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Archive for December 2011

Winter Festival

Rajasthan, an Indian state rich in culture and tradition and known for its various vibrant fairs and festivals, hosts annually one of its charming festivals in Mount Abu. The festival is winter Festival organized in last week of December every year at Mount Abu, the only hill station of Rajasthan. The festival is jointly organized by Rajasthantourism and Municipal Board of Mount Abu. The festival was started to provide people a break from their boredom of everyday life. The event of festival also provides an occasion to commemorate the rich tradition and cultures of the state of Rajasthan. Mount Abu provides offers a  perfect venue  for such celebration as the place draws millions of tourist round the year from across the world to witness the exquisite natural surroundings and other attractions like famous Delwara Jain temples. 

Winter festival of Mount Abu is a three day festival hosting myriads of cultural, fun and sports events. Procession organized by local authorities marks the inauguration of the festival. A number of artists would be seen performing there.   Traditional folk songs and various folk dance forms of not only Rajasthan but of other states are seen providing a charming look to the festival. Hospitality of the land, joyous and cheerful ambience of the festival, cultural galas and picturesque location draws thousands of tourists from across the world to witness the fascinating events of Winter Festival


Yamunostav is annual event organized in New Delhi. Yamunostav is held to highlight the environmental problems the river of Yamuna is facing. Yamunostav is organized by Swechha (we for Yamuna) association in collaboration with the British council, India. Yamunostav is held every year on 5th June and thus also marks the world environment day.  Fascinating musical program is organized on the eve of Yamunostav. Through the entertaining programs attention of the people is drawn to the environmental crisis the Yamuna River is facing.  The event is gaining popularity as many people from different parts of the country are seen visiting the Yamunostav.


Yatra is a part of Indian tradition. The term does not refer to any particular festival. But, it can be a part of any festivals.  ‘Yatra’ refers to fair, a journey to a pilgrimage site (Tirtha yatra) and also a procession held during the celebrations of any festivals. In the Hindu tradition ‘Yatra’ would be observed as a part of ritual to be followed, but it is not an obligatory ritual.

It is said that by accomplishing a Yatra one would feel ‘full filled’. The Yatra consists of visiting holy shrines, and performing due rituals at the holy site (such as visiting holy rivers, confluences etc.  Epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana state the desirable ‘yatras’ one should accomplish in his life time. However none are obligatory. A Yatra is a journey to be accomplished. It involves hardships, sufferings and arriving at the destination fulfills one’s desires.

Some Yatras are:

·   Char Dham Yatra: This includes a journey to four holy cities. They are, Badarinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri and Rameshwaram.  It should be accomplished in one’s life time.  Sometimes the cluster would be expanded by adding few more cities (Sath Dham Yatra for instance).

Manas Sarovar Yatra: This Yatra consists of visiting the Manas Sarovar Lake near Mount Kailash.

Amarnath Yatra: This Yatra consists of visiting the Amarnath Linga in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.  This takes place every year.

 Ratha Yatra at Puri Jagannath: This Yatra will be accomplished by dragging the Chariot till the Gundecha Mata temple. This takes place in Jagannath Puri, Orissa.

Tirtha Yatra: This Yatra consists of visiting all the holy shrines (pilgrimage sites) at least once in our lifetime.  Sometimes devotees of a particular deity undertake a journey by walk (bhajans, devotional songs involved) towards the shrines belonging to their particular deity during specific times.  They go in groups. For instance, the ‘Warkaris’ in Maharashtra (devotees of Vithoba –the deity of Pandharpur ) undertake such Yatra in June and July. Their destination would be Pandharpur.

Fairs:  These fairs are called ‘Jatra’ in India. These ‘jatras’ have significance at the regional level. They will be held once in a year or sometimes once in two years depending upon the tradition of the temple. Processions will take place including the chariot procession (Rath Yatra of the particular deity) by the communities. 

Ardha Kumbha Mela

Ardha Kumbha Mela and Maha Kumbha Mela are the main river festivals of India. Maha Kumbha Mela occurs once in every twelve years where as the Ardha Kumbha Mela occurs once in every six years. The venue for these Kumbha Melas keeps changing depending upon the zodiac positions.

Kumbha Melas have a significant role to play in the Indian continent. They are part of Indian rituals related to rivers. Earliest mention of these Kumbha Melas would be seen in the accounts of the Chinese traveler Hsuan-Tsang.

