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Hindu Festivals 2012
Ugadhi   Friday   23 March 2012  
Ganesh Chaturthi   Wednesday  19 September 2012 
Vijay Dashami (Dasera)  Wednesday   24 October 2012 
Deepavali (Diwali)  Tuesday   13 November 2012
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Telugu Festivals
India is mainly known for its culture, tradition and festivals. India celebrates... all the year round, in a joyous and colorful calander of festivals and fairs even though there are many different regions, tradition and also languages.But the reason behind to celebrate festivals in honor of gods, rives, trees, mountains, the comming of monsoon, end of winter or first flush of spring.It means we indians celebrating the festivals for saying thanks to god, nature.In a land of vast geographical distances and a variety of languages and customs, the spirit and color of the religious, seasonal or secular festivals underline the rich legacy of traditions that has been handed over from ages.

Andhra Pradesh is also one of the state where all over the year so many festivals are celebrated. Festivities here are charachterised by colour, gaiety, enthusiasm, feasts and a variety of prayers and rituals. Travellers and tourists are struc by the scale and multiplicity of the festivities that populate the cultural scene of this land.
Mukkoti Aekadasi: Its also called as Vaikunta ekadesi. It will occurs in hindu calendar month of marghazhi or margasirsa(as per English calendar-Late December-January).
Makara Sankranti is the festival of harvest all over the Indian Continent, especially the Indian Union. 

Every month the Sun moves from one zodiac constellation to another and the day on which Sun changes the constellation is called Sankranti. Makara Sankranti (usually falls on January 14), the Sun’s movement into Capricorn (Makara) constellation is considered very important, as it is the beginning of a six-month period of the auspicious time of Sun’s northern course called Uttarayana Punya Kaalamu. Bhogi is the day preceding Sankranti and Kanumu is the day after Sankranti. One month preceding Makara Sankranti is known as Dhanurmasamu. During the entire Dharnurmasamu girls decorate the mungili or vaakili (the entrance to the house) with huge muggulu (designs with sand of lime stone or rice flour, turmeric and kumkuma) with Gobbemmalu (globes made of cow dung and decorated with flowers, turmeric and kumkuma, and incense) in the center, and worship Gobbemma (Goddess) while singing and dancing around the muggu (design). On Bhogi day in the early morning a bon fire is lit up with waste, before the traditional special bath. In the evening Bommala Koluvu (arrangement of images of Gods, toys and dolls) and Bhogi pallu (Zyziphus fruits, floral petals and coins) showers for children, Perantamu (gift giving, that includes clothes, lentils, betel leaves, betel nuts, flowers, turmeric and kumkuma) for women are given. Pulagamu with fresh rice from the harvest and a kalagalupu koora (mixed vegetable curry) with chikkudu (beans), vankaya (egg-plant or brinjal) and other vegetables are prepared. Pongali (rice pudding with milk) is an important item during this festival. Special dishes like karapupusa, chakkilalu (brittle salted and peppered lentil-rice pretzels), palakayalu (hard fried rice globules), ariselu (sweet rice cakes) etc., are also prepared. On Kanumu day animals are decorated and races are held, sometimes the banned cockfights, bullfights and ramfights are included. Sun, Mahabali (a mythological king of anti-Gods or asuras or danavas) and Godadevi (Goddess Godadevi- see below) are worshipped during this harvest festival. 

