Hindu Temple Society: 4 major events in Hinduism
Hindu festivals attract the attention of most people because of their large following and the brightly-coloured and lavish celebrations that reflect the richness of their culture. Here are some examples of Hindu festivals that make people from all over the world interested and intrigued.
Also called Kumbha Mela, this religious festival is celebrated four times in the span of 12 years. In this bathing ritual, Hindus believe that dipping in the water where the rivers meet will help cleanse them of their sins and bring salvation The place of the festival alternates between four pilgrimage sites on four sacred rivers: at Haridwar on the Ganges River, Nashik on the Godavari, Ujjain on the Shipra and at Prayag, where the Jamuna, the Saravasti and the Ganges meet.
Every 144 years, a Great Kumbh Mela festival is celebrated at Prayag, and the 2001 festival was attended by 60 million people.
This is the Festival of Lights, the second biggest festival in Hinduism after Kumbh Mela, and which is usually celebrated in October and November. Its name came from Deepavali, a Sanskrit word that means rows of lighted lamps. Symbolizing the inner light, these lamps are lit by Indians outside their homes to serve as protection from spiritual darkness. The importance of this festival to Hindus is similar to that of the Christmas holiday to Christians.
The Festival of Lights lasts for five days, where people light diyas or candles, clay lamps and firecrackers to signify the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness.
Some people also consider the Diwala as the start of the new year, so they clean out their homes and make big purchases during this time. This event also puts emphasis on giving service, urging people to make charitable contributions and help those in need.
This festival is celebrated on the full moon day in March, the month of Phalgun. Also called the Spring Festival, Holi marks the beginning of spring. This event must be celebrated with gaiety and enthusiasm because it acknowledges the end of the gloomy winter and the arrival of bright summer days.
On the day of the festival, people get whacky on the streets as they pour colour water over one another. Coloured powder is also thrown into the air to cover all the people in the near area. These colours bear specific meanings; for instance, green symbolizes new beginnings and red means love and fertility. Children can be seen running around squirting water with a water gun or throwing balloons filled with coloured water up into the roofs.
After dancing and jumping around with colors, people then gather for festive meals with their families.
Celebrated on the winter solstice, Pongal is a Hindu festival that lasts for three days and is held throughout South India. This is to commemorate an important celestial event, where the Sun reaches its southernmost point, turns back to the north, and then transitions into makara or Capricorn.
Pongal is also a festival of harvest and is similar to Thanksgiving in that families share large meals together and express gratitude for the bounty harvest that the new season brings.