Browse Month: November 2014

Happy Guru Nanak Jayanti – 2014

Happy Guru Nanak Jayanti - 2014

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the Sikh Gurus. His birth is celebrated world-wide on Kartik Puranmashi, the full-moon day which falls on different dates each year in the month of Katak, October–November. Guru Nanak travelled far and wide teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one of God’s creations and constitutes the eternal Truth. He set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue.

It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Guru Nanak’s sanctity, divinity and religious authority descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus when the Guruship was devolved on to them.

Happy Diwali – 2014

Diwali - 2014

Diwali or Divali also known as Deepavali and the “festival of lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.

Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.

Diwali is an important festival for Hindus. The name of festive days as well as the rituals of Diwali vary significantly among Hindus, based on the region of India. In many parts of India, the festivities start with Dhanteras, followed by Naraka Chaturdasi on second day, Diwali on the third day, Diwali Padva dedicated to wife–husband relationship on the fourth day, and festivities end with Bhau-beej dedicated to sister–brother bond on the fifth day. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.

On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival of lights to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira, and Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas.

Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji and Pakistan.

Happy Dussehra – Vijayadashmi – 2014

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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. There are a lot of mythological tales associated with the day. According to Ramayana,

Ravana was killed by Lord Rama on this day as revenge against the cruel act of kidnapping Goddess Sita by the former. Mythology also has it that Goddess Durga killed demon Mahishasura after a long spell of cruelty and oppression by Mahishasura. Another story associated with the origins of this day is the raining of gold coins. After Kautsa asked King Raghu for 140 million coins to give an offering to his Guru in return for his knowledge, Raghuraja went to Indra for help who then asked Lord Kuber to rain coins on the city of Ayodhya. After giving 140 million coins to his Guru, Kautsa distributed the rest to the people of Ayodhya.

Largely, the day is celebrated to commemorate the prevalence of good over evil. The day is celebrated on a large scale in India as well as in Bangladesh. The most famous Dussehra celebrations in India are those in the city of Mysore. Goddess Chamundeshwari is worshipped on this day and a grand procession of her idol is taken out across the city. Major buildings are decorated with lights and color across the city.

Other famous Dussehra celebrations in India include that of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, Kolkata and Orissa, where the festival is preceded by week long celebrations. People visit the Pooja Pandals wearing new clothes, prepare traditional food at home and celebrate the festival with their friends and families. In most other parts of India, plays are organized across cities depicting the story of Ramayana which culminates in the killing of Ravana on this day. Statues of Ravana are burnt everywhere in India on Dussehra and in Delhi, the event is attended by political dignitaries in the Ramlila Maidan.

Happy Navratra and Durga Puja – 2014

Happy Navratra and Durga Puja - 2014

Durga Puja also referred to as Durgotsava or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Nabami and Vijayadashami. The dates of Durga Puja celebrations are set according to the traditional Hindu calendar and the fortnight corresponding to the festival is called Devi Paksha, “Fortnight of the Goddess”). Devi Paksha is preceded by Mahalaya, the last day of the previous fortnight Pitri Paksha, “Fortnight of the Forefathers”), and is ended on Kojagori Lokkhi Puja (“Worship of Goddess Lakshmi on Kojagori Full Moon Night”).

Durga Puja festival marks the victory of Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Thus, Durga Puja festival epitomises the victory of Good over Evil.

Durga Puja is widely celebrated in the Indian states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Odisha, Tripura and West Bengal, where it is a five-day annual holiday. In West Bengal, Assam ,Tripura, which has a majority of Bengali Hindus and Assamese Hindus, it is the biggest festival of the year. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the state, it is also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali Hindu society. Apart from eastern India, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. Durga Puja is also celebrated as a major festival in Nepal where 91% is Hindu, and in Bangladesh where the 8% population is Hindu. Nowadays, many diaspora Assamese and Bengali cultural organisations arrange for Durgotsab in countries such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Singapore and Kuwait, among others. In 2006, a grand Durga Puja ceremony was held in the Great Court of the British Museum.