Festivals in India are a great occasion to get together and make merry

by Shatika, April 2, 2015
In fact in today’s times, they are looked as an excuse to take off from work and spend some happy moments with family and friends. It’s that time of the year when elaborate traditional recipes are dished out and the best of the garments come out of the closet. Festivals are looked at as a time when women put their best foot forward be it in performing rituals, preparing delicacies or adorning their finest sarees and jewellery. So all you ladies out there, while we tell you more about these festivals, go ahead and make the best of these occasions to look your best and feel your best!

One Festival Many Flavours

The harvest season in India is considered as the beginning of a New Year as per Hindu Calender and is celebrated with fun and fervour all over the country under different names and different set of rituals and celebrations. As Baisakhi in Punjab, ‘Rongali Bihu’ in Assam, ‘Naba Barsha’ in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and ‘Pooram Vishu’ in Kerala, this harvest festival which falls on 14th of April this year, is the festival of many flavours.

Baisakhi in Punjab:

Baisakhi Festival falls on the first day of Vaisakh month (April-May) according to Nanakshahi or Sikh Calendar. For this reason, Baisakhi is also popularly known as Vaisakhi.  A major festival of the Sikh community, Baisakhi is celebrated with lot of exuberance, devotion and enthusiasm in the state of Punjab and all throughout the world among Sikh population. For the large farming community of Punjab, Baisakhi Festival marks the time for harvest of rabi crops and hence it calls for a celebration. People buy new clothes and make merry by singing, dancing and enjoying the best of festive food. They pay a visit to the neighbouring Gurdwara and take part in the prayer meeting followed by activities organized in Gurdwara. This is followed by a Guru ka langar or community lunch. Later, during the day a procession of men, women and children moves through the city amidst the rendition of devotional songs, mock duels, bhangra and gidda performances making it a joyous and colourful occassion.

Rongali Bihu in Assam:

Rongali Bihu celebrations are quite colourful and vibrant. To celebrate the joyous Rongali Bihu festival, people of Assam wear new and colourful clothes. People visit their neighbors, friends and relatives and distribute sweet as they greet each other a Happy Bihu. Many people also organize grand feasts in the house to celebrate the occasion. Traditional festive food of Bohag Bihu is prepared. Young boys and girls in villages don traditional dhoti, gamosa and saadar mekhela and sing Bihugeets or folk Bihu songs in traditional bihutolis or Mukoli Bihus. The accompanied orchestra of dhol, pépa (buffalo hornpipe) and gagana adds joy to the celebrations. At several places, Bihu fairs are also organized where people participate in games and other fun-filled activities.

Naba Barsha in West Bengal:

Joyful and culture rich people of West Bengal celebrate Naba Barsha by performing set of interesting customs and traditions like making elaborate rangolis in front of the house with flour and its centre adorned with earthenware pot that is filled with holy water and mango leaves to symbolize a prosperous year for the family. On Naba Barsha, people of West Bengal propitiate Goddess Lakshmi to pray for prosperity and well being. Naba Barsha celebrations are marked with joy, enthusiasm and hope. Songs, dance, games besides reciting of poems are organized in various parts of West Bengal to mark the occasion. Bengalis take out processions known as Prabhat Pheries where ladies clad themselves in beautiful traditional Bengali Sarees (white sari with red border) while men wear dhoti kurta. The day is spent in feasting and participating in cultural activities and visiting friends and dear ones wishing each other ‘Shubho Nabo Barsho!’

Puthandu in Tamil Nadu:

People of Tamil Nadu celebrate Puthandu Pirappu by performing specific traditions and rituals like putting colorful Kolam (rangoli) patterns in front of the house and putting a traditional lamp called kuthuvillakku in the centre with the belief that it would dispel darkness. This is followed by a visit to the temple to seek blessings. A popular custom of Puthandu called ‘kanni’, literally meaning ‘auspicious sight’ is performed with the belief that a good start to New Year will ensure prosperity and happiness in the coming year. Following the ritual, people start the day by watching a variety of auspicious things like gold and silver jewellery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. To mark the occasion of Tamil New Year, people wear new clothes and relish best of festive food and visit friends and dear ones to exchange greetings for New Year – Puthandu Vazthukal.

Vishu in Kerala:

Vishu Festival heralds the beginning of Malayali New Year and is celebrated in a big way in the state of Kerala and the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. It falls on the first day in the Malayalam month of Medam. People of Kerala celebrate Vishu with a lot of joy and mirth. Similar to popular custom of kanni in Tamilnadu, in Kerala too they follow the tradition and call it Vishukani or Kani Kanal (first sight). Varied items including a cadjan leaf book, gold ornaments, fresh white cloth, a measure of rice or paddy, flowers of the Konna tree (Cussia fistula), halved jack fruits, halved coconuts and yellow cucumber are kept in a big pot. Many people in Kerala prefer to perform Vishukani in temples where they first offer it to Gods and later distribute it amongst poor and needy.To celebrate the auspicious festival of Pooram Vishu, people of Kerala wear kodi vastram (new clothes) sing, dance and make merry. Patassu (firecrackers) are also burst to mark the New Year day. A grand feast called sadya is prepared.

Vaishakha in Bihar:

Vaishakha in Bihar is celebrated with huge fanfare and gusto. People of Bihar celebrate Vaishakha twice a year, first in the Hindu month of Vaishakha (April) and then in the month of Kartika (November). Vaishakha Festival is dedicated to Surya Devta or Sun God in Bihar. Following the ancient practice, devotees pay obeisance to the Sun God by taking bath in the temple tank and offering flowers and water from the sacred rivers of Ganga.

Amongst many rituals and ceremonies followed by various states to mark New Year celebrations, what remains constant is the spirit of the festival that reflects in the way they are ardently celebrated by singing, dancing, preparing traditional food and adorning traditional clothing. All this just shows how culturally rich our country is and Shatika brings you the glimpses of these festivities to make you feel connected with them and to keep this rich culture and tradition of festivals alive!

At Shatika, we bring you a great collection of traditional silk and cotton handloom saris perfect for all festivals and occasions, from across the country. To know more about Shatika Sarees, please visit our website: www.shatika.co.in

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