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FESTIVALS AND OCCASIONS OF IMPORTANCE

India, deeply imbued with spirituality, holds religious celebrations year-round, along with numerous fairs and cultural festivals. As the specific dates of many celebrations each year are determined by the lunar calendar,check with the Government of India Tourist Office. WINTER IN JANUARY

Republic Day on the 26th commemorates India's adoption of its constitution with a big parade in New Delhi. The parade starts from India Gate and culminates at the Red Fort.

FEBRUARY

The Surajkund Crafts Mela draws crowds to an ethnic-style village near Delhi to watch traditional dances, puppeteers,magicians, and acrobats and shop for the goods of artisans from every state.February-March

On the first night of Holi, the festival of spring, Hindu devotees light a bonfire in which the demons are consigned to flames demonstrating the destruction of evil; on the second day, kids throw colored water on each other and you. On Id-ul-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that concludes Ramadan, a monthlong period of daytime fasting to commemorate the descent of the Quran from heaven, the devout give alms to the poor, offer prayers,and feast and rejoice.

SPRING IN MAY

Buddhists celebrate Buddha Jayanti--the birthday of Sakyamunni (Historic Buddha), his enlightenment, and death--with rituals and chanting at monasteries. On Muharram, Shiite Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Hussain, who died at the battle of Karbala; participants' intense self-flagellation may discourage the squeamish. On Bakrid or Id-ul-Zuha,celebrating the sacrifice of Harrat Ibrahim, who willingly killed his son at the behest of God, Muslims solemnly sacrifice one animal per family or group of families and conclude with a feast and joyous celebration.

Independence Day, on the 15th, commemorates the country's independence from British rule in 1947.

September-October

Dussehra or Durga Puja, is a 10-day festival honoring the Hindu goddesses Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.

October

On the 2nd, Gandhi Jayanti, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, pilgrims visit the Raj Ghat, where Gandhi was cremated.

October-November

Diwali,the most important Hindu festival in India,celebrates the day the Hindu God Rama (Vishnu) ended a 14-year exile, as well as the start of the New Year; Hindus worship Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; oil lamps flicker in most homes symbolizing the victory of truth (light) over ignorance (darkness); and Delhi crackles with the explosion of fireworks.


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