Indian Festivals
At a Glance

You can now listen and learn the history and significance behind all the popular Indian festivals here.

Indian festivals

India is the land of festivals, where people of all faiths coexist. The numerous Indian festivals celebrated in our country are a true reflection of the country’s rich culture and traditions. Many Indian festivals are celebrated every month that give us an opportunity of rejoice with our families, friends and society at large. 

To give an overview of all the popular Indian festivals, their origin, history, significance, timing and dates, we bring to you “Indian Festivals At a Glance” podcast. This show will would provide you (and our little listeners) with all the essential information that one should know about it.  So join us in this journey where we take you through the India’s cultural history.

What are the popular Indian Festivals?

The following Indian festivals are explained in our podcast, “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

Buddha Purnima

Birth & Spiritual Enlightenment of Lord Buddha

Rath Yatra

Return of Krishna with his brother and sister Balarama and Subhadra to Vrindavan

Eid al- Adha

The festival of sacrifice

Independence Day

Freedom of India from British Raj

Onam

Welcoming The Mighty Mahabali

Raksha Bandhan

Celebration of brother and sisterhood

Janmashtami

The birth of Lod Krishna

Ganesh Chaturthi

The birth of Lord Ganesha

Navratri

Festival of the divine feminine & power

Dussehra

Triumph of good over evil

Karwa Chauth

Dedicated to the beautiful bond of marraige

The birth of Lod Krishna

The birth of Lord Ganesha

What are the Indian festivals in May 2021?

1. Buddha Purnima

In this episode of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”, we are going to talk about Buddh Purnima. Buddh Purnima or Buddha Purnima is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha.

One of this major Indian festivals, Buddha Purnima, is celebrated according to the Lunar calendar. Therefore every year it falls on different dates. Though it is primarily celebrated in the Baisakh month of the Buddhist calendar Not just India, Buddhism is followed in many more countries and it is also celebrated on different dates and in different styles.

  • In Japan: 8th April,
  • In Taiwan: 2nd Sunday of May,
  • In China & Korea: On the 8th day of the 4th month (Chinese Calendar)
  • In Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Malaysia: On the full moon day of Baisakhi

According to Hindu calendar, Lord Buddha or Gautam Buddha was born on the full moon day of the Baisakhi month. It is believed that he was born in around Lumbini 563 BCE or 480 BCE. His birth name was Siddharth Gautam. His father, Shuddodhan was the King of  Shaky Dynasty and his mother was Maya Devi. He was acquitted with everything and was destined to be a King in future but at the age of 29, he witnessed four such things that he willingly gave away his throne.

He saw an old man, a sick man, a dead man and a sage. After this Siddharth Gautam became Gautam Buddha and left his kingdom to find peace in meditation and simple life. He preached and inspired several people over the years and finally attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya under the Bodh tree. That is when, he finally became Lord Buddha or Buddha- The Enlighter. In 483 BCE or 400 BCE, at the age of 80 he receives “Mahanirvana” meaning, total extinction of individuality (according to the Buddhists).

  • In Cambodia, people celebrate Buddha Purnima by carrying Buddhist flags, Lotus, incense, and candles to acknowledge Lord Buddha.
  • In South Korea, Buddhists celebrate Lotus Lantern festival
  • In Indonesia, they have world’s biggest Buddhist temple and they organize large processions
  • In India, India Buddha Purnima is a public holiday but specifically limited to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya, Lahoul Spiti, Kinnaur, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Kurseong few towns in Maharasthra, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, and in Uttranchal. The festival is limited to these places because of the presence of 70% Indian Buddhists population there.

There is a popular tale of Sujata narrated on this day. It is believed that Sujata fed Gautam Buddha a spoon of “Kheer” that resulted in the end of his six years long uninterrupted meditation.  Though every country has its unique way to celebrate this occasion of Buddha Purnima but one common thing that binds them all is “Charity”. On this day, all the followers of Buddha donate according to their capacity.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

What are the Indian festivals in July 2021?

2. Rath Yatra

In this episode of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”, we are going to talk about Rath Yatra. Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival is one of the holiest and oldest festivals of India.

It celebrates the return of Lord Krishna with his brother and sister Balarama and Subhadra to Vrindavan. Though It is celebrated in India and across the world, the most famous is the Jagannath Ji Rath Yatra which is held at the beach town Puri, of Odisha, an eastern state of India.

The idol of Lord Jagannath, Balarama, and Subhadra are taken out in a procession on a huge chariot. It marks Lord Jagannath’s annual visits to the Gundicha Temple (Aunts Home) home near Balagundi Chhaka, Puri for nine days. In these nine days, he takes all his ten forms. After nine days they return to their home Jagannath Ji Temple.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

3. Eid Mubarak

“Itr ki khushboo, sivayion ki mithaas, Naye naye kapde, haathon mein mehndi aur jeb mein dher saari eedi… Aisa hota hai humaare India mein Eid ka Tyohaar… “

Eid is a holy festival of Muslims. There are two Eid holidays: Eid ul Fitr and Eid al Adha. The Hijri calendar, also known as the Islamic calendar, has 12 months but with 354 or 355 days.

