On this day Jain pilgrims from all over the country congregate at the ancient Jain shrines at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat and at Mahaviraji in Rajisthan, and Pawapuri, Vaishali in Bihar. Vaishali being the brithplace of Lord Mahavir, a grand festival is held here and it is known as Vaishali Mahotsava.
He is also called Shankar – Suvan. It is widely held that during the great churning of the Oceans, the gods and the Demons began to fight over the ownership of the great “Amrita”. Lord Vishnu came in the form of a beautiful Lady to deviate the demons and let the gods have the Amrita. Lord Shankar was so much attracted to the Lady that he chased her and prematurely ejaculated. The Sages and Seers did not want to waste the seed of Shankar that the collected it and implanted it in the womb of Anjani and thus Lord Hanuman was born. The birthanniversary of Hanuman is celebrated with great devotion. Devotees visit Hanuman Shrines, observe fasts, offer prayers and puja and read the Ramayana. On this day the idols of Hanuman are given a special coating of vermilion mixed with clarified butter. People offer “Besan Ladoo” or “Boondi” as prasad and chant various humns eulogizing his glory.
The married woman seeks the blessing for faithful conjugal happiness and bliss while the virgins pray for a suitable handsome husband and future marital prosperity. On the final day of Ganagaur festival, the ladies keep strict fast, worship the Goddess, wear colorfull raiment and ornamets exchange sweets and the earthen or wooden images of Gangaur (Shiva-Parvathi) are taken out in processions through the main streets to the accompaniment of music for the immersion of the idols in the nearby lake. Normally Gangaur is celebrated at the day break.
Chithrai Festival:- In madurai, a great festival celebrating the marriage of Lord Sundareswarar with the fish-eyed goddess Menakshi is held with great enthusiasm in the month of Chaithra(March-April). It lasts for 10days and centers on the famous Meenakshi temple, and extraordinary temple of Dravidian architecture. The deities are taken around the temple in chariots. Thousands of devotees from all over the country gather in the ciyt of Madurai on this occasion. The wedding anniersary is called as Meenakshi Kalyanam, which is the most spectacular festival of Madurai. According to the legends, Indra set out on a pilgrimage to atone for the misdeeds he has done unknowingly. During his pilgrimage when he came near Madurai, he felt that the burden has lightened and he found a Shiv Linga lying there. He immediately built a beautiful temple there and installed the Lingam there. Then he desired to perform a puja and so Lord Shiva caused a Golden lotus to appear in the nearby pool, and that day happened to be a chaithrapoornima. The golden lotus lake is still inside the temple premises.
Ram Navami:- Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama is a major Hindu festival celebrated all over the country by all sects of the Hindu fold. Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu was born on the ninth day of the bright half of the lunar month chaitra. The festival preparations start early in the morning with people taking bath in the holy waters and coming to the temple of Lord Ram. They keep fast till 12, Noon, when the avatar is supposed to have taken place. People take “Phalagar” only in the afternoon, It consists of a sweets made of Khoya, potatoes or calacosia made in any form without the use Haldi, garlic and onion, All kinds of root vegetables are consumed and no green vegetables. Fruits are allowed. The puja is done in the noon by singing various slokas, hymns and ending with the distribution of panjeeree, charnamrita, fruits and sweets. In Ayodhya, the birthplace of Sri Ram, the temples are heavily decorated and great festivities take place. Ramayana is read and recited and great fairs are held here on that day. Ram Navami is also celebrated as the Vasanta Navarathri Festival with the celebration starting from the first lunar day of the bright half of the chithrai month.
Baisakhi:- A typical rural festival of North India, it is a very prominent one of the State of Punjab. This is an agriculture-based festival and it signifies the happiness of the farmers after their crops have been harvested. It is celebrated with gusto and fervor by all the sturdy people of Punjab known to be great connoisseurs of all good things in life.
This harvest festival of Baisakhi is celebrated with the joy being expressed by the famous Bhangra dance. It is very important for the Sikhs, Budhists and Hindus alike and is marked by the ritual bathing at Haridwar.
It falls on the 14th April and marks the beginning of the solar year of the north Indians, and it is called so because after this day, the month of Baiskhi. During this festival the clime is very enjoyable and also the farmers have sufficient amount of money in their hands for the celebrations, since the harvests are over and the produce sold.
In the morning of Baisakhi, people take bath at rivers and tanks. Then dressed in new attries they go the Gurdwaras. There they give thanks for the good yield and pray for a similar result, the coming year. The day is considered very auspicious and big cattle fairs are conducted in many village grounds. Giant wheels and merry-go-rounds dot almost all the villages.
It was on this day that Guru Gobind Singh initiated the “Panch Piyara” or the five loved ones. He decorated the Khalsa at Anandpur sahib near Chandigarh and gave five people from five different states the rules on how to be like a true Sikh. One of the sacred places for the Sikhas is the amritsar, Golden Temple. It was huge tank in it and there is popular belief that anyone bathing in it gets purified of all his sins. On Baisakhi day, water is brought from all the sacred rivers of India and poured into that tank. Lots of fruits like ber and lookat and mithai are sent to the houses of the daughters and sisters as gifts. Visitors are given lassi and mithai and many other festive foods.
Buddha Purnima:-This is the most sacred day for the buddists all over the country. This full – moon day of the month of Vaisakh(April-May)has special significance, because on this day the Great buddha was born, attained enlightenment and attained Nirvana or death. This strange, three-fold coincidence, gives Buddha Purnima its unique significance.
On the full moon day of Vaisakh the Buddha’s mother, Queen Mahamaya, happened to be on her way from Kapilavastu to here parents home in Devdaha. During the journey itself she gave birth to her son under the shade of two Sal trees. And then this Gautama grew up but he was nor attached to worldly pleasures and sought a way out. Then on another full moon night of Vaisakh on his thirty-fifth birthday he attained enlightenment. On this day, the Buddhist people take bath and wear white clothes and visit the viharas and give alms to the monks there. Then they attend discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha from the Buddist monks there. On this day there refrain from eating meat. Their special forms of charity include kindness to animals; many of them buy caged birds and let them free. they make “Vaisakh Valkats” out of bamboo and decorate their houses with them. To the Buddhists it is not a day of great rejoicing but of deep reflections on the travails of human life in particular, because Buddha was the first to find a solution to the great causes of human grief.
Nrijala Ekadashi:-Ekadashi is believed to the most pios day in a month in general of the devout Hindu. It comes twice in a month according to the Hindu calendar. It falls on the eleventh day of the waxing of the moon and again on the eleventh day of the waning of the moon. The observance of the rituals connected with this day are said to wipe away the sins that may have been done in the past fortnight. The very religious observe a fast on both Ekadashis. The regulations for the fast are nor very strict. Fruits, milks, sweets, tea and coffee can be taken along with water and a full meal can be taken in the night.
“Nirjala Ekadashi” comes in the Hindu month of Jyeshta, the 11th day of “Sukul Paksh”and comes sometimes in the month of June. The origin behind this festival goes like this; Bhim, the son Kunti, was a great Gourmet. He hated the idea of fasting on every Ekadashi. So his mentors felt that atleast he should absolve of his sins and that it should be a total “Vrat”.
In the morning of this day people get up early, take bath and wear ordinary clothes and perform puja. It is not a festive occasion but a sober one, where one is supposed to think of the humble and the poor. Everyone does that puja with water first and then with aipun and roli and lastly with rice, worshipping Ganesh and the appropriate deities.