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India is a land of often bewildering diversity. It is a jigsaw puzzle of people -of every faith and religion, living together to create a unique and colourful mosaic. There is a festival for every reason and for every season. Manyfestivals celebrate the various harvests, commemorate great historical figures and events, while many express devotion to the deities of different religions. Every celebration centres around the rituals of prayer, seeking blessings, exchanging goodwill, decorating houses, wearing new clothes, music, dance and feasting.
Fairs & festivals in India are colourful commemorations of religious or historical events or celebrations of the change of seasons. They reflect the vigour and life-style of its people. Vibrant colours, music and festivities make the country come alive throughout the year. There is celebration for every religious occasion, change of season andfor every harvest.
Namaskar or Namaste is the most popular form of greeting in India. It is a general salutation that is used to welcome somebody and also for bidding farewell.
While doing namaskar, both the palms are placed together and raised below the face to greet a person.
It is believed that both the hands symbolise one mind, or the self meeting the self. While the right hand represents higher nature, the left hand denotes worldly or lower nature.
Other common forms of greetings by various communities and regions in India are -Sat-sri-akal by the Sikhs, Adaab by the Muslims, Vannakkarn by the Tamilians,Juleybythe Laddhakis and Tashi Delag by the Sikkimese, amongst others.
Tilak is a ritual mark on the forehead. It can be put in many forms as a sign of blessing, greeting or auspiciousness.
The tilak i& usually made out of a red vermilion paste (kumkum) which is a mixture of turmeric, alum, iodine, camphor, etc. It can also be of a sandalwood paste (chandan) blended with musk.
The tilak is applied on the spot between the brows which is considered the seat of latent wisdom and mental concentration, and is very important for worship. This is the spot on which yogis meditate to become one with Lord Brahma. It also indicates the point at which the spiritual eye opens. All thoughts and actions are said to be governed by this spot. Putting of the coloured mark symbolizes the quest for the 'opening' of the third eye.
All rites and ceremonies of the Hindus begin with a tilak topped with a few grains of rice placed on this spot with the index finger or the thumb. The same custom is followed while welcoming or bidding farewell to guests or relations.
Is performed as an act of veneration and love. It is often performed as a mark of worship and to seek blessings from God, to welcome the guests, for children on their birthdays, family members on auspicious occasions or to welcome a newly wedded couple.
For performing Arati, five small lamps called niranjanas are filled with ghee or oil and arranged in a small tray made of metal.
A wick is made out of cotton wool and placed in the.Jamps. A conch- shell filled with water, auspicious leaves or flowers, incense or lighted camphor are also placed in the tray. The lamps are lit and the tray is rotated in a circular motion in front of the deity or the person to be welcomed.
The purpose of performing arati is to ward off evil effects and the malefic influence of the 'evil eye'.
Flower garlands are generally offered as a mark of respect and honour. They are offered to welcome the visitors or in honour to the Gods and Goddesses.
The garlands are generally made with white jasmine and orange marigold flowers. They are weaved in thread tied in the end with a help of a knot.
Many Indian women wear a pin on their nose studded with stones, called a nose pin. A symbol of purity and marriage, the nose pin is today adorned by many unmarried girls as well.
Is a necklace made of black .beads, worn only by the married women as a mark of being married. It is the Indian equivalent of the western wedding ring. The mangalsutra is tied by the groom around his bride's neck. Mangalsutra is generally made out of two strings of small black beads with a gold pendant. The black beads are believed to act as protection.
Are a pair of shell ( shakha ) and red coral ( paula ) bangles worn as marriage symbols by the Bengali women.
........to be partners in conducting environmentally friendly operations in our hotels, resorts and restaurants and pledge to 'undertake certain specific actions mentioned below :
Stationery and other publicity material on recycled paper
We will introduce the use of recycled paper for our stationery and other publicity items such as brochures and establish a recycling programme.
We will convert, whatever possible from the use of polythene bags paper bags, cloth bags and other alternatives.
Alternate source of energy for fuel
Where possible, we will convert solar power such as solar heating and lighting, to reduce the use of thermal electricity.
We will introduce the system of separating recyclable and non- recyclable garbage emanating from our operations and dispose non- biodegradable garbage in a responsible way, so as to not harm the environment.
Water Catchment and Treatment
Whatever possible, we will recycle water by incorporating water treatment schemes. We will also make storage and catchment facilities for rain water to be used for our operations.