First, let’s discuss Eid ul Fitr. The fasting month of Ramadan comes to an end on Eid al-Fitr, which means “feast of the breaking of the fast.”

During this month, people fast which is also known as Roza. During Roza, Muslims do not consume anything during the day. They only eat Sehri in the morning before sunrise and Iftaari in the evening after sunset. Without the moon, Eid celebrations would be incomplete.

The purpose of this month’s fasting and worship is to get closer to Allah and to show compassion to those in need.

Eid ul Adha, Bakr Eid, or Eid ul Zuha  means “festival of sacrifice.” This festival takes place on the 10th day of Dhu’l-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Muslims all across the world celebrate Eid ul Adha to honor Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) sacrifice, which he made following Allah’s order as a believer in Him.

Muslims believe that God tested the Prophet by commanding him to sacrifice his firstborn son, Ismail (Ishmail). Ibrahim followed Allah’s commands and laid down his beloved son for sacrifice, but at the last moment, Ismail was replaced with a sheep. 

The completion of Hajj, a five-day pilgrimage to Mecca that every able-bodied Muslim is obligated to accomplish once in their lifetime, is also commemorated on Eid al Adha.

The journey is said to cleanse the soul of sins and establish a spirit of equality, sisterhood, and brotherhood.

Men, women, and children dress up in their nicest attire for  Eid Ul Zuha, and wonderful dishes like Biryani and Kebabs are prepared in homes. Muslim families throw a feast and give out gifts to the less fortunate. Children are also given gifts known as “Eddie” in certain Muslim traditions.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

What are the Indian festivals in August 2021?

4. Independence Day

Did you know before the British rule, India was known for its gold and rich natural resources? Yes, and because of that, India was captured by the British who all ruled over her for years.

Every year on August 15th, Indians all over the world celebrate its Independence Day – the day that commemorates the end of 200 years of British rule. On this day in 1947, India was declared a free country after years of struggle and sacrifice by our great freedom fighters. 

In 1617, India was ruled by the Mughals, and during that time the British India Company first came to India to fix a trade between Mughal India and England. In 1757, British rule in India began, following by the East India Company’s victory at the Battle of Plassey,  gave them control of the country. Indians revolted against the Britishers as they did not want to be their slaves and fought for the freedom of India. Several revolts and fights such as Revolt of 1857, Quit India Movement, The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917, and many more collective efforts led to a  new Independent India.

Our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, delivered a speech on the woke of Independence Day that began as, “At the stroke of midnight, when the world sleeps, India shall awake to life and freedom.”

Every year, we commemorate Independence Day by singing the national anthem, flag-raising ceremonies are held across the country, drills are conducted. People make an effort to dress in national or regional attire to honor their country and culture. The prime minister takes part in a flag-raising ceremony and a parade with the personnel of the military forces and police at the Red Fort. Schools and colleges celebrate this day by parade, cultural activities, speech and quiz competitions, and more.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

5. Onam

Onam, celebrates the beginning of the harvest season. It is a Hindu festival celebrated yearly all over India with its origins in the Kerala state.

Onam festival was held to mark the arrival of Asura King Mahabali’s annual visit from Patala. The story of Onam festival suggests that gods were threatened by Mahabali , a demon king and sought for Lord Vishnu’s help. Lord Vishnu disguised himself as Vamana, and arrived at the kingdom of Mahabali.   

He requested Mahabali to grant him the land which he can cover within three feet. The generous king accepted the request and then Vamana started to expand in size covering the sky and earth in the first two steps.

Lord Vishnu, offered Mahabali the blessing of being allowed to visit his people once a year in reward for his  good actions, leading to the Onam Festival in India.

The 10 days of Onam sequentially are: Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam and Thiruvonam. The festival of of Onam includes activities liket street parade, flower decorations,  pulikali dance, the famous snake boat race, and obviously delicious cuisines.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

6. Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is a celebration of the bond that exists between brothers and sisters. It is one of the most important Indian festivals amongst the Hindus. It is not only celebrated in India but across the world where Hindus reside.

On this day sisters tie Rakhi, a protective band (raksha dhaga) on their brother’s hand that ensures the safety of the brother. In return, the brother promises her the same.

Raksha Bandhan is rooted in mythology. It is said that during Mahabharat, when Lord Krishna accidentally nicked his finger on his ‘Sudarshan Chakra’, Draupadi tore a piece of her saree and tied it to his finger to stop the bleeding. Lord Krishna was so touched by her gesture that he promised to always protect her.

Raksha bandhan is known by different names in different states. In Uttar Pradesh it is known as Sharvni, in Tamil Nadu it is Avni Avattam, in Maharastra it is Naryal Purnima, and the list continues. Listen to the podcast to know about the history of Rakhsha Bandhan during partition of Bengal.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

7. Krishna janmashtami

The birth of Lord Krishna is known as Janmashtami, and it is widely celebrated throughout India. It is one among India’s most important celebrations. In Mathura and Vrindavan, where Lord Krishna was born and raised, the festival is widely celebrated.

