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Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India - History for UPSC CSE

(i) Few festivals come under ‘restricted list’ that is employer can choose to make it a holiday or not.
(ii) There are two types of festivals:

 Religious Festivals Secular Festivals
 (i) Celebrated by those who believe in a particular religion & practice their rituals. (a) Celebrated by entire nation irrespective of their religious denominations
 (ii) Most religious denominations have festivals that are vital to their culture. (b) Most States have festivals & fairs that are essential to their culture.
 (iii) Example- Hindu community all over the world celebrates Diwali. (c) Example, Pushkar fair (a cattle fair) is celebrated in Pushkar, Rajasthan & is not restricted to any community.

- are celebrated on occurrence of great historical events of national importance.
- three National Festivals namely: 26th January Republic Day; 15th August Independence Day & 2nd October Gandhi Jayanti.

(i) Are celebrated by specific communities.
(ii) Holi- primarily a religious festival of Hindus, but even non-Hindus enjoy it.

Hindu Festivals
Diwali or Deepawali
(i) ‘Festival of Lights’
(ii) Celebrated by Hindu sects across country & abroad.
(iii) Falls on ‘new moon’ or Amavasya in the month of Karthik that usually falls in October or November.
(iv) Several Hindu call it ‘Krishna Chaturdashi’.
(v) The day before the festival is called Naraka Chaturdasi, which marks win of Lord Krishna over demon Naraka.
(vi) Holy for two reasons: it is the day when Lord Rama came back to Ayodhya from his fourteen-year long exile to forest.
(vii) Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped.
(viii) The day of Diwali is also known for Chopad Puja as Lord Krishna preached Karma Yoga to Arjuna in battlefield in Kurukshetra.
(ix) According to Jain philosophy, this was the day when Mahavira attained Nirvana.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:Consider the following –
1. Diwali falls on the auspicious day of Poornima, i.e. full moon.
2. It is based on Mahabharata
Which of the above is/are correct?
View Solution

Sharad Purnima
(i) Falls 15 days before Diwali & is related to harvest season.
(ii) Falls on full moon night called Navanna Purnima.
(iii) On this day people drink saffron coloured milk during moonlit night and this ritual is called Kojagiri. In some parts of India, idol of the Goddess is taken around the premises of the temple in a torch-lit procession called Chhabina.

(i) ‘Festival of Colours’
(ii) Celebrated in month of Phalgun and falls during end of February and early March.
(iii) Marks beginning of spring & end of winter.
(iv) Celebrated on two days, Chhoti (small) Holi & ‘Rang’ or the Day of colour.
(v) Chhoti Holi orHolika Dahan’ or day of burning demoness ‘Holika’- signifies win of good over evil- represents burning of Holika and saving of Bhakt Prahlad.
(vi) Colours & festivity are representative of ‘God of Love’ or Kama. Most people use gulal’ or colour and water.
(vii) Different versions of Holi:
- Vrindavan & Mathura- Lathmar Holi- women of families come out and beat their
- men with sticks. It is done in a playful manner.
- Rural Maharashtra- Rangapanchami.
- West Bengal and parts of Assam- Basant Utsav or Dhol Jatra.
- Bhang or thandai are made of marijuana or a particular type of weed.

Makar Sankranti
(i) Dedicated to Sun God
(ii) Celebrates movement of Sun to the northern hemisphere.
(iii) Sanskrit words: Makar- Capricorn and Sankranti- transition.
(iv) Is bound to agricultural cycle followed by most rural agriculture based communities.
(v) Celebrated as a form of thanks giving to Mother Nature for a good crop.
(vi) During this period, holy day of Uttarayan is also observed in many parts of country.
(vii) Marks end of winter as days become longer & nights become shorter.
(viii) Worshippers also take a trip to Ganga Sagar and Prayag.
(ix) In some parts, day is considered auspicious for buying of cattle & so cattle/bullock fairs are conducted in many part of the country..

(i) Birth anniversary of Lord Krishna
(ii) Falls in month of Shravan (July/August) & date is calculated according to lunar calendar & position of moon.
(iii) Marked by performance of Ras Leeia or the playful acts of Radha-Krishna.
(iv) Krishna Leelas are also performed.
(v) In Dwarka, one of the major Dhams for Hindus- this day is celebrated with lots of programmes.
(vi) Celebrations are seen in Mathura & Vrindavan, which are associated with the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
(vii) In Maharashtra- its called Dahi-handi- each locality collects money and a matki (earthen vessel to hold water/ milk) is hung several feet in the air, which the young men try to break.

(i) Also called‘Vijaydashami’
(ii) Celebrated in honour of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana.
(iii) Hindus in north India keep fast for nine days, called ‘Navratri’- before the festival.
(iv) Tenth day-Vijay-Dashmi or Victory on tenth day, is celebrated.
(v) Unique point- effigies of Ravana and his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhkaran are burnt.
(vi) In public gatherings, version of 'Ram-lila’ or Story of Lord Rama is also showcased.
(vii) Major scenes are ‘Lanka Dahan’ or Battle in Lanka & Dialogue between Gods & Lord Rama. Fairs or ‘Melas’ are organised.
(viii) In Mysore- celebrated with great enthusiasm at Chamundi Temple.
(ix) Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka- Bommai Kulu (dolls), lamps and flowers are used to create elaborate decorations.
(x) Himachal Pradesh- villagers perform ritualistic ‘Natti Dance’ for nine days after worshipping Lord Raghunath (another name for Rama).

