Delhi Festivals in October
Gandhi Jayanti is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation celebrated on the 2nd of October every year. He had played a very significant role in achieving independence for India with simplicity, non violence and strong will power. His full name is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and he was lovingly called as 'Bapu' by his followers. Born on 2nd October 1869, he returned to India after his Law degree only to join in the Indian struggle for Independence however proving to the world that freedom can be attained through non-violence, peace, truth and patience. He started the 'Satyagraha' movement and greatly believed in leading a simple life. Rajghat is the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi and this is also declared as a National Holiday for the entire country.
Navratri which means 'nine nights' is when devotees worship Goddess Shakti and her numerous forms. It also holds an important occasion for Bengalis and Gujaratis. Farmers sow seeds and pray to the Goddess for a good yield. The first three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga, the warrior Goddess in her three incarnations namely 'Kumari', 'Parvati' and 'Kali' which represents the three phases of womanhood namely, young, adolescence and adulthood. The next three days are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and the last three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge. The end of the occasion is marked by religious activities and events like Dandiya dance and Garba Raas and sweetmeats are prepared. Children and Adults are seen dress up in colourful attires.
Dussehra also known as Vijaydashmi is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil and falls during the months of September or October but generally comes after Navratari. The festival continues for 10 days after which an effigy of Ravana is burnt by striking it with an arrow lit with fire on the last day of the festival that symbolises the victory of Lord Rama over the Demon Ravana. The entire legendary story is enacted by actors and greatly enjoyed by all. Bengalis, however, celebrate Dussehra to mark the end of Durga pooja which was preceded by Navratari when the Idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in water after the end of nine days.
Karwa Chauth is celebrated by the married women and is the day when they observe a fast and pray for the long life of their husbands. The fast is broken after they view the moon through a net bowl and then see the face of their husband after which the husband feeds his wife with a sip of water to mark the end of the fast and then the entire family dine together after the pooja is complete. It is always celebrated nine days before Diwali on the 4th day of the waning moon in the Hindu month of Kartik which falls around October or November as per the Gregorian calendar. Sometimes even unmarried girls perform this fast and prayer so that they are blessed with a good husband and a long happy married life.
Dhanteras also called 'Dhanvantari Trayodashi' and 'Dhantrayodashi' marks the commencement of Diwali, the festival of lights. It means the 'Thirteenth day of wealth' which actually signifies the 13th day of the month of Dhanteras. Lord Yamaraj, the God of death is worshipped and a Yama diya or Yama Lamp is lit at night to offer prayers to Him and seek blessings for prosperity, protection and well being. On this day, a new utensil, silver or gold coin or alternatively a precious metal are purchased as a sign of good luck. In rural areas, the farmers worship their cattle as they form the main source of income and livelihood for them.
Diwali also called the festivals of lights is celebrated with great joy across India. People decorate their homes with colourful lights and the latest electrical light fixtures accompanied by burning Diyas and Fireworks. The festival generally falls in the month of October and Goddess Lakshmi is ardently worshipped so that she blesses their homes with wealth, prosperity and good health. People from other religious sects also join in this celebration of lights. Everyone is dressed in their best traditional attire and they visit their relatives' and friends' house to greet them and gifts like sweets and chocolates are exchanged. It is also considered lucky if you purchase a new utensil for your house. This festival falls on a no-moon day on the dark half of Kartik as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
Govardhan Puja is celebrated on the 4th day of Diwali. In some places this festival is also called 'Padwa'. On this day hillocks are built made of cow dung to symbolise Mount Govardhan which is a mountain that was once lifted by Lord Krishna. This hillock is then decorated with flowers and worshipped by moving around this hillock in circles to pay respect and seek the blessings and protection of Lord Govardhan.
Anna-Koot is another festival celebrated on the 4th day of Diwali. It literally means 'Mountain of Food' and on this day, devotees prepare about 56 to 108 different varieties of cuisines to offer as 'Bhog' or 'Food' to Lord Krishna. Deity at Temples are bathed in milk and decorated in colourful attire and gold, silver, diamond, pearl and rubies ornaments. Some even use precious stones and metal ornaments to adorn the deity followed by Bhajans, offering a mountain of sweets, fruits and dry fruits and worshipped ardently.
Padwa is also celebrated on the 4th day of Diwali or the day after an 'Amavaysa' night. This day is known to be the 'Kartik Shuddh Padwa' when King Bali comes out of Patal Lok and rule over Bhoo Lok, which was a boon given to him by Lord Vishnu. Hence, this day is also celebrated as 'Bali Padyami' or 'Varshapratipada' which also marks the day King Vikramaditya was coronated as 'Vikram-Samvat'.
Gudi Padwa is a very important and auspicious day for a married couple. On this day, the wife does the Aarti of her husband, applies Tilak on his forehead and garlands him with beautiful scented flowers and in turn her Husband gifts a token of appreciation to show gratitude and respect to his wife for all her love, respect, tenderness and patience. Hence, this festival marks the devotion, trust and respect a couple has for each other and many newly-weds are invited by their family on this day to perform this Pooja and the day ends with a small prayer session, gifts and a special meal.
Bhai Duj is celebrated on the 5th day of Diwali in honour of the Brother-Sister bond and relationship. Also spelled as 'Bhai Dooj' and 'Bhaiya Duj', this day marks the end of the Diwali festival and celebrations. In Maharashtra, this festival is called 'Bhav Bij', In Bengal it is called 'Bhai Phota' and in Nepal, it is known as 'Bhai Teeka'. Like Raksha Bandhan, on this day, sisters wake early in the morning and perform pooja and Aarti of their brothers, apply Tika and feed them with sweets and both exchange gifts to honour their bond and love for each other. This day is also called 'Yam Dwitya' for the Hindu community, when devotees worship Lord Chitragupta who keeps an account of the lives and deaths of Human beings. The 'Kayastha' community also worship paper, pen and ink and dedicate it to Lord Chitragupta.