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Culture of Haryana - Fairs & Festivals - Teej, Holi, Diwali, Basant

Gangore is celebrated on Chet Sudi-3 (Mar-Apr). Idols of Ishar and Gangore are taken out in procession and songs in their praise are sung till they are immersed into water. This spring festival is held in honor of Gauri, the goddess of abundance. Girls dress up in their finest clothes and pray for a spouse of their choice, while married ladies do the same for the happiness of their husbands. Girls worship the goddess throughout the preceding fortnight. Colorful images of Gauri, beautifully dressed and bejeweled, are taken out in procession with the town band. Thousands of people take part in the procession of the Gangore image from village to village.

Teej is celebrated on Sawan Sudi - 3 (Jul-Aug). It is celebrated to welcome 'Sawan' or the rainy season. After first showers of Sawan, a small red insect called Teej in Haryana comes out from earth's soil. Swings are set up in the open courtyards and Teej gets the first swing of the season. Girls apply henna on their hands and feet and are excused from household chores on this day. On Teej girls receive new clothes from their parents and the mother sends a baya or gift. Puja is performed in the morning. The baya which consists of a variety of foodstuff, is placed on a thali at the place of worship where a chowk (square) has been decorated, an idol or a picture of Parvati is installed. The evenings are set aside for singing and dancing.

Janamashtami is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temples witness an extravagant and colorful celebration on this occasion. Raslila is performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and to commemorate his love for Radha. The image of the infant Krishna is bathed at midnight and is placed in a cradle. Devotional songs and dances mark the celebration of this festive occasion all over Northern India. This festival is celebrated with a special fervor by people of 'Brij Bhoomi' area of Faridabad district.

Diwali or Deepawali is a festival of lights symbolizing the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word 'Deepawali' literally means rows of 'deepaks' or 'diyas' (clay lamps). It is celebrated 20 days after Dusshera on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Asvin (Oct-Nov). Continuing the story of Ram, this festival commemorates Lord Ram's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile. Twinkling diyas and candles light up every home and firework displays are common all across the country. The goddess Lakshmi, who is the symbol of wealth and prosperity, is also worshipped on this day. Lord Ganesh, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshipped in most Hindu homes on this day. The occasion of Diwali sees the spring-cleaning and white-washing of houses; decorative designs or rangolis are painted on floors and walls. New clothes are bought and family members and relatives gather together to offer prayers, distribute sweets and to light up their homes.

Holi is a spring festival. It is celebrated in the month of Phalgun, as the lunar month is locally known. The main event of Holi is indeed a carnival of colors. On this day, children, friends and neighbors come out on the streets. And the spree to color-anyone-you-see takes over. Colors of all form and variety. They come in shades of red, orange, blue, green and purple, and the likes. Colored powder, or, gulal was earlier made out of Dried seeds of some tropical flowers like the Palash, and dried silt from the river bed. This has now given way to dyes, available in the form of pigments. People throw these colored powders in the air as they shout "Holi Hai!" and smear each other with this colored powder. Also they wet each other with colored water from Pitchkaris, a type of water gun. Colored water is prepared by mixing the pigments of dyes. These dyes are available in a range of shades. Also water-filled balloons are used these days to charge the target with a splash of color.

Dusshera is one of the important Hindu festivals, celebrated with much fervor in the entire country. The occasion marks the triumph of Lord Ram over the demon king, Ravan, the victory of good over evil. Brilliantly decorated tableaux and processions depicting various facets of Ram's life are taken out. On the tenth day, the Vijayadasmi day, huge effigies of Ravan, his brother Kumbhkaran and son Meghnath are placed in open spaces. Ram, accompanied by his consort Sita and his brother Lakshman, arrive and shoot arrows of fire at these effigies, which are stuffed with explosive material. The result is a deafening blast, enhanced by the shouts of merriment and triumph from the spectators. In burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the path of virtue and goodness, bearing in mind the instance of Ravan, who despite all his might and majesty was destroyed for his evil ways.

Lohri marks the culmination of winter, and is celebrated on the 13 Jan a day before Makar Sankranti. For Punjabis, this is an important festival. Lohri celebrates fertility and the spark of life. People gather round the bonfires, throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, sing songs and exchange greetings. The prasad comprises of things like til, gazak, gur, moongphali, phuliya and popcorn. There is puja, involving parikrama around the fire and distribution of prasad. This symbolizes a prayer to Agni, the spark of life, for abundant crops and prosperity. The first Lohri of a bride is extremely important. The first Lohri of a newborn baby, whether a girl or a boy, is also equally important. Children go from door to door singing and asking for the Lohri prasad.

Basant Panchami celebrated Haryana, Delhi and Punjab, to welcome spring season, held in Feb-Mar. Main event: Kite flying

Baisakhi celebrated with joyous music and dancing, is New Year's Day for Punjabis. It falls on April 13, though once in 36 years it occurs on 14th April. It was on this day that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa in 1699. Sikhs visits Gurdwaras and listen to kirtans. After the prayer, kada prasad (sweetened semolina) is served to the congregation. The function ends with langar, the community lunch. Processions are taken out, at the head of which are the panj piaras. Mock duels and bands playing religious tunes are part of the processions. School children also enthusiastically take part in them. For people in villages this festival is a last opportunity for relaxing before they start harvesting of corn. Processions and feasting follow readings of the holy scripture of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib.

Guggapir is celebrated on the next day of Janamashtami. Gugga Pir is worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims. A dance procession is taken out in which Panch Pirs are the main dancers. They sing songs in praise of Gugga.

Mansa Devi Mela  is held in Bilaspur village near of Mani Majra (Chandigarh). There are two temples dedicated to the goddess here. The fairs are held twice a year in March-April (Chat shudiashtami) and September-October (asoj shudi ashtami).

Chetar Chaudas Mela is annually held in Pehowa, which has the holy Saraswati tank also called 'Saraswati Teertha' or 'Prithudak Teertha'. This Teertha also finds mention in the ancient Hindu texts. Here in this place the Chetar Chaudas Fair is held in the spring season. Pilgrims, both Sikhs and Hindus, flock to this place to offer 'pinds' for their ancestors. It is claimed that here in this holy spot, Yudhister had offered 'pinds' in memory of all their relatives killed in the Mahabharat war. Pilgrims take bath in the Saraswati tank during this fair.

Sili Sate fair is held to worship Sitamata.

Nirjala Akadshi is in the month of Jaishth. The women keep fast and abstain from water.

Madlia Naumi is celebrated at the beginning of the rainy season.

Sanjhi is celebrated for 10 days in the month of Asuj. Sarka Devi is mainly worshipped in these days.



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