The celebrations of Janmashtami begin at midnight. Krishna’s statues are washed, dressed in gorgeous clothing, and placed in cots.

On this day, people fast and sing devotional songs in honor of Lord Krishna, Lord Vishnu’s eighth avatar. Baby Krishna statues are washed and set for worship as part of the ritual. One of the festival’s attractions is Dahi Handi. This activity leads back to  Krishna’s childhood, when he used to play with his companions and steal curds from villagers, as a result, he is also known as “Makhanchor.”

During the festival of Janmashtami children dress up like Kanhaiyan or Krishna to take part in school or society competitions. Janmashtami is indeed a festival full of zeal among the Indians.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

What are the Indian festivals in September 2021?

8. Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha. Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as ‘Vinayak Chavithi’.

Lord Ganesha is considered to be a symbol of wisdom and good fortune. He is also addressed as Gajanana, Ganesh, Gajadant that are among his 108 names. This is a 10-day long festival. The festival is widely celebrated in the state of Maharashtra. People chant Ganapati Bappa Morya, paying respect to him. 

Prayers are chanted, fasts are observed, and prasada (sweets) such as modaka, which is believed to be a favourite of Lord Ganesh, are distributed. The festival concludes on the tenth day, when the idol is paraded through the streets and immersed in a nearby body of water.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

What are the Indian festivals in October 2021?

9. Navratri

Navratri, also called Durga Puja, is one of the major festivals in India. It is held in honor of the divine feminine. The festival is of nine days and nine nights is accompanied by dance, music, sweets, and worship of the most powerful goddess. During this festival, the nine avatars of Goddess Durga are worshiped each day. 

One popular ritual of this festival is Kanya Puja. In this ritual, nine young girls are dressed as the nine goddesses portraying feminine power. They are worshiped with foot washing and are given offerings such as food and clothing. Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions. 

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

10. Dusshera

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashami, is a Hindu festival that commemorates the triumph of good over evil.  Dusshera is celebrated on the tenth day of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which occurs between September and October in the Gregorian calendar.

In different parts of the India, Vijayadashami or Dusshera is commemorated and celebrated for different reasons. Vijayadashami is the end of Durga Puja in India’s southern, eastern, northeastern, and some northern states. The event is known as Dussehra in the northern, central, and western states, and it commemorates lord Rama’s victory over Ravan at the end of Ramlila.

In the famous Hindu epic Ramayana, Dussehra commemorates Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana. Ravana kidnaps Rama’s wife Sita in the Ramayana to take revenge on Rama and Lakshmana for cutting off Surpanakha’s nose. In the end, Rama triumphs over Ravana and saves Sita. The triumph is then commemorated by the burning of the effigies of Ravana. The tenth day, Dussehra, is the end of Navratri’s nine-day celebrations.

According to another legend, Goddess Durga battled and killed Mahishasura on this day. The day is known as Vijayadashmi. The nine days leading up to Vijayadashami are dedicated to a different powerful manifestation of Goddess Durga.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

11. Karwa Chauth

Indian festivals are well-known throughout the world. Among all the Indian festivals, one stands out in the Hindu lunar calendar month of Kartik. It is Karwa Chauth. On this day, Hindu ladies anxiously wait for the moon to appear in the sky. It is an annual one-day holiday observed by married Hindu women during which they fast from dawn to moonrise and pray for their husbands.

Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan are among the states that commemorate Karwa Chauth. Women dress up in new outfits and ‘solah shringar’ and offer prayers in order to ensure a happy and beautiful marriage.

During the festival, ladies observe a ‘Nirjala’ fast, during which they do not eat or drink water for the entire day and give prayers to numerous Gods. Karva Chauth is linked to a number of mythological stories. One of the most well-known is the story of Savitri and Satyavan, in which the woman used her prayer and devotion to bring her husband back from Yamraj. 

Veervati, the only sister of seven loving brothers, has a similar story. The brothers couldn’t stand seeing her fast for the entire day, so they tricked her into thinking the moon had appeared. Veervati broke her fast only to learn of her husband’s death shortly after. She pleaded for a year, and the Gods were so happy with her devotion that they returned her husband back.

The Karva Chauth celebrations begin at 4 a.m., when married women get up before the sun rises and get ready. The daughter-in-law is then expected to eat the Sargi (a dish eaten before sunrise on Karva Chauth) that her mother-in-law has prepared for her.

Roli, rice, diya, Chalni, sweets, and a glass of water make up the puja plate. Women sit in a circle and pass their plates back and forth. They perform songs on this day and tell the story of Savitri and Satyvaan, as well as Veervati. When the moon is fully visible, women chant prayers while gazing at the moon and their husband through the chalni. The husband then feed their wife and offer water. Thus, this is how the Karwa Chauth fast is broken.

We hope you have enjoyed listening to the history behind this popular Indian festival. We will soon bring to you more episodes of “Indian Festivals At a Glance”.

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