Why Hindu Festivals Matter ?

Hindu festivals are many. So much that, almost every day is a festival day. That is, if one lists all the special days across different Hindu traditions.

However, even with that variety, there are some common things among the festivals.

Jump to a list of Hindu festivals. Mark your calendars to observe them.


(Hindu) Festivals Celebrate Values

Why Hindu holidays matter ? They celebrate values. And values are reminders to our connection with the Supreme.

Lost in our daily routines, these special days ring us out of our normal day. Many of the festivals commemorate a past event. And remind us of the values connected with it.

For example, Rama Navami marks the birth anniversary of Shri Rama. Shri Rama is the ideal man. And the values he embodies are something for us to aspire for. So, each Rama Navami reminds us about those values.

Some of these are occasions to express our gratitude to the various entities that enable our happiness. For example, during Makara Shankaranti, we worship and thank the Sun. Without Sun, life on this earth is impossible.

Moon, Sun

When a festival happens is mostly based on position of the Moon. And sometimes the position of the Sun. Sometimes both.

When a festival is observed depends on position of Moon or Sun or position of both Moon and the Sun

For the list of Hindu festivals given below, 69% of festivals are based on the Moon and 24% based on Sun position and 7% on both Moon and Sun positions.

Hindu festivals based on position of: Moon 69%, Sun 24%, Both 7%Percent of Hindu festivals based on position of Moon or Sun or Both

But then, this is a list by a person who grew up in a Tamil Smartha tradition with a bit of exposure to some of the festivals across other traditions.

If this were a list by someone else, say, from the traditions of the Ganga plains, the list would be different.  About 95% of them might be based on the moon position.

Two things that are common across all the various festivals:

  1. Festivals celebrate values
  2. When it is celebrated is based on position of Moon or/and Sun

Hindu Holiday Season

During my younger days, I used to look forward to the holiday season.

A festival season starting from Upakarma/Raksha Bandhan around August. The festival excitement used to further build up through Onam, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri and reach a peak at Deepavali.

Looking at the Hindu calendar now, it turns out that it is a span of two and a half months. And I count seven festivals from the list.

Not much, in terms of number of festivals. But then, many of them are multiple day festivals. That, probably, made it look like a long Hindu holiday season.

The Hindu Festival ?

Diwali is the most anticipated festival for me. And it was also the most important festival in our family traditions.

Different traditions have different festival as important. It differs from family to family. City to city. Region to region.

There is a friend of mine. For their family the most important festival is Narasimha Jayanthi.

Narasimha is their family deity. And they observe Narasimha Jayanthi in a very elaborate way. This is very specific to his family.

Sometime back, we had moved our Veda Pathashaalaa to Nachiyar Kovil (near Kumbakonam) for about six months.

The town is famous for its brass work, especially brass lamps. The brass artisans community make up most of the people in Nachiyar Kovil.

Which is the most important festival differs from family to family. City to city. Region to region.

At Nachiyar Kovil there is a Mariamman temple festival. Whole city was in a celebration mood during that time. This festival is very specific to a city.

Onam is the biggest festival of the Malayalam traditions. This is true, irrespective of jaati or varna. And it is a unique festival only to the region of what today constitutes the state of Kerala.

After being exposed to different Hindu traditions, if I were to pick one festival that could be called the festival of most traditions, it would be - Diwali.

List of Hindu Festivals

Here is my list of Hindu festivals. 2018 and 2019 being the current and next year, have added each festival's next two occurrence. The list starts with the Hindu new year.

Such lists are personal choices. The other day, I came across a list that included Independence Day (15 Aug) and Republic Day (26 Jan).

The list below includes festivals that we observe at home, and ones I have come across in various other traditions.

Some, I came across only in my adult life and some I have been observing since childhood. Some of those childhood memories are because of the distinct food dishes made during those festivals. yum, yum, yum... :)


Festival

Date 1

Date 2

1

Chaandramaana New Year

Moon based

2019 Apr 9

2020 Mar 25

2

Rama Navami

Moon based

2019 Apr 14

2020 Apr 2

3

Sauramaana New Year

Sun based

2019 Apr 14

2020 Apr 14

4

Akshaya Tritiya

Moon based

2019 May 7

2020 Apr 26

5

Narasimha Jayanthi

Moon based

2019 May 17

2020 May 6

6

Moon based

2018 Jul 27

2019 Jul 16

7

Sun based

2018 Jul 20,27

Aug 3,10

2019 Jul 19, 26

Aug 2, 9, 16

8

Varalakshmi Vratham

Moon based

2018 Aug 24

2019 Aug 9

9

Upakarma

Moon based

2018 Aug 26

2019 Aug 15

10

Raksha Bandhan

Moon based

2018 Aug 26

2019 Aug 15

11

Both Moon and Sun based

2018 Aug 25

2019 Sep 11

12

Krishna Janmashtami

Moon based

2018 Sep 2

2019 Aug 24

13

Vinayaka Chaturthi

Moon based

2018 Sep 13

2019 Sep 2

14

Moon based

2018 Sep 25 - Oct 8

2019 Sep 13-28

15

Sharad Navaratri

Moon based

2018 Oct 10-19

2019 Sep 29 -

Oct 8

16

Moon based

2018 Nov 6,7

2019 Oct 27, 28

17

Kartika Somavara

Sun based

2018 Nov 19,26

Dec 3,10

2019 Nov 18,25

Dec 2, 9 , 16

18

Kartika Deepam

Both Moon and Sun based

2018 Nov 22

2019 Dec 10

19

Dhanur Maasa

Sun based

2018 Dec 16 to

2019 Jan 14

2019 Dec 17 to

2020 Jan 14

20

Hanuman Jayanthi

Moon based

2019 Jan 5

2019 Dec 26

21

Vaikunta Ekadashi

Moon based

2018 Dec 19

2020 Jan 6

22

Thiruvadirai

Moon based

2018 Dec 23

2020 Jan 10

23

Utsarjana

Moon based

2019 Jan 21

2020 Jan 10

24

Makara Sankranti/ Pongal

Sun based

2019 Jan 15

2020 Jan 15

25

Ratha Saptami

Moon based

2019 Feb 12

2020 Feb 1

26

Shiva Ratri

Moon based

2019 Mar 4

2020 Feb 21

27

Karadayan Nonbu

Sun based

2019 Mar 14

2020 Mar 14

28

Moon based

2019 Mar 21

2020 Mar 10

Check out this and this, being two other versions of a list of Hindu festivals.


› Festivals

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