India is a secular country where people hailing
from different religions, caste, creed and
social status dwell together happily and
peacefully. The major religions of India are
Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam,
Buddhism, etc. People from each religion have
their own traditional and cultural festivals.
Hence in India, religious festivals are
celebrated almost every month. Each festival has
its own legend, history and religious
significance. Some of these religious festivals
are celebrated at national level and some are
observed at regional level. On the basis of the
religions and rituals, Indian festivals can be
categorized into following categories:
Hinduism is regarded as the oldest organized religion and also the third largest religion of the world. The dates of the Hindu festivals are fixed as per to the dates of the lunar calendar which depends on the movements of the sun and the moon throughout the year. Some of the Hindu festivals are observed as the historical mythology, some for keeping the environment safe and clean and some for seasonal harvest and changes. Specific rituals, puja and fasting are observed during the Hindu festivals. Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra, Diwali, Rath Yatra, Ram Navami, Holi, Kumbh Mela, Raksha Bandhan, Durga Puja, etc. are important festivals of the Hindu people. Festivals like, Diwali, Holi, Raksha Bandhan, etc. are some of the popular Indian festivals that are celebrated throughout the country by the people of almost all the religions.
After Hindus, Muslims constitute a major part of India's population. Hence, Muslim festivals are also celebrated almost in every part of the country. Id-e-Milad, Bakr-Id, Muharram, Ramadan (Ramzan), etc. are some of the major festivals of the people of Islamic belief. These festivals do not have any fixed date in a year but are observed according to the Islamic lunar calendar. Muslims celebrate their festivals with special prayers at the mosques in the morning, followed by feast and wishing one another.
Even though Christians are regarded as minorities in India, the Christian festivals are celebrated with great zeal and pomp throughout the nation. Christmas, Good Friday and Easter are major festivals of Christianity. All these festivals are either dedicated to Lord Jesus Christ, Mother Mary or the different saints in Christianity. Only the festival of Christmas is celebrated on a fixed day in a year (25th December). Easter and Christmas are some of the popular Indian festivals that are celebrated by people of all faith.
Mahavir Jayanti, Mahamastak Abhishek, Deep Diwali, Paryushan, etc. are some of the prominent festivals of the Jains. Most of the Jain festivals belong to the life events of Tirthankara which is all about the purification of the soul. Further, their rituals belong to the idol worships in different ways. The rituals in Jainism are divided in two parts - Karya and Kriya.
Most of the Sikh festivals are observed to commemorate the lives of the ten Sikh gurus including their principles and teachings. All the Sikh festivals are directed towards "the Guru Granth Sahib", the holy book of the Sikhs that was first composed by Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru and later edited by the Sikh Guru, Arjan. During the Sikh festivals, the Guru Granth occupies the place of deity and is taken out in public processions on a palanquin. Some Hindu festivals are also observed by the Sikhs with different religious significance and meaning. Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Holla Mohalla, Birth anniversary of Guru Ramdassji, Guru Granth Jayanti, Guru Purab, Lohri, etc. are some of the significant Sikh festivals that are also popular Indian festivals.
Even though the Buddhists constitute a small part of India's population, the Buddhist festivals are also celebrated with great pomp and show in the country as most other religious festivals. Most of the festivals of the Buddhists are linked to Lord Buddha and the Bodhisattvas. It is believed that the Buddhist festivals were first initiated by Lord Buddha himself to enable his followers to stay in touch with one another. Buddha Purnima, Ullambana, Hemis Gompa, Losar, etc. are some of the important Buddhist festivals. They are celebrated on different dates in a year according to Buddhist lunisolar calendar.
The different religious festivals in India are not limited to the people of a particular faith but are open to all. People from different religious background partake in these festivals with full gaiety and fervour. These religious festivals promote brotherhood, equality, peace and care among the Indian citizens. This is one great and unique aspect of the Indian festivals.