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Festivals of Maharastra
 
Ganesh Chaturthi (September)
At the end of the last century India saw the growth of embryonic Indian nationalism, Bal Gangadhar Tilak the foremost leader during that time started Ganesh Utsav as a social and religious function. He started with a motive to spread communal harmony. Thus, since 1882, the Ganesh Chaturthi festival has been celebrated throughout Maharashtra with community enthusiasm and participation. People from all the community participate in the celebration. It regarded as one of the most important festival of the Maharashtra region. It is a celebration of seven to ten days. Elaborate arrangements are made for lighting and decoration and Ganeshji is fervently worshipped for those seven to ten days. Lord Ganesh, the patron deity of Maharashtra, is the God of wisdom. Much before the festival the celebration starts. People start their preparation with great enthusiasm all over the state. This ten-day festival begins with the installation of the deity, who is then worshipped daily till the immersion on the final day.
 
Nag Panchami (July/August)
Ashtami Rohini is observed as the birthday of Lord Krishna. The day is of great importance at Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple, Ambalapuzha Sri Krishnaswami Temple, Thrissur Thirvanmabadi Temple and in thousands of other Sri Krishna Temples in Kerala. Ashtami Rohini procession depicting scenes from the life of Lord Krishna is held all important cities, towns and villages in Kerala on the day. Special concerts, cultural programs and satsangs are also held on the day.
 
Gudi Padwa (April)
This festival marks the beginning of New Year in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka. This festival is known as Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra. Gudi Padwa is considered one of the four most auspicious days in the year when people start new ventures. It is believed that Lord Brahma, created the world on this day and so he is worshipped specially at this time. Lord Vishnu too is said to have incarnated as Matsya, the fish, on this day.
 
Gokul Ashtami (September)
Gokul Ashtami is celebrated for the birth of Lord Krishna. Most devotees fast till midnight and when the birth of Lord Krishna is announced, they eat a festive preparation of rice, butter, yogurt, puris and potatoes. This meal, according to Hindu mythology, was relished by Lord Krishna and his playmates in Gokul. Young men form human pyramids to break pots of curds strung high up from buildings. In the villages, the Pola or the harvest festival is celebrated in which bullocks are bathed, decorated and taken out in a procession to the accompaniment of beating drums.
 
Narali Purnima (August)
Of all the Fairs and Festivals in Maharashtra, this is one such festival where the greater share of fervor and enthusiasm is shown by the people belonging to the coastline. It is believed that Varuna or the sea god protects the sailors from any kind of impending doom. The people religiously offer their prayers to him so that he continues doing such favors. The prime offering constitutes coconuts. It is popularly known as Shirpal or the divine fruit. This fruit is believed to be full of symbolism. It has food and drink, both of which are required for human nourishment. Apart from that, it has a hard covering which is indicative of the fact that nothing can be obtained easily; any fruit can only be enjoyed only after persistent efforts.
 
Pola (August)
Pola Festival is celebrated throughout the state of Maharashtra, in the Hindu month of Shravan (that usually coincides August). It falls on day of Pithori Amavasya (new moon day) in Shravan. The festival marks the day when farmers worship their bulls and it is from the next day only that ploughing and sowing of fields is started. On the day before Pola Festival, farmers remove 'vesan' (the rope) from the nostrils of their bull. Thereafter, they apply a paste of turmeric powder and ground nut oil, on its shoulders.
 
Dusshera (October)
Dusshera is the day when devotees worship weapons and in some regions it is customary to exchange Apta leaves. Preceding Dusshera, the Ram Lila is enacted which depicts scenes from the life of Lord Rama. On the tenth day effigies of Ravana, Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are set on fire. Devotees decorate their houses with flowers and colored strings. In West Bengal, beautiful idols of Goddess Durga and pandals are decorated.
 
Diwali (November)
Diwali or the festival of lights is a primarily Hindu festival but it is celebrated with equal zest by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains. This colorful festival is a celebration of Good over Evil and lights, the symbol of hope are used to decorate the house. Also known as Deepavali in South India, Diwali is celebrated over 5 days during the Hindu months of Ashwayuja. Deepavali is Sanskrit means an assortment of lights. Light signifies good and darkness, Evil. The devotees light lamps as a sign of the victory of good over evil.
 
Makar Sankranti (January)
Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated in winter to mark the transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn. Makar Sankranti is celebrated by taking dips in the holy waters of River Ganga to cleanse and purify ones soul. For farmers and those associated with farming, this is an important festival and a special ritual is mandatory for them. A speciality of the festival is laddu, a sweet made with jaggery. Many fairs and festivals are organized during the festival. It is celebrated by flying kites and kites of different varieties are available.
 
Holi (March)
Holi is a vibrant festival in Maharashtra. It is a carnival of colors and costumes. Men wear new clothes at the day’s end while along the day they play colors with their loved ones, friends and family members. Moreover the gourmets find an excellent opportunity to gratify their taste buds from the exquisite delicacy known as Puranpoli. To the inhabitants of Maharashtra the festival of colors is commonly known as the Shimga or the Rangpanchami. This carnival is very popular among the fisher folks and is accompanied with merry making and drinking. While they dance the fisher folks are relieved of all their pains and qualms; they seem to incarnate into a new rhythm of life.
 
