NIOS A-Level EVS Chapter 3 - Our Festivals

India is a land of festivals as we celebrate festivals throughout the year, and India is home to almost all the major religions of the world. We all celebrate festivals together as people of other religions also get involved, which proves unity in the diversity of our country.

Festivals of India

Festivals are an expressive way to celebrate glorious heritage, culture and traditions. Every festival brings happiness and harmony between our traditions and rituals. Festivals may be of any religion, but they are celebrated to convey the messages of love, humanity, happiness and victory of good over evil.

India is a country with great diversity, rich culture and a variety of colourful festivals. Different festivals are celebrated in India with different names in different regions, and each festival has its history, legend and significance. Other than the religious festivals, we do celebrate some national festivals together by the whole country.

Let us learn more in detail about the different types of festivals celebrated in India.

Religious Festivals

These are festivals of different religions. But people of other religions also get involved in celebrations.

Makar Sankranti

  • Makar Sankranti is observed in the month of January.
  • This festival is called the harvest festival and is mainly dedicated to the deity Surya – the lord Sun.
  • During this festival, new crops of jowar, paddy, millet, black bean, sugarcane and sesame are worshipped. Houses are packed with new yields, and people celebrate by preparing several dishes, kheer, goodies made up of sesame and rice.
  • The festival is celebrated all over the country with some regional variation and is known by different names.
  1. In Tamil Nadu, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the form of Pongal.
  2. In Assam, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the form of the Bihu festival.
  3. In Gujarat, Makar Sankranti is a celebration of kite flying.
  4. In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the form of Lohri.
  5. This festival involves ritual baths in the Ganges and other rivers in other parts of North India, donating rice and sesame ladoos as daan.

Holi

  • Holi is celebrated on full moon day during the arrival of the spring season. It is a colourful festival, which brings joy, hope and enjoyment.
  • During this seasonal festival, there is colour everywhere, flowers start blooming, new leaves and branches shoot up, and there is an atmosphere of hope and joy everywhere.
  • Holi is called the festival of colours and joy because more importance is given to music and dance, eating and drinking, playing by spraying and pouring colour and gulal on each other.
  • There is a myth about the Holi festival, which goes like this – In Satyug, there was a king named Hiranyakashyap, the king who had banned the worship of God in his kingdom and wanted everyone to worship him as God. But his son named Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu since childhood.
  • Hiranyakashyap never liked his son worshipping Lord Vishnu, who punished him and tried to kill his son many times but failed. By the grace of God, Prahlad was saved.
  • Finally, Hiranyakashyap, with the help of his sister Holika tried to burn Prahlad, but the opposite happened. Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad, and Holika was burnt to ashes.
  • Since then, Holi has been celebrated and during this day, people light a bonfire as Holika Dahan on the eve of Holi and celebrate the joy of good over evil.

Ramazan

  • Ramadan or Ramazan is the holy month of fasting. The month of Ramazan is considered very righteous and advantageous in Islam.
  • During this period, people observe fast for the whole month from dawn to dusk, offer prayers to God and give donations, which is known as Zakat.
  • Eid marks the end of Ramadan, i.e, on the 29th or 30th day of fasting, after sighting the crescent moon, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated the next day.
  • During this day, they wear new and best clothes, offer Namaz at mosques, and greet and wish each other by hugging and embracing delicious and traditional sweets and luscious cuisines cooked in every household.
  • People visit each other and exchange good wishes and gifts, known as Eidi.

Guru Nanak Jayanti

  • Guru Nanak Jayanti is the celebration of an anniversary related to the lives of Sikh gurus.
  • In Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak Jayanti is the most sacred and vital festival celebrated on Kartik Purnima.
  • Guru Nanak was the first Sikh Guru and Guru Nanak Jayanti is called Prakash Utsav or the Festival of Light also.
  • On this day, people offer prayers in Gurudwaras, perform the Akhand Path followed by processions, and elaborate arrangements are made in Gurudwaras.
  • There is an offering of sweets, food and sherbat to all passers-by irrespective of caste, religion and social status. Guru Nanak Jayanti spread the message of love, peace and brotherhood.

