Vasant Panchami (Saraswathi Pooja)

Vasant Panchami or Saraswathi Puja is celebrated for the blessing of Saraswathi, goddess of Wisdom and the Arts.  It is celebrated to welcome the spring season on the fifth day of the waxing moon of Magh or February.  On this day, the goddess Saraswati, Durga and Lakshmi are worshipped.  In West Bengal and northern parts of India, the goddess Saraswati-the goddess of learning is worshipped by placing ‘instruments of learning’ at her shrine.  The festival is celebrated with great fervor in the iniversity town of Shantiniketan in West Bengal.

Thaipusam

Thaipusam is a Hindu Festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. The work Tahipusam is derived from the Tamil month name “THAI” and Pusam, which refers to a Star near the location of the mood during the festival.  The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Spear so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman.  Kavadi is a dance performed by the devotees during the festival of thaipusam and emphasizes debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.

Lohri

The day before Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Lohri in Punjab. On this day the children go from door to door and collect funds for the community bonfires which are lit in the evening. Lohri is more of a community festival, where the birth of a son or the first year of marriage is celebrated with great fun and frolic. People gather around bonfires and offer sweets, crisp rice and popcorn to the flames. Songs are sung to the beat of vigorous claps and greetings are exchanged.

Makar Sankranti / Ponggal / Meha Bihu

Makar Sankranti or Ponggal marks the transition of the Sun into Makar Rasi. Makar Sankranti or Ponggal is a major harvest festival of India. It is one of the biggest and most popular Harvest Festivals of Southern India, mainly Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Ponggal happens in the middle of January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayam. 

Hanuman Jayanthi

The Birthday of Shree Hanumanji - an incarnation of Lord Siva - falls this year on 15 April 2014. Shree Hanuman is considered as a Hindu deity of devotion, wisdom, strength, valor, agility and celibacy (gyan-gun sagar) who has the magical power to assume any shape. Hanuman Ji is also known as Maruti, Bajaranga Bali, Pavana Putra, Mahvira and Anjaneya is the son of the god of wind, Vayu and Anjani Devi.

 

In the Ramayana, India’s second epic written by Valmiki in the 3rd century BC.

  • Hanuman is the Commander in Chief, of the army of King Sugriva (a Monkey King). Hanuman uses his ape like agility to fly over Lanka to find Sita and help Rama win the war against Ravana.
  • During this same war, Ram's brother Lakshman gets wounded. To save his life, 4 special herbs from the Himalayas are needed. Hanuman offers to help. Unable to identify the Sanjeevani, a special medicinal herb, Hanuman flies back from the Himalayas and carving out and bringing back the entire mountain on the palm of his hand thereby saving Lakshman's life.

 

 

On Hanuman Jayanti, celebrations are held at Hanuman temples all over the world. Generally, verses from the "Hanuman Chalisa" are recited, wrestling games are held, idols are offered sindoor, paan, flowers and bananas. On this Special Day, Hindus are advised to observe fast, meditate on Hanuman and Lord Rama, recite the Hanuman Chalisa and spend the day in recalling his qualities and asking his blessings.

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