The traveler mentions about these Kumbha melas as these were held during Harshavardhana’s rule.  As the legends describe during the ‘Samudra Manthan’ (the great churning of ocean) drops of nectar spilled over different part of India including rivers. So, it is said that by taking dip in the rivers on a particular zodiac event one would accomplish the salvation. He would get rid of the follies committed so far by him. The cities where these Kumbha Melas would be held are: Ujjain, Prayag, Allahabad and Nashik. Millions of devotees would witness this event. Sometimes stampedes occur. The rituals consist of taking ritual bath in the river, mass feeding, Shayya daan (gifting beds-a Buddhist ritual) and taking part in the discourses upon scriptures. There is not much difference between Maha Kumbha Mela and the Ardha (Half) Kumbha Mela except the time span involved between two Kumbha Melas.  Apart from ritual bathing these Melas provide for intra-religious modifications.

Last Ardha Kumbha Mela was held at Prayag in the year 2007. Venue for the next Ardha Kumbha is at Nashik

Ananya Festival

Ananya festival is a cultural fest of Indian classical dance and music. The festival would be held in Delhi every year at the Purana Quila.  Usually the date of the festival falls in the month of October. This is a five day event.

As the name suggests it is a unique dance festival inviting eminent artists from all across the country. This is an opportunity for various dance troupes to exhibit their talents. Experts in various dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kathakkali and Manipuri would be brought on one stage on this occasion. The festival aims at bringing the creative minds of the contemporary art forms to the forefront. Thus, it provides for a fusion of classical and contemporary traditions in the dance form. It was launched in the year 2002. Eminent artists like Birju Maharaj (Kathak tradition), Madhavi Mudgal, Vaijayanti Kashi, Parvati Datta (MAHAGAMI Aurangabad) have performed on the stage so far.  The festival is a feast for dance lovers. There would be live telecast on the internet for those who cannot make it.


Chhath is a festival of the Sun deity celebrated mainly in Bihar. It is the most popular festival of Bihar. It is celebrated on the sixth day of Kartik month according to Hindu (lunar) calendar. The day usually falls in the month of October. The festival runs for four consecutive days followed by ritual bath, fast and by giving ‘arghya’ (ablutions) to the Sun. 

The details about how and when did the festival begin in India are not clear. Some accounts state that the Maga Purohits (Shakya Dwipi Brahmins) started observing this ritual on a request made by the local rulers of those times. As usual people quote anecdotes from the Mahabharatha.  According those sources Draupadi was the first person to observe this ritual. Whatever may be the origin people do follow the tradition of Chhath even today with great fervor. 

It is a four day festival. On the first day the observers take ritual bath, preferably on a river bank and carry the water to their homes. The day would be spend by purifying the household surroundings and eat a special meal consisting of rice, dal (lentils) and kaddu (pumpkin). On the second day observe fast for the whole day and break it at the sunset. On the third day the observer will keep a strict fast, (without food and water) and in the evening gives ablutions (arghya) to the Sun. The whole family would be involved in the process. ‘Arghya’ (ablution) is given to the setting sun. On the fourth day, again, ablutions would be given, but to the rising Sun this time. The main day (Chhath, or Shashti) is observed on the third day of the course actually. People say, by observing this ritual (standing inside the water facing the sun) one would get positive energy. Rays of sun at a point of the day have an energizing effect upon human bodies they say.

The Chhat festival has gained wide popularity all across the country. Lakhs of people observe the ritual. There are many Sun temples in Bihar itself. Deo and Surajkund (near Patna) are the main cities which would be crowded during the festival time.


Bonalu is a Hindu festival dedicated to Mahakali, Goddess of Power. The festival is mostly celebrated in some parts of Andhra Pradesh like Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Rayalaseema etc. The festival comes in the month of Ashadh (July- August). The festival is also regarded as event of thanksgiving to the Goddess for fulfilling wishes. On the occasion of the festival a meal, called as Bonam, is offered to the Goddess. Bonam contains cooked rice with milk, sugar kept in a brass or earthen pot which also contains neem branches, vermilion, turmeric, Kadi (white Chalk). Women with these pots containing Bonam are seen going to the temple of goddess to offer the meal. They are accompanied by drummers and men dancing to the tune of drums. 

The festival usually starts with Mahakali temple situated at the fort of Golkonda. On the occasion of the festival women adorn themselves with jewelry and silk saris. Some women spellbound by the devotional environ are seen dancing to the rhythm of the drums which is played in honor of the Goddess. Palaharam Bandi (the procession) in honor of the goddess is taken out to local temple of the goddess. Potharaju, the brother of Goddess, is represented in the procession by a local man wearing small draped dhoti, bells on his ankles, and turmeric and vermilion on his body and forehead. He is seen leading the procession and dancing to the beats of the drum. 

