Holidays & Festivals

Indian Holidays & Festivals – 2015

Wednesday, January 14th - Lohri

Lohri is a popular festival celebrated by Punjabi people of Sikh faith as well as Hindu faith. Lohri is mainly Sikh festival however the day of Lohri is decided based on Hindu calendar. Lohri is closely linked to Hindu festival Makara Sankranti and it is celebrated one day before.

Celebrated Foods: Atta Laddoo, Puffed Rice Laddoo, Shenghana Chikki, Coconut Chikki, Pinnie , Gajak, Kurmura Laddoo, Dry Fruit Chikki

Thursday, January 15th - Makar Sankranti or Sankranthi

The time between Makar Sankranti and 40 Ghatis (roughly 16 hours for Indian locations if we consider 1 Ghati duration as 24 minutes) from the time of Makar Sankranti is considered good for auspicious work. This duration of forty Ghatis is known as Punya Kaal. Sankranti activities, like taking bath, offering Naivedhya (food offered to deity) to Lord Surya, offering charity or Dakshina, performing Shraddha rituals and breaking fast or Parana, should be done during Punya Kaal.

In Tamil Nadu Makar Sankranti or Sankranthi is known as Pongal.

Celebrated Foods (regional): Puli Pongal, Khara Pongal, Rava Pongal, Ariselu In Gujarat and Rajasthan Makar Sankranti is known as Uttarayana.

Celebrated Foods (regional): In Haryana and Punjab Makar Sankranti is known as Maghi.

Celebrated Foods (regional): Bandaru Laddoo, Atta Laddoo, Puffed Rice Laddoo, Shenghana Chikki, Coconut Chikki, Pinnie

Monday, January 26th - Republic Day

India commemorates the 26th day of January as Republic Day. In 1950, on the very same day the Constitution of India came into force is the same day when the Declaration of Independence was promulgated by the Indian

National Congress . This day was chosen to honor this great event in India’s history.

It is one of the three national holidays of India, including Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti. Being a gazetted holiday all government offices and most businesses are closed on Republic Day.

The main parade takes place in the national capital New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the president who unfurls the national flag. Celebrations are also held in state capitals where the Governor of the state unfurls the national flag.

Thursday, March 5th – Holika Dahan

Holika Dahan Muhurta is decided based on following rules.

Choosing the right Muhurta or auspicious time for Holika Dahan is more important than choosing right Muhurta for any other festivals. For other festivals doing puja at wrong time will not bring puja benefits but doing Holika Dahan at wrong time would bring suffering and misfortune.

The Holi/Dhulandi day when people play with colors is always next day of Holika Dahan or Holi bonfire.

Friday, March 6th – Rangwali Holi | Dhulandi

Holi is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus all over the world. Holi is considered as second biggest festival on Hindu calendar after Diwali. Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors.

Places related to life of Lord Krishna are known as Braj regions. Holi rituals in Braj regions of Mathura, Vrindavan, Gowardhan, Gokul, Nandagaon and Barsana - are very popular. The Lathmar Holi – the traditional Holi festivity in Barsana is world famous.

In most regions Holi festival is celebrated for two days. The first day is known as Jalanewali Holi - the day when Holi bonfire is done. This day is also known as Chhoti Holi and Holika Dahan. Holika Dahan is referred to Kama Dahanam in South India. The second day is known as Rangwali Holi - the day when people play with colored powder and colored water. Rangwali Holi which is main Holi day is also known as Dhulandi or Dhulendi (धुलंडी).

Celebrated Foods: Kesar Chawal, Bengal Gram Dal Toffee, Jaljeera, Onion Bhajia, Aloo Chaat, Papri Chaat

Saturday, March 21st – Gudi Padwa 2014

Gudi Padwa or Samvatsar Padvo is celebrated as the first day of the year by Maharashtrians and Konkanis. On this day new Samvatsara, which is cycle of sixty years, starts. All sixty Samvatsara are identified by unique name.

Gudi Padwa is celebrated as Ugadi by the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Both Gudi Padwa and Ugadi are celebrated on the same day.

Gudi Padwa is Marathi New Year according to Luni-Solar calendar. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. The counter-part of Luni-Solar calendar is Solar calendar which considers only position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days.

Because of that Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year. The Hindu New Year based on Solar calendar is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.

The day begins with ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals suggested by scriptures. North Indians don’t celebrate Gudi Padwa but start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri.

Saturday, March 21st – Ugadi

Ugadi is celebrated as Gudi Padwa by the people of Maharashtra. Both Ugadi and Gudi Padwa are celebrated on the same day.

Ugadi is New Year according to Luni-Solar calendar. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. The counter-part of Luni-Solar calendar is Solar calendar which considers only position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. Because of that Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year. The Hindu New Year based on Solar calendar is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.