Eco lodges and resorts
We pledge to conselve the ecology, animal and bird-life of the area our properties are located in.
Planting of saplings
We will encourage the planting of saplings and greening of the local environment.
Alternate use of fuels
We will limit the burning of firewood and use alternate sources of fuel for both cooking and heating.
Use of local ethnic materials in construction of properties
In keeping with the local landscaping, we will incorporate architectural styles typical to the area, thus blending with the environment.
Employment of local communities
Wherever possible, we will hire locally for our business, to enhance the economy of our area.
Makar Sankranti (Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh)
Is a celebration of spring on the occasion of the 'ascent' of the sun to the north (Uttarnyana). In Maharashtra, Karnataka as well as parts of Andhra, Makar Sankranti is a day of goodwill and friendship. Sesame ladoos and sugar drops are distributed as a symbol of the need to be generous and kind to everyone. Women wear new clothes, new glass bangles and hold get-togethers to share sweets and gifts.A new bride is given ornaments made of sugar drops and her new relatives are invited to meet and welcome her at a Haldi Kurnkum celebration.
In the South Sankranti becomes pongal. It is a celebration of the harvest which is observed for three days in Tamil Nadu as well as in Andhra Pradesh. The first day is the Bhogi Pongal which is celebrated as a family festival. Surra pongal, the second day, is dedicated to the Sun (surya) when pongal (rice cooked in milk and jaggery) is boiled by women and offered to the sun. Friends greet one another by asking "Is it boiled?" and the answer given is "It is." It is followed by great rejoicing.
Mattu pongal, the third day, is a day dedicated to the worship and veneration of cattle (mattu). The pongal that has been offered to the local deities is given to the cattle to eat. The cattle are bathed and decorated. Coloured balls of the pongal are also made and left in the open for birds. In Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore, a kind of bullfight, called the "jellikattu" is held. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls, and unarmed villagers try to wrest the bundles from them. With ingredients provided by the freshly gathered harvest, community meals are held at night.
In the North Makar Sankranti is called Lohri. It is the only Hindu festival which falls regularly on the 14th of january every year. Lohri is the time after which the biting cold of winter begins to taper off. On this day the children go from door to door to collect funds for community bonfires which are lit in the evening. Lohri is more of a community festival, where the birth of a son or the first year of marriage is celebrated with great fun and frolic. People gather around the bonfires and offer sweets, crisp rice and popcorn to the flames. Songs are sung to the beat of vigorous claps and greetings are exchanged.
This magnificent festival is celebrated in Madurai on the night of the full moon. The ornamented icons of the two deities, the God Sundaresa (incarnation of Shiva) and the Goddess Meenakshi (incarnation ofParvati), with pearl crowns on their heads and riding on a golden bull are taken out in a splendid procession from the Meenakshi temple. The God Alagar (incarnation of Vishnu) gives his sister Meenakshi, in marriage to Sundaresa amidst great rejoicing. Devotees clothed in yellow and red dance among the processionists and spray coloured water on them. The icons are floated in the tank on a raft decked with flowers and flickering lamps.
Celebrates the end of Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. It is an occasion of feasting and rejoicing. The faithful gather in mosques to pray, friends and relatives meet to exchange greetings. Prayers, family get-togethers and feasts are the major highlights of the celebrations. Idi or presents of money are given to the youngsters by the family elders, conveying their blessings.
In Gujarat and other western states the change in the direction of winds on Makar Sankranti is marked by thousands of colourful kites of all patterns and dimensions which dot the blue sky. Young men vie with each other to win community kite-flying competitions. The kites are hand made and the thread is given a coating of glass powder mixed in either resin or a paste made of refined wheat flour. The day also witnesses kite flying tournaments in which handsome cash, cups and shields are awarded as prizes to the winners. Special kites with paper lamps fill the night sky with myriad flickering lights.
The festival starts off with a magnificent procession of bedecked camels. It is a colourful spectacle of beautifully decorated camels that fascinates the onlookers with their charm and grace. Several competitions are held, marked with typical Rajasthani colour, joyous music and lilting rhythms and gay festivities.
This festival usually takes place in the temples dedicated to Kartikeya or Mariamman where trenches of burning coal are laid out for the devotees to walk over. It has been seen that people who volunteer to undertake this experience with faith, come away unhanned and unscathed.
