The Festivals of  India
All About
 
The people of India love to celebrate through grand and colourful festivals. These festivals celebrate the seasons, special events in the lives of the people and to honour the gods and heroes of the culture.

The great festivals may belong to any of the large or small religions and sects of India, but they may also have begun for other reasons such as to promote handicrafts or tourism in certain places. These festivals often have processions through the streets, decorating of homes and temples, along with performances of folk songs and dances. Most religious festivals also have prayers and rituals that are carried out by those who have gathered to celebrate. The large scale and the great numbers of festivals in India often overwhelm visitors who come to India.

National Holidays
India holds two important holidays to celebrate the existence of the country. 

Independence Day (August 15) commemorates India’s independence from Great Britain. The Prime Minister of the country raises India’s flag at the Red Fort in New Delhi.

Republic Day (January 26) celebrates the existence of a new government in the country. Parades are held all over india. In New Delhi, decorated elephants and camels join the parade and folk dancers from all over the country perform on a large stage in the middle of the city.
 Calendar of Festivals and Holidays

Religious Festivals
Holi (March 22) celebrates the beginning of spring and lasts for several days. Huge bonfires meant to destroy the spirit of evil, Holika are lit. Singing, dancing and dramatic performances carry on through the day. The second day is the day of color. Colourful liquids and powders are thrown on everyone. The colors are believed to chase gloomy spirits away.
 Holi in India
 BBC Article on Holi

Diwali (October 28) is the “Festival of Lights.” Candles and lamps are lit and placed  on rooftops and in windows. Fireworks light up the sky in many communities. It is a time of great feasting and families join together, eat large meals and snacks. visit friends and give gifts to each other. Offerings are made to the Hindu gods, especially the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.
 Diwali in India
 BBC Article on Diwali

Dussehra is held on the first new moon in October. It lasts for ten nights. A long poem from Hindu sacred writing called the Ramayana is performed on a stage in many communities. Actors in elaborate costumes act out the parts of the hero Rama and his battle with the demon Ravana that ends on the tenth night.
 Dussehra Festival 

Shortly after Dussehra is the Indian New Year. In some parts of India it is celebrated as Diwali, but in southern India as “Vishu”. Houses are cleaned and repainted, then decorated with paintings and flowers. All debts are paid so the new year can begin without anything carried over from the past.

In January a very old festival called Pongal honours the cows and bullocks for their hard work. These animals are decorated with flowers and paint and are paraded through the streets.  Pongal is named after a kind of dessert made from milk, rice and sugar. It is given to the cows, eaten by the people and even offered to the Hindu gods. Bullfights are held in some communities on the third day of this festival. Money is tied onto the horns of large bulls and competitors try to take the money from the bulls without being injured.

Muslim people in India celebrate Id-ul-Fitr at the end of the month long fast called Ramadan. Great feasts are prepared and celebrations with friends and relatives honour Muhammad as the prophet of Allah.

The Sikh community also has its own festivals. These celebrate the history of the Sikh community, especially victories in battle. Horseback riding and other sports competitions, along with dancing, singing and feasting are part of the most important festival called Holla Mohalla (March 22-3).

 Festival Video
 Festivals of India
 Hindu Holy Days
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Cows are decorated for the festival of Mattu Pongal in southern India