Various Hindu festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Click here to view the calendar of Hindu festivals.
See our HindiLearner blog entries for details of upcoming Hindu festivals.
Durga Puja and Dussehra including Navratra is celebrated prior to onset of winter in India. These Hindu festivals are based on legendry tales victory of good over evil.
Navratra (also called Navratri) commences on first day of the bright fortnight in Ashwin month of Hindu calender. The word "Nav-ratri" literally means nine nights in Sanskrit language. During these nine nights, nine forms of "Shakti"- a metaphor for the female divinity - are worshipped.
Navratri is divided into sets of three days to worship three different aspects of the supreme goddess. In the first three days, the goddess is invoked as a spiritual force called "Durga" in order to destroy our impurities, vices and defects. In the next three days, the goddess is worshipped as a giver of spiritual wealth, "Lakshmi" who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth. The last three days are spent in worshipping "Saraswati" - the goddess of wisdom.
In order to have all round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects fo divine femininitity. hence the nine nights of worship. Many devotees observe fasts and prayers are offered. Nav-ratri period also gives an opportunity for introspection and purification.
The main events during this festival are-
It is celebrated on eighth day of the bright half of Aswin month. Ashtami is the day of the Saraswati or the deity of knowledge and learning. Children begin their school education, their art lessons or their career planning on this day and seek their elders blessings.
The tenth day of the bright half of Aswin month is celebrated as the day of victory to rejoice about Durga's triumph over the demon Mahishasura.
The idol of goddess Durga is immersed in water with much fan-fare. This marks the culmination of festivities.
Dussehra is celebrated to mark the victory of Rama the hero of the epic Ramayana, over Ravana, the king of Lanka.
In vast open spaces, Ramleela, the folk play with music and spontaneous dialogues, retelling the story of the life of Rama, are enacted till the wee hours. Songs are sung in praise of Rama and people in thousands witness this traditional theatre with its exaggerated costumes, jewellery, makeup and drama. Larger than life figures of Ravana and other demons are burnt with fireworks lighting up the sky.
The picture shows an effigy of Ten Headed King Ravana.
Dussera is also reminiscent of the end of the exile and banishment of the Pandava princes in the Mahabharata and their return with their weapons to reclaim their kingdom. In memory of this epic story, people in Maharashtra worship the implements of their professions and distribute the leaves of the Shami tree as gold and express their goodwill.
For Hindus Dussehra is one of most auspicious festivals of the year.