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Tag: Hindu festival

Everything You Need To Know About Holi

Colourful Celebration Of Holi 

Holi is celebrated by millions of people all around the world. It is the festival of colours and spring! Holi is a two day festival and it celebrates the Hindu god Krishna and the legend of Holika and Prahlad. The story of Holika and Prahlad symbolises the victory of good over evil.

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When Is Holi Celebrated? 

The exact date of Holi changes every year. This year Holi will be celebrated on March 24 and March 25. Holi is celebrated on the day of the last full moon in the lunar month of Phalguna.

The Stories Of Holi 

Holi has been celebrated in India for hundreds of years. Several stories explain the festival’s origin.

According to one popular legend, demon king Hiranyakashipu became very angry with his son Prahlada who was devoted to Lord Vishnu instead of him. The demon king asked his demon sister Holika to kill Prahlada. Since Holika was resistant to fire, she sat with Prahlada on wood set on fire. Due to his unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu, he was safe and Holika got burnt Hiranyakashipu was then killed by Lord Vishnu in the form of a lion man.

Many modern Holi celebrations begin with a bonfire that represents the burning of Holika. Holi is also associated with Lord Krishna. Playing holi with colours is a reflection of the love between Lord Krishna and Radha.

How Is Holi Celebrated?

Typically Holi celebrations start with Holika Dahan. On this night, people light a bonfire, dance, sing, and perform rituals. The next morning people celebrate Holi by throwing colours (traditionally known as gulal) and water on one another.

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Everything You Need to Know About Diwali and Its Celebration Across India

Diwali is around the corner and we are gearing up for it. In this blog of The Junior Age, we have put together some unique stories, legends, and celebrations associated with this festival of lights.

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The Festival Of Lights

Diwali, is a five day festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. Diwali or Deepavali gets its name from the Sanskrit word Dipavali, which means “row of lights”. Diwali marks the start of the New Year. Diwali is also a symbolic celebration of good triumphing over evil. The festival of lights honours the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. People celebrate this festival by lighting little earthen oil lamps and decorating their homes with lights. The lamps and light are said to help Goddess Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity in the year to come.

There are many different legends associated with Diwali.

For instance, in Jainism, Diwali marks the Nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. In Sikhism, Diwali honours the day Guru Hargobind Ji, the sixth Sikh Guru was freed from imprisonment. 

Hindus have many beliefs associated with Diwali, based upon where they live. But there’s one common theme: the victory of good over evil.

In northern India, Diwali is a celebration of the day Rama returned to Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating the demon Ravana in Lanka and serving fourteen years of exile. According to legend, when Rama returned to Ayodhya, the people of the city welcomed him by lighting thousands of rows of clay lamps.

In southern India and even in Nepal, Diwali marks the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura, an evil demon. In western India the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity sent the demon King Bali to rule the nether world.

Diwali is Celebrated Over Five Days

Day one: People clean their homes and shop for gold kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune.

Day two: People decorate their homes with clay lamps create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.

and Day four: This is the first day of the new year, when friends

Day three: On the main day of the festival, families gather for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, followed by yummy feasts and fireworks festivities ( Although fireworks may not be the most eco-friendly).

Day Four: This is the first day of the new year, when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season. 

Day five: Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a mouth-watering meal.

Celebrating And Embracing Diverse Diwali Celebrations In India

The festival of lights is an extremely significant and auspicious festival for India. India is a multicultural country and most Indians celebrate Diwali, based on their own beliefs and customs. Almost every region in India has distinctive traditions for celebrating Diwali. However, the triumph of good over evil remains the common belief. Read to find out about the unique ways different cultures celebrate Diwali in India:

Dev Deepavali in Varanasi

Dev Deepavali or Dev Diwali, also known as the festival of gods, is celebrated 15 days after Diwali in Varanasi on a full moon night. On Dev Diwali, millions of diyas are lit on the ghats of Varanasi. It is believed on this day, gods and goddesses come down to Earth to take a bath in the Ganges. Dev Diwali also marks Lord Shiva’s victory over demon Tripurasur.

Kali Puja in West Bengal and Assam

In West Bengal and Assam, Diwali is celebrated as Kali Puja. Goddess Kali is worshipped on this day and worshippers offer her flowers, fish, sweets, and meat. While most of India, worships Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, in these two Indian states, Goddess Kali is worshipped. It is interesting to note that the festival of Kali Puja became popular in Bengal only in the 18th century.

Narka Chaturdashi in Goa

In Goa, Diwali is celebrated as Narka Chaturdashi. On Narka Chaturdashi, locals burn huge effigies of the demon Narakasura made from grass and hay. According to a legend in Goa, the demon Narakasura was the king of Goa. He was very arrogant and troubled people. He was ultimately killed by Lord Krishna.

