Each festival comes with its own colors and Cuisine. People do up their houses and surroundings and there is an air of celebration. The festival time is surely a must visit time in India.While the most hugely visible festival maybe the Ganesh Chaturthi, due to the large processions and the colourful images of Lord Ganesha, there are many festivals celebrated with as much enthusiasm and spirit.
On Gudhi Padwa, a Gudhi which is believed to be Brahma’s flag (Brahmadhwaj), is hoisted outside every house as a symbol of victory and joy. In Maharashtra, it is reminiscent of the valiant Marathas returning home from their successful expeditions of the war. Since the symbol of victory is always held high, so is the Gudhi. Gudhi is a bright green or yellow silk cloth adorned with brocade tied to the tip of a long bamboo pole over which gathi (sugar crystals), neem leaves, a twig of mango leaves and a garland of red flowers is tied. All these things symbolize nature’s bounty in spring. A silver or copper pot is placed on the raised Gudhi in the inverted position. This Gudhi is then hoisted outside the house, in a window, terrace, or a high place so that everybody can see it. Gudhi is also believed to ward off evil, invite prosperity and good luck to the house.
Tripuri Pournima: Celebrating the Night
It is believed that Tripuri Pournima is when Lord Vishnu was re-incarnated as Matsya or fish and protected Manu, the first man from the deluge. There is a belief that Lord Krishna and Radha, his beloved, performed raas, a kind of dance, and Lord Krishna worshipped Radha on this day. This is the reason why Tripuri Pournima is also known as Raas Pournima.
The festival is celebrated throughout Maharashtra in almost every household at an individual level, as well as together, at the community level. It begins with the installation of an idol of Lord Ganesh. In the days that follow, the idol is worshipped daily by family members along with their relatives, friends and neighbours who come to have darshan of the Lord.
Makar Sankranta and Ratha Saptami
Pandit Vasantrao Gadgil eminent Sanskrit scholar and head of the India International Multivarsity: “Sankranta literally means the changing of the sun’s abode from one sign of the zodiac to another. Naturally,it falls every month.But Makar Sankranti,which marks the journey of the sun from Dhanu (Sagittarius) to Makar (Capricorn) is the most special of all.The Hindu calendar divides the year into two parts or ayanas.Makar Sankranti marks the end of Dakshinayana (southward movement of the sun) and advent of Uttarayana (northward journey of the sun).
Janmashtami – The Birth of Lord Krishna
In Maharashtra, these celebrations take the form of ‘Dahi Handi’. This represents Krishna’s love for milk, curd and butter. Legend has it that Baby Krishna was in love with milk and milk products. He would eat all the curd and butter in his own home and then mischievously steal more of the same from his neighbours. Being a little bundle of mischief he quite easily managed to get into his neighbours’ homes.
Marabats and Badgyas
Marabats and Badgyas are made of bamboo, paper and foil. The tradition of celebrating Marabat coincides with the mid-monsoon season when the environment turns unhygienic and begins to fester due to the earth becoming marshy and the stagnant pools of water turning into a breeding ground for insects, flies and mosquitoes that lead to diseases like cough, cold, fever, malaria, pneumonia, etc. The festival is thus targeted at keeping the environment clean and free of ailments, which is why garbage and filth is collected in various areas and burnt.