The day begins with ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals suggested by scriptures. North Indians don’t celebrate Ugadi but start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri.

Ugadi or Yugadi is celebrated as the first day of the year by people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. On this day new Samvatsara, which is cycle of sixty years, starts. All sixty Samvatsara are identified by unique name.

Ugadi is celebrated as Gudi Padwa by the people of Maharashtra. Both Ugadi and Gudi Padwa are celebrated on the same day.

Ugadi is New Year according to Luni-Solar calendar. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. The counter-part of Luni-Solar calendar is Solar calendar which considers only position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. Because of that Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year. The Hindu New Year based on Solar calendar is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.

The day begins with ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals suggested by scriptures. North Indians don’t celebrate Ugadi but start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri.

Celebrated Foods: Ugadi Bobbatlu, Mango Pachadi, Bisibhele Bath

Tuesday, April 14th – Vaisakhi or Baisakhi

Vaisakhi is an ancient harvest festival celebrated in the Punjab region by all Punjabis regardless of their religion. For people of Punjab, especially Sikhs, Vaisakhi is a very significant day. Vaisakhi is also celebrated as Sikh New Year based on Hindu Solar calendar.

For the Sikh community, it’s not only a harvest festival but also a religious festival. Sikhs celebrate it as the day of birth of the pure one - Khasla.

On Vaisakhi day, in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last Sikh Guru, established the Khalsa. He eliminated the difference between higher and lower caste communities and declared that all human beings are equal. Later the Guru tradition in Sikhism was put to an end and Guru Granth Sahib was declared as eternal guide and Holy Book of Sikhism.

Celebrated Foods: Mutton Achari, Seviya Kheer, Rice Flakes Laddoo, Motichoor Laddoo, Ground Nut Halwa, Chicken Biryani, Chicken Curry

Ramadan Starts – Thursday, June 18th

Ramadan Ends (Eid al-Fitr) – Friday, July 17th

Celebrated Foods: Nawabi Biryani, Condensed Milk Curls, Shahi Mutton Korma, Haleem, Badam Gosht, Badam Phirni,

It should be noted that Bhadra prevails during first half of Purnima Tithi. Hence one should wait for Bhadra to get over before starting any auspicious work. In North India it is customary to tie Rakhi in the morning which might not be suitable time to do it.

Some sources advise to avoid Bhadra Mukha and perform Rakhi ceremony during Bhadra Punchha if it has to be done during Bhadra in early morning.

Celebrated Foods: Banana Cutlets, Khoya Burfi, Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curried Meat

Saturday, August 15th – Independence Day

Saturday, August 29th – Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in Shravana month during full moon day or Purnima day.

The best time to tie Rakhi on Raksha Bandhan is during Aparahan which is late afternoon according to Hindu division of the day. If Aparahan time is not available then Pradosh time is also suitable to perform rituals related to Raksha Bandhan.

Raksha Bandhan rituals should not be done during Bhadra. Bhadra is malicious time which should be avoided for all auspicious work. Most Hindu religious texts, including Vratraj, advise to avoid Bhadra time to tie Rakhi during Raksha Bandhan festival.

 

Saturday, September 05th – Krishna Janmashtami

Janmashtami festival is dedicated to Lord Sri Krishna to commemorate his birth ceremony. This day falls on the eighth day (Ashtami of Krishna Paksh) of a lunar fortnight i.e. eighth day after the festival of Raksha Bandhan. This day corresponds to the August and September months on the Gregorian calendar. The celebration goes on for two days. The first day is Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami. The second day is called Kalashtami or more popularly Janmashtami. At midnight between the first and second day the birth of Lord Krishna is replicated with pomp and ceremony. The most popular ceremony of Dahi-handi (breaking a pot full of milk and its derivatives) takes place on the second day.

Lord Krishna is welcomed by offering umpteen varieties of scrumptious sweet dishes are prepared from milk and curds that Krishna loved. Most families keep a fast on this day, but one meal is allowed. This is known as phalhar, which consists of fruits, mithai, curd, singhare ki puri. Generally the devotees prepare those food items which are considered to be the favorite of Lord Krishna. At the midnight all these scrumptious items are placed in front of Lord Krishna and this called as the ritual of ‘bhog’. Later all these scrumptious items are distributed amongst his devotees as ‘Prasada’. Scroll down if you want to explore more about the recipes prepared on the day of Janmashtami.

Celebrated Foods: Golden Yogurt, Singhare Ki Puri, Gopalkala, Shrikhand, Kalakand, Kheer

Thursday, September 17th – Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesh. On Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesh is worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. It is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada month. Currently Ganesh Chaturthi day falls in the month of August or September in English calendar.

The Ganeshotsav, the festivity of Ganesh Chaturthi, ends after 10 days on Anant Chaturdashi which is also known as Ganesh Visarjan day. On Anant Chaturdashi, devotees immerse idol of Lord Ganesh in a body of water after a gala street procession.

