National Festivals

Independence Day Independence Day, August 15, commemorates the day in 1947 when India achieved freedom from British rule.

The day is celebrated to commemorate the birth of the world`s biggest democracy as a national festival. Till Independence, there is no true national festival that the whole country could take part of. Independence Day, beginning as a day to commemorate the greatest moment in Indian history, has now come to signify a feeling of nationalism, solidarity and celebration. Independence day is celebrated with flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programs in the state capitals.The Prime Minister`s speech at the Red Fort in Delhi is the major highlight. All Government Organisations have a holiday, as 15th August is a National holiday.

In the capital New Delhi most of the Government Offices are lit up. In all the cities around the country, the Flag Hoisting is done by eminent people. August 15, Independence Day, is celebrated in a mood of abandon and joy – no rituals, just festivities. It is also a national holiday so educational institutions, private and government organizations remaining closed, after the official celebrations in the morning is over.Schools and colleges mark the day with cultural activities, drills, flag hoisting and distribution of sweets.

Government as well as private organizations celebrate it. Republic Day Republic Day is India`s great national festival. It is celebrated every year on January 26, in New Delhi with great pomp and pageant and in capitals of the States, as well as at other headquarters and important places with patriotic fervor. A pledge was taken at the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress at midnight of December 31, 1929 – January 1, 1930 by the nationalists.

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Tri-color flag was unfurled and they vowed that every year on January 26, the “Independence Day” would be celebrated and that the people would unceasingly strive for the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. The professed pledge was successfully redeemed on 26 January, 1950, when the Constitution of India framed by the Constituent Assembly of India came into force. Although, the Independence from the British rule was achieved on August 15, 1947. It is because of this, that August 15 is celebrated as Independence Day, while January 26 as Republic Day.Republic Day reminds us of the fulfillment of the pledge that was made on the midnight of Independence as a “tryst with destiny”.

It is future-oriented, a vision of India that we nourish, an acceptance of responsibility and making of promises as well as recapitulation of the achievements. The act of framing the Constitution puts a spotlight on B. R.

Ambedkar whose indefatigable labour and sharp insights helped the preparation of the document. On Republic day, the pledge is renewed. Republic Day is without speeches.It is the only ceremony in which rhetoric is in the background and visuals are given priority. Republic Day is celebrated all over the country at all the administrative units like the capital cities, district headquarters, sub divisions, talukas, and panchayats. The major ceremonies at Delhi and the state capitals revolve around the parade in which all the Defence Services, police contingents, Home guards and Civil Defence, NCC, school children and cultural troupes participate followed by a display of tableaux and folk dances.At Delhi, the most spectacular celebrations include the march past of the three Armed Forces, massive parades, folk dances by tribal folk from the different states in picturesque costumes marking the cultural unity of India. Further, the streak of jet planes of Indian Air Force, leaving a trial of coloured smoke, marks the end of the festival.

The trees on both sides of the routes and the lawns become alive with spectators. The day has acquired the status of a social celebration in which people participate whole-heartedly as spectators.Though, the parade is the main ceremony, various activities spill over from early morning when prabhat pheris (morning rounds) are held followed by homage to Gandhi. The parade is succeeded by sports events in the afternoon. `At Home` functions at the Raj Bhavan, at the District Magistrate`s and at the SDM`s are followed by illumination of public buildings of the state capitals and administrative headquarters. Republic Day is gradually acquiring the status as that of the 4th of July in USA.

The celebrations are universal, total and participatory, children take part in a big way.Variations in culture are displayed through colourful attires and folk dances. The traditional predominates along with a touch of modernity reflected in the display of might (latest defence gadgetry and acquisitions), technology and capabilities of growth in various sectors.

The parade symbolizes the might; the tableaux are predominated by cultural motifs. The celebration is thus, homage to the past, the region and the nation that is a true republic and imposes nothing. The patriotic fervor of the Indian people on this day brings the whole country together even in her embedded diversity. Gandhi JayantiGandhi Jayanti, a national festival of India, is celebrated to mark the occasion of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the “Father of the Nation”.

It is celebrated on October 2, every year. It is one of the three official declared National Holidays of India and is observed in all its states and union territories. He is the man who played a significant role in achieving independence for India from the British Empire with his simplicity and strong will power. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as `Bapu` or `Father of the nation`, was born on the 2nd of October in 1869, in Porbunder, Gujarat.He studied law in U. K and practiced law in South Africa. But he left his profession and returned to India to join the Indian freedom struggle.

He established the Satyagraha Ashram in Ahmedabad and the Sabarmati Ashram, which became a platform for introducing long-needed social reforms such as `Harijan` welfare, small-scale industries and self-reliance and rehabilitation of lepers. Gandhi protested against the Rowlatt Bills and started a non-violent non-cooperation movement in India against the tyrant British rule.He violated the Salt Law by marching to Dandi in March 1930 and making salt and started the Civil Disobedience Movement in January 1932. In 1942, he nailed in the final nail in the grave of the British Government with his `Quit India` movement. He led his life that confirmed to his preaching. His morality and his doctrines on non-violence have become a beacon of light for the world. Five months after independence, Gandhiji was assassinated by Nathuram Godse while on his way to his daily prayer meeting.

The 78-year-old Father of the Nation had left a country that was just discovering its feet, orphaned.His birthday was recognised as a National holiday. It was on this day in A.