Kaunriya Kathi in Odisha

One of India’s most culturally diverse states, Odi-sha, celebrates Diwali differently. During Kaunriya Kathi, the people of Odisha burn jute sticks to invite their ancestors, who are said to descend from heaven on Diwali. The ancestors are invited to visit them on Diwali, to bless them and their families.

The burning of jute sticks is often accompanied by a prayer. During Diwali, people in Odisha worship Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, and Goddess Kali.

Significance Of Diwali In Sikhism, Jainism, And Buddhism

Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism are different religions, with their own beautiful traditions, cultures, and customs. The festival of Diwali is celebrated differently by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Each of these religions celebrate Diwali for slightly different reasons.

Bandi Chhor Divas celebrated by Sikhs

Sikhs celebrate Band Chhor Divas on Diwali. Band Chhor Divas or Prisoner Release Day, celebrates the release of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib in 1619, from a prison in Gwalior. He was held captive by the Mughals. It is believed that Guru Hargobind agreed to be released from prison only if the 52 Hindu princes, who were imprisoned along with him, were allowed to go free. The day is seen as a triumph of right over wrong and a tribute to the Guru who saved the lives of 52 men without violence. On Diwali, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is illuminated with Diyas.

Dipalikaya celebrations by Jains

For Jains, Diwali holds a great significance. On this day, the 24th and last Tirthan-kara of Jainism (a savior and spiritual teacher of dharma), Lord Mahavir attained moksha. Moksha is the freedom from the cycle of reincarnation. It is believed that heaven and Earth were illuminated with many lamps to mark the occasion of Lord Mahavir’s enlightenment. Jains celebrate the famous festival of Diwali to worship Lord Mahavir.


Some Buddhists also celebrate the festival to honour their Emperor Ashoka’s decision to convert to Buddhism and follow a path of peace and enlightenment after winning the Kalinga war. On this day, Buddhists decorate their monasteries and temples and Lord Buddha is wor-shipped.

Legend Of Lord Rama Is Global

Did You Know that Ramayana is popular not only in India but in many other Asian countries? It also has many different and diverse versions and adaptations.

The ancient Indian mythological tale, Ramayana is performed all over India during the festival of Dussehra and until Diwali. Ramayana was originally written in Sanskrit by sage Valmiki. It is estimated that there are approximately 300 different versions of Ramayana. This epic story is not only popular in India but in some other Southeast Asian countries as well. Other than India, different and diverse versions of Ramayana are found in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, and China. Some of the versions in these countries are drastically different from the original.

The following illustrates the names of various versions of Ramayana that are popular outside India:

Some Interesting Facts About Diwali

  1. Diwali is also celebrated in Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. All these countries have a significant overseas Indian population.
  2. It was on the day of Diwali that the foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid in the year 1577.
  3. Diwali is always celebrated in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik on a no moon night.
  4. It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, was born on Diwali.
  5. Diwali, which is celebrated in the month of Kartik, marks the end of the harvest season in India. Farmers in India offer their harvest to Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali.

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Dussehra : A Celebration Of Victory!

What’s The Story Behind Dussehra?

The festival of Dussehra, which marks the end of the nine day Navratri festival and the tenth day of the Durga Puja, is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

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Dussehra, also known as dasara or Vijayadashmi, celebrated Ream’s victory over the demon king Ravana, who had kidnapped his wife, sita. With the help of his brother Lakshman and Hanuman, Rama invaded Lanka with an army of monkeys. The two armies engaged in a war for several days. It was really difficult for Rama to defeat the powerful Ravana. He then prayed for nine days to nine different versions of the Goddess Durga and grew strong enough to overcome Ravana.  The first nine days are known as Navratri, and the tenth, on which Ravana is defeated, is known as Dussehra. Another popular mythology in the eastern and northern Indian states is that Goddess Durga slayed the monster Mahishasura to bring peace to the world. Goddess Durga destroys Mahishasura on the tenth day, and that day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi.

Did You Know?

The words Dus and Ahara combine to make the term “tenth day”, as “dus” means “ten” and “Ahara” means “day.” Another interpretation derives from the festival’s mythology, in which “Dus” stands for the 10 heads of Ravana, or bad or evil, and “hara” is “to defeat.”

Different Ways Of Celebrating Dussehra

Navratri and Dussehra are widely observed holidays in India. Here are some interesting ways that people celebrate this festival!

Rangoli – Art Form 

Around the end of Dussehra till the beginning of Diwali, people in India use the art form of rangoli. It is a design drawn on the sidewalk or ground in front of a house with  coloured chalk or powder, and marigold flowers. Rangoli, which means “rows of colours” in Sanskrit, is a design used to entice the goddess of fortune and prosperity.

Ramlila – Theatre Plays

Ramlila, which translates to “Rama’s play,” is a presentation of the Ramayana epic including song, storytelling, recital, and dialogue in a number of scenes. It is performed  all across India during the Dussehra. Hundreds of towns, villages, and settlements organise celebrations and outdoor fairs honouring Rama’s victory over Ravana.