Ram Navami
(i) Celebrated in honour of birth anniversary of Lord Rama.
(ii) Falls in month of March/ April or Chaitra.
(iii) Two special areas of celebration- Ayodhya & Puducherry.
(iv) Thousands of pilgrims congregate at Ram Janambhoomi/ Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
(v) In Puducherry- Kanaka Bhawan Temple is centre of all celebrations.

Durua Puja
(i) Celebrated in honour of Goddess Durga’s triumph over the demon ‘Mahisasura’.
(ii) Falls during the month of September/October every year.
(iii) Is essentially win of good over evil.
(iv) In Bengal, Maa Durga is worshipped for five days & festivities begin from ‘Shashti’ (6th day) onwards and culminates in ‘DurgoPujo’ on tenth day.
(v) Bengali Durga Puja- on last day of the Pujo, massive idol of Durga made of clay is immersed in the sea.
(vi) Immersion of idol signifies return of Goddess Durga to the home of Lord Shiva who is her husband after her ten-day stay at her parental home.
(vii) In Mysore- it is called ‘Dasara;in Gujarat, its called as ‘Nuvrutri’ and celebrated with dances like Garba and Dandia\ in Tamil Nadu- celebrated for nine days & first three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, next three to Goddess Durga & last three to Goddess Saraswati.

Ganesh Chaturthi
(i) Celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha.
(ii) Falls on fourth day of month of Bhadra (August/September).
(iii) Is a national festival & extensively celebrated in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
(iv) Lord Ganesha- son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
(v) Has face of an elephant & is first God to be worshipped amongst pantheon of Hindu Gods.
(vi) Was initiated by Shivaji to promote Hinduism in his reign as opposed to Mughals.
(vii) Bal Gangadhar Tilak- revived the festival in 1893.
(viii) People bring an idol of Lord Ganesha and establish him temporarily in their house.
(ix) On last day of the festival or Chaturthi- a procession to cany the idols to be immersed in the nearest waterbodies.
(x) Immersion of idol-‘Visarjan’.

Karva Chauth
(i) Celebrated by Hindu women all over the world.
(ii) Falls on fourth day after full moon in the month of October or November, this is also known as Karthikki Chauth.
(iii) Was instituted to ensure the well-being, long life and prosperity of the husband.
(iv) Fast starts before sunrise where women take Sargi, a ritual food offering from their mothers-in law and remain without water and food for entire day.
(v) Only with sighting of the moon that they are allowed to partake any food.
(vi) Women try to invoke the Goddess ‘Gaur Mata’ during their puja before breaking their fasts.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:Ganesh Chaturthi falls in which month as per Saka Samvat?
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Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath
(i) Biggest festivals of the state of Odisha.
(ii) Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival- takes place once in a year in holy town of Puri, the Neelachal Srikshetra.
(iii) Falls on second day of the month of Ashadha (June/July).
(iv) Is dedicated to three main deities Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra & Lord Jagannath.
(v) Name of the Rath & Name of the God
- Nandighosha Lord Jagannath
- Taladhwaja Shree Balabhadra
- Devadalana Devi Subhadra
(vi) During festival, three idols made of wood representing Lord Krishna, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are taken out of Sri Mandir, on a cart and are dragged by millions of visitors.
(vii) Idols are taken to Shri Gundicha temple, where they are kept for a week on a sojourn.
(viii) Return journey or the Bahuda Yatra is also very grand and commences on ninth day or Asadha Sukla Dasami.
(ix) Rath Yatra predates the construction of the current temple at Puri and were celebrated as early as in the 9th century.

(i) Celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva.
(ii) Falls on fourteenth day of the month of Magha that
(iii) According to Gregorian calendar, it falls in February or March.
(iv) Day is significant as Shiva manifested himself in the form of a huge flaming lingam, which is called Jyotirlinga.
(v) Lord Shiva performed Tandava or the ritual dance that signifies the creation, preservation and destruction of the earth.
(vi) Devotees take holy water from Ganga and walk to far away temples where they can make the ritual offering to Shivalinga.
(vii) It falls on the darkest day of the month.

(i) Popular Hindu festival celebrated since the Vedic times.
(ii) Dedicated to Sun God (Surya)
(iii) Celebrated on sixth day of the lunar fortnight of Kartik month i.e, six days after Diwali. State festival of Bihar and is observed for a period of four days with rigorous fasting.
(iv) Includes a holy bath and making offerings to the rising and the setting Sun.
(v) Celebrated in northern and eastern parts of India along with Nepal.

