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Festivals of Uttar Pradesh
 
 
Holi (March)
Celebrations in UP are not just restricted to Mathura and Vrindavan. Rather, every nook and corner of the state gets wrapped in the multitude hues of the Holi. In this rather, conservative state Holi gives license to the youth to mingle freely and give colourful expressions to their feelings for each other. Not to be missed are the mouthwatering delicacies the state has for the festival. Gujiaya, mathri, dahi badas are a must besides many others festival goodies.
 
Ramnavami (March)
Ramnavami occurs in the month of March. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession. The main attraction in this procession is a gaily decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. People observe a waterless (nirjala) fast on this day. Arti at noon, the time of Lord Rama's birth, is performed in all Ram mandirs in India and abroad. The festival is celebrated with great eclat especially in four major pilgrim places, namely, in Nasik, Tirupati, Rameshwar and Ayodhya.
 
Durga Puja (October)
Durga Puja, the ten-day long festival, is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. Apart from feasting, people indulge in fasting with sincerity, in order to show their dedication to the festival and their devotion to Goddess Durga. It is believed that fasting strengthens one's capacity of tolerance. Fasting doesn't mean that one has to starve all through the day. When people are fasting, they follow a diet that is formulated in such a way that they get enough energy to stay focused on the celebrations, without exhausting. If you want to know how people fast during Durga Pooja and the significance of fasting, then go through the following lines.
 
Dusshera (September/October)
It is believed that Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana, along with an army of monkeys, fought a colossal battle that lasted 10 days. Rama, who was a devout believer of Durga, the Goddess of War, prayed to her for the first nine days of battle and killed the evil Ravana on the 10th day. He shot Ravana with a bow that pierced his navel. Out flowed the nectar of immortality that was stored in a pot in his navel, thus destroying his invincibility. Ravana’s own brother Vibhishana (being the sensible one, he had switched sides) had divulged this secret to Rama. Rama also slew Ravana’s brother Kumbhkarna (more famous for maintaining a lifestyle worthy of a record in the Guinness Book - he hibernated for six months at a stretch each year!). Lakshmana killed Ravana’s son, Meghnath. and Dussehra is the festival that commemorates this triumph of Good over Evil. To this day Rama Lila (the enactment of the Ramayana, or literally the saga of Rama) is staged in towns and villages across the length and breadth of the country.
 
Diwali (November)
Diwali (also known as Deepawali), or the festival of lights is perhaps the most popular of all Hindu festivals. Like most festivals, Diwali has its mythological and historical bedrock. Legend has it that Hanuman (the legendary monkey-god and prime devotee of Lord Rama, the god-hero of the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana) delivered the much awaited message of Ramas return to Ayodhya (Ramas kingdom) after 14 years in exile. The entire kingdom rejoiced upon hearing the news and Ayodhya was washed, cleansed and dressed up with lights and shimmering earthen lamps to welcome the Lord himself. Diwali is celebrated even today to commemorate this event.
 
Makar Sankranti (January)
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious day for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. Lakhs of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar & Prayag and pray to Lord Sun. It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab is celebrated as Lohri & Maghi. Gujarati's not only look reverentially up to the sun, but also offer thousands of their colorful oblations in the form of beautiful kites all over the skyline. They may be trying to reach upto their glorious God or bring about greater proximity with the one who represents the best. It is a day for which Bhishma Pitamah kept waiting to leave his mortal coil.
 
Ganga Dusshera (June)
Ganga Dusshera is a holy festival celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Jayeshta. The festival is devoted to the worship of holy river Ganga. It is believed that the ‘Gangavataran’ (the descent of the Ganga) took place at this time. On this day, places such as Varanasi, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Garhmukteswar, Prayag etc. hold special significance. A huge number of devotees flock to numerous ghats located on the west bank of the river Ganga to bathe in water and carry the river clay home to venerate. A bath in the Ganga is believed to purify the soul. In Haridwar, 'aratis' and meditation are also performed by a large number of devotees on the river banks. Ganga water is stored in sealed pots in homes and is used on sacred days.
 
Buddha Purnima (April/May)
The full moon day of April/May is celebrated as the birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. This day holds special importance for the follower of Buddhism, as it is believed that on this day Lord Buddha was born, got enlightenment and also attained nirvana or salvation. The Buddha is regarded as the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
 
Sravan Jhula Mela (August/September)
This mela celebrates the playful spirit of the deities. On the third day of the second half of Shravan, images of the deities (specially of Rama, Lakshman and Sita) are placed in swings in the temples. They are also taken to Mani Parvat, where the idols are made to swing from the branches of the trees. Later the deities are brought back to temples. The mela lasts till the end of the month of Shravan.
 