The chief priest of the temple and the twelve "hero-youths", who are to perform this feat, first go out in a procession from the temple to bathe, smear themselves with turmeric, powder, and begin the dance. Then they walk over a long pit covered with burning coals and come out unscathed. This is followed by singing and feasting which continues till late night.
Mid-January is the time for cultural events in the lush villages around Kovalam, every year. Traditional thatch houses are decorated during this ten day long festival and are the venue for folk dances, music and festivities.
Is a ceremonial welcome to spring on ihe fifth day of the waxing moon of Magh, when Saraswati, Shiva-Durga and Vishnu-Lakshmi are worshipped. People wear colourful attires, especially in bright shades of yellow and they dance, sing and make merry In West Bengal, 'Saraswati' -the Goddess of learning is worshipped. The festival is celebrated with great fervour in the university town of Shantiniketan.
On the 14th night of the dark half of Magh occurs the festival of Mahashivratri, the great night of Lord Shiva. The devotees stay awake throughout the night offering their prayers to Lord Shiva. They offer special food made from the fruits of the season, root vegetables and coconuts to Lord Shiva. Having observed the requirements of the all night fast, devotees eat the prasad offered to Shiva. Special celebrations are held in some of the major Shaivite temples at Varanasi, Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh) andChidambaram (Tamil Nadu).
Island Tourism Festival (Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands)
Is a ten day long festival of dance, drama and music. Exhibitions displaying arts and crafts, flora and fauna and marine life, are part of the event. Aqua sports, tele-games and parasailing are added attractions.
The Desert Festival is a three day long extravaganza of colour, music and festivity, held at the golden city of Jaisalmer. Gair and fire dancers swaying to traditional tunes, a turban-tying competition and a Mr. Desert contest are part of the fun and frolic. The grand finale is a trip to the sand dunes at Sam where one can enjoy the pleasure of a camel ride and even view the folk dancers and musicians perform at the sand dunes.
Nagaur bustles with life during its annual cattle fair which is one of the largest in the country. The Nagaur bulls are, renowned for their fleet- footedness and attract buyers from all over. The day begins with earnest bargaining between the buyers and the sellers. Once the price of a horse, bullock or camel has been settled, the day draws to a close followed by exciting games, tug of war, camel races and strains of ballads which create a joyful atmosphere.
This festival is held across the Mumbai harbour, on the Elephant Island, near the world renowned Elephanta Caves. This feast of music and dance, celebrated under the stars, transforms the entire island into a large auditorium.
In order to promote the traditional Indian A handicrafts, a delightful handloom and handicrafts fair is held annually at Surajkund. Skilled artisans and craftsmen display their skills and crafts in a rural setting. Cultural programmes and rural cuisine are also a part of this colourful fair.
Every year gracious Hyderabad comes alive during the Deccan Festival. Culturaiprogrammes with ghazal nights, qawalis and mushairas are held. A pearl and bangle fair displays creations in lustrous pearls and multi-hued bangles that are local specialities. A food festival serves the beM Hyderabad's famed cuisine to the visitors.
A ten day event, the Taj Mahotsav at Agra is culturally vibrant platform that brings together the finest Indian crafts and cultural nuances. It is a festive introduction to India and Uttar Pradesh. Folk music, shayari(Poetry), and classical dance performances as well as elephant and camel rides, games and food festival -all form part of the festivities.
Is the most boisterous of all Hindu festivals, observed allover the North. It heralds the end of winter and the beginning of the Spring. The night before the full moon, crowds of people gather together and light huge bonfires to burn the residual dried leaves and twigs of the winter. People throw coloured water and powders (gulal and kumkum) at each other and make merry. Singing and dancing add to the gaiety of the occasion.
In the northern, western as well as eastern regions, Holi celebrates the joyful raasleela of Krishna and the gopis. They play phag which is a game of many colourful hues. It is a joyous celebration of the rejuvenation of nature, and renewed hope of happiness and peaceful coexistence. Especially famous is the Lathmaar HaJj of Barsana and Nandgaan. In Anandpur Sahib, Sikhs celebrate a special festival Hola Mahalia on the day after Holi. It marks a display of ancient martial arts and mock battles.
Holi is also an occasion for the celebration of the burning of Kama, the Hindu cupid, with the fire that emanated from Lord Shiva's third eye.
