophies, and movements which were united only for one noble cause; to end the British Colonial Authority and thrive as an independent nation.

British rule in India began in 1757 when, following the British victory at the Battle of Plassey, the English East India Company began exercising control over the country. The East India Company ruled India for 100 years, until it was replaced by the British crown in the wake of the Indian Mutiny in 1857–58. In the decades following, civic society gradually emerged across India, most notably the Indian National Congress Party, formed in 1885. During the 1930 s, reform was gradually legislated by the British; Congress won victories in the resulting elections. In February 1947, Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced that the British government would grant full self-governance to British India by June 1948 at the latest. The new viceroy, Lord Mountbatten chose the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, 15 August, as the date of power transfer. The British government announced on 3 June 1947 that it had accepted the idea of partitioning British India into two states, India and Pakistan.

Independence Day is marked throughout India with flag-raising ceremonies, drills, and the singing of the Indian national anthem. Additionally, various cultural programs are made available in the state capitals. After the prime minister participates in the flag-raising ceremony at the Red Fort historic monument in Old Delhi, a parade ensues with members of the armed forces and police.

Aug
20
Thu
2020
Al-Hijra, Islamic New Year
Aug 20 all-day
Al-Hijra, Islamic New Year

Al-Hijra is an annual Muslim festival marking the first day of the Islamic New Year and the month of Muharram. This day represents the journey of the Prophet Muhammed from two of the holiest sites in Islam, from Mecca to Medina, in 624CE. Hijra itself means “migration” in Arabic. Muharram itself is one of the four sacred months of the Islamic lunar calendar, of which there are 12 in total, and the second most important after Ramadan. The month moves from year-to-year as it follows the moon phases.

The names of the 12 months in the Islamic lunar Calendar are-

  1. Muharram
  2. Safar
  3. Rabiul-Awwal
  4. Rabi-uthani
  5. Jumadi-ul-Awwal
  6. Jumadi-uthani
  7. Rajab
  8. Sha’ban
  9. Ramadan
  10. Shawwal
  11. Dhil-Q’ada
  12. Dhil-Hijja

As in the western new year, Muslims often make resolutions on Al-Hijra, but the Islamic New Year and the wider sacred month are worshipped differently in the two predominant strands of Islam, Shiite and Sunni. For Shiites, he fact that the day coincides with the anniversary of the Battle of Karbala, which took place in the southern Iraqi city in 680, is significant. Shiites argue that only relatives of the Prophet Muhammad should succeed as caliph, which sparked the split between Shiite and Sunni after the Muhammed’s death. Mohammed’s first cousin, Ali, was murdered in 661 and at Karbala, his grandson Hussein Ibn Ali was killed by an army sent by Sunni caliph Yazid I. His defeat marked the ascendance of Sunni Islam over the Shiites, a discourse that is very much present in modern politics today, with Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran battling for influence in the Muslim world.

Shiites now mourn Hussain’s death for the first ten days of Muharram and take part in reenactments of the battle. Of particular significance is the tenth day of the month, known as Ashura, the day that Hussein was killed. Shiite Muslims fast and pray in the build-up to Ashura on what will be the Year 1438 AH, which stands for the year of “Hijra.” Millions of Shiite pilgrims travel to their holiest sites for the commemoration, located in both Iran and Iraq, particularly Karbala, which is situated 100 kilometers south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. They mourn, beat their chests in what is called Latyma, and self-flaggelate, cutting incisions into their heads with machetes. Sunni Muslims, instead of mourning, fast on the day of Ashura to celebrate the victory of Moses over an Egyptian pharaoh on the 10th day of the sacred month.

Aug
22
Sat
2020
Ganesh Chaturthi
Aug 22 all-day
Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and Ganesh Chauth, is celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh. On Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month. Currently Ganesh Chaturthi day falls in month of August or September in English calendar according to the Hindu calendar.

Ganesha, one of the most beloved gods is known by 108 different names in our culture. He is considered to be a symbol of good fortune, wisdom, prosperity and wealth. The Ganeshotsav, the festivity of Ganesh Chaturthi, ends after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi which is also known as Ganesh Visarjan day. On Anant Chaturdashi, devotees immerse idol of Lord Ganesh in water body after a gala street procession.

As per Hindu time-keeping, the time duration between sunrise to sunset is divided into five equal parts. These five parts are known as Pratahkala, Sangava, Madhyahna, Aparahna and Sayankal. Ganapati Sthapana and Ganapati Puja on Ganesha Chaturthi are done during Madhyahna part of the day and as per Vedic astrology it is considered the most appropriate time for Ganesha Puja.

Out of all the stories linked to the history of this festival, the most relevant one dates back to the time of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that Parvati is the creator of Ganesha. The story says that Parvati used her sandalwood paste and created Ganesha in the absence of Shiva. She gave him the work of guarding her bathroom door while she was bathing. After Shiva returned home, Ganesha and Shiva got into a tiff due to which Shiva severed the head of the child. Witnessing this site, Parvati enraged and Lord Shiva promised getting Ganesh back to life. The followers searched for a child’s head facing north, but all they could find was an elephant’s head. And that’s how our Gajanana was born.