"Haridaasu (servant of Lord Hari/Vishnu)" is a special attraction of this festival, just like Santa for Christmas. These Haridaasus wake up very early in pre-dawn hours, bathe, wear special saffron clothes, and visit each home in the village. They wear Vaishnavite markings on the face, necklaces of rudraksha (probably seeds of Guazuma tomentosa plant) beads, flower garlands, tamboora (stringed musical instrument) on one shoulder, chirutalu (castanets) in one hand, anklets with bells, etc., and visit homes while singing religious songs (Vaishnavite, especially praising Lord Rama). They collect alms (especially rice), provided by the villagers, in a pot called akshayapaatra carried on the head. Usually people belonging to saataana, daasara, raaju etc., castes/tribes practice this kind of lifestyle. Villagers compete to give alms to these Haridaasus.
Vaikunta Ekadashi: Vaikunta Ekadasi is the Ekadasi that occurs in the Hindu calendar month of Marghazhi (corresponding to late December - January in English calendar. Vaishnavism (Worship of Lord Vishnu) culture believes that ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to Lord's Inner Sanctum’ is opened on this day. Special prayers, yagas, discources and speeches are arranged at Vishnu temples across the world on this auspicious day. According to Vishnu purana, According to Vishnu Purana, fasting on Vaikunta Ekadasi is equivalent to fasting on the remaining 11 Ekadasis of the (Hindu) year. 
According to Padma Purana, the female energy of Lord Vishnu slains demon Muran in the form of a damsel and protects `Devas'. Impressed by the act, Lord Vishnu names her as `Ekadasi' and gives her the boon that those who worship `Ekadasi' on the day of her victory over Muran would reach `Vaikunta' (His abode). In Mahabaratha, Bhagavad Gita - the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna at the beginning of Kurukshetra War is said to have occurred on this day.
Maha Shivratri: Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivaratri or Sivaratri (Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month Maagha (as per Shalivahana) or Phalguna(as per Vikrama) in the Hindu Calendar. The most significant practices on this day are offerings of Bael (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, fasting and all night long vigil. In North India and Nepal many people consume bhang lassi, which they believe is lord Shiva's favorite drink.
Ugadi: is the new year's day for the people of the Deccan region of India. While the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka use the term Ugadi for this festival, the people of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day, Gudi Padwa. Sindhis, people from Sindh, celebrate the same day as their New Year day Cheti Chand. Ugadi is celebrated on different day every year because the Hindu calendar is lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March/April) and the Ugadi mark the first day of the New Year.
Shri Ram Navami: is falls on the ninth day of the Hindu lunar year or chaitra masa suklapaksha navami, and is a celebration of the birthday of the god Rama.Lord Ram is seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who takes birth on earth when Adharma over rules Dharma. He protects all his devotes by vanishing the roots of Adharama. Lord Ram was born on earth to destroy the demon named Ravan. Hindus normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) with small murtis of Rama and Sita in their houses, and at the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of the nine-day utsavam called Chaitra Navaratri (Maharashtra) or Vasanthothsavam (Andhra Pradesh) (festival of Spring), which starts with Gudi Padwa (Maharashtra) or Ugadi (South India).
Hanuman Jayanti: is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman, the monkey god widely venerated throughout India. It is celebrated during the month of Chaitra. Hanuman was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, and is worshipped for his unflinching devotion to the god. From the early morning, devotees flock Hanuman temples to worship the monkey god. 
The devotees will visit temples and apply tilak of sindhoor to their foreheads from the Hanumans body as this is considered to be good luck. According to the legend Sita was applying sindhoor to her head, Hanuman Ji questioned why and replied that this would ensure a long life for her husband. Hanuman then smeared his entire body with sindhoor, in an effort to ensure Rama’s immortality.
Mahalakshmi Vratam: is a sacred day in Hinduism. More commonly known as "Varalaksmi Vratha" is performed by Married Hindu ladies on the Friday just before the full moon day in the month of "Sravana" - July/August- according to Hindu calendar. This is an important "Vratha", meaning a vowed religious observance in Sanskrit. "Varamahalakshmi Vratha" is performed more commonly in Southern Indian States of Andhra, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and also in parts of Maharashtra and Orissa. Women clean their homes and decorate their front yards with rangolis (colorful designs traced on the floor) on the day of Varalakshmi vratam. Later, they take a bath and deck themselves with beautiful clothes and jewelery. They then begin the process of performing the vrata by first arranging the kalasha or the sacred pot. They fill the pot with rice and water which symbolize prosperity and cover it with mango and betel leaves. They then place a coconut smeared with turmeric and vermallion on the kalasha and also decorate the coconut with a new cloth. Some people decorate the kalasha with many kinds of jewels to make it look more beautiful. They place this kalasha on a plate filled with rice. The main pooja begins by worshiping Lord Ganesha who is believed to drive away all obstacles and evil forces. Later, goddess Mahalakshmi is invoked into the kalasha. They then worship a couple of torams (a bunch of nine threads with nine knots) and tie one to the kalasha while the other one is tied around the right hand wrist of the lady performing the pooja. Later, they chant the Lakshmi Ashtottara Shatanamam (a list of hundred names in praise of the deity) with a lot devotion. They then offer the goddess nine varieties of delicacies including both sweets and savories. In conclusion of the vratam, they sing hymns in praise of goddess Varalakshmi and also invite another married woman assuming her to be goddess Varalakshmi and they invite all the neighboring laides to their homes and offer them tamboolam (an offering consisting of betel leaves, fruits, betel nuts, vermillion, turmeric and dakshina [money]). They also collectively sing songs in praise of goddess Varalakshmi.
Krishna Janmashtami: also known as "Krishnashtami","Saatam Aatham", "Gokulashtami", "Ashtami Rohini", "Srikrishna Jayanti", "Sree Jayanthi" or sometimes merely as "Janmashtami", is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the eighth day of the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the month of Shraavana in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatram is ascendent. The Hindu calendar being lunar, these two events [the day being the eighth of the waning moon (Krishna-paksha Ashtami) and the Rohini Nakshatram being ascendent] may overlap for only a few hours. The pious begin the festival by fasting on the previous day (Saptami, seventh day). This is followed by a night-long vigil commemorating the birth of Krishna at night, and his immediate removal by his father to a foster-home for safe-keeping. At midnight, the deity of the infant Krishna is bathed, placed in a cradle and worshipped. In the early morning, ladies draw patterns of little children's feet outside the house with rice-flour paste, walking towards the house. This symbolizes the entry of the infant Krishna into his foster-home. This custom is popular in some communities of South India. After ablutions, morning prayers and worship, the devout break their fast with Prasadam, food that has first been offered to God. During the fore-noon hours.
Vinayak chavithi: (Vinayak chaturthu): is a day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees. It is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chavithi in Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu and as Chathaa in Nepal Bhasa. It is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. The festival is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). Typically the day falls sometime between August 20 and September 15. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Ananta Chaturdashi. 
Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. 

