India is a land of myriad festivals, in rhythm with the cycle of the seasons, with sowings and harvesting. and around them have grown legends, most depicting the victory of good over evil. These fairs and festivals lend color and gaiety to life and Indian calendar is marked by plethora of such big and small occasions. Some festivals are of religious nature, others are related more to, change of season and harvesting.
The Puri-Rath Yatra, Allahabad-Kumbha, Alleppey-Boat Race, Pushkar-Camel Fair, Goa-Carnival so on and so forth all reflect the diversity of the land and its people but common emotion of revived vigour, joy and sharing.
After about two months comes Holi, the very end of our cool season. It is a festival of colour, truly democratic and egalitarian. All barriers are down, all inhibitions shed. Boys and girls, men and women of all ages, all castes, and all classes participate.
Raksha Bandhan - the bracelet of protection - is a festival belonging to the old days of chivalry. If the gift of a bracelet sent by a girl was accepted by a man, he henceforth became her adopted brother, pledged to support her in times of stress or war.
Close on its heels comes Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, and the most beloved of all gods. The Krishna legend has caught the imagination of our own people and now of many abroad. Krishna is intensely human.
The female as Shakti (Perennial Energy) has a central place in Indian tradition and Durga is its militant form. She is the Mother and at the same time the destroyer of evil forces. Her festival Dussehra heralds the new planting season and also celebrates her victory over the demon buffalo Mahishasura. These are also the days of the Ram Lila, an enactment of the story of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the hero of the epic Ramayana. It is extraordinary how this ancient story written in Sanskrit by Sage Valmiki and the people's spoken Hindi by poet Tulsidas and in other languages by renowned poets has permeated the hearts of our people and is relived year after year. On the day of Dussehra effigies of Ravana the king of Lanka are burnt at nightfall marking the celebration of the victory of Rama over Ravana symbolizing the victory of good over evil. 20 days later comes Diwali, the most beautiful of all festivals. It is dedicated to Lakshmi the goddess of prosperity. All buildings from the palatial to the humblest are illumined with millions of twinkling oil lamps, now being replaced by electricity,
The Muslims celebrate Eid twice a year and is an occasion for functions of communal harmony. There is also the Prophet's birthday. Ramzan is a month of prayer and fasting.
For official and work purposes we follow the Gregorian calendar, but Hindu and Muslim festivals are calculated according to the Lunar calendar, so the dates change every year. Different groups of observe different New Years. For the Gujaratis Diwali marks the eve of the New Year. The Parsis celebrate Nauroz on 21 March, the same as in Iran. The Kashmiri Hindus New Year is the same as the 'Gudi Padwa' of Maharashtra, the Ugadhi of Karnataka and Andhra. Everyone has a different type of celebration. The Punjabis have Baisakhi, which falls on 13 April. Bengal and Assam observe the 1st of Baisakhi, which falls around the same time