Archive for January, 2009

Vasant Panchami

January 30, 2009

Vasant Panchami is also known as Shree Panchami, and Saraswati Puja in Bengali, it is a Hindu festival it is the festival dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of Knowledge, art and music. it is celebrated in the Indian month Magh. Traditionally during this festival children are taught to write their first words. Goddess Saraswati also showers Her blessings for the education of children. Notebooks, pencils and pens are kept at the Devi’s feet for blessings and then used by the students.

saraswati

In educational institutions organise special prayer for Saraswati. The color yellow also plays an important role in this festival, in that people usually wear yellow garments; Saraswati is worshipped dressed in yellow. Saraswati puja is celebrated in Hindu households and also in schools and colleges. Bengali men are usually dressed in traditional paijama and punjabi. Women are dressed in yellow (basanti) coloured sari.
Its is belived  that goddess Saraswati is majestic. She is seated on a white lotus in Padmasana, adorned by a pure white silk sari, has a book in Her lower left hand, Her lower right hand showing the chinmudra, Aksharamala in Her right upper hand, and Amrithakalasam in Her left upper hand. Both eyes are full of compassion. The vehicle assigned to each of the three goddesses also symbolically represents their special powers. Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma (Lord of Creation) and is the Goddess of wisdom and learning. Saraswati is the one who gives the essence (sara) of our own self (swa). She is considered as the personification of all knowledge – arts, sciences, crafts and other skills. She has a beautiful and elegant presence, is pure white in colour, clad in a white sari, seated on a white lotus, representing purity and brilliance. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning; mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has the sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus (a symbol of true knowledge) in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on the veena.
She is dressed in white (sign of purity) and rides on a white goose (swan). The swan is known for its pecliar characteristic of being capable of separating water from milk, indicating that we should possess discrimination in separating the bad from the good. The seat being a lotus or peacock implies that the teacher is well-established in the subjective experience of truth. When sitting on a peacock she reminds us that wisdom suppresses ego.

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Kerala Village Fair – Kovalam – Kerala

January 27, 2009

Mid January is the time for cultural events in the lush villages around Kovalam every year. Traditional thatched houses are decorated during this ten-day long festival and are the venue for folk dances, music and festivities.

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A typical Kerala village -‘gramam’ is recreated replete with the traditional Nalukettu houses, ‘chayakkada’ local teashops etc.
Traditional thatch houses (Nalukettu) are decorated during this ten-day long festival and are the venue for folk dances, music and festivities. This fair represents the nostalgic recreation of bygone era of rustic simplicity and ethnic charm. Astrologers, artisans and even sorcerers, provide the visitor a glimpse of Kerala’s rich past.

Nalukettu, the traditional upper class homestead (‘tharavadu’), the quadrangular mansion recreated using wood and tiles with a central open courtyard, corridors, massive pillars and dormer windows is typical of Kerala’s Architectural Style. Inside the Nalukettu are displayed a wealth of antiques. Priceless furniture in Teak, Mahogany and Sandalwood, charming curios like Jewellery Boxes, Spice Bowls, Ethnic Jewellery, Exquisite Paintings and Shields and Swords Wielded by men of yore are on show. Musical Instruments, Palmyra Fans, majestic Wooden Four Poster Beds, household utensils remind one of a bygone era.
Decorated with a colourful ‘Pookalam’, the floral decoration in the courtyard, the Nalukettu looks enchanting with village belles in the traditional Kerala attire, dancing the ‘Thiruvathira’ around the tall brass lamp.
In the evenings, almost every dance, art and martial art form of Kerala is performed in the open-air auditorium of Gramam. Various classical dances like Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, traditional and folk dances like Oppana, the martial art form, Kalaripayattu and other ritualistic folk arts like Theyyam, Pulikali, Villupattu, Pavakkoothu, Kakkarisi Natakam, Panchavadyam, Thullal and Bhajans etc. are performed
At the ‘Chayakada’, the village teashop, relish the taste of the tender coconut, the refreshing tea (chaya) or the tangy limejuice. One can savour local delicacies like ‘Kappa’ and ‘Meen’ (steamed tapioca served with fish curry) or ‘Puttu’ and ‘Kadala’ (pounded rice cake steamed in bamboo shoots served with a lentil dish) during the festival.
At ‘Kamalagramam’, the artisans’ enclave, are stalls selling handcrafted artifacts. Here one can watch craftsmen at work on traditional spinning wheels, handlooms etc.

