Festivals in Kishtwar are celebrated with great passion and joy. In Kishtwar, numerous numbers of festivals are celebrated. Three types of festivals are mainly celebrated in India such as National, Religious and Seasonal. Each festival has its own significance and teachings. The major festivals are Dussehra, Kali Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi, Basanta Panchami, Makar Sankranti, Janmastami, Ram Navami, Akshya Tritiya, Holi and others, to name only a few. These festivals are observed by the Hindus but there are other festivals also such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Muharram observed by the Muslims. People observe these festivals with great devotion as they believe that fasts and festivals purify their minds and inspire them to lead a better and purer life. If is for this reason that the old, young and children all observe these fasts and festivals with great gusto and enthusiasm. Lohri, Baisakhi, Navaratri, ramnavami, Maha Shivaratri, Diwali, Chaitre Chaudash , Basant Panchami and Ramzan are the major festivals celebrated in Kishtwar.
Festivals of Kishtwar
- National Festivals are celebrated with proud and have super-patriotic fervor. Republic day, Independence day and Gandhi Jayanti are the three national festivals of India.
- Religious Festivals shows the religious association of people with the festival. The major religious festivals includes Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Diwali, Krishna Janamastami, Durga-Puja, Dussehra, Maha Shivaratri, Eid, Christmas, Easter, Buddha Purnima, Mahavir Jayanti, etc.
- Seasonal and Harvesting festivals are celebrated to mark the harvesting of crops and the change of seasons. The major seasonal and harvesting festivals that are celebrated in India includes Basant Panchami, Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Onam, Baisakhi, Bhogali bihu, etc.
There are many types of religious festivals celebrated in India. Some important of them are discussed below:
Holi The most colorful festival of the Hindus is Holi. It generally lasts for two days. The ceremony of “Holika Dahan” is observed on the first day. On the following day, people play holi by painting the face and clothes of each others. They also throw colors on to friendly passers-by. Holi festival is generally celebrated in between the month of end of February and beginning of March. It is also known as Spring Festival.
Raksha Bandhan The beautiful relation of a brother and a sister is celebrated in the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Traditionally, girls tie a string of thread on the wrist of her brother. This thread of love reminds the brother of his responsibility to always take care, support and protect his sister under all circumstances. This is followed by exchange of sweets and gifts.
Diwali Diwali is celebrated in between the months of October and December and is also termed as “Festival of Lights”, as on this day every people, especially Hindus, lighten up their houses with lights including candles and diyas. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Rama. He returned to his kingdom, Ayodhya, after spending 14 years in forest. On this day, people dress themselves in their best outfit and take part in their family function. This day is celebrated in the mark of victory of good over bad. There is a tradition of worshiping Devi Lakshmi and Ganpati Deva on this day. It is done for securing peace, prosperity, wealth and happiness.
Krishna Janamastami Hindus celebrate this festival on the birth anniversary of Lord Sri Krishna. Thousands of devotees gather together in temples and cheerfully worship the Lord. In many places, the popular event of “Dahi Handi”, takes place.
Durga Puja People worship Devi Durga on this day. Durga Puja is the most popular in West Bengal. An idol of Devi Durga is placed in various pandals. Devi Durga is seen holding weapons in her ten hands to kill Mahisasura (evil demon). The priest worships the idol of Devi Durga and chant traditional mantras. People wear new clothes and move out of their homes to see the beautifully decorated Pandals.
Dussehra People celebrate Dussehra festival to mark the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. Rama is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ravana was an evil demon. It signifies the victory of good over the evil. People go to see the famous folk play of Ram Lila. The story of Lord Rama is shown in the play. It is a great time to enjoy and take inspiration from virtuous acts of Rama.
Maha Shivaratri Maha means “great”, Ratri means “night” and Shiva refers to “Lord Shiva”. The marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati took place on this day. This is a great time to worship Lord Shiva and seek his blessings. There is a tradition of offering a holy bath to the “Shiva Lingam”. People celebrate this festival by fasting, offering sweets to god, etc.
Eid It is a festival of Muslim culture; they celebrate mainly two festival, i.e., Eid-ul-Fitr (Feast of Breaking of Fast) and Eid-ul-Adha (Feast of sacrifice). The Eid festivals are those festivals which unfold love and happiness to near and dear ones.
Basant Panchami The day of Basant Panchami (also Vasant Panchami) is celebrated by the Hindus as “Saraswati Puja”. It is usually celebrated every year in the month of February. This festival marks the beginning of the Holi festival and also the spring season. On this day, people worship the Goddess of knowledge, music, culture, i.e., Devi Saraswati.
Makar Sankranti 14th of January is celebrated every year as the Makar Sankranti. In many part of India, this day is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. This festival is marked with prosperity and abundance. On this day, freshly harvested cereals and foods are cooked. On the day of Makar Sankaranti, people worship the Sun God.
Lohri Lohri is celebrated on a day proceeding to Makar Sankranti festival, i.e., on 13th January every year. Lohri Festival is also known as Maghi Festival as it marks the beginning of the Hindu Month Magh and end of the Hindu month Paush. Like all other places in India the festivals of Lohri is celebrated on the 13th of January in the Jammu city as well. Mainly a Punjabi festival, Lohri welcomes the commencement of the spring season, after the end of winter. This festival is celebrated mainly after sunset. A bonfire is lit and people offer things like sweets, puffed rice, popcorn, etc into it.
Baisakhi Baisakhi festival is celebrated every year in the month of April. On that day people use to take bath at Bhandarkoot where sangam of two rivers Chandra Bhaga and Mariv Sudhir takes place and enjoy the day with friends and families. On this day DANGAL is organized by the authority at Chowgan where people gathers and enjoy this game.
Navratra Festivals Though the yatra to the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is a round-the-year event, the one undertaken during the Navratras is considered the most auspicious. In order to showcase and highlight the regional culture, heritage and traditions of the area during this period, the State Tourism Department has instituted the Navratra Festival as an annual event to be held during September / October for all the nine auspicious days of the Navratras. A large number of tourists pay their obeisance to the deity during this period. This festival showcases the religious traditions as well as the popular culture of the region among the millions of pilgrims who visit the Vaishnodeviji Shrine during this period.