Nabakalebar festival
(i) Nabakalebar festival is observed at Shri Jagannath temple, Puri (Odisha) at a pre-defined time .(after every 8 to 19 years) according to the Hindu calendar.
(ii) Nabakalebar means new body, i.e. the idols of Lord Jaganath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced with new idols.
(iii) From the darn or log of the selected neem trees, the idols are carved and are replaced during the Adhik Masa (intercalary month).
(iv) Lakhs and Lakhs of pilgrims attend to worship the selected neem tree and the ceremony of replacement of idols.
(v) In March 2018, President of India released Rs 1000 and Rs 10 commemorative coins on the occasion of Nabakalebar festival.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:Which Muslim festival marks the beginning of the sacred period for Hajj?
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Muslim Festivals
(i) Falls on last day of the holy month of Ramadan (Ramzan), which is ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
(ii) During Ramadan, people fast for entire day, beginning from the sunrise to the sunset. This process of fasting is ordained in the Muslim law or the Sharia.
(iii) Date of the festival is calculated after a complicated process, it is first day of the month of Shawwal and after the appearance of the moon at the end of the month of Ramadan.
(iv) Holy Quran was revealed on one of the odd nights during the last days of the holy month of Ramadan.
(v) Usually calculated to be 27th day of the Ramadan month.
(vi) Important for Muslim calendar because historically Prophet Muhammad achieved victory during Battle of Badr that led to the victory of the city of Mecca.
(vii) Martyrdom of the prophet’s son-in-law, Ali occurred on 21st day of Ramadan (Ramzan).

Id-ul-Zuha or Id-ul-Azha
(i) Known as Bakr-Eid or Id that involves the sacrifice of a goat or Bakra.
(ii) Celebrated on tenth day of Dhu-al-Hijjah, that is twelfth month of Islamic calendar.
(iii) Celebrated in honour of Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah, which was tested when god asked him to sacrifice his son.
(iv) Ibrahim readily agreed to cut off his son’s head but God was merciful and took the sacrifice of a goafs head.
(v) Hence, on this day ram’s head is sacrificed and meat is distributed as ritual offerings amongst family members and neighbours.
(vi) l/3rd of sacrificial meat is also given to poor.
(vii) Eid marks beginning of sacred period when people take pilgrimage to Mecca, called Hajj.

(i) Also known as Barah-wafat and is birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.
(ii) As per Quran- Prophet was bom on twelfth day of Rabi-al-Awwal, which is third month of the Muslim calendar.
(iii) Day of his birth is called Milad-un-Nabi or Mawlid-un-Nabi & is supposed to be the day when the Prophet departed the earth.
(iv) Celebrated with deep reverence and solemnity.
(v) People gather to the mosques where Holy Quran is read out.
(vi) Religious scholars recite Qasida al-Burda Sharif, very sacred poem by Arabic Sufi Busiri written in 13th century.
(vii) They also sing Nats, which are traditional poems written in honour of the Prophet and illustrating his good deeds.
(viii) Festival is called Barah (twelve) wafat (death) as it signifies twelve days of sickness that led to the Prophet Muhammad’s death.
(ix) Special significance in Kashmir, where relics of Prophet are displayed in Hazratbal Shrine, Srinagar.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:The festival of Good Friday is to commemorate the day of -
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(i) Sad festival- associated with death of Hussain, son of Ali.
(ii) Falls in first month of Islamic calendar called Muharram.
(iii) Islamic New Year- first day of first month of the Islamic calendar.
(iv) Tenth day of month of Muharram- Yanm-al-ashura- observed in memory of martyrdom of Hussain Bin Ali, grandson of the prophet in war at Karbala in 61 Hijri (680 AD)- mourned by Shia Muslims all over the world.
(v) In India- processions called Tajia are carried out', people wear black clothes and distribute sherbet or juice to everyone.

(i) Also called ‘Night of Emancipation’
(ii) Observed on night between 14th and 15th day of the month of Shaban.
(iii) As per Muslim tradition, destiny of every person is determined on this night.
(iv) Shia Muslims, celebrate 15th day of Shaban as birth anniversary of Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi, the twelfth imam who is credited with ridding the world from oppression and injustice.

(i) Means the “night of Ascent”.
(ii) Believed that Holy Prophet continues his journey and reaches to the nearness to Almighty.
(iii) Took place on 27th day or Rajab, 2 years before Hijra.Joumey was not with a physical body.
(iv) It was on this journey, that five daily prayers were made obligatory upon Muslims.
(v) Mosques are decorated and lighted, spiritual stories of Holy prophet is narrated & muslims give money in charity and distribute food among poor.

Christian Festivals
(i) Birth anniversary of Jesus Christ.
(ii) Falls on 25th December every year.
(iii) The celebrations begin with Midnight mass that is held at all the churches on the night of the 24th -25th December.
(iv) Two rituals attached to festival- Christmas Tree and Santa Claus.

Easter & Good Friday
(i) Celebrated for resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(ii) As per Bible, three days after Jesus was crucified, he was resurrected and Easter is supposed to signify the triumph of life over death.
(iii) Similarities in Christian & Jewish traditions on the occasion of the Easter → Jewish Christians celebrated Easter on 14th day of Jewish month of Nisan. But Christians celebrated it on Sunday closest to 14th day of Nisan.
(iv) Historic Council of Nicene (325 AD) fixed date of Easter on first Sunday after first full moon following vernal Equinox, which roughly falls on 21st March or Paschal full moon.
(v) Good Friday- commemorates the day of crucifixion of Jesus Christ & falls in the month of April each year.
(vi) Death of Jesus is considered necessary for his rebirth & so is good sign and gives hope to human beings. It also shows Jesus’s love for the mankind.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:Which of the following Sikh Gurus lost their lives to the Mughals?
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Sikhs Festivals
(i) Gurpurabs are celebrated for birth anniversaries of all 10 Sikh gurus
(ii) Most important- Guru Nanak & Guru Gobind Singh.
(iii) Other important Gurpurabs- Guru Arjan Dev & Guru Tegh Bahadur, who lost their lives to Mughals.
(iv) Guru Nanak Jayanti on Guru Nanak’s birthday.
(v) Akhand Path is held & people take out Prabhat Pheris or congregational singing of shabds or hymns -> concluded by carrying Guru Granth Sahib in a procession on a decorated floral float led by five-armed guards carrying Sikh flags (Nishan Sahibs).
(vi) Five men represent Panj Pyare or ‘five beloved men’ to Guru Gobind Singh.

