This article contains a list of the most important Hindu festivals with a brief overview of each one. The dates of these major Hindu festivals for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 are also mentioned. The order in which Hindu festivals are listed is the order in which they occur during the year.
Makar sankranti: This is the festival of the Sun God. According to the Hindu calendar, Makar Sankranthi marks the end of an unfavorable period that begins in mid-December. It also signifies the end of winter and the beginning of the new harvest season. In many parts of India, this festival is celebrated by flying kites. Unlike most Hindu festivals that are based on the lunar calendar, this festival follows a solar calendar. That is why it is always celebrated on January 14. Due to the axis of the earth, the date of this festival changes every 80 years.
Dates: January 14, 2011, January 14, 2012, January 14, 2013, January 14, 2014, January 14, 2015.
Vasant Panchami and Saraswati Puja: This festival celebrates the beginning of spring. It is also a day to honor Goddess Saraswati, who is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music, and art. Goddess Saraswati has 4 hands that represent the intellect, mind, ego, and alertness. With both hands he plays the Veena (an instrument similar to a sitar). In his third hand he holds a lotus that symbolizes knowledge and with his fourth hand he holds the sacred scriptures.
Dates: February 18, 2011, January 28, 2012, February 15, 2013, February 4, 2014, January 24, 2015.
Maha shivaratri: There are many stories about why Maha Shivaratri is celebrated. A popular tale is that according to legend, Goddess Parvati had asked Lord Shiva what his favorite ritual was, to which Lord Shiva replied that the thirteenth night of the new moon in the month of Maagha is his favorite day. Since then, that day has been celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. His devotees fast all day and watch all night. The Shiva Linga is washed with milk, honey, water, and bael leaves. This means the purification of the soul.
Dates: March 3, 2011, February 20, 2012, March 10, 2013, February 28, 2014, February 17, 2015.
HoliAccording to legend, the Demon King Hiranyakashipu had received a blessing from Brahma that made him invincible. He rejected the worship of gods. His son Prahlada continued to worship Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu made many unsuccessful attempts to kill Prahlada. Holika was Prahlada’s demon sister. She, too, had been granted a boon for which she could not be destroyed by fire. A wooden pyre was created and Holika sat on it. Prahlada was ordered to sit on her sister’s lap. When the pyre was lit, to everyone’s surprise, Prahlada was unharmed, but Holika, who could not be destroyed by fire, ended up turned to ashes. To celebrate this victory of good over evil, Holi is celebrated.
Holi is the festival of colors and traditionally people put color and water on each other. Bhang (cannabis) is also used.
Dates: March 20, 2011, March 8, 2012, March 27, 2013, March 17, 2014, March 6, 2015.
Ram navami: Lord Ram was the seventh incarnation of God Vishnu. Ram Navami celebrates his birthday.
Dates: April 12, 2011, April 1, 2012, April 20, 2013, April 8, 2014, March 28, 2015.
Hanuman Jayanti: Hanuman jayanti celebrates the birthday of Hanuman, the monkey god. Hanuman was the son of Vayu, the God of the wind. Hanuman is known for his strength and unwavering devotion to Lord Ram and Sita.
Dates: April 17, 2011, April 6, 2012, April 25, 2013, April 15, 2014, April 4, 2015.
Raksha bandhan: Raksha Bandhan reinforces the special relationship between brothers and sisters. On this day, the sisters tie the Rakhi (sacred thread) on the wrist of their brothers and the brothers reaffirm their promise to protect their sisters.
Dates: August 13, 2011, August 2, 2012, August 21, 2013, August 10, 2014, August 29, 2015.
Krishna Janmashtami: This festival celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was born in a jail at midnight and the next day he was to be executed by his evil uncle Kansa. Krishna’s father Vasudeva managed to escape with Krishna and hand him over to his friends Nanda and Yashoda to raise.
When he was a child, Krishna was very mischievous. He used to break the clay pot his mother kept butter and milk in. In Krishna Janmashtami, young people recreate this scene by forming human pyramids to break high-hanging jars of butter and milk.
Dates: August 22, 2011, August 10, 2012, August 28, 2013, August 17, 2014, September 5, 2015.
Ganesh chaturthi: This 10-day festival celebrates the birth of Lord Ganesh, the God of prosperity, good fortune and wisdom. Hindus consider it auspicious to invoke the name of Lord Ganesh before starting any new endeavors.
On the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the idols of Lord Ganesh are carried and placed on an altar. These idols are worshiped and then immersed in a body of water (sea, lake, river, etc.). Depending on personal beliefs, the dive can be done at any time during the 10 days of celebration.
Mumbai experiences some of the most colorful and vibrant Ganesh celebrations. Large pandals (tents) are set up where devotees can come to pray. The farewell plunges into the sea with music and dancing.
Dates: September 1, 2011, September 19, 2012, September 9, 2013, August 29, 2014, September 17, 2015.
Navratri: In Sanskrit, Navratri means nine nights. The nine forms of Goddess Shakti / Devi are worshiped for nine nights and ten days. Navratri is divided into three three-day intervals. Durga (also known as Kali), who is the destroyer of evil, is worshiped for the first three days. For the next three days, the goddess of wealth Lakshmi is worshiped. In the last three days, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music and art, the goddess Saraswati, is worshiped. In the sequence in which it is written, the nine goddesses are worshiped on the nine nights of Navratri: Maa Shailaputri, Maa Brahmacharini, Maa Chandraghanta, Maa Kushmanda, Maa Skanda Mata, Maa Katyayani, Maa Kalaratri, Maa Mahagowri, and Maa Siddhidayini.
Navratri is a joyous occasion to worship, celebrate, enjoy music and dance. Garba and Dandiya folk dance (dance with sticks) are very popular in western India.
Dates: September 28, 2011, October 16, 2012, October 5, 2013, September 25, 2014, October 13, 2015.
Dussehra – Vijay Dashami: Dussehra is celebrated the day after Navrati. This is the day that Lord Ram defeated and killed Ravana. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil.
As part of the festivities, effigies of Ravana are filled with fireworks and burned at night.
Dates: October 6, 2011, October 24, 2012, October 14, 2013, October 4, 2014, October 22, 2015.
Diwali and Lakshmi Puja: “The festival of lights” is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. Celebrate the return to Ayodhya of Lord Ram, Sita and Lakshman after 14 years in exile. According to legend, the citizens of Ayodhya lit earthen oil lamps on the road that Lord Ram led back to Ayodhya.
The five-day festivities begin with Dhanteras during which businessmen begin their financial year. It is also a day when families buy decorations.
The second day, “Naraka Chaturdasi”, marks Lord Krishna’s victory over Naraka.
On the third day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped to ensure prosperity. This is the main day of Diwali.
The fourth day, “Annakuta”, also called “Shukla Paksha”, marks the day when Lord Krishna began the worship of Govardhan.
On the fifth day, “Bhai Dooj” strengthens the bond between brothers and sisters. On that day, Lord Yama visited his sister Yamuna.
Traditional lights are turned on during the five days of Diwali and firecrackers are expected to be heard throughout the five days.
Dates: October 26, 2011, November 13, 2012, November 3, 2013, October 23, 2014, November 11, 2015.