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What is Thanksgiving?

What is Thanksgiving?

Celebrated on the fourth Thursday on November, this American festival is an acknowledgement of gratitude for a plentiful harvest. Nearly all cultures celebrate this festival. For instance south Indians celebrate it as Pongal in the month of January, while the north Indians celebrate it as Holi in the month of March. The American act of thanksgiving began during the early pioneer days almost four hundred years ago. In 1620, one hundred people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to land at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in America....

Why is Halloween Celebrated?

Why is Halloween Celebrated?

“Trick or Treat!” shout little witches, paper-bagged goblins, rubber-masked imps and bed-sheeted ghosts as they extend a bag across for candy. It is October and it’s Halloween time! Halloween is celebrated on the evening of October 31st, which is the evening before the Christian feast of All Saint’s Day. Halloween’s history goes back to the ancient religion of the Celtic tribes (circa 500 B.C.) from whom came the Britons, Scots and the Irish. Present day Britains, Scots, Welsh and Irish are all descendants from these ancient Celtic tribes....

The Story of Dussehra

The Story of Dussehra

Dussehra, also called Vijayadashmi (or Bijoya in Bengal), is the culmination of the nine-day Navaratri celebrations. It is a festival that marks the killing of Ravana, his son Meghanatha and brother Kumbhakarna, by Rama. It is seen as the vistory of good over evil The Ramayana The epic Ramayana, describes the story of Rama. Rama was the exiled prince of the kingdom of Ayodhya. While in exile, he lived in the forest with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana....

What is the Mystery of Dracula?

What is the Mystery of Dracula?

As bats flap through the musty castle, a coffin lid creaks open and an ashy white hand gropes for the cover. The lid slides off and a caped figure rises in the gloom – Dracula is on the prowl! Vampires have enthralled generations of readers and moviegoers; and the most popular ‘vampire’ is the fearsome Count Dracula of Transylvania. Of course, these blood-sucking monsters do not exist and are merely the figment of our imagination....

Durga Puja in Calcutta

Durga Puja in Calcutta [Illustration by Shiju George] Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Bengal. We celebrate this puja very nicely in our city. We look forward to Durga Puja every year It is a joyous occasion for all of us. In Calcutta, Durga Puja is a wonderful celebration. Being vacation time, we enjoy ourselves very much. Durga Puja usually lasts for five days. It begins with ‘Shashti’ and ends with “Dashami”....

Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti

The colourful kite-flying festival of Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan, which falls on January 14 each year, marks the end of a long winter and the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere. Hence the name Uttarayan. According to Hindu astronomy, it is on this holiest day in the Hindu calendar, that the sun enters the zodiac of Makara or Capricorn, heralding the northern journey of the sun. The day is also of special significance, because on this day, the day and night are of equal hours....

The Story of Diwali

Deepavali or Diwali as it has come to be known as, means many things to many people. It means holidays from school, shopping expeditions for clothes, sweets, gifts and crackers to children. To the office-goer it means an annual bonus that can make all this happen. To the businessman Diwali means brisk business just as to the clay potter, Diwali is the occasion of the year when the bulk of his sales are made. Diwali has a special significance for the trading communities of India who usher in their new year and new accounting books (‘bahi khata’) during this time....

Onam — The Harvest Festival

Onam — The Harvest Festival

The harvest festival of Kerala, Onam, falls on Shravan day in the month of August or September. After a lush harvest, Onam is the time for the farmers to celebrate the bounties of nature and make merry. Like most festivals of India, Onam too has a legend associated with it. The story goes: A long time ago an Asura king named Mahabali ruled Kerala. He was dearly loved by his subjects and was known to be a just and wise ruler....

The Nine Nights of Navaratri

This year, the end of September marks the onset of Navaratri or “nine nights” in the Hindu calendar. With this begins one of the most festive phases in India, with Durga Puja in east India, Dussehra in north, central and west India, and Saraswati Puja in South India. It also sets the stage for Diwali in the near future. Navaratri literally means ‘nine nights’. This nine-day period, sacred to Durga, is celebrated sometime in the months of October and November....

Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra

Excerpts from the book “Festivals of India” Published by National Book Trust, India. Festivals bring large numbers of people together in a spirit of joy or devotion, or both. But there is one festival that combines joy and devotion with physical rigour. This is the Car Festival of Lord Jagannath at Puri, in Orissa, popularly known as the Rath Yatra. On this occasion devotees join hands to pull the massive chariots of their deities over a three-kilometre distance....

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