From the month of August festivals get started. In other words you can say, this month gives happiness, drenches everyone in monsoon and spreads joy everywhere. Almost every region of the country comes alive with the natural beauty of the rainy season.
This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvati. Haryali Teej is also celebrated as a mark of respect by the married ladies and they pray to Goddess Parvati to offer them a blissful life with their husbands. It is common for married women to visit their parent’s home on the occasion of Haryali Teej. The ladies usually dress in green sarees and wear a new set of bangles. They sing Teej songs in groups as they swing in groups in the gardens in the vicinity of their homes.
Muharram commemorates the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Hazrat Imam Hussein. It is observed all over the world by the Muslims especially the Shia community. Tazias, glittering replicas of the Martyr’s tomb, are carried in procession through the streets. The Tazias of Lucknow and Hyderabad are noted for their splendor. In places like Lucknow, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur grand scale processions are held. People beat their chest in mourning to the tune of beating drums and chant ‘Ya Hussein’. Devotees beat themselves and inflict wounds own their own bodies. The mourning starts from the 1st day of Muharram and lasts for 10 days until 10th of Muharram. Muharram is the first month of Islamic calendar. During this month, while on journey, Hazrat Imam Hussein, his family members and a number of his followers were surrounded by the forces of Yazid, the Muslim ruler of the time. During the siege, they were deprived of the food and water and many of them were put to death. The incident happened at a place called Karbala in Iraq in 61st year after Hijra. This dispute was a result of the disagreement among Muslims on the question of succession after the demise of Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph. Some sects of Muslim hold meetings where speeches are made on the happenings of Karbala and on the lives of martyrs. The Shias, however, observe this festival in a different fashion. As Muharram, the first month of the Muslim year, approaches, they put on black clothes, as black is regarded as the colour of mourning. Majalis (assemblies) are held every day during the first nine days where Shia orators relate the incident of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussein and his party in a great detail. On the 10th day of Muharram, large processions are formed and the devoted followers parade the streets holding banners and carrying models of the mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussein and his people, who fell at Karbala. Generally a white horse beautifully decorated for the occasion, is also included in the procession, to mark the empty mount of Hazrat Imam Hussein after his martyrdom. During these first ten days of Muharram, drinking posts are also set up temporarily by the Shia community where water and juices are served to all, free of charge.
Nag Panchami is an important all India festival and is celebrated on the 5th day of the moonlit fortnight in the month of Shravan (this year on 13th August). This is the time when serpents invariably come out of their holes that get inundated with rainwater to seek shelter in gardens and many times in houses. Right from the times when mankind started acquiring some sort of culture, Sun and Snake have been invoked with prayers and ritual worship in most of the countries. In India even before the Vedic times, the tradition of snake worship was in vogue. In ancient India, there lived a clan by the name of Nagas whose culture was highly developed. The Indus Valley Civilization of 3000 B.C. gives ample proof of the popularity of snake – worship amongst the Nagas, whose culture was fairly widespread in India even before the Aryans came.
NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is organized every year on the second Saturday in the month of August (this year on 14th August). The drum beats and boat songs called vanchipattu that complement these boat races almost work the spectators and the oarsmen into a frenzy of activity and adds a sense of thrill to the entire boat race. This was started in 1952 when India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Alappuzha and inaugurated the function in which the gigantic snake boats with over 100 rowers in each raced one another. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake boat popularly known as Chundan, he donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the Snake Boat Races to be held every year. The trophy is a replica of a snake boat in silver. Placed on wood abacus on which the words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru are inscribed above the signature.
On 15th August 1947, India attained freedom from the British Rule. Every year, 15 August is celebrated as the Independence Day in India. This national festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm all over the country. On this special occasion rich tributes are paid to the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives and fought to free their motherland from the clutches of the oppressors – British who ruled the country. Independence Day is celebrated with flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programs all over the country. The main program is held at the Red Fort where the Prime Minister unfurls the National Flag and it is saluted by guns. The Prime Minister’s speech at the Red Fort in Delhi is a major highlight. Patriotic presentations by school children add colours to the celebrations. Delhi’s skyline gets dotted with thousands of kites taking to the sky this day. Similar programs are held at all the State Capitals also.
Onam, the most popular festivals of Kerala, is being celebrated across the stated with great fervour and enthusiasm. Celebrated in August-September, the annual harvest festival falls on 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam in the Malayalam calendar called Chingam. The state seeps into festive mood during this 10-day festival that started on September 1 and will be on till September 13. According to the legends, Onam is celebrated to commemorate King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of this auspicious occasion. The famous boad race takes place at the time of Onam. The festival sees all the colours, history, culture and its beliefs of Kerala together. Some of the major attractions of the festival include flower carpets called Pookkalam, banquet lunches, Pulikali (tiger dances) and the Kaikottikkali dance.
‘Raksha’ means protection and ‘Bandhan’ means bound or binding. Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi which is celebrated on a full moon day in the month of Shravan (August) is a day when brothers and sisters reaffirm their bonds of affection. It is usually a festival of the Hindus, though today people from different religions participate as well. As per the traditions, the sister on this day prepares the Pooja Thali with diya, roli, chawal and rachis. She worships the dieties, ties Rakhi to the brothers and wishes for their well-being. The brother in turn acknowledges the love with a promise to be by the sister’s side through thick and thin and gives her a token gift. Raksha Bandhan tightens the bond of love between the sister and brother.
RAJIV GANDHI JAYANTI
The birthday of Rajiv Gandhi is celebrated on August 20th every year. It is also called the Sadbhawana Diwas. The year 2021 marks the 77th birth anniversary of the Prime Minister. On this day the Congress parties across India garlands the statue of Rajiv Gandhi. Many leaders and family members of the late Prime Minister are present at the ceremony. They offer wreaths at the place called Veer Bhoomi where he was cremated. Rajiv Gandhi Jayanti is celebrated very affectionately by the members of the Congress Party, family, friends and other close associates.
Janmashtami or Krishna Janmashtami, this year is on 30th August. It celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Baby Krishna was born at midnight. The message of Krishna Janmashtami is that everyone should make efforts towards imbibing these aspects of Lord Krishna to wade easily through life. To celebrate Krishna Janmashtami, devotees observe fasting early on and continue fasting till the auspicious time of baby Krishna’s birth arrives. Then they bathe the infant Krishna and adorn him with new clothes & jewellery and rock him in a cradle. This is followed by ritualistic puja, aarti and a whole repertoire of devotional songs and dance performances. Janmashtami ‘prasad’ is offered to the idol of baby Krishna and devotees break their fast after partaking of this holy food. Vrindavan and Mathura is the stronghold of Janmashtami celebration. Apart from the devotional songs and mantras, ‘Raasleela’ is performed by several professional artists at Vrindavan.