Konkan Festivals

kanchan athalye | Sunday, July 31, 2011 | Best Blogger Tips
The Konkani People Are A Hearty, Festive People. The Love For Celebration Is Deeply Ingrained In Their Culture And It Finds Expression Through The Various Occasions On The Maharashtrian Calendar.There Is Festivity All Round The Year And People Cherish The Good Times With Music, Dance And Delectable Food.

NAG PANCHAMI :
In Hindu Mythology, The Cobra Has A Special Significance And The Earth, It Is Believed, Rests On The Head Of 'Shesha' - The Thousand-Hooded Cobra. Snake Worship Is An Important Ritual Of The Maharashtrians, And On The Festival Of Nag Panchami, Clay Icons Of Cobras Are Venerated In Homes. People Offer Sweets And Milk To The Snake Deity And The Day Is Celebrated With Folk Dances And Songs, Especially In The Countryside. Snake Charmers Carry Cobras In Baskets And Collect Offerings From The Public In The Streets. A Small Village Near Sangli, Battis Shirale, Is Famous For Its Snake Catchers, And People Throng The Streets To Watch The Thrilling Performances Of Expert Snake Charmers.

NARALI POURNIMA:
The Full Moon Day Of The Month Of Shravan Is Celebrated With Characteristic Fervour In Different Parts Of Maharashtra And Is Known Variously As Narali Pournima, Shravani Pournima, Rakhi Pournima Or Raksha Bandhan. 'Naral' Means 'Coconut', And Narali Pournmia Is Thus Called Because Offerings Of Coconuts Are Made By People To The Sea-God On This Day. Narali Pournima Also Marks The Advent Of The New Fishing Season And Fishermen Appease The Sea-God Before Sailing Out In Their Gaily-Decorated Boats. The Festival Is A Day Of Singing And Dancing.

RAKSHA BANDHAN :
Sisters Tie 'Rakhis' Or Beautifully Decorated Threads On Their Brothers' Wrists. The Ritual Renews The Bond Of Affection Between Siblings And Signifies The Brother's Responsibility Of Protecting His Sister All Her Life.Gokul Ashtamithe Birth Of Lord Krishna Is Celebrated .

GOKUL ASHTAMI OR JANMASHTAMI:
Most Devotees Fast Till Midnight And When The Birth Of Lord Krishna Is Announced, They Eat A Festive Preparation Of Rice, Butter, Yogurt, Puris And Potatoes. This Meal, According To Hindu Mythology, Was Relished By Lord Krishna And His Playmates In Gokul. Another Fun-Filled Ritual Performed On This Day Is Dahi-Handi - Clay Pots Filled With Curd, Puffed Rice And Milk Are Strung High Up Above The Streets And Groups Of Enthusiastic Young Men (And Even Women) Form Human Pyramids To Reach These And Break Them Open, The Way Lord Krishna And His Friends Would, After Sneaking Into The Houses Of Gopis (Milkmaids) To Steal And Eat Butter.

GANESH CHATURTHI:
The Most Delectable Offerings During Ganesh Chaturthi Are Modaks, Small Rice Or Wheat Flour Dumplings Stuffed With Coconut And Jaggery. They Are Best When Served With Shudh Ghee.Lord Ganesh, The Patron Deity Of Maharashtra, Is The God Of Wisdom. Come August, Preparations To Celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi - The Auspicious Day When Lord Ganesh Was Born - Begin With Great Enthusiasm All Over The State. The 11-Day Festival Begins With The Installation Of Beautifully Sculpted Ganesh Idols In Homes And Mandaps (Large Tents), Colourfully Decorated, Depicting Religious Themes Or Current Events. The Ganesh Idols Are Worshipped With Families And Friends. Many Cultural Events Are Organised And People Participate In Them With Keen Interest. After Ten Exciting Days Comes The Time To Bid Farewell To The Beloved God. People Take Ganesh Idols In Procession To The Accompaniment Of Music And Dance For Immersion In The Sea Or Nearby River Or Lake. Emotions Run High As People Chant 'Ganpati Bappa Moraya, Pudhachya Varshi Lavkar Ya' (Oh Lord Ganesh, Please Come Back Soon Next Year).
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Ganesh (Ganesha), the god of wisdom and prosperity on the fourth day of the moons bright fortnight, or period from new moon in the lunar month of Bhadrapada. The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi continue for five, seven, or ten days. Some even stretch it to twenty one days, but ten the most popularly celebrated. In the tradition of the right hand path the first day is the most important. In the left hand path tradition the final day is most important.
Ganesha is the god of wisdom and prosperity and is invoked before the beginning of any auspicious work by the Hindus. It is believed that for the fulfillment of one's desires, his blessing is absolutely necessary. According to the mythology, he is the son of Shiva and Parvati, brother of Kartikeya - the general of the gods, Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth and Saraswati-the goddess of learning. There are numerous stories in Hindu mythology, associated with the birth of this elephant-headed god, whose vehicle is the Mooshak or rat and who loves Modaks (droplet shaped Indian sweet).
Legend has it that Parvati created Ganesha out of the sandalwood dough that she used for her bath and breathed life into him. Letting him stand guard at the door she went to have her bath. When her husband, Shiva returned, the child who had never seen him stopped him. Shiva severed the head of the child and entered his house. Parvati, learning that her son was dead, was distraught and asked Shiva to revive him. Shiva cut off the head of an elephant and fixed it on the body of Ganesha.
Another tale tells of how one day the Gods decided to choose their leader and a race was to be held between the brothers- Kartikeya and Ganesh. Whoever took three rounds of the earth first would be made the Ganaadhipati or the leader. Kartikeya seated on a peacock as his vehicle, started off for the test. Ganesh was given a rat, which moved swiftly. Ganesh realised that the test was not easy, but he would not disobey his father. He reverently paid obeisance to his parents and went around them three times and thus completed the test before Kartikeya. He said, " my parents pervade the whole universe and going around them, is more than going round the earth." Everybody was pleasantly surprised to hear Ganesha's logic and intelligence and hence he came to be known as the Ganaadhipati or leader, now referred to as Ganpati.
There is also a story behind the symbolic snake, rat and the singular tusk. During one of his birthdays, His mother, Parvati, cooked for him twenty-one types of delicious food and a lot of sweet porridge. Ganesha ate so much that even his big belly could not contain it. Mounting his little mouse, he embarked on his nightly rounds. His mouse suddenly stumbled upon seeing a huge snake. To adjust His belly, Ganesha put the snake on as a belt around his stomach. All of a sudden, he heard laughter emanating form the sky.
He looked up and saw the moon mocking him. Ganesha infuriated, broke off one of his tusks and hurled it at the moon. Parvati, seeing this, immediately cursed the moon that whoever looks at it on Ganesh Chaturthi will be accused of a wrong doing. The symbology behind the mouse and snake and Ganesha's big belly and its relationship to the moon on his birthday is highly philosophic. The whole cosmos is known to be the belly of Ganesha. Parvati is the primordial energy. The seven realms above, seven realms below and seven oceans, are inside the cosmic belly of Ganesha, held together by the cosmic energy (kundalini ) symbolized as a huge snake which Ganesha ties around Him. The mouse is nothing but our ego. Ganesha, using the mouse as a vehicle, exemplifies the need to control our ego. One who has controlled the ego has Ganesha consciousness or God-consciousness.