Parkash Utsav Dasveh Patshah
(i) Celebrated on birthday of 10th Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh.
(ii) Also means the birth celebration of 10th Divine Light or divine knowledge.
(iii) Widely celebrated on 31 st January every year.

(i) Seasonal gathering of Sikhs & celebrated annually.
(ii) Celebrated in Muktsar in memory of forty Sikh martyrs (Chalis Mukte) who fought Mughals.
(iii) 10th Gum Govind Singh died while fighting with Wazir khan, Mughal emperor in 1705.
(iv) Sikhs take a procession to the site of Sikh- Muslim War and take a bath in sacred water of Muktsar.
(v) Celebrated on 14th of January every year.

Hola Mohalla
(i) Beginning of Sikh New Year.
(ii) Takes place in the month of March on second day of lunar month Chett & held in Anandpar Sahib.
(iii) Started by Gum Govind Singh for mock battles and military exercises followed by kirtan.
(iv) Also known as “Sikh Olympics” for competitions of horse riding, swordmanship, etc.

(i) Religious festival celebrated on 13th or 14th April every year.
(ii) Is celebration of sikh new year & birthday of Khalsa Panth.
(iii) Is spring harvest festival for Sikhs.
(iv) Sikhs take a bath in sacred river, visit temples, meet friends and party over festive foods.

(i) Celebrated on 13th of January in month of Magh, a day before Makar Sankranti.
(ii) Celebrates fertility & spark of life.
(iii) People gather around the bonfires, sing popular songs and exchange greetings.
(iv) Signifies victory of light over the darkness.

Sodal Mela
(i) Main fairs of Punja & is organized to pay homage to baba Sodal, a great soul.
(ii) Mela is organized annually in the month of Bhadon (September) in Jalandhar.
(iii) A very auspicious day for Sikhs
(iv) Fair takes place on Samadhi of Baba, where his painted portrait is placed decorated with rosaries & flowers.
(v) Holy tank is named Sodal ka Sarovar.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:Congregational singing of Shabds is related to
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Jain Festivals
Mahavir Javanti
(i) Held to celebrate birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara & one of the founders of Jainism.
(ii) Falls on thirteenth day of month of rising moon called Chaitra.
(iii) All Jain temples are decorated with saffron flag.
(iv) Idol of Mahavira- washed with milk and given a ceremonial bath (abhishek)- then carried in a procession.
(v) Has special relevance in Jain shrines like Parshvanath Temple in Kolkata, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh & Pawapuri in Bihar.
(vi) Major sites for celebration- Gujarat & Rajasthan.

(i) Annual festival of Jains.
(ii) Celebrated for eight days in month of Bhadrapada (August/September) by Svetambara sect. Digambara sect celebrates festival for ten days.
(iii) It marks movement of nomadic Jain monks to their retreats because of torrential rain & monsoon showers
(iv) Festivities include ritual visit to temples or Upashrayas & listening to discourses on Kalpa Sutra.
(v) Devotes are asked to perform Pratikraman or meditation kriya.
(vi) Festival ends with celebration of Kshamavami (forgiveness day), when forgiveness is asked for by saying “Micchami Dukkadam”.

(i) Held once in twelve years in town of Shravanabelagola in Karnataka.
(ii) Holy bathing ceremony of 57 ft high statue of Siddha Bahubali, son of Rishabhdev.
(iii) Statue is bathed with milk, sugarcane juice & saffron paste, and sprinkled with powders of sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion.
(iv) Offerings of petals, gold & silver coins, and precious stones are made.

Gvana Panchami
(i) Fifth day of Kartika is known as “Gyana Panchami”.
(ii) Considered knowledge day.
(iii) Holy Scriptures are displayed and worshipped.

Varshi Tapa or Akshav Tritiva Tapa
(i) Related to first Jain Tirthankara Rishabhdev who fasted for 13 months & 13 days continuously.
(ii) His fast came to an end on 3rd day of bright fortnight of Vaishakh month of Jain Calendar.
(iii) Varshi tapa-people who perform this fast

Maun - Agivara
(i) Celebrated on 11th day of Magshar month of Jain Calendar (October/November).
(ii) Complete silence is observed & fasting is kept.
(iii) Meditation is also performed.

Navapad Oli
(i) Nine-day Oli is a period of semi-fasting.
(ii) Jains take only one meal a day of very plain food.
(iii) Comes twice a year during March/April & September/October.

Buddhist Festivals
Buddha Purnima
(i) Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti- celebrated as birth anniversary of Lord Buddha.
(ii) Falls in month of April/ May.
(iii) Celebrated widely in parts of North-east India.
(iv) Is called Saga Dawa (Dasa) in Sikkim & Vishakha Puja in Theravada tradition.
(v) Celebration in northern India- Samath in UP & Bodh Gaya in Bihar.
(vi) Celebrations include ritualistic prayers & listening to sermons on life of Gautam Buddha.
(vii) Different sects follow different rules like:
- Mahayana Buddhists organize a large procession with gyalings & rabdungs and read Kangyur texts.
- Theravada Buddhists offer ceremonial prayers to idols of Buddha.