Pune Festival (September)
The Pune Festival is one of the landmark cultural events of India. Held every year in the month of August-September, the festival is a celebration of culture, art, music, dance, custom and tradition. Well-known artists from all around the globe are invited to perform at the festival. The Pune Festival is a perfect platform for artists of classical music and dance to promote modern trends in the dramatic arts and the traditional art of rangoli. The festival also exhibits beautiful handicrafts, exquisite textiles and delicacies of Maharashtra.
 
Banganga Festival (January)
Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation near the Banganga Tank, the Banganga Festival is a two day music festival. This music festival is a meeting point of different artists and musicians. Reputed as well as new comers are provided an opportunity to perform in the presence of eminent personalities and the common people. Live classical music is performed at this music concert. It lasts over two days and musicians from all across the country visit this conference.
 
The Elephanta Festival (February)
Elephanta, also known as Gharapuri is a tiny island located about 10 kilometers from the Mumbai harbor. Famous for the beautiful cave shrine that was excavated in the 6th century, Elephanta is a popular tourist site in Mumbai. A World Heritage Site, the Elephanta Caves originally had a marvelous carved elephant on the island. The magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva showcases extraordinary architecture. The imposing pillars and the nine sculptured panels are exceptionally well designed. Organized by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, the Elephanta Festival is primarily a festival of music and dance.
 
Ellora Festival (March)
Ellora Festival is mainly a festival of dance and music, which is held every year in the month of March. The festival is organized against the magnificent backdrop of World famous Ellora cave temple. Ellora festival showcases the best talents and is a best way to feel the magnificent caves, which narrates of centuries old history and culture. The MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) organizes the annual event in which well-known artists present their music and dance. The venue surrounded by 1,400 years old cave and rock cut temples provide a perfect ambience to enchant the Gods, Goddesses and art lovers.
 
The Kalidas Festival at Nagpur (November)
Kalidas Festival is organized every year in Nagpur, in the month of November. It is basically a musical and dance extravaganza, which also has performances by theatre artists. The exact venue of the festival is the Ramtek town, which is situated in the Nagpur district and is known for its association with Lord Rama. Ramtek is also the place where Kalidas wrote his famous poetry Meghdoot, inspired by the beauty and serenity of the surroundings.
 
Thimithi (October)
Thimithi is the name of the annual Hindu fire walking ceremony which is a form of penance or thanksgiving in honour of the goddess Draupadi, heroine of the epic poem, the Mahabharata. Legend has it that she had to prove her innocence and fidelity by walking barefoot over hot coals. Crowds pack the Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge road, to watch the barefoot Hindu devotees walk across a pit of red-hot embers without showing any signs of pain. Festival celebrations begin at 2 am and the fire walking takes place at 5 pm.
 
Kalidas Festival (November)
Kalidas Festival is organized every year in Nagpur, in the month of November. It is basically a musical and dance extravaganza, which also has performances by theatre artists. The exact venue of the festival is the Ramtek town, which is situated in the Nagpur district and is known for its association with Lord Rama. Ramtek is also the place where Kalidas wrote his famous poetry Meghdoot, inspired by the beauty and serenity of the surroundings.
 
Indian Derby Weekend (February)
The event of Indian Derby Weekend owns the credit of being one of the biggest events on the Mumbai social calendar. The event is fun packed sporting one which goes for a weekend’s time attracting around 25,000 people. There are many attractions to this event other than only the horse racing, like international aerial ballet, professional salsa dancing, and live bands playing tributes to The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Cliff Richard. The Indian Derby weekend packs in unmatched grandeur with fashion, entertainment and sport on a mammoth scale.
 
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (November till February)
Kala Ghoda Festival and Fair is a unique celebration of art and craft held in Mumbai near the Jehangir Art Gallery. Kala Ghoda is a well district for art in the city. It was established in 1988 and today it is one of the most premier fairs that is held as a platform for well known artists as well as upcoming, amateur artists. This pan-Mumbai fair brings together different forms of art, craft and food. The pedestrian avenue is aesthetically decorated with kiosks displaying portrait of artists, the wonderful work of potters and other craftsmen. A variety of stalls and shops are available here which sell food, music albums, books and other items.
 
Shivaji Jayanti (February)
Shivaji Jayanti or the birthday of Shivaji Maharaj is celebrated on a majestic scale in Maharashtra. Shivaji was born on 19th February, 1627. His parents Jijabai and Shahaji Bhonsle named him Shivaji after local Goddess Shivai. Shivaji was the creator of the Maratha nation. He was instrumental in uniting the Maratha chiefs of Mayal, Konkan and Desh regions. His military and civil administration was of greatest importance. He was successful in carving out a small kingdom by defeating the alien powers. Chatrapati Shivaji is a hero not only for the people of Maharashtra but for those of India as well.
 
Gudi Padwa (March/April)
Gudi Padwa marks the beginning of the New Year to the Maharashtrians. The advent of a new year heralds new hopes, new dreams and greater chances of prosperity and wish fulfillment and so it is celebrated with a lot of joy and pompousness throughout Maharashtra. The Gudi Padwa is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar. Padwa refers to the first day of the Hindu Lunar month. It falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra.
 
 
 
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