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Festivals
Hindu festivals are times of joy for all the family.

Festivals

Festivals play an important part in the life of a Hindu. These are the periods of most enjoyment. The joy of worshipping together and enjoying to the fullest is brought about by the spiritual meanings of each festival. The Festivals are associated with Hindu mythology and also mark participation in the productive mutual activities.

Not only mythology but seasons too play a great role in the festivals. The spring festivals, the harvest festivals and the other festivals related to agriculture show the bond between man and nature. Even though Durga Puja and Diwali have mythological stories associated with them they are also the autumn festivals, welcoming the harvesting season of winter.

The culture behind these enjoyable festivals has its roots in age-old traditions and the happiness of the common man. In primitive society relationships corresponded with the forces of production. The festivals revealed the harmony between beings without any veils. But with the passage of time the social relations grew more complex. Thus, the festivals slowly lost their folk traditions, although in many regions (such as the north-eastern part of India) the festivals still exhibit folk-characteristics by including folk-songs, folk dramas, folk-dances and the rituals linked with folk-beliefs.

Even though the festivals in today's world have lost a good amount of their significance in the original perspective they still play a definite role in keeping society integrated. The Hindu Society is divided into various groups and classes and is quite antagonistic. This differentiation often creates confusion and quarrels but the festivals play a very important role in maintaining social harmony.

1.
The beginning of the year in January marks the celebration of the Sankranti or Pongal festival. What does this festival celebrate?
The beginning of spring
The New Year
The end of autumn
The harvest
One of the first festivals in the Hindu religion, falling in the month of January (usually on January 14th or 15th), is the festival of Sankranti or Pongal. This festival is celebrated to mark the harvesting of crops by farmers. It is also celebrated to mark the change in direction of the sun, from 'Dakshinayana' (South) to 'Uttarayana' (North). The Sun God is worshipped on this occasion
2.
One of the most important festivals is Holi. Which of these best describes the festival?
A celebration of the creation of the universe
A festival of colours
A celebration of the continuation of the universe
A festival of sounds
The festival of 'Holi' is celebrated as the festival of colours. According to legend, Lord Krishna killed a demoness named Holika and the festival is celebrated to mark this occasion. It takes place on the occasion of the full moon and is celebrated by playing with colours
3.
Which one of the Hindu festivals is celebrated by fasting throughout the day and staying awake at night in prayer?
Mahalakshmi Pooja
Gurupoornima
Mahashivarathri
Ananthapadmanabha Vratha
'Mahashivarathri' (meaning the night of Shiva) is a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva, the destroyer in the Hindu trinity of Gods (the other two gods in the trinity being Brahma the creator and Vishnu the preserver). This festival is celebrated by offering prayers to Lord Shiva and by observing fasting. Devotees do not sleep at night and instead spend time praying to the Lord. Devotees break their fast the next day after offering prayers at a Shiva temple
4.
While the 1st of January is New Year's Day according to the Gregorian Calendar, in the Hindu calendar the beginning of a new year usually falls in the month of April. What is the name of the Hindu New Year Festival?
Yugadi
Buddha Poornima
Chhath
Vasant Panchami
Yugadi (which means start of an era), or Ugadi as it is also called, is the New Year festival. The first month in the Hindu calendar is called 'Chaitra' and the first day of this month is celebrated as New Year. People celebrate this festival by reading out the 'Panchanga' (calendar) and by visiting temples and having a sumptuous repast. In some parts of India it is celebrated as 'Gudi Padwa'
5.
Onam is an important festival celebrated mostly in which Indian state?
Bihar
Andhra Pradesh
Kerala
Maharashtra
Onam is a festival celebrated primarily in the state of Kerala. The people of Kerala regard a legendary character, Bali, as their King. According to legend, Bali was banished to the netherworlds by Lord Vishnu (in the avatar of Vamana). The festival of Onam is celebrated to mark the return of King Bali. The people of Kerala celebrate the festival by visiting temples and preparing a special meal (known as 'Onamsadhya'). In some parts of Kerala, the festival is celebrated by having boat races, which are a popular tourist attraction
6.
Ramanavami is another important Hindu festival dedicated to the god Rama. Why is this festival celebrated?
To mark the birth of Lord Rama
To mark the marriage of Lord Rama to Sita
To mark the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana
To mark the coronation of Lord Rama as King
'Ramanavami' is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Rama, who is considered an avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. Navami is the ninth day of the month and Rama is supposed to have been born on a Navami. Ramanavami is celebrated by preparing Panaka (a juice prepared with jiggery (cane sugar) and musk melon) and Kosambri (a salad made from cucumber). People visit the temple of Rama and offer prayers to celebrate this day
7.
Janmashtami is a popular festival celebrated to mark the birth of which Hindu God?
Yama
Surya
Rama
Krishna
The birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated as 'Janmashtami'. This festival takes place during the month of Shravana. According to legend, Lord Krishna was born on the eighth day of the month of Shravana after the full moon. People celebrate the occasion by visiting the temple of Lord Krishna
8.
One of the popular festivals in September/October is celebrated for nine nights and ten days. By what two names is this festival known in Mysore?
Ananthapadmanabha and Vratha
Navarathri and Dussehra
Vasant and Panchami
Andhra and Pradesh
Dussehra (Dasara) or Navarathri is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil. The goddess Shakti is worshipped in many forms during this festival. The ninth day of the festival is celebrated as 'Mahanvami' to mark the killing of the demon Mahisha by the goddess Durga. It is also celebrated as 'Ayudha Pooja', during which day weapons are worshipped. The tenth day of the festival is celebrated as 'Vijayadashami' to mark the killing of the demon Ravana by Lord Rama
9.
Ganesh Chaturthi is an important festival dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This is one of the most important Hindu festivals and is celebrated by preparing which sweet dish?
Cake
Rasagolla
Kheer
Modaka
Lord Ganesha is considered to be the first of all gods and is worshipped as 'Vigneshwara' or the remover of obstacles. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the fourth day of the month of Bhadrapada. This festival is celebrated in a grand manner, with people installing statues of Lord Ganesha and performing poojas (rituals) and praying to the Lord.

Modaka is a sweet dish made of flour with a sweet filling in it. The dish is supposed to be a favourite of Lord Ganesha and is prepared during the festival. The festival is especially popular in Mumbai. Bal Gangadha Tilak, a famous Indian leader, started the practice of public celebration of this festival as a method of uniting people against the British during the time of British rule
10.
Pancha Ganapati is a five day festival which takes place between the 21st and the 25th of December. To which god is the festival in honour?
Shiva
Vishnu
Brahma
Ganesha
Pancha Ganapati is a modern festival created in 1985 as a Hindu alternative to Christmas. It is not very popular in India, being founded by a Western convert Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Robert Hansen) who is based in Hawaii

 

Author:  Siddarth Bhattacharjee

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