(i) Observed like a spring cleaning.
(ii) Celebrated for several days during middle of April.
(iii) People clean their house, wash clothes & sprinkle perfumed water on monks.

Ploughing Festival
(i) Celebrated on Buddha’s first moment of enlightment at age of 7 when he went with his father to watch ploughing.
(ii) Celebrated in month of May
(iii) Two white oxen pull a gold painted plough, followed by four girls dressed in white who throw rice seeds from baskets.

(i) Celebrated from first to fifteenth days of eighth lunar month.
(ii) Believed that gates of Hell are opened on first day & ghosts may visit the world for fifteen days.
(iii) Food offerings are made during this time to relieve the sufferings of ghosts.
(iv) On fifteenth day, Ulambana or Ancestor Day, people visit cemeteries to make offerings to departed souls.

Hemis Gompa
(i) Held at Hemis Gompa Monastery in Ladakh to celebrate birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava).
(ii) Founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Gum Padmanasambhava fought the evil forces.
(iii) It celebrates victory of good over evil.
(iv) Main attraction- mask dance performed by Lamas.
(v) Traditional music is played using four pairs of cymbals, large-pan drums, small trumpets and large size wind instruments.

Question for Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India
Try yourself:On this festive day, men and women select their life partners and marry by eloping with them.
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Losar Festival
(i) Main festivals of Arunachal Pradesh
(ii) Marks Tibetan New year
(iii) Celebrated by tribes who believe in Mahayana sect of Buddhism like Sherdukpens, Khamba, Memba, Monpa tribe, etc.
(iv) It is spread over three days & begins on 11 February every year.
(v) Specific tasks assigned to each day:
(vi) 1st day → priests make ritualistic offerings to Palden Lhamo or Dharampala, High priest.All people wish each other best of luck or Tashi Delek.
(vii) 2nd day → ‘Gyalpo Losar’- national leaders & past and present kings are remembered & honoured.
(viii) Final day → ‘Choe-Kyong Losar’- people offer spiritual observances to elders of community & make offerings to Dharamoala.

Sindhi Festivals
Chaliho Sahib
(i) Forty day fast observed in months of July-August.
(ii) Pray to Lord Jhulelal for forty days and after celebrate occasion as Thanks Giving Day.
(iii) Mirkshah Badshah, Muslim invader of Sindh troubled people of Thatta and wanted them to convert to Islam->Hindus prayed to Varan Devta or the God of Water for forty days- he answered their prayers by giving Jhulelal.

Cheti Chand
(i) Sindhi New Year
(ii) Celebrated on first day of Chaitra, in honour of birth of Jhulelal, patron saint of Sindhis.
(iii) People take Baharana Sahib consisiting of Jyot, Misiri, Phota, Fal, Akha to the nearby river.
(iv) Idol of Jhulelal Devta is also carried alone.

Parsi Festivals
Jamshedi Navroz
(i) Festival of New Year for Parsi Community.
(ii) Falls on Roj Hormuzd or first day of first month (MahFravardin) as shown by Shehanshahi calendar.
(iii) Is beginning of Universal Dawn as it is end of winter & beginning of New Year.
(iv) Parsis pay respect to Khorshed and MeherYazads- two divine beings who are harbinger of Sun.
(v) People visit Fire Temple. Other festivals of Parsis:
Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India | History for UPSC CSE
Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India | History for UPSC CSE

Secular Festivals
Gangaur Festival
(i) Most important spring festivals in country.
(ii) Celebrated in Rajasthan & has roots in medieval Rajput times.
(iii) Celebrated in honour of Goddess Parvati or Gauri, wife of Lord Shiva.
(iv) Is celebration of spring, harvest & martial fidelity.
(v) Unmarried women worship for a good husband.

Khaiuraho Dance Festival
(i) Government of India in collaboration with Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad instituted this festival in 1975 to promote tourism in the State.
(ii) It is supposed to reflect spirit of eternal glory & perseverance of dance and architectural monuments

New Year
(i) Lord Brahma began creation of the world on this day & so is beginning of a new Hindu calendar.
(ii) Has different names:

 Ugadi or Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka
 Gudi Pahwa or Gudi Pava Maharashtra
 Samvatsar Padvo
 Naha Barsha (Poila Boisakh) West Bengal
 Puthandu Tamil Nadu
 Vishu Kerala

(i) Most colorful festival in Northern India
(ii) Falls on third day of month of Shravan (July/August).
(iii) Celebrated for women of household who apply mehendi or henna on their hands.
(iv) Celebrated in Rajasthan, Bihar & Uttar Pradesh.
(v) Three types of Teej i.e Haryali Teej, Kajari Teej & Hartalika Teej.

(i) Also called Phool Walon Ki Sair.
(ii) Annual festival of flowers conducted in Old Delhi.
(iii) Symbol of communal harmony as procession of pankhas or palm leaf fans heavily decorated with flowers are taken from tomb of Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki in Mehrauli to Jog Maya Temple.
(iv) Origin by Queen Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal emperor Akbarshah II (19th century).
(v) Was banned by British but reinstated in 1962.

