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Information on Hindu Festivals
by Mandy Barrow

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image: hinduHindus celebrate a wide variety of events such as the New Year, full moons, harvests, marriages and the birth and marriage of gods. This is because traditional Hindus consider anything inmate or inanimate to be sacred. Most Hindu festivals are linked with the movements of the sun, moon and seasonal changes. The myths of the Ramayana, and Krishna’s activities are also incorporated into the celebrations.

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Diwali (Divali)

Click here for the Festival of Diwali

Other Hindu Festivals

Makar Sankrant / Lohri Winter Festival
Makar Sankrant is the first Hindu festival of the solar calendar year, falling on 14 January every year.The festival is called Lohri in Panjab, and Pongal in Tamil Nadu.

Saraswati Puja / Vasanta Panchami January / February
This festival celebrates the goddess Saraswati and the first day of spring. Saraswati is the goddess of learning. She is also the goddess of music, poetry, dance and drama. It is widely Celebrated in North India.

People wear bright clothes at this festival. Yellow stands for the warmth of spring.

ShivaMaha Shivaratri February / March
The name of this festival means the 'Great Night of Shiva'. It celebrates Shiva, one of the most important forms of God.

Every night of the new moon is dedicated to Shiva but this one is particularly important. It is the night which Shiva is said to perform the cosmic dance from creation to destruction.

Many Hindus fast.
All-night prayers focus on Shiva and his shrines and statues. 
Milk is poured on his symbol, the lingam. This is to honour Shiva.

Holi February / March
A spring festival lasting one to five days. Bonfires are lit and coloured powders and dyes are thrown over people.

Various stories are associated with the festival. Hindus remember the story of Lord Krishna, a form of God. When he was young, Krishna loved to play tricks and have fun. Krishna, his friends and his relatives used to throw coloured water over each other.

Another story associated with Holi is that of Prahlada and Holika. Prahlada survived when his aunt, Holika, supposedly immune to fire, held him in her arms while she sat on a bonfire.

Rama Navami March / April
Ramnavami is a happy festival. It celebrates the birthday of Lord Rama, a form of God. He came down to Earth to stop Evil in the world.

Rama is the hero of the famous story, the Ramayana. His faithful servant was Hanuman, the monkey king. Hanuman helped rescue Rama's wife, Sita.

At Ramnavami, people read or act out parts of the Ramayana. At the mandir (temple), a murti (statue) of baby Rama is placed in a cradle.

Ratha Yatra June / July
Ratha Yatra is a grand festival. Ratha Yatra means 'the journey of the chariot'. Huge chariots with images of Krishna, his brother and his sister are pulled through the streets.

Raksha Bandhan July / August
At Raksha Bandhan, brothers and sisters show their love for each other. Every sister marks her brother's forehead with a special paste. Then she puts rice grains on the mark.

She ties a rakhi around her brother's wrist. A rakhi is a bracelet made from thread. It is to protect him from evil.

Krishna Janmashtami August / September
This is a happy festival celebrating Krishna's birthday. For some Hindus, this is the most important festival.

Hindus believe that Krishna was born at midnight. In the evening, they meet at the mandir (temple). They move lamps in circles in front of the murtis (statues). This is the arti ceremony.

People sing religious songs and dance too. Many Hindus fast all day until midnight. At midnight they share fruit and sweets, or a big meal.

Ganesha Chaturthi August / September
Ganesha is a popular god. He has an elephants head. For this festival, in western India, people make clay images of Ganesha. They place them in their home shrines. At morning and evening prayers they pray to Ganasha.

Navaratri & Durga-puja September/ October
Navaratri means 'nine nights'.

At this lively festival, Hindus worship different mother goddesses. The main goddess is Lord Shiva's wife. She is often called Parvati or Durga.

Everyone dances around a special shrine. It has pictures of the mother goddesses on it. There are two special dances, a circle dance and a stick dance.

Dassehra (Vijay Dashami) September / October
A festival to remember the story of the god, Rama, who resued his wife, Sita, from Ravana, a wicked demon king. This story reminds Hindus that good always wins over evil.

Diwali (Deepvali) October / November
Find out more

New Year (September / October

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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.