Mamallapuram Dance Festival

January 25, 2009

Mamallapuram Dance Festival is organized during the months of January
This event witnesses performances on the Indian classical dances such as the Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, Odissi and Kathakali.The prominent people from their respected fields gather for this cultural event that is also promoted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department as one of the major cultural attraction to these parts of India. and February in the city of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

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This four week Mamallapuram Dance Festival is held at the venue of Arjuna’s penance, a bass-relief sculpted on the face of two enormous adjacent rocks, in Mamallapuram. The magnificent backdrop that is provided by the Pallava Rock Sculptures provides an aesthetic touch to this cultural dance festival.

The open-air stage and the dancers from far and wide come to watch the best folk dancers in India perform in front of them under the open skies in an open-air theatre style ambience. This open-air stage was created about thirteen centuries ago, the incredible monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallavas, next to the sea in this ancient city of Mamallapuram

Magh Bihu

January 21, 2009

Bihu is the most celebrated festival of Assam. It is a festival that transcends all religious and class barriers bringing people together in a free and uninhabited manner.
Three forms of Bihu are celebrated in Assam: Bohag Bihu, celebrated in the middle of April which marks the New Year In Assamese calendar at the advent of seeding time; Kati Bihu, celebrated in the middle of October which marks the completion of sowing and transplanting of paddies; Magh Bihu, celebrated in the middle of January which marks the end of the harvesting period.

Out of the three Bihus, Magh Bihu is celebrated by the people of Assam with much enjoyment and happiness as it marks the ending of harvesting and people are at ease after a long labourious harvesting period. Its also known as Bhogali Bihu, celebrated in mid-January, originates from the word ‘Bhog’ and signifies eating and enjoyment
In this festival there lots of feasting and eating happens.

On the eve of the bihu, called ‘uruka’, young men go to the field, preferably near a river, build a makeshift cottage called ‘Bhelaghar’ with the hay of the harvest fields and the ‘Meji’, the most important thing for the night. During the night, people prepare food and there is community feasting everywhere. . The entire night (Uruka) is spent around the Meji with people singing bihu songs, beating ‘Dhol’, a typical kind of drums or playing games.

Meji

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The next day is the main Magh Bihu. In the very early morning, people take bath and burn the main ‘Meji’. People gather around the ‘Meji’ and throw ‘Pithas’ (rice cakes) and betel nuts to the fire while burning it at the same time.

bihu

They offer their prayers to the God of Fire and mark the end of the harvesting year. Next day is followed with community celebrations all across with rice cakes being distributed to all. People visit relatives and friends to convey and exchange Bihu greetings.






Pongal

January 19, 2009

Pongal is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar and is celebrated on the fourteenth of January every year. Pongal has astronomical significance: it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun’s movement northward for a six month period. In Hinduism, Uttarayana is considered auspicious, as opposed to Dakshinaayana, or the southern movement of the sun.

pongal

All-important events are scheduled during this period. Makara Sankranthi refers to the event of the Sun entering the zodiac sign of Makara or Capricorn.In Hindu temples bells, drums, clarinets and conch shells herald the joyous occasion of Pongal. To symbolize a bountiful harvest, rice is cooked in new pots until they boil over. Some of the rituals performed in the temple include the preparation of rice, the chanting of prayers and the offering of vegetables, sugar cane and spices to the gods. Devotees then consume the offerings to exonerate themselves of past sins.

sweet_pongal_recipe Makara Sankranti and Lohri of the north, it is also called Pongal Sankranti. Pongal is an occasion for family re-unions and get-together. Old enmities, personal animosities and rivalries are forgotten. Pongal wasoriginally a festival for the farming community, today it is celebrated by all.In south India, all three days of Pongal are considered important. However,those south Indians who have settled in the north usually celebrate only thesecond day. Coinciding with

Makar Sankranti

January 16, 2009


Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the last day of the Bengali month of Poush. In Bengal, this day is one of the most auspicious times of the year. Thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the country gather at Gangasagar, the point where the holy river Ganges meets the sea, to take a dip and wash away all the earthly sins.

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Makar Sankranti falls on the day of the year when the sun-considered the king of all grahas (planets)-is in the rashi (zodiac sign) known as Makar (Capricorn). This is considered the most beneficial and auspicious zodiac of the sun. The calculations for determining Makar Sankranti are done according to the solar calendar. Therefore, Makar Sankranti always falls on the 14th January according to the English calendar. It is usually the month of Magh of the Hindu calendar, the ‘Tithi’ or the position of the moon keeps shifting because of the difference in calculations.