Tyagaraia Aradhana
(i) Held annually to commemorate ‘Samadhi’ day of Tamil saint & composer Tyagaraja.
(ii) Held in month of January near Thanjavur on banks of river Kaveri.
(iii) Attended by leading exponents of Carnatic music.
(iv) Saint Tyagaraja with Muthuswami Dikshitar & Shyama Sastri, comprise Trinity of Carnatic music.

Raksha Bandhan
(i) Celebrates relationship between brothers & sisters.
(ii) Means "bond of protection’.
(iii) Celebrated on full moon day in the month of Shravan.
(iv) Also holds significance for Jain community

(i) State festival of Kerala
(ii) Falls in beginning of month of Chigam, first month of Malayalam calendar.
(iii) Is mainly a harvest festival but also celebrates homecoming of mighty asura King Mahabali from Patala (Underground).
(iv) Feasts, dances, flowers, boats & elephants are a part of this vibrant festival.
(v) Prominent feature- Vallamkali (Snake Boat race).
(vi) Most popular Vallamkali- Punnamada Lake,winners are awarded Nehru Boat Race Trophy.
(vii) Traditional games called Onakanikal are also played.

(i) Harvest festival celebrated by Tamils.
(ii) Celebrated from 13-16 January & marks beginning of Uttarayan i.e. six month northward journey of Sun.
(iii) ‘Pongal’ means ‘to boil’ in Tamil & boiling of first rice is an important ritual.
(iv) Held in month of ‘Thai’, a time when various crops like rice, sugarcane, turmeric etc are harvested.

(i) Marks beginning of New Year for tribals of Jharkhand.
(ii) Mainly celebrated by Munda, Oraon & Ho tribes.
(iii) Sarhul means ‘Worship of Sal’.
(iv) Celebrated in spring season i.e. in month of Phagun as per Hindu calendar.
(v) Mother Earth is worshipped.
(vi) Is celebrated for several days during which traditional dance Sarhul is performed.

Festivals of North East India
Saga Dawa
(i) Celebrated in Buddhist communities of Sikkim.
(ii) Celebrated on full moon day that falls in middle of Tibetan lunar month called Saga Dawa
(iii) Very auspicious day for Tibetan community.
(iv) Falls between May & June & is called Saga Dawa or ‘Month of merits’.
(v) Celebrated to commemorate birth, enlightenment & death (parinirvana) of Buddha.
(vi) People offer incense sticks, Dhog & water.
(vii) Through the month of Saga Dawa, community has to follow three teachings: generosity (dana), morality (meditation or good feelings (bhavana).

Losoong Festival
(i) Celebrated in honour of Sikkimese New year.
(ii) Celebrated all across Sikkim during December every year.
(iii) It is the celebration of harvest season.
(iv) Traditionally, festivals of Bhutia tribe but now even Lepchas celebrate it.
(v) Unique point- people drink the locally brewed wine, called Chaang & perform traditional dances like Cham Dance and Black Hat dance at monasteries.

Bihu Festival
(i) Bohag Bihu most popular festivals of Assam
(ii) Celebrating Assamese New year.
(iii) Assamese celebrate Bihu thrice in a year, Bohag Bihu is most anticipated.
(iv) Three Bihu’s are:
- Bohag or Rongali Bihu
- Kati or Kongali Bihu
- Maagh or Bhogali Bihu
(v) Is traditionally tied to the changing seasons and harvests.
(vi) Bohag Bihu- celebrated for many days from 14th April every year.
(vii) First day- cows and bulls are bathed & fed- it is called ‘Gora Bihu’.
(viii) Second day- main day- people greet one another & exchange Gamosa (a hand woven cotton towel) & all houses prepare Pitha or a traditional dish made of rice powder, flour, sesame, coconut & jaggery.

Hornbill Festival
(i) Major agricultural festivals of Nagaland.
(ii) Week-long festival that begins on 1st December every year.
(iii) All major Naga tribes attend it & congregate at Kisama Heritage village.
(iv) Tribes showcase their talent and cultural vividness.
(v) Celebrations are held during Kohima Night Bazaar where all crafts are displayed.
(vi) Interesting events- pork eating & King Chilli eating competitions.

Moatsu Mong festival
(i) It is celebrated by Ao tribe of Nagaland in the first week of May after sowing is done.
(ii) The festival provides them a period of recreation and entertainment after the stressful work of clearing fields, burning jungles, sowing seeds, etc. It is marked by songs and dances.
(iii) A part of the celebration is Sangpangtu where a big fire is lit and women and men sit around it.

Yemshe Festival
(i) Again from Nagaland, it is a harvest festival celebrated mainly by Pochuri tribe.
(ii) Catching of frogs is prohibited during this festival.

Kharchi Puja
(i) Originates from Tripura.
(ii) Began as a festival of royal family of Tripura but now even common households celebrates it.
(iii) Celebrated over a period of 10 days in July each year.
(iv) Celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva who had ordered people to worship 14 other deities.
(v) Fourteen deities- housed in Puran Haveli, Old Agartala.