Is dedicated to Gauri, a manifestation of Goddess Parvati and lasts for 18 days. The festival is celebrated by girls and married women throughout Rajasthan. The images of Gauri are ornamented and offerings are made. This is also an auspicious day for young people to select their life partners. Colourful processions with th.e town band playing, horses and elaborate palanquins make it a fascinating spectacle.
The Parsis don their new clothes and decorate their homes with rangoli patterns drawn with metal moulds and flowers. Sweets are exchanged and later Parsis visit the fire temple where thanksgiving is performed.
The birthday of Lord Rama, the celebrated hero of the famous epic, the Ramayana, is enthusiastically celebrated on the ninth day of the waxing moon in the month of Chaitra. Temples are decorated, religious discourses are held and the Ramayana is recited for ten days. People gather in thousands on the banks of the sacred river Saryu for a dip.
People sing devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock images of him in cradles to celebrate his birth. Rathyatras or chariot processions of Ram a, his wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman, are taken out from many temples.
The birth anniversary of the 24th Til1hankara of the Jains, Mahavir, the founder ofJainism, is celebrnted by theJain community. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers. Donations are collected to save the cows from slaughter. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarnt, on this day.
A festival where elephants are the centre of attraction. They stride majestically parading their decorated trunks and tusks. The festival begins with a procession of elephants, camels and horses, followed by lively folk dancers at their entertaining best. Elephant races and elephant- polo matches are special features. The most hilarious highlight of the festival is a tug of war between elephants and men.
Is a festival of rejuvenation of life and living. On this day, Lord Christ rose again after his death. Chocolate eggs, small chicks of cotton wool and almond sweets are bought for children, symbolising new life. Prayer services are held in the churches to end the mourning period.
Is celebrated in Udaipur to welcome Spring. The main highlight of the festival is the procession of colourfully attired women carrying images of the Goddess Gaud to Lake Pichola. Festivities include joyous singing, dancing, devotional music concerts and firework displays.
Is celebrated in Punjab with great fervour. It was on this day that Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood). The holy book of the Sikhs, Granth Sahib is taken in a procession, led by the Panj Pyaras (five senior sikhs) who are symbolic of the original leaders. The occasion is marked by lot of feasting and merry making. All night revelries termed Baisakhi di Raat (Night of feasting) or Baisakhi da Mela (Baisakhi fairs) are held, where men and women dance to the rhythmic beat of drums.
In Kerala the festival is known as Vishu. A display of grain, fruits, flowers, gold, new cloth and money, is viewed early in the morning to ensure a prosperous year ahead.
Known as Rangali Bihu in Assam, the festival is celebrated with lively dances, music and feasting.
Gudi Padva or Ugadi (Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnaka)
Marks the beginning of a new year in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka. Gudi Padva is considered one of the four most auspicious days in the year when people start new ventures. It is believed that Lord Brahma created the world on this day and so he is worsh,ipped specially at this time.
Lord Vishnu too is said to have been incarnated as Matsya, the fish, on this day. Agudi(banner) with a swastika-marked pot and silk cloth is raised to announce victory and joy. It is remniscent of the valiant Marathas returning home from their successful conquering expeditions of war.
This festival which falls on the full moon day, commemorates the birth of Lord Buddha. Also it was on this day Lord Buddha achieved Nirvana or the extinction of self and freedom from the cycle of rebirth.
At the beginning of April, the people of Kerala begin thi;ir search for the best elephants in the state. Each temple in Kerala sends a procession of decorated elephants to Trichur to participate in the Pooram festival.
The decorated elephant groups face each other while drums and nadaswarams create a crescendo of music. The festival ends with a spectacular display of fireworks.
Commemorates the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the holy Prophet Mohammed, and is observed by the Shi'ite Muslims, who take out processions of colourfully decorated 'T azias', which are paper and bamboo replicas of the martyr's tomb at Karbala in Iraq. The processions are specially impressive at Lucknow. In parts of the South, tiger dancers -men painted over with stripes and wearing tiger masks, lead the procession.
The Urs are held every year at the dargah of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, commemo- rating his symbolic union with God. Pilgrims from all over the world gather here to pay their homage. Qawaalis(poems) are sung in the Saint's honour.