Ayudha Puja (October)
Ayudha Puja is a regional festival in Uttar Pradesh. People makes offering in the temple of Ram and Sita during this occasion. According to mythology Ayudha is the birthplace of Lord Rama. Mythology states that Ram was exiled by his father in the jungle and in the process he lost his birthright to be the King. The significance of the Puja lies in the triumph of good over evil which also has a vast social bearing on the people of Uttar Pradesh.
 
Ramlila (October)
Ramlila is nothing but a stage representation of Epic Ramayana. Epic Ramayana is based on the life and times of Lord Rama, the Maryada Purushottam or the 'The best among the dignified'. The story of Lord Rama and his entourage is so popular in India that it has become a part and parcel of Indian psyche. The story of Ramayana injects ethics to the Indian mainstream.
 
Barabanki Mela (April)
Dewa Sharif is a pilgrimage town that is situated just 40 odd kilometers from Lucknow and 12 kilometers from the district headquarter of Barabanki. This pilgrimage site has a special place in the history of Awadh because of its efforts towards secularism in an otherwise communally volatile province. The place is renowned as the birthplace of Hajji Waris Ali Shah who was to influence the lives of many generations of people with his message of universal love for humanity.
 
Bateshwar Fair (October/November)
The place is named after the presiding deity of the region, Bateshwar Mahadeo and has 108 temples dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. During the months of October and November a large fair is organized from Shashthi of Kartik month to Panchami of Agrahayan month. Devotees congregate here in large numbers to worship Lord Shiva and take holy dips in river Yamuna. A livestock fair is also organized and owners and buyers conduct serious business combined with the gaiety of a market place.
 
Ganga Mahotsav (November)
Ganges has always been the not only the lifeline of India but also the felicitator and nourishment of the Indian Civilization. The river Ganges, though, considered a thing of reverence by the Hindus has in the course of history defined the psyche of the Indian society as a whole, irrespective of religion. It not only nourishes the population that lives by its kingdom but also give them a sense of separate identity and belonging. To mark this contribution of River Ganges, an annual festival is organized that has been christened 'Ganga Mahotsava'.
 
Rambarat (October)
Ramleela is well known for the admirable performances put up in the evenings by the local artistes. For ten days, plays based on the great Indian Epic Ramayana are enacted. Rambarat festival takes place on one of these days. Rambarat or the Wedding procession of Lord Rama is taken out on the occasion of this festival. The legendary heroine Sita was the daughter of Raja Janak. The kingdom over which he ruled was rightfully referred to as Janakpuri. Every year, a particular spot in the city of Agra is selected. It is designated as the new Janakpuri. The devotees then take the initiative and decorate this place beautifully. The royal wedding of their Lord Rama with Sita will be taking place here and so the adornments are very impressive. It is attractively ornamented with flowers and wreath.
 
Dadri Cattle Fair (October/November)
Dadri Mela is one of the prominent cattle fair of Uttar Pradesh. The fair is organized every year in the month of October or November, on the day of Kartik Purnima at Dadri, 5 kms from the famous Balia town in Uttar Pradesh. The fair is observed for two weeks and attracts visitors from far long areas for the cattle trade.
 
Lucknow Festival (November/December)
The Lucknow Mahotsav or Lucknow festival celebrates the Lucknow's living culture, which provides an insight into the old, cultured, atmosphere of the city. Colorful processions, traditional dramas, Kathak dances in the style of the famous Lucknow Gharana, Sarangi and sitar recitals along with ghazals, qawalis and thumri create a festive atmosphere. Exciting events like ekka races, kite flying, cock fighting and other traditional village games recreate an atmosphere of bygone Nawabi days. There is display of crafts and one can also have a taste of the famous mouth watering Nawabi cuisine.
 
Taj Mahotsav (February)
Taj Mahotsav, one of the most eagerly awaited festivals, is celebrated from 18 to 27 February every year at Shilpgram near the Eastern gate of "Taj Mahal". This 10 days long carnival is actually a vibrant platform that brings together India's finest craft and culture at one single place. It is a festive introduction to India as a whole and Uttar Pradesh in particular, where the extensive range of art, craft, culture and cuisine are on display.
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