If November is the ‘All Saints’ Day’ for Christians how
can they forget about ‘All Soul’s Day’ which falls on
November 2. This day is for the ‘near and dear’ ones who are
not alive. Prayers are offered in the cemetery. They believe in
the survival of human beings beyond death and reaffirm the ‘hope
for salvation’ through the mercy of God.
Some of our
festivals are, in fact, agricultural festivals and these are
linked with fertility. The ambuvaci/Amati/Ameti
Festival" is a four-day-long ritual. Hindus believe that
the Mother Earth menstruates during this period and thereby any
kind of ploughing/digging is not allowed. Even sexual
intercourse is forbidden. Then comes the "Bhekuliar-biya"
festival which means of frogs" This is linked with
"magical rites associated with the fertility cult".
There is a myth
that the world was created by Lord Brahma on the first day of Chaitra.
This is observed as Chaitra Pratipada mainly in
Maharashtra. If this is true, how can we forged chaturmasa when
Lord Vishnu goes to sleep? Such an event, perhaps, make it ‘inauspicious’
for marriages etc. When Lord Vishnu sleeps, then there must be
an occasion for celebration on his awakening oh! that is there,
it is Deo-uthan Ekadashi.
Hindus, Sikhs and Jains can have different reasons for
celebration but they do celebrate Divali. For Hindus, Lord Rama
returned from Lanka. It is also believed that Lord Shiva
declared this day as auspicious for gambling. In many parts of
India, this tradition of gambling is still prevalent. Even for
thieves, it is the day for ‘good luck’. If they commit big
robbery successfully then it brings good fortune throughout the
year. For the Jains, Lord Mahavira obtained final Nirvana. But
Sikhs celebrate it in the honour of their sixth Guru, Hargobind
who reached Amritsar after his release from captivity.
One should know
why do we call ‘Good Friday as ‘Good,’ particularly when
it is the day of "passion and death of Jesus on the cross!
It is considered to be the source of "Man’s
salvation" and to get "relief from sufferings".
is said to be a
smaller version of Kumbh Mela. Besides other places,
people come to Allahabad for a period of one month. The reason
is to have a bath in the Sangam every morning. The
festival Makar Sankranti has its own mythological
interpretation. Bhishma is said to have waited till this day in
order to seek permission for entering heaven directly. This is Ultarayana
when Surya believes to have changed his orbit and
entered Makara-Rishi. But for rural folks in Andhra
Pradesh, it is an occasion to be used for purchasing the clothes
for the whole year.
There is an
interesting story for Naga Panchamai Mela. There is a
deep well, popularly known as Naga Kuan, in northern
Kashi where the people from the region plunge into the water
which is about thirty feet deep. This is said to have emerged
from the netherworld’s Patala, which is the realm of
Name any month,
any religion, any country where fairs and festivals are not
performed or celebrated but this book deals with India only.
Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and others celebrate
one occasion or the other almost throughout the year and
sometimes two or three festivals in one month.
whether it is Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Assam,
Nagaland or Punjab, has a list of exclusive range of festivals.
In Orissa, if you find the Rath Yatra, then Pushkar
Mela is celebrated in Rajasthan; Renuka fair in
Himachal; Maghi Mela/Baisakhi in Punjab so on and
so forth. Then there are festivals exclusively for women such as
"Karva Chauth’, Teej or Teejri.
There is a season for cattle fairs like ‘Nalwari cattle fair’.
How can we forget about religious centres like Amritsar,
Varanasi, Hardwar, Vrindavan, Rameshwaram etc?
The author deserves a word of
appreciation for producing this volume but there is a scope for
improvement. At certain places, the information is scanty, and,
there are some places which need to be incorporated. Magh
Mela could not find a place in the ‘index’.