In this festival ten days are devoted to the worship of the River Ganga. According to the legends, Gangavataran or the descent of the Ganga, happened at this time. Devotees touch the river water, bathe in it, and take the river c)ay home to venerate. In Haridwar,aratis are performed at twilight and a large number of devotees meditate on her serene banks.
Is celebrated at Hemis, the biggest Buddhist Monastery in Ladakh to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. Splendid masked dances are performed to the accompaniment of cymbals, drums and long horns. A colourful fair, displaying some beautiful handicrafts, is the special highlight of the festival.
This spectacular chariot festival is held at the famous Jagannath Temple atPuri. Images of Lordjagannam, his sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra are taken out in procession in three chariots to their summer temple for a week. The main chariot is 14 meters high and 10 meters square with 16wheels. The ropes of the huge chariots are pulled by millions of devotees who also believe that this act bestows salvation upon them.
A special worship is performed on this day to all teachers and is called Guru Purnima. Worship of the great Vyasa, the author of the great epic, Mahabharata, is a part of the celebration. On this day students visit their elders, teachers and guides in order to show respect to them with gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets. These gifts are called gurudakshina. Discourses are held in community gatherings to hear the readings of the holy book, Bhagwad Gita.
The birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Vishnu is observed allover India. It is celebrated with great fervour at Mathura and Brindavan where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. Night long prayers are offered and religious hymns are sung in temples. Scenes are enacted from Lord Krishna's early life.
In Maharashtra, earthen pots of curd and butter are hung high up over the streets. Young men enacting an episode from Krishna's childhood form human pyramids by climbing on each others' shoulders and try to break these pots.
Onam is Kerala's most popular festival, celebrated with great enthusiasm. It is primarily a harvest festival celebrated to welcome the spirit of the pious King Mahabali from eternal exile and to assure him that his people are happy and wish him well. At Trichur ,caparisoned elephants take part in a spectacular procession. There is also a magnificent display of fireworks. At Shoranur, appreciative crowds gather on the green where colourfully dressed Katha,kali dancers re-enact the well-loved stories of the epic heroes and virtuous, women.
On the second day of the festival, e~ery home is lit bright and decorated in preparation for the visit of King Mahabali. Greetings are exchanged and lengths of auspicious saffron cloth are presented by friends to one another.
The Vallumkali (boat race) is one of the main attractions of Onam, and is best seen at Aranmulai and Kottayam. About a hundred oarsmen row huge and graceful odee (boats). Oars dip and flash to the rhythm of drums and cymbals in each boat. The songs are generally topical in character and concern people well known in Malabar. Above each boat gleam scarlet silk umbrellas, their number denotes the affluence of the family owning the boat. Gold coins and tassels hang from the umbrellas.
In the evenings, girls perform the Kyekottikali (the clapping dance) in the open, dancing around the traditional brass lamp. Intricate patterns of flower petals are made on the grass forming a flower carpet for the dance.
Ganesh Chaturthi (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka)
Ganesha Chaturthi is an important festival in India, especially in Maharashtra dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed God of all good beginnings and success. It is believed that Lord Ganesha was born on this day and every chaturthi is considered auspicious. Thousands of clay idols of Lord Ganesha are made in every size, pose, form and colour and worshipped at community Or family festivals which last between one to ten days. These images are then taken in large processions, amidst the rhythm of bells and drums and immersed in flowing water.
Nag Panchami (West Bengal, Mahrashtra and South India)
Nag Panchami is the festival when snakes, the symbols of energy and prosperity are worshipped. In Maharashtra, snake charmers go from house to house with dormant cobras ensconced in cane baskets, asking for alms and clothing. Women offer milk and cooked rice to the snakes and gather around to see the snakes spread their hoods to the tune of the pungi. Clay snakes are brought home to be worshipped by day and immersed in the sea in the evening. In southern India, particularly in Kerala, snake temples are crowded on this day and worship is offered to stone or metal icons of the cosmic serpent Ananta or Shesha.
This is a Hindu sister's day when brothers and sisters reaffirm their bonds of affections. Sisters tie colourful threads or rakhis on their brothers' wrists. The brothers in turn promise to protect their sisters and give them gifts.
