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Festivals in Gujarat

JANMASTHMI

Dwarka, the city of gold. Dwarka, the abode of Shri Krishna. This is how devotees think of the city where Lord Krishna settled over 5000 years ago after leaving Mathura for ever, and where he reigned for 100 years. For pilgrims Dwarka's, presiding deity remains Shri Krishna, and they flock there in their thousands from all parts of India and abroad. The temple, towering over the surrounding buildings was built 1400 years ago. It has several floors and is built of sandstone. The interior is simple while the exterior is covered with elaborate carvings. Janmashtami, the birthday of Shri Krishna, is celebrated with great splendour. Rows of lights are lit everywhere, kirtans and bhajans are sung, sermons are delivered and Krishna is worshipped in his infant form. Thousands of people go to Dwarka to visit the temple and participate in the fair. After visiting the main temple, devotees go to Shankhoddhar Beyt. There are someotherimportant temples, both old and new. Among these is the temple of Shank-Narayan, dedicated to the Matsyavatar, the incarnation of Vishnu as a fish. This was constructed over 200 years ago.

NAVRATRI

This festival is nine day cultural extra wraps the entire Gujarat during the first nine days of Ashwina.The festival is dedicated to goddness Amba,Godess of Shakti or forces whic supports the entire universe.During Navratri,a pot with attrative design is ceremoniously placed a light is placed inside.The Devi Mahatmya and othe texts invoking the Goddess who vanquished demons are cited. It is believed that Lord Krishna spent his boyhood days at Gokul and charmed its people with his ability to dance and play the flute. Later when he became the ruler of Dwarka, he not only distinguished himself as a great statesman and philosopher but also ensured that folk dance and music thrived in his kingdom. Since then, the people of Gujarat have maintained their strong tradition in folk dances and have preserved them in all their majestic glory. The most popular amongst these are the Ras and Garba. Other popular forms of folk dances in Gujarat are Tippani Nritya, Siddi dance, Padhar Nritya, Dangi Nritya and other local tribal dances.

HOLI

Holi, the festival of color marks the end of winter & the beginning of spring. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun (February – March) and welcomes Vasant Ritu (spring). With the new season, comes a burst of color as flowers start blooming everywhere. It is celebrated with colored powder called ‘gulal'. People smear each other's faces with gulal. Children & even adults throw balloons filled with water & sometimes-even buckets of colored water on their friends.Small children can be seen running behind people with their small ‘pichkaris' filled with water.By the end of the afternoon most people are unrecognizable withtheir faces & clothes covered with all colors possible, red, green, blue, magenta. Eating sweets, drinking thandi and dancing is a part of this festival. Holi is also known as Rangpanchami in some parts of the country

GANESH CHATURTHI

On the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapad is Ganesh Chaturthi. This festival marks the birthday of Lord Ganesh or Ganapati. Ganesh is considered to be an avatar of both Shiva and Vishnu. He is worshipped by both Shaivites and Vaishnavites. Ganpati is the god of learning. He is addressed as the "Remover of Obstacles" (Vighnaharta). He is worshipped by Hindus before starting any good work. Ganesh is brought home on Ganesh Chaturthi. On this occasion a large number of idols of Ganapati are made of all possible sizes, and people buy them to keep in their houses as a divine guest for one and a half, five, seven, or ten days. He is carefully placed on a decorated platform. This is called the "Ganesh Sthapana". Later the idol is taken out ceremoniously and immersed into the river, sea or well.

UTRAYAN ( THE FESTIVAL OF KITE)

International Kite Festival is held at Ahmedabad on January 14 every year, to coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. Makar Sankranti is a festival that heralds a change of season marking the movement of the sun into the northern hemisphere - a celebration to mark the end of winter. The skies are blue and clear, a cool breeze blows and a feeling of anticipation, joy and jubilation grips all who celebrate the occasion. In Gujarat,Makar Sankranti is celebrated as the kite-flying day. Kite-flying day in Gujarat is an extraordinary day, unlike at other places. Ahmedabad , Gujarat's premier city, leads the way in the celebration of Uttarayani, and is the venue of the International Kite Festival

THE BELIEF : The festival is a time of thanksgiving for the religious, since it marks the awakening of the gods from their long slumber. The gods who are believed to have slumbered for six long months are now awake and the portals of heaven are thrown open. It is also a signal for merry-making.

KITES OF ALL HUES : From dawn to dusk, people of all ages fly kites rejoicing in the spirit of the day. The blue January sky is enlivened by kites of different coloursand hues. A tremendous variety of kites are seen with friends, neighbours and total strangers indulging in kite fights. The nights see the arrival of the illuminated box kites,Known as Tukkals, these kites add a touch of splendour to the dark sky.

THE EXPERT TOUCH : The festival draws expert kite-makers and flyers not only from cities of India but also from around the world. Special mixtures of glue and ground glass cover the lines with which the kites are flown. Experts specially prepare these lines before the great day. They are dried and rolled onto reels known as 'firkees'. Unless used carefully the strings are sharp enough to cut a finger.


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