3 Sept' 2008 GANESH CHATURTHI
Lord Ganesha, affectionately called Ganapati, is commonly depicted in homes and offices throughout India as a chubby, smiling and a little mischievous God. His devotees scribe to Ganesha the ability to bestow wisdom and wealth upon us humans, thus making him probably the most popular deity in the Hindu pantheon. To repay Ganesha’s bounty, in India, especially in Maharashtra and nearby areas, the entire population celebrates the ten-day festival of Lord Ganesha’s birthday. The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India with great festivities and zest. It is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Lord Ganesha, the God of wisdom and prosperity. The festival honors Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of the Hindu pantheon. During the ten days of Ganesh Chaturthi, the image of the God is worshipped and feted in most homes, temples and halls, and on the last day the images are taken in a procession and immersed in water. Fasting, feasting and distribution of sweets are important aspects of Ganesh Chaturthi rituals in India. Hindus pray to images of Lord Ganesha, large and small, many of them made specially for the occasion by cottage industries and street-side artisans. Even those that do not wish to keep the idols alive by daily prayers, offerings, and lighting oil lamps, immerse them in the nearest water body (rivers, lakes and the sea that are sacred to the Hindus). Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day of Bhadrapada (August/September) month of Indian calendar. The celebration of this festival is followed according to the Indian calendar and hence the month in the English calendar varies every year. The festival is celebrated for as many as ten days in areas like Maharashtra, Pune, and nearby areas.
12 Sept’ 2008 ONAM
Onam is a grand festival of Kerala. It is the harvest festival of Kerala and is an attraction for thousands of people within and outside the state. Ranging from four to ten days, all the activities during this festival are centered around worshipping, music, dances, sports, boat races and good food. Women dress up in new saris and heavy jewelry and make elaborate and intricate designs of “rangolis” (with coloured rice paste) and “pookkalam” (with flowers) in front of their homes. It is a time for sports and festivities, especially with one third of the area being low lying, covered with canals, lakes and backwaters; the people take to their boats and country crafts to celebrate. Colourful aquatic festivals are organized along the sacred River Pamba.
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