Sankarati – the kite festival
Sankranti actually known as Makara Sankranti is marked as the entry of Sun in the Capricorn zodiac. A significant festival in India, this is celebrated in all the parts of the country. This festival falls on 14th of January every year and is called Uttarayan meaning north side movement of the Sun. By the diversity of region and culture in India, the festival is celebrated in different styles and has varied significance in all regions.
Considered as a very auspicious day because of the northward movement of Sun, people prefer this time to start new ventures. In the state of Gujarat, it is celebrated by flying colorful kites in the sky. It looks like the sky is ornamented with vivid colored kites of different shapes. Sweets made of jaggery; sesame seeds and nuts are prepared on this eve and often exchanged with neighbors and friends.
Friends, relatives and neighbors gather on their terraces to commemorate this festival. At night tukkals are flown in the sky which looks like lamps floating in the sky. So, the festival also offers a visual treat and spectacular sight of the sky. On the southern side of the country it is celebrated as Pongal which marks the New Year for Tamilians. While in Punjab this festival is celebrated as Maghi. From different parts of the country people come to the holy river Ganga and take a dip into it to wash their sins and purify the self.
It is said that bathing in Ganga on this eve liberates one from the sins and birth cycles. Thus, according to diverse beliefs and cultures the festival of Makara Sankranti is celebrated across the country and by one and all.
Ramvani & Hanuman Chalisa
In simple terms, Ramvani means the words of the Lord Rama. These are the words, teachings and advices given by Lord Rama. Lord Rama is believed to be very righteous and hence his advices and teachings hold high importance in the Hindu religion. Ramvani preaches the followers about proper conduct and way of living and are also sung by the devotees in gathering and groups.
The word chalisa means the number forty. And Hanuman Chalisa means a bunch of forty couplets formed for the Lord Hanuman. These couplets praise the Lord and depict his life and events. Formed by Tulsidasa an ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman, these are sung to appreciate the Lord, his virtues and his grace. These are chanted and sung as a mark of worship of Lord Hanuman.
Many scriptures are found depicting the life of Lord Rama, but Ramvani are the verses of the Lord himself and so is considered substantial by the devotees. That is the message of the Lord for his worshipers and thus possesses a very important place in Hinduism. The Lord led an extremely dutiful and exemplary life and so his words and message encourages one to live a virtuous and responsible life.
While Hanuman Chalisa is a prayer for the Lord and is believed to remove all form of evil and negative effects. Thus, the devotees recite it to praise the Lord, to express their gratitude and to remove any evil effects in the mind and the surroundings. A combination of both Ramvani and Hanuman Chalisa can bring regulation, discipline, peace and harmony in life.
Navratri – the festival of nine nights!
Navratri is a Sanskrit word meaning nine nights. It is a highly popular festival in India and especially in the state of Gujarat. The festival is celebrated by worshiping nine different forms of Goddess Durga on each night. It is celebrated as a mark of victory of the Goddess over the demon Mahisasur. During the celebration devotees perform a specific form of dance called Garba and Raas.
According to the tradition and Hindu calendar Navratri is celebrated five times a year. Vasanta Navratri, Pushya Navartri, Sharan Navaratri, Gupta Navratri and Magha Navaratri are the five types and fall in separate months of the Hindu calendar. The Sharan navratri is celebrated by dance and worshipping Goddess Durga often referred to as Goddess Amba. Mostly it falls in the month of October but slight variation can be seen as it is based on the lunar calendar.
The festival is a mark of good over evil and the triumphant victory of Goddess Durga over the demons. In the state of Gujarat, it is a very significant festival and is commemorated with great joy. People of all age groups perform Garba dance and women often do fasting for nine days as a mark of worship. Famed for its dance forms the festival is celebrated in Mumbai, few other parts of India, America and UK as well.
Garba dance is spotted with devotees wearing colorful traditional dresses and dance for nine nights till the wee hours of the morning. The festival culminates on the tenth day called Vijayadashmi meaning the tenth day of Victory. On the last day people perform dance in the morning and give a send off to the Goddess after seeking her blessings. With this ends the festival of dance and victory leaving the ecstasy behind.