(Last Updated on : 20/03/2013)
Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populated states in India was the true cradle of the Indus Valley civilization. The festivals of Uttar Pradesh can be redefined as a spiritual canvas of soul stirring celebration. Since times immemorial the state of Uttar Pradesh has been attracting the whole world with her rich cultural heritages and spirituality. Festivals of almost all religions are celebrated with equal splendor and cheer in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Various communities of the Indian subcontinent celebrate as many as forty festivals with complete communal harmony. No one can shy away from the simple but the enthralling charm of the festive season of Uttar Pradesh. The festivals celebrated in Uttar Pradesh embody the robust and composite cultural heritage of our nation. The time of festivals is the ideal time to listen and watch the worlds renowned artists performing live; it will be a thrilling experience to listen the traditional music and folklore in the perfect ambiance.
The celebration of festivals in the state of Uttar Pradesh reflects a true secular spirit. The Hindu festivals are celebrated in Uttar Pradesh with much vigor and enthusiasm. The popular Hindu festivals in this state include:
Diwali is truly the most special festival in this preponderantly Hindu state and is celebrated with great vigor and joviality. The state wears a vivacious color throughout the Diwali festival and almost seems to come alive with exuberance. This festival is celebrated in the memory of Lord Ramas victory over the demon king Ravana and his subsequent homecoming to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile.
The birthday of Lord Krishna which is popularly known as Janmashtami is celebrated in Uttar Pradesh along with the whole country with much vigor and enthusiasm. During this festival many legends of Shri Krishnas life, including his exploits and his amorous dalliances with the gopies are enacted in the Raaslila. Bathing the image of infant Krishna and then placing it on a silver cradle are included in the ceremonies of midnight. Mathura being the birthplace of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan being his residence has a special place in the hearts of Krishna devotees.
Navaratri is one of the most important festivals in Uttar Pradesh. Navaratri means “nine nights” and the festival is a nine days carnival dedicated to Goddess Durga. Another essential part of the Navaratri celebrations is the Ramlila. In the state of Uttar Pradesh almost every locality has its own group of actors enacting various episodes from the life of Lord Rama. This festival falls in the month of Ashwin or in the months of September/ October. The tenth day of the festival holds special significance as offerings are made to Durgadevi.
Maha Shivratri is a very popular festival in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which literally means “the night of Shiva”. This festival falls on the 13th or 14th day of the dark half of Phalgun or in the months of February/March. Maha Shivratri is observed in honor of Lord Shiva and it is believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Goddess Parvati. The ceremonies take place mainly during the night.
Ganga festival is a much-awaited festival in the town of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. This festival is celebrated on the banks of the river Ganga to worship the river. This festival is held in the month of October- November.
This festival comes four days after the celebration of Karva Chauth and is generally celebrated by the women for the welfare of their children.
Shitla Ashtami falls on the eighth day after the festival of colors, Holi and is dedicated to the goddess of smallpox. This festival is followed by Ram Navami on Chaitra Sudi Navami, which marks the birthday celebrations of Lord Rama.
Bhaiya Dooj is a popular festival in Uttar Pradesh when sisters apply vermilion tika (auspicious mark) on the forehead of their brothers to mark their long lives. In turn the brothers reward them with money and other gifts. On Bhaiya Dooj weapons, pen and inkpot are also worshipped.
Another popular festival celebrated by the Hindus of Uttar Pradesh is Karva Chauth. It is generally celebrated by the married Hindu females for the safety and the prosperity of their beloved husbands. This festival falls nine days after Dussehra and the day is spent on complete fasting and prayers till the rise of the moon after which they break their fasts.
Bharat Milap is celebrated during the months of October/November and is carried out at Nati Imli on the day following Vijayadashmi or Dussehra. It pertains to the episode of the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile, and his reunion with his brother Bharat.
The importance of Yoga is unparalleled in the Indian civilization. This art of meditation and alternative medication has heavily influenced the Indian subcontinent and other parts of the world. The path of yoga is considered to be a perfect way to find peace of mind and solace without demeaning the soul. The yoga Festival held at Varanasi and Allahbad in Uttar Pradesh marks the movement, which got popular in the west as a counter-revolution to the Hippie movement.
The Muslim festivals in Uttar Pradesh are celebrated with as much pomp and enthusiasm as in the other states of the Indian subcontinent. The following Muslim festivals celebrated in the state of Uttar Pradesh are reflective of true secular spirit:
This festival occurs at the end of the month of Ramzan, is the gayest and falls on the first day of the tenth month of the Hijrah or Muslim calendar.
This festival popularly known as Bakri-Id or Eid ul Adha or Eid Ul Zuha is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar. It is observed on the tenth day of the twelfth month in the Muslim calendar. The holiness of the day and the period preceding it makes this a popular time for undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The most solemn and colorful Muslim function held in the state of Uttar Pradesh is Muharram. This festival honors the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet. In all cities and towns Muslims take out impressive processions of colorfully decorated tazias, replicas of the martyr`s tomb at Karbala. The most solemn and impressive Muharram is observed in Lucknow, where gold and silver replicas of old Nawabi times are brought out and men beat their breasts in mourning constantly until blood oozes out.