Fair & Festivals

DIWALI OR DIPAVALI

Diwali or Dipavali is a significant 5-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism occurring between mid October and mid November. It is also popularly known as the Festival of Lights. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Guyana, Malaysia, Singapore, etc.

The word Dipavali literally translates as a row of lamps in Sanskrit. It is traditional for adherents of Diwali-celebrating faiths to light small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil within an individual. During Diwali, many wear new clothes and share sweets/snacks with each other. Some Indian business communities start their financial year by opening new account books on the first day of Diwali for good luck the following year.

In Hinduism, Diwali marks the return of Lord Raama to his kingdom Ayodhya after defeating Ravana (the Demon King, and also the demons KING) - the ruler of Lanka in the epic story of Ramayana. It also celebrates the slaying of the demon king Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Both signify the victory of good over evil. In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksa by Mahavira in 527 BC. In Sikhism, Diwali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing 52 other Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir. He was welcomed by the people who lit candles and divas to celebrate his return, which is why Sikhs also refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas meaning "the day of release of detainees".

Diwali is considered to be a national festival in India and Nepal. The aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed around the world regardless of faith.

HOLI

Holi, also called the Festival of Colors, is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Srilanka, and countries with large Hindu diaspora populations, such as Suriname, Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad, the UK, USA, Mauritius, and Fiji. In West Bengal of India and Bangladesh it is known as Dolyatra (Doul Jatra) or Basanta-Utsab ("spring festival"). The most celebrated Holi is that of the Braj region, in locations connected to the god Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, and Barsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi, which lasts here to up to sixteen days.

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in Andhra Pradesh.

Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. In 2009, Holi (Dhulandi) was on March 11 and Holika Dahan was on March 10.

Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colors.

GANGAUR

Gangaur is a festival celebrated in the Indian state of Rajasthan.Gangaur is the colourful and the one of the most important festivals of people of Rajasthan and is observed throughout the state with great fervour and devotion by womenfolk who worship Gauri, the consort of Lord Shiva during July-Aug. It is the celebration of monsoon, harvest and martial fidelity in Jaipur. Gana is a synonym for Lord Shiva and Gaur which stands for Gauri or Parvati who symbolizes Saubhagya (marital bliss). The unmarried women worship her for being blessed good husband, while married women do so for the welfare, health and long life of their husbands and happy married life.

RAKSHA BANDHAN

Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection in Hindi, Punjabi, Oriya, Assamese gujurati and most other Indian languages) is a Hindu festival, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Shraavana (Shravan Poornima).

The festival is marked by the tying of a rakhi, or holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her as she presents sweets to her brother. The brother and sister traditionally feed one another sweets.

It is not necessary that the rakhi be given only to a blood brother; any male can be "adopted" as a brother by tying a rakhi on the person, that is "blood brothers and sisters", whether they are cousins or a good friend. Indian history is replete with women asking for protection, through rakhi, from men who were neither their brothers, nor Hindus themselves.

The story of Rani Karnavati of Chittor and Mughal Emperor Humayun is the most significant evidence in the history. During the medieval era, around the 15th century, there were many wars between the Rajputs, Mughals and Sultans. Rakhi at that time meant a spiritual binding and protection of sisters was foremost. When Rani Karnavati the widowed queen of the king of Chittor realised that she could in no way defend the invasion of the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah, she sent a rakhi to Emperor Humayun. The Emperor was so touched by the gesture, that he abandoned an ongoing military campaign to ride to her rescue.

The rakhi may also be tied on other special occasions to show solidarity and kinship (not necessarily only among brothers and sisters), as was done during the Indian independence movement.