Dussehra

  • Dussehra festival characterises the victory of justice, truth and good over evil.
  • Dussehra is known as Vijayadashami or Dasara. It is a festival celebrated in northern and southern parts of our country from the sixth to the tenth day of the lunar fortnight.
  • Dussehra is a festival of victory of good over evil. It signifies the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasur. During this festival, pooja and prayers are offered to Goddess Durga. People fast during Navratri, nine days before Vijayadashami.
  • There is a myth about the Dussehra festival. It is believed that during Rama-Ravana, Lord Rama worshipped for nine days of Shukla Paksha in the month of Kwar to invoke Goddess Shakti. On the tenth day, he killed Ravana. Thus, Dussehra celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over Demon Ravana.
  • Dussehra is celebrated in a very glamorous form in Mysore city of Karnataka state. People worldwide visit Mysore to view Dussehra processions, decorated palaces, lightning, cultural and religious programs.

Deepawali

  • Deepawali is the festival of lights. It is a festival of joy and illumination.
  • Deepawali or Diwali is celebrated on the Amavasya of Kartika month.
  • There is a myth Deepawali festival is celebrated to honour the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana, the king of Lanka.
  • On this day, the entire kingdom of Ayodhya welcomed Lord Rama with the lighting of lamps.
  • Since then, the day has been celebrated in the form of Deepawali, where people celebrate by decorating their house with lighting, performing pooja to Goddess Lakshmi and playing with many fireworks.
  • The rituals of the Deepawali festival are celebrated over five days. It starts with Dhanteras, Narak Chaturdashi, Deepawali, Govardhan Puja and Bhaiyya Dooj.

Christmas

  • Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • Christmas is observed on 25th December, and it is the biggest festival of Christians.
  • On this day, they visit churches, offer prayers, light candles, feast together, sing and dance, greet and wish each other. This festival is celebrated all over the world.
  • Churches are decorated and illuminated, Christmas trees are decorated with lights and stars, gifts are packed, and cakes are baked at home, and Santa Claus distributes gifts to children.

National Festivals

Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti are some national festivals of our country India. These festivals are not of any particular religion or community; these festivals are celebrated together by the whole country.

Independence Day

  • Independence Day is celebrated annually on 15th August.
  • On this day, our country got independence in 1947 after sacrificing the lives of many people. On this day, we all pay tribute to these heroes and martyrs.
  • A solemn function is organised in Delhi, and the Prime Minister hoists the National Flag on the ramparts of Red Fort and delivers speeches to the nation.
  • Similar processes are held in state capitals and districts.
  • Independence Day is celebrated in all schools by hoisting the National Flag, parades, other cultural events and distribution of sweets.

Republic Day

  • Republic Day is celebrated annually on 26th January. On this day, the constitution of India came into effect in 1950, declaring India a Republic.
  • On this day, the President of India hoists the National Flag at Rajpath in Delhi. After that, parades and other cultural events are held. President takes the salute from the parade. The parade commences from Rashtrapati Bhavan and ends at Red Fort, followed by colourful tableaus.
  • Similarly, Republic Day is celebrated at State capitals and districts with enthusiasm and fanfare.
  • Republic Day is celebrated in schools and colleges by hoisting the National Flag, speech by the school principal, and different cultural programmes and sports are held to celebrate Republic Day.

Gandhi Jayanti

  • Gandhi Jayanti is a national event celebrated annually on 2nd October to mark the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is called Rashtrapita or Father of the Nation. He was born on 2nd October 1869. On this day, a national holiday is observed in all states and union territories.
  • In New Delhi, the President and Prime Minister of India pay tribute to Gandhiji by visiting his memorial at Raj Ghat, New Delhi. Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated with prayers, meetings, commemorative ceremonies in different cities by colleges and local government institutions.
  • To honour his contribution to the nation, cultural events, prayer services and memorial ceremonies are held across India on this day.
  • Events like cycle rally, spinning charkha, singing Gandhi’s favourite song – Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, and many others are organised to mark the occasion.
  • People offer garland and flowers to photos, statues and busts of Gandhiji.
  • Every year, his birth anniversary is celebrated across the globe. He gave us a message of truth and non-violence and liberated our country with truth and non-violence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is called the Rashtrapita?

Gandhiji is called Rashtrapita, the father of the nation.

When did India achieve independence from the British Raj?

India achieved independence from the British Raj on 15th August 1947.

How many national festivals are there in India?

There are three national festivals: Independence Day, Republic Day and Gandhi Jayanti.

What message did Mahatma Gandhi give us?

Mahatma Gandhi gave us a message of truth and non-violence. He liberated our country with truth and non-violence.

Which festival is celebrated on the Amavasya of Kartika month?

Deepawali is celebrated on the Amavasya of Kartika month. It is celebrated on the occasion of the victory of light over darkness.

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