Fairs and Festivals of Uttar Pradesh
There as many as 40 festivals which are performed with gaiety and complete communal harmony. Sheetla Ashtami, Raksha Bandhan, Vaishakhi Purnima, Ganga Dashahara, Naag Panchami, Krishna Janmashtami, Ram Navami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Vijaya Dashmi, Deepawali, Kartik Purnima, Makar Sankranti, Vasant Panchami, Shivaratri and Holi are the main festivals of the Hindus. I'd, Moharram, Bakr-I'd, Barawafat and Shab-e-Barat are the major Muslim festivals. New Year’s Day, Good-Friday, Easter and Christmas are the prominent festivals of the Christians. Buddha Purnima for Buddhists, Mahavir Jayanti for Jains, the birthday of Guru Nanak, Martyr's day of Guru Teg Bahadur and Vaishakhi are also the other famous festivals.
About 2,250 fairs are held every year in Uttar Pradesh.
The Kumbh and the Ardh Kumbh
These fairs are held periodically, every twelve and six years in Haridwar where a large number of pilgrims and devotees get together to, commemorate the churning of the ocean by the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) to obtain nector (Amrit). When the coveted Kumbh (jar) of nectar was obtained, one of the Devas stopped at four places viz. Haridwar, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain before he finally arrived safely at heaven. A few drops of this nectar are supposed to have spilled in the water in these four places. Sages, saints and pilgrims started periodically to flock to these Tirths to celebrate this divine event by taking dips in the holy rivers. It is a unique event that blends religious and social features of Indian society.
Ram Lila, the enactment of the story of Lord Rama is believed to have been started by great Saint Tulsidas. The Ramcharitmanas, written by him till today forms the basis of Ram Lila performances. In some places, Rama Lila is associated with Vijayadashmi celebrations in late September and early October and also with Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama.
Ram Navmi Mela
Ayodhya, the holy city of the sacred pilgrim center of Hindus plays host to the Ram Navmi Festival in the month of April. Thousands of worshippers gather to venerate the Lord at Kanak Bhawan.
Sravan Jhula Mela
This mela celebrates the playful spirit of the deities. On the third day of the second half of Shravan, images of the deities (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.
Ayodhya is perhaps the most noted place in the northern India where parikramas are undertaken by Hindu Pilgrims. These are circumambulations of important religious places and are of varying duration, shortest being the `Antargrahi Parikrama’ which has to be completed within a day. After taking a dip in the Saryu, the devotee commences the parikarma from the Nageshwarnath temple and passes through Rama Ghat, Sita Kund, Manipuravata and Brahma Kund, finally terminating at Kanak Bhawan. Then there is the `Panchkoshi Parikrama’ circuit of 10 miles, which touches Chakratirtha, Nayaghat, Ramghat, Saryubagh, Holkar-ka-pura, Dashrathkund, Jogiana, Ranopali, Jalpa Nala and Mahtabagh. The `Chaturdashkoshi Parikrama’ constitutes a circular journey of 28 miles made once a year on the occasion of Akshainaumi, which is completed within 24 hours.
The famous Braj Parikrama - a pilgrimage of all the places in Braj that are associated with Shri Krishna, is undertaken. Traditionally, the Chaurasi kos (84 KOs) pilgrimage of Braj Mandal, with its 12 vanas (forests). 24 upvanas (groves), sacred hill Govardhan, divine River Yamuna and numerous holy places along its banks, is undertaken annually by lakhs of devotees from all over the country.
This fair marks the arrival of Guru Ram Rai, the Sikh Guru, at Dehradun. In the year 1699, Guru Ram Rai built a Gurudwara, Guru Ram Rai Darbar and hoisted his flag. Till this day a large fair is held here every year in the month of March/April on the sixth day after Holi and a flag (Jhanda) unfurled at Jhanda Chowk.
Tapkeshwar Shiv Temple is located at 6 KM from Dehra Dun. Annually a fair is held here on Shivratri dedicated to Lord Shiva.
This fair held at Lakhawar village, during September-October, is very popular in the neighboring area of Chakrata, 78 km from Mussoorie. The fair reflects the customs and traditions of Garhwali tribes. Activities include cultural programs and sport competitions.
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