Ganesh Puja is preferred during Madhyahana as it is believed that Lord Ganesh was born during Madhyahana Kaal. Madhyahana Kaal is equivalent to midday according to Hindu division of the day.

It is believed that one should not sight the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi. Sighting the moon on Ganesh Chaturthi creates

Mithya Dosham or Mithya Kalank (कलंक) which means false accusation of stealing something. Depending on start and end time of Chaturthi Tithi, sighting of the moon might be prohibited for two consecutive days. Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and Ganesh Chauth.

Celebrated Foods: Besan Laddoo, Karanji, Motichoor Laddoo, Modak, Puran Poli Bobatlu, Kaju Burfi, Moong Dal Ka Halwa, Puliyodarai, Rava Laddoo Suji Semolina

Onam – Friday, August 28th

Onam is the state festival of Kerala. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zest by Malayalees all over the world. While Thiruvonam (the tenth day) is the most important day of the festival, the celebrations at some places continue until chatayam (twelfth day). The festival is marked by elaborate rituals, feast, socializing, games and fairs. Umpteen varieties of dishes are prepared throughout the festival in every Malayalee home. 'Onasadya' or the traditional feast of Onam is an unavoidable part of the festival. It is organized by people irrespective of caste, creed and community barriers.

The grand feast of Onam is held in a methodical manner. The impressive spread of delicacies are served in banana leafs. The leaf has to be placed in a particular way and the dishes are also to be served in a defined pattern. The serving on the leaf begins from the left with 'Upperies' (deep-fried dishes). Umpteen numbers of scrumptious dishes are served on this occasion. Different kinds of rice with a number of side dishes and other delicacies such as curries, 'pappadams' (round crisp flour cakes), 'achaars' (pickles) and 'payasams' or 'pradhamans' as desserts are served. Plantain fruits are also served as a part of the meal.

Celebrated Foods: Avial, Banana Halwa, Coconut Chutney, Idli, Dry Fruit Kesari, Masala Dosa, Moru Curry,

Navratri – Tuesday, October 13th – Wednesday, October 21st

Navratri, literally interpreted as 'nine nights' is the most celebrated Hindu festival devoted to Goddess Durga symbolizing purity and power or 'shakti'. Navratri festival combines ritualistic puja and fasting and is accompanied by resplendent celebrations for nine consecutive days and nights. Navratri in India follows the lunar calendar and is celebrated in March/April as Chaitra Navratri and in September/October as Sharad Navratri.

During Navratri, people from villages and cities gather to perform 'puja' on small shrines representing different aspects of Goddess Durga, including Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. Chanting of mantras and renditions of bhajans and folk songs usually accompany the puja rituals for nine consecutive days of Navratri.

Celebrated Foods: Aloo Khichdi, Boondi Ka Raita, Dal Stuffed Puri, Gobhi Ke Sabzi, Kaddu Ke Sabzi, Kele Ke Kofta, Kottu Pakora, Sabudhana Vadaa, Singhara Ke Burfee

Wednesday, October 21st – Mahashtami, Durgashtami

Mahashtami, also known as Maha Durgashtami, is second day of Durga Puja. Maha Ashtami is one of the most important days of Durga Puja. Durga Puja on Maha Ashtami begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja (षोडशोपचार पूजा) which is very much similar to Maha Saptami Puja except Prana Pratishtha (प्राण प्रतिष्ठा) which is done only once on Maha Saptami.

On Maha Ashtami nine small pots are installed and nine Shaktis of Durga are invoked in them. All nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during Maha Ashtami Puja.

Young unmarried girls, being treated as Goddess Durga itself, are also worshipped on Maha Ashtami. Worshipping of young girls during Durga Puja is known as Kumari Puja. In many regions Kumari Puja is done during all nine days of Durga Navratri. Kumari Puja on a single day during Durga Puja is preferred on Maha Ashtami.

Celebrated Foods: Aloo Posto, Bandhakopir Dalna, Chola Dal, Labra, Mishti Doi,

Wednesday, October 21st – Maha Navami

Mahanavami is third and final day of Durga Puja. Durga Puja on Maha Navami begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja.

On Maha Navami Goddess Durga is worshipped as Mahisasuramardini which means the Annihilator of the Buffalo Demon. It is believed that on Maha Navami day Durga killed the demon Mahishasura.

It is important to note that depending on starting time of Navami Tithi on previous day Maha Navami Puja and Upavas might be done on Ashtami Tithi. The precise rule is that if Ashtami and Navami merge before Sanyakal on Ashtami Tithi then Ashtami Puja and Navami Puja including Sandhi Puja are done on the same day.

However Durga Balidan is always done on Uday Vyapini Navami Tithi. According to Nirnaysindhu the most appropriate time to perform Balidan on Navami is Aparahana Kaal.