Cheiraoba Festival
(i) Celebrated in Manipur
(ii) Is New Year as per Manipuri tribes.
(iii) Celebrated in month of April (first day of month Sajibu).
(iv) Is related to domestic deity Sanamahi, worshipped by Manipuri people.
(v) Conducted in temple of Sanamahi but every household cleans, buys new utensils & clothes for the family members.
(vi) Peculiar tradition- people select a person to be‘Chahitaba’ who is responsible for sins of people for entire year and his name is given to that particular year.
(vii) Maiba community selects him after consulting horoscope.
(viii) Unique ritual- most people climb on nearest hill on this day to help them reach greater heights in their worldly life.

Wangala Festival
(i) Celebrated by the dominant Garo Tribe in Meghalaya.
(ii) Indicates beginning of winter & celebrated as a nod to post harvest season.
(iii) Held in Asanang near Tura in Garo Hills.
(iv) Usually falls in: second week of November each year.
(v) Celebrated in honour of ‘Misi Saljong’, a local deity who is considered to be a generous.
(vi) A day before festival, village chief called “Nokma” performs several rituals.
(vii) Several things- freshly brewed beer, cooked rice and vegetables are offered to deity-Misi Saljong.
(viii) Unique- music forms main stay of their celebrations & drums, flutes & orchestra instruments are played.
(ix) Also known as ‘100 Drum Wangala festival’.
(x) Extraordinary feature- feathered head-gear

Kang Chingba
(i) One of biggest Hindu festivals celebrated in Manipur.
(ii) Similar to ‘Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra’.
(iii) 8-day long festival celebrated in July every year.
(iv) Includes Rath Yatra.
(v) Yatra begins from temple of Sri Govindajee in lmphal.
(vi) Idols of wood are heavily decorated & carted around in massive chariots called ‘Kang’.

Ambubachi Mela
(i) Held in premises of Kamakhya temple, Guwahati, Assam.
(ii) Falls in June & is one of major festivals in North-East India, so much so that its been dubbed ‘Mahakumbh of the East’.
(iii) Has been associated with fertility rituals.
(iv) Temple has courted controversy because of alleged Tantric activities conducted during mela.
(v) During festival, Goddess Kamakhya is said to be undergoing her annual menstrual cycle- temple remains closed for three days.

Sekrenvi Festival
(i) Celebrated in February by Angami tribe of Nagaland.
(ii) It falls on t25th of ‘Kezei’ month or February.
(iii) Celebrated for over 10 days & is also called ‘Phousanyi’ by Angamis.
(iv) Every day has specific tasks:
- well is cleaned one day before the ceremony.
- first day, all men of village, irrespective of their age bathe in the village well →  ‘Dzuseva’.
- a cock is strangled to death with bare hands to ward off evil spirits.
- dead bird is hung outside the house &elders of the village come to inspect it.
- fourth day onwards- singing and feasting
- Communal feasting on rice beer & meat.
-  seventh day- young men go on hunting trip
- eighth day- village gathers for bridge pulling or gate pulling ceremony.
- During festival, all works in the fields are stopped & are resumed on tenth day.

Majuli Festival
(i) More modem festival held in Majuli, Assam.
(ii) Organised in November, on a huge scale in an open space or Namghar (iii) Department for Culture under State ministry of Assam organises various events during the festival like seminars.
(iv) Tribal dishes of Majuli & Assam are displayed and put on sale.
(v) Several arts & crafts like Bamboo artifacts, shawls; beads jewellery is put for sale
(vi) Local patron deity- invoked during opening & closing ceremony.

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Lui-Ngai-Ni Festival
(i) All branches of Naga tribes celebrate it. It is
(ii) Celebrated all over Nagaland & in some Naga inhabited parts of Manipur also.
(iii) Celebrated after end of the harvest season.
(iv) Falls on 15th of February every year.
(v) Rejoiced as mark for seed-sowing season & brings agricultural branches of Naga tribes closer to nonagricultural based communities of Nagas.
(vi) It spreads the message of peace and harmony.

Dree Festival
(i) Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh primarily celebrates it.
(ii) Celebrated on 5 th July each year.
(iii) It is one of the biggest celebrations held in Ziro valley
(iv) People offer prayers & offerings to four main Gods: Tamu, Metii, Danyi and Harniang to pray for a good & plentiful harvest.
(v) Unique point- cucumber is distributed to all the attendees as a symbol of good harvest.
(vi) Delicacies from Arunachali cuisine with home brewed wine & rice/millet beer are served.

Losar Festival
(i) It falls on the first day of the lunar calendar and is quite popular in Arunachal Pradesh (being mainly celebrated by Monpa tribe who practice agriculture and animal husbandry and follow Buddhism).
(ii) Losar is a three day festival and is celebrated with a great pomp and show at Tawang.

Khan Festival
(i) It is a religious festival celebrated by the Miji tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.
(ii) The festival is significant because it brings together people from every background irrespective of their caste and creed to celebrate it.
(iii) During this, the priest ties a piece of wool in the neck of all the participants and the thread is considered sacred.    

