686 – Hindu Festivals are always joyous

Hindu festivals have no sadness, and our festivals celebrate triumph of good over evil, the expression of devotion to the deities and thanks for the harvests. Each festival centers around the rituals of prayer and seeking of blessings. This also entails new clothes, cleaning and decorating the homes and making sweets and savories for offerings. Feasting and dancing are present in many of the festivities.

What do our festivals represent?

They are an expression of the virtue and power of God and the destruction of evil. Families and friends get together. It is an occasion, when woman power is idolized, and the female energy is behind all the preparations.

We have many festivals. The most important ones are Makar Sankranti, Shivratri, Holi, Onam, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra and Diwali.

Makar Sankranti is referred to by many names. It is Lori in the north and Pongal in some parts of South India. It is a celebration of the ascent of the sun to the north. It marks the coldest day of the winter, and after this the winter becomes less cold. In the north, one lights a bonfire, into which rice, popcorn and sweets are thrown in. Delicious sweets are made from white sesame and jaggery with peanuts. In the south, prayers are offered to Surya early in the morning as without him, there would be no harvest. Pongal is made, which is rice cooked with jaggery and milk.

Shivratri is the night of Shiva. It is celebrated in early March. People fast from morning until the next morning. The night is spent in adoration of Shiva. Cooling foods are offered to Shiva as he is volatile. Milk, water and leaves of the wood apple are offered to him. Another drink offered to him is thandai, which is made from milk, almonds, and hemp seeds. Hemp is loved by Shiva.

Holi comes in mid-March, the arrival of spring. One plays with colored water. Dancing and singing are part of it. It is associated with Krishna. Again, sweets are made, and these are very unusual. Here again thandai and hemp pakoras are partaken.

Onam is celebrated in Kerala (in August and September). It is a harvest festival.

Janmashtami is celebrated all over and it is the celebration of the birth of Krishna. There is fasting observed and at midnight the fast is broken with the offering of 56 dishes.

Ganesh Chaturthi is the birthday of Ganesha. He removes all obstacles from one’s life. His image is installed in various homes and then after a couple of days the images are displayed in a procession with much singing and dancing and then immersed in the water. His favorite food is modak (wheat flower pastry stuffed with coconut and jaggery, baked on a griddle). It is offered to him throughout the festival. The festival continues for ten days in Maharashtra.

Dussehra is celebrated in October and commemorates the victory of good over evil. The effigy of Ravana, the demon king is burnt. In this period the story of Rama is narrated and enacted in public performances. It lasts ten days and on the final day, new ventures are started.

Diwali is celebrated 21 days after Dussehra. This festival celebrates the return of Rama to his hometown, after having lived in exile for 14 years. Lamps are lit in all the homes. Sweets and gifts are exchanged. In the evening Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth is worshipped and welcomed. Firecrackers are burst and earlier children would start playing with crackers, one week before.

My dear ones, all our festivals give one message and that is we must be thankful for what we have and share our munificence with people who have less. This also means that we enhance our consciousness, venerate mother earth, and protect her from climate change, by changing our lifestyle. Recycle, save energy, eat more vegetables, do not waste food, and protect the flora and fauna.

Aim Hrim Klim

Photo by wilson mathew on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *