Browse Month: September 2017

Importance of Christmas Trees

For thousands of years, the evergreen fir tree has been a part of both Pagan and Christian winter celebrations. Pagans decorated their homes with pine branches during the winter solstice, the Romans used fir trees to deck out their temples for the festival of Saturn, and Christians used pine trees as a symbol of eternal life with their Savior.

Christmas Tree

Germany Started the Tree Tradition
The Christmas tree tradition that we know today began in the 16th century in Germany when Christians brought decorated pine trees into their homes. Some Germans built wooden Christmas pyramids and then decorated them with candles and evergreen branches. It’s believed that Martin Luther was the first person to add lighted candles to a tree.

The first Christmas trees came to the United Kingdom in the 1830s. They gained massive popularity in 1841 after Prince Albert had a Christmas tree displayed in Windsor Castle. In 1848, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of “The Queen’s Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle.” In December 1850, Godey’s Lady’s Book in Philadelphia republished the drawing, although they took out Prince Albert’s mustache and the Queen’s crown to make the illustration look more American.

Americans Welcomed It in the 19th Century
As many 19th century Americans found Christmas trees to be an odd practice, they were one of the last Christian populations to adopt the tradition. Most likely the tradition came to the United States during the American Revolution with Hessian troops or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania. However, the country didn’t take to the idea until the mid 19th century. By 1900, 20% of American families had Christmas trees. However, by 1920 the concept had become widespread.

During the Victorian era, most trees were decorated with candles, which represented stars. Many areas of Europe still decorate their trees with candles. Tinsel originated in Germany, where it was first created from thin beaten silver strips.

Different Shades of Dussehra Around the Globe

India is becoming a ‘Land of Festivals’ that has several cultures have, over the centuries, made India a land of everlasting festivals. Every small occasion, from welcoming the spring or rain or the harvesting of crops, to seeing the full moon lends itself to joyous celebrations splashed with colours, music, folk dances and songs. Known with different names like, ‘Vijayadashami’, or ‘Dasara’ or ‘Dashain’ or ‘Durgotsav’ or Tenth day of holy Navratri, ‘Dussehra’ is amongst the most significant Hindu festival celebrated across India and other countries like, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Dussehra is celebrated by different ways in different part of India. Here, we have mentioned some of the important regions:

Northern India

In major northern states like, Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and western Bihar, it is famous tradition to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navratri. On the day of Dasara, the nine-day-old sprouts are used as symbols of luck. Men place them in their caps or behind their ears. Besides the Navratri Pujan and fasts, Dussehra is celebrated more in honour of Lord Rama. During these 10 days, plays and dramas – “Ramlila” is performed based on different chapters of Ramayana. Also, there are outdoor fairs organized and on the day the effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghanad are burnt to conclude the celebrations.

In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, the Dasara festival starts with unique performance of Ramlila based on the musical rendering of the katha (or story) of Lord Rama. This style of Ramlila is based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar during his stay in Almora, which were later enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Renowned as the Almora or Kumaon style, Ramlila has been recognized by UNESCO in its 2008 report as one of the representative styles of Ramlila across India.

In the state of Himachal Pradesh, the Kullu Dussehra is a famous International Mega Dussehra festival, which is observed during the month of October. In this mega celebration, over 4-5 Lac people visits the fair from all across the globe. Kullu Dussehra is celebrated in the Dhalpur maidan of Kullu valley. It commences on the tenth day of the rising moon, i.e. on ‘Vijay Dashmi’ day itself and continues for seven days. The history related to 17th century, when local King Jagat Singh installed an idol of Raghunath on his throne as a mark of penance. After this practice, Lord Raghunath was declared as the ruling deity of the Valley. This International festival of Kullu Dussehra allures tourists from across the globe. Enjoy the traditional folk music and dance during the fair. Shop for authentic handicrafts, especially the traditional Pattu patterned shawl or cap. You can also enjoy your stay in the beautiful valley of Himachal and further move to Manali as excursion.

Southern India

Vijayadashami or Dussehra is celebrated in various ways in different regions of South India. This day is observed to express gratitude to everything which brings success in life. Celebrations take many forms, ranging from worshipping the goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) to exhibiting colorful toys-, celebrated as Golu in Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu from Navratri onwards. The concluding event in Andhra Pradesh, the Theppotsavam (boat festival) is a striking event held on Vijaya Dasami at Krishna – Thungabhadra Sangamam.

On Vijaydashami day, the conclusion of a colorful 10-day celebration of the Mysore Dasara, the goddess Chamundeshwari is worshiped and then borne in a grand procession on a Golden Ambari (or elephant-mounted throne) across the city of Mysore, right from the historical Mysore Palace to the Dasara parade ground. Don’t forget to catch up the view of delightful Mysore Palace decorated with over 100,000 lights decorate.

 

 

Unique Celebration of Dussehra

 

Dussehra in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, similar to Bengal, it is a five-day-long festival and celebrated in different mandaps (congregation) containing Maa Durga’s clay statues. The largest festival is celebrated at Dhakeshwari temple and Ramakrishna missionary in the country’s capital, Dhaka. On the day of Vijayadashmi (Dussehra), clay statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in rivers. The pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are added to the river to help the water yield better crops.

Festivals of Indian Villages

Indian Villages celebrate some of the unique festivals that reflect the rural charm and simplicity of the Indian people. The villages of the Indian states are special for their distinguished fairs and festivals, however, festivals like Republic Day, Diwali, Gandhi Jayanti, Id-ul- Fitr, Independence Day and Janmastami are celebrated nationwide. Besides the religious festivals cultural ones are also predominant in the Indian villages.
Indian Village Festivals The Indian Village festivals according to the location of the villages are as follows –
North India Village Festivals – North India comprises the villages of Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The composite culture and the festivals of North India are closely associated with the Himalayas and sacred rivers, passing across the states. Most of the festivals celebrated in these villages are common and similar in their themes. Karva Chauth, Vasant Panchami, Diwali, Lohri, Buddha Purnima, Kheer Bhawani are the commonly celebrated all across northern India.
East India Village Festivals – East Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa comprise the villages in this region.

Cuisine plays a vital role in the eastern Indian festivals. An important feature of the festivals here is that these are diverse. While the most popular festivals celebrated in the villages of West Bengal are the Durga Puja and Kali Puja, Ratha Yatra is celebrated with lot of fervour in Orissa. The typical rural festivals of eastern India are Jatra Festival, Jhoolan, Poush Mela and Vasanta Utsav. Cultural festivals are also an important part of the East Indian village festivals.

North-East India Village Festivals – The northeastern states of India are Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Manipur. The culture of these northeastern villages vastly depends on the migrated tribal customs and traditions. The villages of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland celebrate some tribal festivals like Chapchar Kut, Mim Kut, Ningol Chakouba, Heikru Hitongba among many others.
South India Village Festivals – The villages of South India belong to the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Maharashtra. The South Indian culture mostly includes festivals that are related to their coconut preparations, religion and water games; their common festivals are Onam, Pongal and numerous festivals on music and dance are quite popular in south Indian villages. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are into several tribal festivals, due to their major tribal population.
Indian Village Festivals Central India Village Festivals – The Central Indian villages belong to the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Arwa Teej, Kajri Navami, Bhojali and Chherta are the common festival of the rural areas in central India. Splendor, traditional songs, dances and colourful dresses are indispensable from these Indian village festivals.
West India Village Festivals – The West Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat have some of the most colorful and cultural villages, celebrating the traditional festivals. These festivities date back to the customs of the early raja and maharaja eras. Besides celebrating the popular Hindu festivals, Jain and Buddhist festivals are also integrated in the culture of these villages.
India is a land of unique festivals, retaining its culture and historical significance; the Indian villages are no exception. The rural Indian boasts some of the oldest and exceptional traditions that have grown as distinguished festivals that not only serve entertainment, but also speaks volumes about the Indian heritage and history. The geographic divisions of India definitely divide the language, rituals and festivals. However, the spirit with which the Indian village festivals are celebrated remain, predominantly, similar.