Lighting Diyas

Diyas represent virtue and purity, and burning one signifies escaping the shadows and entering into the light. The people of Ayodhya lit diyas to welcome Lord Rama after 14 years of exile, to celebrate his victory over Ravana. The oil in the Diya symbolises human sins. As a result, when you light a Diya, the evil is essentially “burnt away”.

Diversity In Dussehra Celebration In India

Dussehra is celebrated in many different and diverse ways across the country. Some of the unique ways in which Dussehra is celebrated in different parts of 

Kolkata, West Bengal

The Bengali community celebrates Dussehra with Durga Puja, which transforms entire state into a dynamic and lively hub of culture. Vijayadashami is celebrated on the tenth day of the famous Durga Puja. On this day, married women offer vermilion and sweets to the goddess. They also put vermilion on each other’s cheeks. At night, the idols of the goddess are taken to nearby rivers or water bodies to be immersed.

Bastar, Chhattisgarh

Dussehra is devoted to tribal deities and has nothing to do with the defeat the of Ravana. The festival is celebrated for 75 days and is believed to be the longest festival in the world. 

Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

The Kullu Dussehra, which is well-known all over the world, is held in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh. Around 200 local deities from nearby villages are brought to participate in a religious procession. Another unique aspect is that these celebrations in Kullu begin on Vijayadashami, the day when Dussehra festivities end in India. Further, on the last day of the celebration, a pile of thorn bushes is burnt to depict the burning of Lanka.

Mysore, Karnataka

Dussehra in Mysore is known as Mysuru Dasara and it is one of the most spectacular celebrations in India. As a part of the celebration, Mysore Palace is illuminated with 1,00,000 light bulbs. Additionally, the city destroys the effigies of Meghnad, Ravana, and Kumbhkaran.

Almora, Uttarakhand

Almora celebrates Dussehra with a parade of demons. The mountain streets of this small town in Uttarakhand are filled with various villains from The Ramayana. They’re made by local people and are paraded across the town before burning them. A total of 33 effigies of Ravana’s family members are burned to celebrate Dussehra.

Kulasekarapattinam, Tamil Nadu

The Dussehra celebrations at a 300-year-old temple of Goddess Kali, in the village Kulasekarapattinam are very unique. People are required to dress up as gods and goddesses. The people dance holding flaming clay pots throughout the night and end the festival with an enactment of slaying of Mahishasura on the beach.

Did You Know?

Ravana is a symbol of evil for most people across India. However, in Mandore, Rajasthan, people celebrate him as a deity. It is believed that Ravana’s wife Mandodari is from this town. While, people remember Ravana for his evil deeds, here he is celebrated for his genius achievements in the field of astrology and ayurveda.

There are some temples in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh that worship Ravana as a deity.

Besides India, Dussehra is also celebrated in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Different Ram Leelas In India

Ram Leela literally means Rama’s play. Ram Leela is an integral part of Dussehra celebrations in India. It retells the epic story of Ramayana. Many people go to watch Ram Leela. According to legend, Tulsidas, the author and composer of Ramcharitmanas, started the tradition of Ram Leela. Following are some of the most famous and oldest Ram Leela performances in India.

Kumaon Ram Leela

Kumaon Ram Leela in Uttarakhand is 150 years old and has been declared by UNESCO as the world’s longest running opera. It is also a part of the World Cultural Heritage List. It is also known as the Kumaoni Ram Leela and was first started in 1860 at Almora’s famous Badreshwar temple. From there it spread to other parts of Uttarakhand like to Nainital, Bageshwar, and many other places. Ram Leela in Kumaon is a musical festival rather than a staged performance. In Ku-maon’s Ram Leela, the focus is more on singing than acting.

Another interesting aspect about the Kumaoni Ram Leela is that for the last 20 years the roles of Rama and Lakshman are performed by girls!

Ramnagar Ram Leela

Ramnagar Ram Leela is known as the oldest and the best Ram Leela in the world. It was started almost 200 years ago and the first one was performed in 1830. UNESCO has rec-ognised Varanasi’s Ram Leela as a World Heritage. This particular Ram Leela goes on for 31 days and the whole city of Varanasi turns into a big stage to tell Rama’s life story. One unique aspect about the Ramnagar Ram Leela is that different scenes are enacted in different parts of the city. In Ram-nagar Ram Leela, the artist’s perform the entire epic without the help of any sound technology such as microphones or speakers. They use their voice to perform their scenes and it is performed in natural light as well.

Delhi Ram Leela 

Delhi is known for various different Ram Leela performanc-es. This year, Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra is performing their 66th annual edition of Ram Leela called ‘Shri Ram’. Another well-known Ram Leela in Delhi is by Luv Kush Ram-lila Committee. Their theme for this year is Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir. This Ram Leela is performed on the grounds of the Red Fort.

Did You Know?

A group of 30 women from different villages of Garhwal region in Uttarakhand organise an all women Ram Leela performance, where the role of male characters are also performed by them.

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