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India's APRIL Festivities

India is a fascinating land of festivals where each festival is marked with a deep philosophical implication and presents an unmatched diction to the splendor of that particular carnival.

GOOD FRIDAY

 
  People celebrating Good Friday

Good Friday is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Jesus Christ was born to Mary in Nazareth – a small town in Israel. He was the founder of Christianity, one of the world’s largest religions. Christ is believed to be an incarnation of God and his teachings are described in the New Testament. It is believed that on Good Friday, Christ was arrested by clergymen. Hence, Good Friday is believed to be the time when Christians keep fast and celebrate the day over the birth of Christ. Some people believe that ‘Good’ in Good Friday is referred to as ‘God’ and it is also a common belief that ‘Good’ is referred to the gift brought by martyrdom. According to one of the views, on this day, it is Jesus who went to heaven. It is also celebrated as a festival of life and spirit. Good Friday is a day of sincere reverence among Goan Catholics. It is the culmination of Lent, an important obser vance in the lives of devout Catholics. Lent is observed for 40 days from February to March, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday. The festival falls on April, 2nd this year.

EASTER

 
  People assembled to celebrate Easter

Easter is the day when Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead after his crucifixion on Good Friday. It is a festival for all the Christians and they offer prayers and services in the Churches on this day. Easter is another important festival for Christians. On this day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are a major attraction during Easter, the festival of rejuvenation of life and living. In the days of the early Christian Church, only Easter Sunday was celebrated as a holy day. By the fourth century, each day of the week preceding Easter was established as holy days including Good Friday. Easter will be on 4th April this year.

RAMADAN

 
  Muslims praying to Allah on the occassion of Ramadan

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year in Islamic culture. Muslims observe the month of Ramadan, to mark that Allah, or God, gave the first chapters of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, Muslims fast, abstain from pleasures and pray to become closer to God. It is also a time for families to gather and celebrate. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is a lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon. Observances begin the morning after the crescent moon is visibly sighted, marking the beginning of the new month. Ramadan is considered to be a blessed month, wherein Muslims fast during the entire month and pray daily. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk each day. The first pre-dawn meal of the day during Ramadan is called “suhoor.” Each day’s fast is broken with a meal known as “iftar.” Traditionally, a date is eaten to break the fast. Iftars are often elaborate feasts celebrated with family and friends. Ramadan is the month of celebration as well as the month of discipline and self – control. Ramadan continues for 29-30 days, depending on the lunar calendar of that year.

BAISAKHI

 
  People offering cereals to fire to celebrate Baisakhi

Baisakhi marks the beginning of New Year, particularly in the northern part of India. It is among the few Indian festivals that have a fixed date. Baisakhi is always falls on April 14th. In Kerala, Baisakhi is called as ‘Vishu’ and in Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as ‘Puthandu’.Considered a holy day, the devout celebrate the Baisakhi with a dip in the holy rivers just around the break of dawn. In Punjab particularly and in the northern belt of India in general, farmers perform their own prayers and rejoice. The fields can be seen full of nature’s bounty. Dressed in their typical folk attire, both men and women, celebrate the day with Bhangra and Gidda. Sweets are distributed, old enmities are forgiven and life is full of joy, merriment and everyone seems to belong. For the Sikhs the day is a collective celebration of New Year along with the commemoration of the founding of the Khalsa Panth (Sikh brotherhood) by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. The holy book of the Sikhs, ‘Granth Sahib’ is taken in a procession, led by the ‘Panj Pyaras’ (five senior Sikhs) who are symbolic of the original leaders.

MAHAVIR JAYANTI

 
  Devotees worshipping the idols of Mahavir to celebrate Mahavir Jayanti

The Jain community celebrates the birth anniversary of the 24th and the last Tirthankara, Vardhman Mahavir, the founder of Jainism as Mahavir Jayanti every year. Born a prince in 599 BC, Mahavir renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and undertook austere penance until he achieved realization. Lord Mahavir spread the message of salvation to the world and had many followers. Mahavir preached non – violence, prohibited any kind of killing and taught his followers to seek salvation through penance and abstinence. Mahavira initiated a simple five – fold path for the householders: Ahimsa (Non-injury – physical or mental to others), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (temperance in sexual pleasures) and Aparigraha (non-acquisition of property). Mahavira’s injunctions for the monks and nuns were however very exacting. Even to this day, nearly 2600 years after the passing away of that great master, this pure and upright tradition of the monks has been maintained. Thousands of white clad Sanyasins and Sanyasinis & also nude monks move on foot from place to place throughout the length and breadth of the country, carrying Mahavira’s gospel of peace, non-injury and brotherhood among people. Thefestival will be celebrated on 25th April this year.

HANUMAN JAYANTI

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on full moon day during Chaitra month. Hanuman, who is also known as Vanara God, was born on this day and Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman. Devotees observe Hanuman Jayanti during different time of the year according to their regional beliefs and the type of calendar being followed. This year it will be celebrate on 27th April. In Andhra, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated for 41 days which starts on Chaitra Purnima and ends on the tenth day during Krishna Paksh in Vaishakha month. In Andhra Pradesh devotees begin 41 days Deeksha on Chaitra Purnima and conclude it on Hanuman Jayanti day.

(For full stories read SAFARI INDIA)