Information on Indian festivals; Diwali, Wesak or Budda Day and other Hindu and Buddhist religious celebrations.
To understand the significance of the Kumbha Mela and the important role that it plays in the spirituality of India, it is helpful to know something about the background of the sacred Ganges River. The devout believe that simply by bathing in the Ganges one is freed from their past sins [karma], and thus one becomes eligible for liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Of course it is said that a pure lifestyle is also required after taking bath, otherwise one will again be burdened by karmic reactions. The pilgrims come from all walks of life, travelling long distances and tolerating many physical discomforts, such as sleeping in the open air in near freezing weather. They undergo these difficulties just to receive the benefit of taking a bath in the sacred river at Kumbha Mela.
The most important of these melas is the Kumbh Mela. A mass pilgrimage for the Hindu community of India, the Kumbh Mela or Kumbh fair is rumoured to be one of the largest congregation of sages, yogis, ascetics, mendicants, men, women and children on the planet. It occurs four times every twelve years and is organised in rotation among four places: Allahabad (Prayag), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik.
Every twelve-year cycle includes one Purna Kumbh Mela [Great Kumbh Mela] at Prayag. Around 60 million people is said to attend the Purna Kumbh Mela, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.
The Maha Kumbh Mela periodically falls every 144 years or after 12 Purna Kumbh Melas, at Allahabad. Kumbh Mela derives its name from the AmritaKumbha [Pot of Nectar] described in the ancient Vedic scripture "çrémad-Bhägavatam". In Sanskrit language, the word Kumbha means "pot or pitcher". Mela means "festival". Thus Kumbh Mela literally translated means 'festival of the pot,' that is, the pot of nectar.
This spectacle of faith has for many centuries attracted the curiosity of foreign travellers. Hiuen Tsiang of China, who lived during the seventh century, was the first to mention Kumbha Mela in his diary. He gave an eyewitness report that during the Hindu month of Magha [January-February] half a million people had gathered on the banks of the Ganges at Allahabad to observe a celebration for 75 days. The pilgrims, writes Hiuen Tsiang, assembled along with their king, his ministers, scholars, philosophers, and sages. He also reports that the king had distributed enormous quantities of gold, silver, and jewels in charity for the purpose of acquiring good merit and thus assuring his place in heaven.
The Magh Mela is one of the greatest annual religious affairs for Hindus. Hindu mythology considers the origin of the Magh Mela to be the beginning of the Universe. An important occasion, the Magh Mela is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam [the confluence of the three great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati] in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
In accordance with the traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India, this holy fair is organised every year during the Hindu month of Magh. This is not always a pleasant experience due to the cold and the chilliness of the water. See picture right: * Sadhus immerse themselves during the annual Magh Mela festival in Allhabad.
The Magh, we have discovered, corresponds to mid January - mid February of the Gregorian calendar; hence the name. The Magh Mela is, however, not confined only to the month of Magh and the important bathing dates are spread over a period of 45 days. The Magh Mela is actually a smaller version of Kumbh Mela. Hence it is also known as mini Kumbh Mela.
Devotees wait for the rain and chill to subside before Devotees hold prayer lamps as they perform evening rituals taking a dip in the Ganges River ahead of the Kumbh Mela on the banks of the Ganges River at Haridwar. festival in Haridwar.
* In Hinduism, sadhu, or shadhu is a common term for a mystic, an ascetic, practitioner of yoga and/or wandering monks.
Nirvana Day - 15th February
Also on the 8th of February Parinirvana - Nirvana day Mahayana Buddhist festival marking the anniversary of Buddha's death.
When is Holi Indian Festival of Colours
The day after the full moon in March each year.
In 2011, Holi will be celebrated on Sunday, 20th March.
In 2012, Holi is early, on the 8th of March.
This is the most important Buddhist festival. It celebrates the Buddha's birthday.
Diwali, also called Deepavali or Dipavali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular and special of all Hindu festivals. It is also an occasion for celebration by *Jains and *Sikhs.
The festival of Diwali extends over five days. The date of Diwali is set by the Hindu calendar so it varies in the Western calendar. It usually falls in October or November and because of the lights, fireworks and sweets involved, it's a great favourite with children.
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the celebration are different in different parts of India.
*In Jainism people come together over three days and celebrate the Nirvana of Lord Mahavira and welcome in the New Year. Whereas for Sikhs, Diwali celebrates the release of the Guru, Hargobind Ji from imprisonment and people celebrate by lighting the way to the Golden Temple.
Easter in India
India is a land of cultural diversity; hence every festival is celebrated with great pomp and show. Although Christians constitute a meagre 3% of the total population in India, the festive spirit of Easter is no less.
Republic India Day - 26th January
Republic Day is one of the three national holidays of India and the greatest festival celebrated in the country. It is celebrated every year on 26th January, in New Delhi with great pomp, fanfare and pageant. While in the capitals of the States and other headquarters, it is marked with patriotic fervour.
Jokes for Indian Festivals
Museum Administrator: That's a 500-year-old statue you've
Having lost his donkey Sardarji Uddam got down to his knees and started thanking God.
A passerby sees him and asks, So, your donkey is missing, what are you thanking God for?'
Uddam replies, 'I am thanking Him for seeing to it that I wasn't riding the donkey at that time, otherwise I, too, would have been missing.'
Ghandi Joke for Any Indian Festival
As you may know, Ghandi went everywhere barefoot and so he developed an impressive collection of callouses.
Because of his meagre diet he was frail and he suffered from terrible bad breath. What conclusion can we draw from this?.........
He was a super-calloused fragile mystic, hexed by hallitosis!
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