Is an exciting and a unique fair held annually at Tarnetar in Saurashtra. The fair coincides with the festival at the Trineteshwar Temple, celebrating .the wedding of the legendary Mahabharat hero, Arjuna with Draupadi. The fair is a kind of a marriage market for the local tribals -the Kalis, Bharwads and Rabaris. The traditional costumes, exquisite jewelery and wonderful Tarnetar "Chhatris" (umbrellas) with intricate embroidery and mirror work are sold. An added attraction is the lively folk dance performances such as -garba, ras, haro.
Navratri is the longest Hindu festi.val that continues for nine consecutive nights in praise of Lord Rama. Continuous chanting from the great epic Ramayana, along with evening performances from the episodes of his life, is held for nine days.
It is a combination of many concepts. It is believed that Durga, the Goddess of power and vitality, has nine forms called Navadurga and on each day of the nine days, she takes a new form, with an arsenal ofweapons, to ride a lion and fight the demon Mahishasura. Vijaydashmi or Dussehra, the 10th day, is celebrated with feasting and rejoicing as her day of victory. Lord Rama is said to have worshipped the Goddess, seeking her blessing in order to overpower the evil force of Ravana, the abductor of his beloved Sica.
The most joyous celebration of Navaratri is seen in Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Bengal. Every night people gather in courtyards to dance the dandiya raas and garba, a community dance in which men and women dressed in festive clothes, dance in pairs with dandiyas or painted wooden sticks.
Is performed during the nine days of Navratri. Community pujas in Bengal are organised in every locality. Families visit each other to share feasts. On Bijoya day, the idols are taken in elaborate processions for immersion in the river or the sea.
Is a festival devoted mainly to the music and dance of the Marwar region. The festival was originally known as the 'Maand festival'. Held for two days on full moon-sharad purnima, folk artists bring to life the myth, legend and folklore of the area.
Is celebrated to mark the homecoming of Lord Rama. The Ramlila-an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held nine days before Dussehra.
On the tenth day, larger than life effigies of Ravana, his brothers Meghnath and Kumbhkana filled with different fire crackers are set alight to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
In Himachal Pradesh, a week long fair at Kulili is a part of the Dussehra celebrations. From the little temples in the hills, deities are brought in procession to the Kullu Maidan with lot of gaiety, music and colour.
The presiding deity is Lord Raghunathji. Mysore is illuminated with lights for Dussehra. Majestic processions, a torch light parade and dance and musical events enliven the tranquil city.
Is a harvest festival when Laxmi, the Goddess of prosperity, visits all homes to bring fortune and good luck to all. Kojagiri, the special night, is celebrated with ice-cold, saffron-flavoured sweet milk, shared in the cool moonlight. The full moon night is called Navanna Purnima or the moonlit night of new food. The newly harvested rice is offered to the gods and lamps are lit before the full moon.
The festival of lights is one of the most beautiful of Indian festivals. It comes 21 days after Dussehra and celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after his 14-year exile. Homes are decorated, sweets are distributed by everyone and thousands of lamps lit in houses allover the country making it a night of enchantment. Doorways are hung with torans ( a decorative garland for the door ) of mango leaves and marigolds. Rangolis ( designs on floor ) are drawn with different coloured powders to welcome guests. Worship of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and fireworks and festivities are an essential part of the occasion.
The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak -the first guru of the Sikhs who founded the Sikh faith, is celebrated with great fervour. The 'Akhand Path' -recitation of the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, is held in gurdwaras allover the country. Taking the holy book Ol!t in procession, is also an integral part of the celebrations. Langars (community feasts) are organised where people of all castes sit together to eat and sing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib.The celebrations at Amritsar are especially impressive.
Is the most important festival of the Khasis in Meghalaya. This five day long festival, held annually near Shillong, is an occasion fot. thanksgiving for a good harvest and the time to pray for peace and prosperity. Khasi men and women, dressed in traditional splendour, perform the famous Nongkrem dance.
Is held every year at Pushkar, near Ajmer. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the holy waters of the Pushkar Lake. Trading of cattle, camel races and dazzling displays of bangles, brassware, clothes, camel saddles and halters are the major attractions of this colourful event which lasts for twelve days.
Is celebrated by the Christians and non-Christians alike with special enthusiasm. All the major Indian cities wear a festive look. Shops and bazaars are decorated for the occasion and offer attractive bargains. Carol singing, get-togethers and the exchanging of gifts enhance the Christmas spirit. Christmas parties launch off celebrations for the New Year, thus retaining the festive mood for at least a week.