GUDHIPADWA:
'Gudhi'- The Bamboo Staff With A Coloured Silk Cloth And A Garlanded Goblet Atop - Symbolises Victory Or Achievement. Maharashtrians Erect Gudhis On Padwa, The First Day Of The Hindu New Year. People Welcome The New Year With Gudhi Worship And Distribute Prasad Comprising Tender Neem Leaves, Gram-Pulse And Jaggery. Gudhi Padwa Heralds The Advent Of A Prosperous New Year And Is Considered As A Shubh Muhurat - One Of The Most Auspicious Days - By Hindus.

DUSSEHRA:
According To The Great Hindu Epic Ramayan, Dussehra Is The Day On Which Lord Ram Killed Ravan, The Evil King Of Lanka. It Is Considered As A Shubh-Muharat - A Very Auspicious Day - To Start A New Venture. It Is A Symbol Of The Victory Of Good Over Evil. People Decorate The Entrances Of Their Homes With Torans, Flower Studded Strings, And Worship The Tools Of Trade, Vehicles, Machinery, Weapons And Even Books. As The Evening Falls, The Villagers Cross The Border, A Ritual Known As Simollanghan, And Worship The Shami Tree. The Leaves Of The Apta Tree Are Collected And Exchanged Among Friends And Relatives As Gold.

DIWALI:
Diwali Inspires A Variety Mouth-Watering Preparations Like Karanji, Chakli, Kadboli, Anarsa, Shankarpali And Ladoos, Consumed In Maharashtrian Households By Children And Adults Alike.Diwali Or Deepawali Means A Row Of Lights. The Most Beautiful Of All Indian Festivals, Diwali Is A Celebration Of Lights. Streets Are Illuminated With Rows Of Clay Lamps And Homes Are Decorated With Rangoli (Coloured Powder Designs) And Aakash Kandils (Decorative Lanterns Of Different Shapes And Sizes). People Rise At Dawn, Massage Their Bodies And Hair With Scented Oil And Take A Holy Bath. Diwali Is Celebrated With New Clothes, Spectacular Firecrackers And A Variety Of Sweets In The Company Of Family And Friends.Dhanatrayodashi; Narakchaturdashi, Amavasya (Laxmi Poojan), Balipratipada And Yamadvitiya (Bhaubeej) Are The Five Days Which Comprise Diwali, And Each Day Has A Peculiar Religious Significance. This Joyous Celebration Is, On The Whole, Symbolic Of Dispelling The Darkness Of Misery And Bringing The Light Of Prosperity And Happiness Into Human Life.

MAKAR SANKRANTI:
Sankrant Means The Passing Of The Sun From One Zodiac Sign To The Other. People Exchange Greeting And Good Wishes On This Day, Which Marks The Sun's Passage From The Tropic Of Dhanu (Sagittarius) To Makar (Capricon). Sweet And Crunchy Ladoos Made Of Sesame And Jaggery Are The Favourite Treats.

HOLI:
On This Spring Festival Day, People Enjoy A Puran Poli, A Sweet, Stuffed Chappati Made Of Channa Dal And Refined Flour (Maida), Served Warm With Clarified Butter Or A Bowl Of Milk.Other Delicacies Prepared Exclusively For Festival Days Are Shrikand, Motichur Ladoo, Basundi And Kheer. Each Year, After A Successful Winter Harvest, People Get Ready To Welcome The Spring With Holi - The Festival Of Colours. Holis Or Bonfires Are Lit In The Night And People Gather To Worship The Fire-God, Who Is Believed To Burn Away All Evil. On The Next Day, People Of All Ages Come Outside And Playfully Drench Each Other With Coloured Water. Brightly Coloured Powders Are Applied On Faces, And There Is Plenty Of Music, Dance And Sweets To Fill The Rest Of The Day. The Exuberant Display Of Colours Symbolises The Advent Of A Colourful And Prosperous Spring Season.
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