 On the occasion of the festival streets are decorated with neem braches and songs praising the goddess are played on the loud speakers. On the next day of the festival forecasting of the future, known as Rangam, is held and women under the divine trance are seen prophesying the future of the devotees.


Bhiu is a festival celebrated by the people of Assam, India. It is the most important cultural festival of the state of Assam and is also regarded as the national festival of it. Though the origin of the festival goes back to ancient time, the festival has a taken modern look and become a commercialized event. However the festival still holds its religious and social significance in Assam and draws people of all cast, creed, religion together to celebrate the event.

There are three types of Bhiu festival celebrated in Assam in a year. They are known as Rongaali Bhiu, Kongaali Bhiu and Bhogaali Bhiu. Rongaali Bhiu is the most important of all these three Bhiu festivals and it is celebrated in Bhohaag (mid April) month. Kongaali Bhiu falls in the month of October while Bhogaali Bhiu comes in January month of the year.    

Rongaali Bhiu which is the most important festival is also known as Bohaag Bhiu as it comes on the first day of Bhohaag (mid April) month. Bohaag is the first month of the Assamese Calender and therefore the celebration of the festival also marks the beginning of Assamese New Year. Rongaali Bhiu also marks advent of spring season in Assam. The celebration of the festival continues for several days and Bhiu Songs and Dance are performed during the festival.  

Kongaali Bhiu, also known as Kati Bhiu, does not contain much pomp and show. It is celebrated in Kati (mid October) month. Silent prayer with lighting of earthen lamps is done in the paddy fields for the successful growing of the crop. Bhogaali Bhiu is the last Bhiu festival of the people of Assam. It comes in the month of January and is celebrated immediately after harvesting the paddy cultivation. An overnight community function is organized in make shift houses made of thatch in the paddy fields.  These particular house are called as Bhela Ghar. A community feast is also organized there. The people celebrate the festival throughout the night in Bhela Ghar and the next morning the same Bhela Ghar is set on fire by people marking the end of the festival.

Bhai Dooj

Bhai Dooj is an event that celebrates bond between the brothers and sisters. The festival falls on the fifth day of Diwali, festival of lights.  On the occasion of Bhai Dooj sisters are seen applying the vermilion marks called as Tilak on foreheads of their brothers, performing the Arati of them. On the other hand brothers are seen offering their sisters lots of gifts and sweets. Idea behind celebrating the festival is that brother should always protect their sisters while sisters should always pray for their bother’s prosperous life. Celebration of such a kind which glorifies heavenly bonding of Brother and sisters will be found nowhere but in India. And this is not the only celebration that marks holy relation of brothers and sisters. Raksha Bandhan is another festival related with Brothers & sisters.

The festival of Bhai Dhooj is celebrated in different parts of the country with different names. It is known as Bhai Phota in West Bengal while in Maharashtra it called as Bhav Beej.  The festival is also known as Bhai Beej in some parts of the country.  You call it by whatever name, the celebration of the festival and idea behind it will be the same everywhere.


Bathukamma is a festival celebrated in an honor of Goddess Gauri. The festival is mainly celebrated in Telangana region of state of Andhra Pradesh.  The festival of Bathukamma is also known as Bodemma and is mostly celebrated by the women. It comes in the month of Ashvin (Sept-Oct) and is celebrated over nine days during the time of Navratri. The festival starts with Mahalaya Amavasya and ends two days before Dussera. During the festival women are seen worshipping the goddess. You will also find them in new silk saris and adorned with jewelry. 

In Telgue Bathukamma literally means ‘Come alive mother goddess’. The goddess Gauri is worshipped in the form of Bathukamma which is nothing but the beautiful flowers of different colors arranged or rather stacked on a little-large steel plate or wooden plank with a pumpkin flower perched on the top of the stack. Women are seen arranging the various flowers, brought by their men folk, on a plate with utmost devotion to the goddess. This Bathukamma is seen worshipped by women for the next nine days and at the end of the festival the same symbolic goddess in the form of Bathukamma is immersed by women in local water body as per the custom going on for last many centuries.

During the festival women and young girls in their best attire are seen gathering in large number in local area with their Bathukamma; placing them on the ground; forming a circle of themselves around it; singing the spontaneous folk songs praising the goddess and moving their steps in synchronies while the men folk are seen looking on the amazing event unfolding. 

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