During the Ganesha festival, a household worships a statue of Shri Ganesha. The worship lasts an odd number of days (from 1 to 11 days, sometimes 13). This festival starting with the installation of beautifully engraved (sculptured) Ganesh idols in colorfully decorated homes and mantapas (pandals). The mantapas has been depicted by religious themes or current events. The idols are worshipped with families and friends.

The main sweet dish during the festival is the modak ([modagam]or [modakam] in South India). A modak is a dumpling made from rice flour/wheat flour with a stuffing of fresh or dry-grated coconut, jaggery and some other condiments. It is either steam-cooked or fried. Another popular sweet dish is the karanji ([karjikai]in Kannada) which is similar to the modak in composition and taste but has the shape of the 4th day moon.
Vijaya Dashami also known as Dasara, Dashahara, Navaratri, Durgotdsav… is one of the very important & fascinating festivals of India, which is celebrated in the lunar month of Ashwin (usually in September or October) from the Shukla Paksha Pratipada (the next of the New moon day of Bhadrapada) to the Dashami or the tenth day of Ashwin. 
This festival is celebrated not only in India but in almost all eastern countries like Java, Sumatra, Japan etc... Dasara is Nepal’s national festival. 
Word DASARA is derived from Sanskrit words “Dasha” & “hara” meaning removing the ten (10). This is the most auspicious festival in the Dakshinaayana or in the Southern hemisphere motion of the Sun. In Sanskrit, 'Vijaya' means Victory and 'Dashami' means 10th day. 'Thus Vijaya Dashami' means victory on the 10th day.
Dasara is also known as Navaratri, as in the first nine days the Divine Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped and invoked in different manifestations of her Shakti. The 10th day is in honor of Durga Devi. The basic purpose behind this festival is to worship feminine principle of the Universe in the form of the divine mother to remind the teachings of the Taitareeya Upanishad, "Matru Devo Bhava." Essence of the navaratri celebration at social level is to remind & respect all the women, who are the guardians of the family, culture, and national integrity, to take lead in times of crisis to guide the humanity towards the path of social justice, righteousness, equality, love, and divinity. 
Durga is worshipped as the main deity of Navaratri by all the segments of society including tribal communities. Dasara coincide with the period of rest & leisure of the farmers after their strenuous hard work in their farms & fields, hence they invoke blessings of Durga in order to have a rich harvest in the next coming season. 
In India harvest season begins at this time and as mother earth is the source of all food the Mother Goddess is invoked to start afresh the new harvest season and to reactivate the vigor and fertility of the soil by doing religious performances and rituals which invoke cosmic forces for the rejuvenation of the soil. 
On the day of Dasara, statues of the Goddess Durga are submerged in the river waters. These statues are made with the clay & the pooja is performed with turmeric and other pooja items, which are powerful disinfectants and are mixed in the river waters. This makes water useful for the farmers & yields better crops.
DEEPAVALI or Diwali means "a row of lights". It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival. It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik, followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.

In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, "Have you had your Ganges bath?" which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges.Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere. This festival brings about unity. It instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees.Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4a.m.) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love. Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, "O Children of God! unite, and love all". The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.

On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale.O Ram! The light of lights, the self-luminous inner light of the Self is ever shining steadily in the chamber of your heart. Sit quietly. Close your eyes. Withdraw the senses. Fix the mind on this supreme light and enjoy the real Deepavali, by attaining illumination of the soul.

He who Himself sees all but whom no one beholds, who illumines the intellect, the sun, the moon and the stars and the whole universe but whom they cannot illumine, He indeed is Brahman, He is the inner Self. Celebrate the real Deepavali by living in Brahman, and enjoy the eternal bliss of the soul.The sun does not shine there, nor do the moon and the stars, nor do lightnings shine and much less fire. All the lights of the world cannot be compared even to a ray of the inner light of the Self. Merge yourself in this light of lights and enjoy the supreme Deepavali. Many Deepavali festivals have come and gone. Yet the hearts of the vast majority are as dark as the night of the new moon. The house is lit with lamps, but the heart is full of the darkness of ignorance. O man! wake up from the slumber of ignorance. Realise the constant and eternal light of the Soul which neither rises nor sets, through meditation and deep enquiry.
 
Naga Panchami: It is on the fifth day of the bright half of the Shravan that Naga Panchami, or the festival of snakes, is celebrated. The setting sun is witness to mile-long processions of gaily-decorated bullock carts, cheerfully trundling to the nearby Shiva temple. The excitement and merry-go-round of a fair takes over, lasting well into the night. The snakes that the men had captured from the deep forests the week before can now return to where they came from.
On this day, the women draw figures of snakes on the walls of their houses using a mixture of black powder, cow dung and milk. Then offerings of milk, ghee, water and rice are made. It is believed that in reward for this worship, snakes will never bite any member of the family.
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