It is believed that one should not sight the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. Sighting moon on Ganesh Chaturthi creates Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank (कलंक) which means false accusation of stealing something. As per Puranic legends, Lord Krishna was falsely accused of stealing precious jewel named Syamantaka. After seeing plights of Lord Krishna, Sage Narada informed that Lord Krishna sighted moon on the day of Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturthi and because of that he has been cursed with Mithya Dosha. Sage Narada further informed Lord Krishna that God Chandra has been cursed by Lord Ganesha that anyone who sighted moon on Shukla Chaturthi during Bhadrapada month would be cursed with Mithya Dosha and would be tainted and dishonoured in the society. On the advice of sage Narada Lord Krishna observed Ganesha Chaturthi fasting to get rid of Mithya Dosha.

If anyone has mistakenly sighted moon on Ganesha Chaturthi then he should chant following Mantra to get rid of the curse –

सिंहः प्रसेनमवधीत्सिंहो जाम्बवता हतः।
सुकुमारक मारोदीस्तव ह्येष स्यमन्तकः॥
Sinhah Prasenamavadhitsinho Jambavata Hatah।
Sukumaraka Marodistava Hyesha Syamantakah॥
Aug
29
Sat
2020
Muharram
Aug 29 all-day
Muharram

The new moon signals the beginning of the month of Muharram which refers to the first month of the Islamic lunar Calendar. The Hijri New Year is the name given to the first day of the month. It is the tenth and the most significance day of the sacred month of Muharram according to the Muslims. Shia Muslims celebrate this day to mourn the death of Husayn Ibn Ali, the Sunni Muslims observe this day to celebrate the victory of Moses over Egyptian Pharaoh.

Muharram marks the anniversary of the battle of Karbala and is widely commemorated by Shia Muslims. According to the legend popular among Shia Muslims, Husayn Ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, was beheaded during the Battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram. Husayn Ibn Ali is an important figure in Muslim religion and is believed to be a member of the Muhammad’s household. During the reign of Yazid, it is believed that Husayn refused to accept the Islamic rules laid down by Yazid. Instead, Husayn decided to revolt against the ruler which led to the uprising in Karbalan. During the battle of Karbalan, Husayn was beheaded while his family was imprisoned in Damascus. However, according to Sunni Muslims, it was on this day that Moses gained victory over Egyptian Pharaohs. Moses was a religious leader and was meant to propagate religious teachings around the world.

Shia and Sunni Muslims, both the factions observe fast on this day, with the Sunni Muslims observing fast for an extra day, either before or after this day. It is believed that this extra fasting day is observed in accordance with the teachings of Muhammad Prophet. In certain cases, the Shia Muslims fast for the whole month and also flagellate themselves with sticks and rods on this day. They harm themselves to commemorate the sufferings of Husayn Ibn Ali while fighting against the oppressive regime of Yazid. Muharram is a period for self-reflection and to remember the battle of Karbala.

Aug
31
Mon
2020
Onam
Aug 31 all-day
Onam

Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala. Onam is Malayali festival which is celebrated by native speakers of Malayalam. Onam is the National festival of Kerala and it is celebrated by the people of the State with great enthusiasm and happiness. Onam day is decided based on Solar Calendar. Onam is celebrated in Chingam month (August – September) on Malayalam Solar Calendar. Chingam month is known as Simha month in other solar calendars and Avani month in Tamil Calendar. The day when Nakshatra Thiruvonam prevails in month of Chingam is considered for Onam celebrations. Thiruvonam Nakshatra is known as Shravana in other Hindu Calendars. It is the biggest festival celebrated with joy and enthusiasm by people of all communities in Kerala, with four days of State holiday.

During the reign of mighty asura (demon) king, Mahabali, Kerala witnessed its golden era. Every body in the state was happy and prosperous and king was highly regarded by his subjects. Apart from all his virtues, Mahabali had one shortcoming. He was egoistic. This weakness in Mahabali’s character was utilized by Gods to bring an end to his reign as they felt challenged by Mahabali’s growing popularity. However, for all the good deed done by Mahabali, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so attached. The festival commemorates the appearance of Vamana avatar of Vishnu and the subsequent home coming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali. Onam celebrates the Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala (the underworld). On Thiruvonam day, Asura King Mahabali is believed to visit every Malayali home and meet his people.

The celebrations of Onam start on Atham day (the day when Atham Nakshatra prevails) and continue for 10 days till Thiruvonam day. Atham Nakshatra is known as Hasta Nakshatra in other Hindu Calendars.

Rich cultural heritage of Kerala comes out in its best form and spirit during the ten day long festival. It is indeed a treat to be a part of the grand carnival. People of Kerala make elaborate preparations to celebrate it in the best possible manner. Another enchanting feature of Onam is Vallamkali,the Snake Boat Race, held on the river Pampa. It is a colourful sight to watch the decorated boat oared by hundreds of boatmen amidst chanting of songs and cheering by spectators.