Fair- temporary gathering of people for a variety of activities like religious, entertainment or commercial.
1. Kumbh Mela
(i) Largest religious gathering in the world.
(ii) Every day millions of people come to take a dip in holy river.
(iii) Held on a rotational basis at four auspicious Hindu pilgrimage sites Allahabad,Haridwar,Nashik-Trimbak & Ujjain.
(iv) As per Hindu mythology, during ‘Samudra Manthan’ i.e. churning of the ocean, ‘Arndt’ was produced and stored in a ‘Kumbh’ (pot) and was dropped at four sites where it is held.
(v) Held once in three years at different places & at any given place after a time interval of twelve years.
(vi) Exact dates are determined according to zodiac positions of Sun, Moon and planet Jupiter.
(vii) At Nashik & Ujjain, if mela is held when a planet is in Leo (Simha in Hindu astrology), it is called as Simhastha Kumbh.
(viii) At Haridwar & Allahabad, Ardh-Kumbh Mela is held every sixth year & Malta Kumbh once in 144 years.
(ix) Maagh Kumbh is celebrated every year in month of Maagh (Jan- Feb) in Allahabad.
(x) Places where the Kumbh is held:

 Place River
 Allahabad (UP) Confluence of Ganga, Yamuna & mythical Saraswati
 Haridwar (Uttarakhand) Ganga
 Nashik-Trimbak (Maharashtra) Godavari
 Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) Shipra

2. Sonepur Mela
(i) One of the largest cattle fairs in Asia.
(ii) Held in Sonepur, Bihar at the confluence of River Ganga & Gandak.
(iii) Usually takes place in November in Kartik Poomima.
(iv) Only fair where large numbers of elephants are sold and legend says Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants & horse during this fair.

3. Chitra Vichitra Fair
(i) Largest tribal fair in Gujarat celebrated by ‘Gharasia’ and ‘Bhil’ tribes.
(ii) Tribals wear their traditional costumes & showcase local tribal culture.
(iii) On ‘Amavasya’ after Holi, tribal women go to river to mourn for their near & departed ones.

4. Shamlaji Fair
(i) Celebrated by tribal community in Gujarat to revere Lord Shamlaji “the Dark Divine” who is thought to be incarnate of Krishna or Vishnu.
(ii) Devotees come to worship deity & take a holy bath in Meshno river.
(iii) ‘Bhils’- immense faith in powers of Shamlaji or ‘Kaliyo Dev’.
(iv) Lasts for about three weeks in November, with Kartik Poomima being most important day

5. Pushkar Fair
(i) Annual fair in Rajasthan starting on day of ‘Kartik Poomima’ & lasts for about a week.
(ii) One of the largest camel & cattle fairs in the world.
(iii) Rajasthani farmers buy and sell their cattle.
(iv) Events like camel races, moustache competitions, turban tying competitions, dancing and camel riding, etc take centre stage.

6. Desert Festival
(i) Three day extravaganza in Jaisalmer in February.
(ii) It showcases vibrant culture of Rajasthan and showcases different facets of Rajasthani culture.
(iii) It ends with a musical performance by the folk singers under the moonlit sky.

7. Kolayat Fair (Kapil Muni Fair)
(i) Held in Bikaner, Rajasthan on Kartik Poomima.
(ii) People come to take a dip in holy Kolayat Lake to get respite from their sins.
(iii) Fair is named after great sage Kapil Muni who undertook intense meditation for benefit of humanity.
(iv) Large cattle fair is also organized.

8. Surajkund Crafts Fair
(i) International crafts fair held annually for a fortnight from 1st February onwards near Faridabad, Haryana.
(ii) Showcases regional as well as international crafts & cultural heritage.
(iii) Pottery, weaving, sculpture, embroidery, Paper Mache, bamboo and cane crafts along with metal & wooden works attract a lot of attention.

9. Gangasagar Mela
(i) Held in January-Febmary at the mouth of river Hooghly in West Bengal.
(ii) Holy dip in Ganges especially on Makar Sankranti is considered very auspicious by Hindus.
(iii) Unique identity- presence of Naga sadhus.

10. Goa Carnival
(i) Portuguese introduced Goa Carnival in India.
(ii) Takes place 40 days before the Lent, a period of abstinence and spirituality.
(iii)  Involves feasting & merry making.
(iv) Showcases rich Goan heritage and culture that has a distinct Portuguese influence.
(v) Goan streets are decorated with colourful floats.

The document Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India | History for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on Nitin Singhania: Summary of Fairs and Festivals of India - History for UPSC CSE

1. What are some famous fairs and festivals celebrated in India?
Ans. India is known for its vibrant and diverse fairs and festivals. Some of the famous ones include Diwali, Holi, Navratri, Durga Puja, and Eid.
2. Can you provide a brief description of Diwali?
Ans. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most significant Hindu festivals celebrated in India. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali is marked by lighting oil lamps, bursting fireworks, exchanging gifts, and feasting on delicious sweets.
3. What is the significance of Holi?
Ans. Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is a Hindu spring festival celebrated with enthusiasm and joy. It signifies the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. People celebrate Holi by throwing colored powders and water at each other, singing and dancing, and indulging in festive delicacies.
4. How is Navratri celebrated in India?
Ans. Navratri is a nine-night festival dedicated to the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It is celebrated with great zeal and devotion across India. During Navratri, people observe fasting, perform traditional dances like Garba and Dandiya, and participate in religious ceremonies. The festival culminates with Durga Puja on the tenth day.
5. What is the significance of Eid in India?
Ans. Eid is an important festival celebrated by Muslims in India. It marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. On Eid, Muslims gather for prayers at mosques, exchange gifts, and share festive meals with family and friends. It is a time of joy, gratitude, and unity within the Muslim community.
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