Navami Homa is performed on Maha Navami and it is the significant ritual during Durga Puja. The best time to perform Homa is at the end of Navami Puja.

The legendary Sandhi Puja is also falls on Maha Asthami. The time window of the last 24 minutes of Ashtami Tithi and the first 24 minutes of Navami Tithi is known as Sandhi Time or the holy juncture during Durga Puja. Sandhi time is considered the most auspicious time during whole Durga Puja. Sandhi Puja is the culmination point and the most important ritual of Durga Puja. It is customary to perform Balidan or animal sacrifice at this sacred juncture. Devotees who abstain from animal sacrifice perform symbolic Bali with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin. For Brahmins any type of animal sacrifice is prohibited by scriptures and Brahmin community does only symbolic Bali. Even the famous Belur Math in West Bengal does symbolic Bali with banana during Sandhi Puja. It is customary to light 108 earthen lamps during Sandhi Kaal.

Celebrated Foods: Aloo Posto, Bandhakopir Dalna, Chola Dal, Labra, Mishti Doi,

Friday, October 2nd – Gandhi Jayanti

145th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, October 22nd – Dussehra

Dussehra, also known as Vijayadashmi, is a major Indian festival celebrated on the tenth day of Ashvin month according to the Hindu calendar. This day falls in the month of September or October. The day culminates a 9 day fasting period of Navratri in the Hindu culture. The day also coincides with immersion of the idol of Goddess Durga. The day is celebrated to commemorate the killing of Ravana by Lord Rama. The day also celebrates the killing of demon Mahishasur by Goddess Durga. Dussehra celebration spreads the message of the victory of good over sin. It is believed that the celebration of Dussehra started in the 17th century, when the king of Mysore ordered the celebration of the day on a grand scale. Ever since, the day is celebrated with great fervor and energy.

Celebrated Foods: Basundi, Chandrapuli, Sandesh

Friday, October 30th – Karwa Chauth

Karwa Chauth fasting is done during Krishna Paksha Chaturthi in the Hindu month of Kartik and according to Amanta calendar followed in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Southern India it is Ashwin month which is current during Karwa Chauth. However, it is just the name of the month which differs and in all states Karwa Chauth is observed on the same day.

Karwa Chauth coincides with Sankashti Chaturthi a fasting day observed for Lord Ganesha. The fasting of Karwa Chauth and its rituals are observed by married women for the long life of their husband. Married women worship Lord Shiva and His family including Lord Ganesha and break the fast only after sighting and making the offerings to the moon. The fasting of Karwa Chauth is strict and observed without taking any food or even a drop of water after sunrise till the sighting of the moon in the night.

Karwa Chauth day is also known as Karak Chaturthi (करक चतुर्थी). Karwa or Karak refers to the earthen pot through which water offering, known as Argha (अर्घ), is made to the moon. Karwa is very significant during Puja and it is also given as Dan to the Brahmin or any eligible woman.

Compare to South Indian states, Karwa Chauth is more popular in North Indian states. After four days of Karwa Chauth, Ahoi Ashtami Vrat is observed for the wellbeing of sons.

Celebrated Foods: Aloo Chana Chaat, Aloo Dahiwada, Tamarind Sauce, Methi Puri, Golgappe, Papri Chaat

Wednesday, November 11th, 2014 - Lakshmi Puja, Diwali Puja

Lakshmi Puja should be done during Pradosh Kaal which starts after sunset and approximately lasts for 2 hours and 24 minutes. Some sources propose Mahanishita Kaal also to perform Lakshmi Puja. In our opinion Mahanishita Kaal is best suited for Tantrik community and practicing Pandits who know the best about Lakshmi Puja during this special time. For common people we propose Pradosh Kaal Muhurat.

We don't advise to choose Choghadiya Muhurat to perform Lakshmi Puja as those Muhurtas are good only for travelling. The best time for Lakshmi Puja is during Pradosh Kaal when Sthir Lagna prevails. Sthir means fixed i.e. not moveable. If Lakshmi Puja is done during Sthir Lagna, Lakshmiji will stay in your home; hence this time is the best for Lakshmi Pujan. Vrishabha Lagna is considered as Sthir and mostly overlaps with Pradosh Kaal during Diwali festivity.

Many communities especially Gujarati businessmen do Chopda Pujan during Diwali Puja. During Chopda Puja new account books are inaugurated in presence of Goddess Lakshmi to seek Her blessing for the next financial year. Diwali Puja is also known as Deepavali Puja and Lakshmi Ganesh Pujan.

Celebrated Foods: Badam Phirni, Gulab Jamun, Peda, Besan Ke Laddoo, Jalebi, Rasmalai

Friday, December 25th – Merry Christmas

Christmas is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed cultural holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world.

Celebrated Foods: Christmas cookies, Pudding, Cranberry Punch