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According to certain Hindu beliefs, in the past ages, in the Satya Yug lived a king named Sagar. He performed a holy yagna, the Ashyamedh yagna. The symbol of his power, the horse, was lost during this ceremony and Sagar’s 60,000 sons travelled far and wide to find it. They found the horse near the ashram of the great sage Kapil and blamed him for stealing their horse. The sage felt insulted and his rage turned the princes into ashes.  On hearing this, King Sagar went to the sage and begged for his mercy. The sage, at first turned a deaf ear to his pleas but later told that the princes would gain enlightenment if their ashes were washed by the holy waters of the heavenly river Ganga. For two generations, attempts were made to bring down the Ganges but all efforts proved futile. A prince of this dynasty, Bhagirath, pleased the gods, and with the help of Lord Shiva brought Ganga down to earth. His forefather’s sins were washed away and the people had the opportunity to wash their sins as well. From then on, Gangasagar, near the ashram of the sage Kapil, has been a holy pilgrimage in Bengal. It is said that a dip in the ice-cold water at the junction of the river and the sea is auspicious. The Makar Sankranti makes the soul pure and free from all earthly sins.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India, north, south, east and west; the manner of celebration may differ, but the sanctity of the occasion is accepted by all the Hindus as the Surya (sun) moves into the Northern hemisphere known as “Uttrayan” a most auspicious time.

Lohri

January 12, 2009

It is a festival which is celebtrated on the 13th day of January it marks the culmination of winter. It s celebrated in the month of “Paus or Magh” a day before Makar Sankranti . its is  a celebration of  fertility and the spark of life.in Lohri celebration people gather  round the bonfires, throw , puffed rice, sweets and popcorn into that flames, they sing the Lohri song .  Lohri is the time after which the biting cold of the winters begins to taper off.

On Lohri in the morning children go from door to door to collect funds for community bonfires which are lit up in the evening. Lohri is more of a community festival as people gather around the bonfires and offer sweets, crisp rice and popcorn to the flames.
The focus of Lohri is on the bonfire. The prasad comprises of five main things: til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn. There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolises a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity.

lohri

Lohri marks the sun’s entry in to the ‘Makar Rashi’ means the sun inters in northern hemisphere. The period, beginning from 14 January lasting till 14 July, is known as Uttarayan. It is also the last day of the month of Maargazhi, the ninth month of the lunar calendar. The Bhagawat Gita deems it an extremely sacred and auspicious time, when Lord Krishna manifests himself most tangibly. And so, across India, people celebrate the month and the prodigious harvest it brings – Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh and the Sankranti in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Muharram

January 6, 2009

Muharram, or the sacred month, marks the beginning of the Muslim year. It is the first month of the Islamic calendar. As the Islamic calendar is lunar Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar.

Muharram is so called because it was unlawful to fight during this month; this is the month in which fighting is prohibited. In the word Muharram the word “harram” means forbidden.

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Like the month Ramjaan it is also meant to be very sacred.  Some Muslims fast during theses days.

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The word Muharram also means respect. The first ten days of the month are observed as a period of mourning. The Shias observe the entire month as a period of mass mourning. There is no celebration or expression of joy of any kind. Women are expected to forsake all adornments.
It is observed by the Shia community of Muslims in commemoration of the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Hussain, who killed in the Battle of Karbala in AD 680. The prophet’s son-in-law Ali, and Ali’s elder son Hassan, are also remembered during this period as having suffered and died for righteous causes.
The killing of Hussain happened on the tenth day of month of Muharram, and the event was called Ashura. It is now observed as a day for public expression of grief. These circumstances divided the Muslim community into the Shias and the Sunnis. The Shias consider Ali, Hassan and Hussain the rightful successors of Prophet Mohammed and mourn their death during Muharram.
The first nine days are also spent in making bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr’s tomb.

Taziyas

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On Ashura, the tenth day, decorated taziyas, or tombs embellished with precious metals, are carried through the city streets. A horse is led in procession in memory of Hussain’s horse, Dul Dul.

Bare-chested Shia men strike their body with chains or walk barefoot over burning coal while uttering cries of anguish for the torture that Hussain suffered.

Christmas

January 2, 2009

The English word Christmas has been derived from the words Christ`s Mass (from old English) meaning Mass on Chirst’s Day. The term Christmas is also abbreviated as Xmas, in which ‘X’ has been used for Christ in Roman. Christmas festival is known by different names like: Nativity, Incarnation, Winter Pascha, Yule Tide and Noel.

Christmas Tree

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Christmas also called Christmas Day, is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus Christ-the founder of Christianity. The Christmas day is chiefly marked every year on 25th December by the Christians but the festival of Christmas gives the message of affection, peace, brotherhood and fraternity among all so it transcends the barricades of color, caste and creeds and celebrated by non-Christians as well, all over the world.

Santa Claus

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The fun, gaiety, joy and excitement associated with Christmas has made it a social-cultural festival which is observed with special prayers, Church celebrations, family get-together, gifts giving, adorning the homes with beautiful decorative, lights, stars, Christmas tree, Santa Claus, is an important part of Christmas celebrations who is loved by all, specially children, and brings gifts in his red sack on the day of Christmas.