Maha Shivaratri

February 25, 2009

Shivaratri is usually falls every year on the Krishna Paksha dark Phalgun month (Feb or March) every year.

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Maha Shivaratri (Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival, celebrated all over the country with much pump and enthusiasm. The festival is exclusively dedicated to Lord Shiva which is known by thousands of names. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Mata Parvati.

Arti of Lord Shiva

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On the auspicious day, devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. It’s a day to pray to the almighty for wellness. Almost all Hindus throughout the world offer prayers in the morning/evening and some observe fasting throughout the day. Most people visit the nearby temples of Shiva and offer prayers in large crowds. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers and “bel leaves” on “Shiva Linga” and  devotees light candles and “diyas” which is a lamp made usually of clay, with wick made of cotton and dipped in ghee throughout the night theses diyas are the symbol of spiritual manifestation.

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Taj Mahotsav

February 18, 2009

Taj Mahotsav starts on 18th February each year in Shilpgram, Taj Mahotsav is a ten-day at Agra is a culturally vibrant platform that brings together the finest Indian craft and cultural nuances. Bedecked elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artists and master craftsmen together recreate the glorious past of the Mughals.

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Taj Mahal Mahotsav area becomes a live culture, crafts and traditions it’s a much awaited event.  It’s celebrated as a festive introduction to India and Uttar Pradesh. India’s extensive arts, crafts and culture are on display.

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In this Taj Mahotsav folk music, shayari, poetry and classical dance performances as well as elephant and camel rides, games and a food festival is the part this festival.

The Taj Mahotsav is a non-stop 10 day carnival held annually at Shilpgram, near Tajmahal. The impressive festival commences with a spectacular procession inspired by Mughal splendor.

Taj Mahotsav, one can experience a profusion of folk music and dances of Dundelkhand, ‘Nautanki’ (Drama), ‘Sapera’ dance of Rajasthan, Lavani of Maharashtra.

In this festival Besides all these, crafts include wood carvings from Saharanpur, brass and other metal ware from Moradabad, handmade carpets of Badohi, and the pottery of Khurja, chickan-work of Lucknow, the silk of Banaras and much more.

Ganesh-Chaturthi

February 15, 2009

The bright half fourth day of every lunar month is called Ganesh Chaturthi. Its also known as Siddhi Vinayaki Chaturt and  Mahasiddhi Vinayaki Chaturthi if the fourth day falls on Tuesday or Saturday its importance gets enhanced and its known as Varad Chaturthi or Shivaa Chaturthi
On this auspicious day a beautiful idol of Lord Ganesh should remade of clay or some metal like silver. Now this idol shou1d be installed on a high pedestal with its face facing east-west or north.

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Having anointed the idol with sandalwood or saffron paste and invoking the Lord for the ‘Pran-pratishtha’ (Consecration), offerings with 21 objects should be kept ready, which should include Patri (leaves), Kewra (Pamdames), Shamee (A kind of tree leaves), white flowers (Lily), Durba (Grass twigs), red sandalwood, sindoor (Red vermilion powder), panchamrita (A potion made from mixing milk, curd, honey, sugar and water) and the leaves of Tulsi or basil etc. One must remember that basil leaves or Tulsidal are permitted in the Lord’s worship only on this day, and not on other days.

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Now, after seating yourself on the Kushasan (A small mattress made by the weed called Kusha), you should invoke the Lord and complete the worship as mentioned earlier.
Then perform the Mahabhishek (Grand Anointing Ceremony) by Panchamrita etc., and sing the ‘Aarti’ of the Lord with a lighted lamp waving in your hand before the Lord’s idol. Then the oblation of Durba, flowers etc. should be offered to the Lord. After this religiously move around the Lord seven times in anti-clockwise direction and lie with hand and feet fully stretched on the ground with face facing the ground to salute the Lord. This sort of special salutation is called Sashtang Namaskar’. Then 21 Laddoos should be offered as the Lord’s symbolic food or the ‘Prasadam’ which should be distributed to as many devotees as possible. It is said in scriptures that ‘Prasadam’ should be distributed to the greatest number of persons possible with each getting as little of the share as to have it totally absorbed or digested by the eater’s body and there should not be any refuse left out of it after digestion.





Baneshwar

February 10, 2009

This fair is usually held in January-February during Shivratri in Baneshwar, Rajasthan. It is primarily a tribal fair where Bhils from Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat join with their brethren in Rajasthan to worship Lord Shiva.


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The fair takes place at a small delta which has been formed by Mahi and Som rivers from Magh Shukla Ekadashi to Magh Shukla Poornima during Shivratri.
During Baneshwar Fair, hundreds of Bhils from the districts of Dungarpur, Udaipur and Banswara gather at Baneshwar to offer prayers to Lord Shiva.


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The temple of Baneshwar Mahadev opens very early at 5 a.m. and closes only late in the night at 11 p.m. Saffron is applied to the Shiv Linga in the morning after bathing; it followed with an aarti with incense sticks. Bahbhut or ash is put on the Linga in the evening. An aarti with wick-lamp is also performed. Pulses, wheat flour, rice, chillies, ghee, salt, jaggery, coconut and cash are offered to the Linga by the devoteeas. Traditional folk songs are performed by the Bhilsattending the Fair. Other villagers are also invited in the programmes that take place. Songs, folk dances, magic shows, and acrobatic feats are all part of the fair. Swings and merry-go-rounds add to the excitement of the villagers.
Baneshwar derives its name from the much honored Shiv Linga which is kept at Mahadev temple in Dungrapur. In the local Vagdi language, Baneshwar means ‘master of the delta’. This name was given to the Shiv Linga. This fair is actually a combination of two fairs – one which was held in honor of Baneshwar Mahadev or Lord Shiva and the other which was initiated after the construction of the Vishnu temple by daughter-in-law of Mavji, Jankunwari. Mavji was a highly honored saint regarded as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Nagaur Fair

February 4, 2009

This cattle fair is the second largest in Rajasthan and this eight days fair is held every year during the Hindu month of Magh (Jan-Feb).

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Nagaur bustles with life during the annual cattle fair, which is one of the largest in the country. The Nagaur bulls are renowned for their fleet footedness and attract buyers from all over. Exciting games, tug of war, camel races and strains of ballads create a joyful atmosphere.

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The quaint town of Nagaur, one of the most picturesque of Rajput townships stirs to life during the Nagaur Fair

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The Fair is renowned for the trading of cows, bullocks, oxen, camels and horses, which takes place here. Their owners are seen wearing colorful turbans and flaunting long moustaches. Wooden items, iron craft and leather accessories are available in abundance during the fair. Various games are organized during this four-day festival.
Tug-of-War, camel races, cock & bullfights provide entertainment to the tourists and locals after a hectic day of trading.
As the last rays of setting sun bid aide to the day, a joyous atmosphere is created by the folk musicians whose voices echo far & wide across the tranquil desert sands.





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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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