D. 1927 that the Indian National Congress, then fighting its non-violent struggle for independence, declared for Total Independence as against Dominion Status and the members took the pledge to work for a Sovereign Democratic Republic of India. People pay a visit to Raj Ghat, the cremation site of Gandhiji and various museums and Ashrams on this day. Popular celebration includes prayer meetings, commemorative ceremonies in different cities by colleges, local government institutions and socio-political institutions.Painting and essay competitions are conducted and best awards are awarded for projects in schools and the community, on themes of glorifying peace, non-violence and Gandhi`s effort in Indian Freedom Struggle. Most of the clubs, hotels and social organizations, Government houses hold Republic day dinners. Usually, Gandhi`s favourite song, Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram is sung in his memory. Mahatma Gandhi`s contribution towards bringing peace and non-violence to this world is unparalleled.

His teachings must be promoted to resolve current conflicts, avoid violence, and find peaceful solutions and to make our world a better place to live. 3 Religious festivals Diwali Festival in India Deepawali often called Diwali is among the biggest festivals in Hindu calendar. This is the festival of light.

The celebration that takes place goes on throughout the night and people illuminate their houses to celebrate. The mood is indisputably joyous and the light in the night of Diwali symbolizes celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness of the soul.According to traditional beliefs, the festival of light celebrated exactly 20 days after Dussehra marks the home coming of the benevolent ruler of Ayodhya, Lord Rama after killing wicked demon Ravana. The home coming of the favorite son of the soil is marked with celebration and light. In the eastern part of India, Diwali is celebrated as Kali Puja and Lakshmi Puja.

Goddess Kali is the symbol of strength. The Goddess is worshipped at the middle of the night of Diwali. People also worship Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.

The merriment continues through the night and fireworks lit up the night sky.For the people, this is an occasion to celebrate with family and friends. At the time of Diwali, people make brisk business. Diwali gifts are a must and people spend a lot of time and money buying gifts for family members and friends. The celebration has become so beautiful and attractive that Diwali has become a tourist attraction in itself. Holi Festival in India Even as winter gives way to summer, people of northern and eastern India rejoice in the color of joy in the festive mirth of Holi. The festival of color is an occasion for unadulterated joy and merriment.

Music, dance lots of bright color make the festival very entertaining. With the winter neatly tucked up for another year, it is time to enjoy the approaching spring with full gusto. Indeed Holi is the swan song of spring and heralds summer.

Holi is the festival that celebrates the brotherhood of man. Things that can be pretty offensive at other times are quite permitted during Holi. Smearing friends with color is a common practice but in this day people take the liberty to smear even complete strangers with color.

This is acceptable and people hardly ever complain.Holi as a festival has a number of associations with mythology. There is the story of Holika and Prahlad whereby the demon was burnt while the innocent boy escaped unharmed. Again there is the popular story of Radha and Lord Krishna. Legend has it that Lord Krishna would smear color on Radha. During the time of Holi i.

e. in the month of March, India can be a fascinating place for tourism. Especially in Northern India, Holi is celebrated with a gusto that you will not find anywhere else. In Delhi, the city is bedecked with colors of different hue.Holi in Rajasthan has also become a celebration of tourist importance. Here it will be an experience of a completely different kind to climb atop an elephant and throw color powder on people. Celebration also reaches dizzying heights in Mathura and Varanasi. The places are very much associated with the legends of Lord Krishna.

Holi in these places can be a lot of fun. These are the place where you must be at Holi to celebrate with the whole of India. The celebration of Holi in India is in keeping with the secular culture of the country.The entire population of the country, cutting across religious racial, cultural and regional divides cherishes the occasion. Onam Festival in India Onam is the biggest festival in Kerala. Celebrated on a particular day in August or September. Onam is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, a legendary ruler of Kerala, who was renowned for the justice and benevolence.

People buy new clothes and exchange gifts. Houses are cleaned and beautiful flower carpets and decorations are made at the entrances of houses and in courtyards.Traditional oil lamps are lit in the courtyard and women dressed in traditional saris dance around a lamp. The main event on Onam day is a grand feast at lunchtime, called sadya. Snake Boat races, Kathakali and Mohiniattam dance recitals and musical performances are also essential parts of Onam. In Kerala, people go simply crazy over the state festival of Onam where ten days of feasting, boat race, song, dance and merriment mark the occasion.

The festivity recalls the sacrifice of the great King for his people. Onam welcomes the spirit of the great King and is an assurance to him that all his subjects are well.The festival of Onam is shrouded in tales of mythology. It is said that Gods conspired to end the reign of the good king Mahabali and sent Vishnu in the guise of a dwarf.

The king however won in the test that Lord Vishnu put him through. Before going away into hell, the King managed to secure from the Lord a boon that he will be able to visit his subjects ones every year. Thus Onam is celebrated every year to mark the home coming of the popular king.

The festival is a pretty colorful one. Women spread out flower carpets in front of the house to welcome the vanquished king.Traditional rituals are performed but the most important part of the celebration is the lavish feast. The sumptuous home cooked food is shared with family members and friends. This is the time for people to revive lost connections.

People visit houses of relatives and friends and exchange pleasantries. Onam has some spectacle that can only be seen if you come to Kerala. The parades of caparisoned elephants, fireworks and Kathakali dance are associated with Onam. The beauty of the place is ever more glorified in the light of the festivity and no wonder the place looks in every way “Gods Own Country”.


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