CHRISTIAN FESTIVALS
GOODFRIDAY
Date : It is observed in India inApril every year on the day Christ was crucified.

Practice :Christians visit the Churchto attend the Mass held on this occasion. Easter Sunday, which follows GoodFriday, is celebrated with joy and merriment. Processions are taken out in someparts of the country.
EASTER 
Date : The Sunday after Good Friday.Churchmen fixed the date of Easter on the first Sunday following the Paschalfull moon This is the first full moon after the vernal equinox, March 21. Thissystem is still followed today. Therefore, Easter Sunday moves between March 22and April 25.

Legend/s : Historically, the resurrectionof Christ occurred at the time of the Jewish feast of Passover (called Pesachin Hebrew). The term Easter was first used when the Saxons introducedChristianity. Prior to this time the Saxons had held an annual feast in honor ofthe ancient Teutonic goddess of spring, Eostre. The name was transferred to theChristian observance of Christ's resurrection.

Practice : On Easter, Christianscelebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as it is told in the Bible. Thisholy day celebrates the triumph of life over death. Easter eggs made ofmarzipan, believed to have been given to children by the Easter bunny, are soldin confectionery stores, and bought by children. Easter is universally a joyous,happy day.
CHRISTMAS
Date : The birthday of Jesus Christis celebrated on December 25 every year.

Legend : Jesus was born to Mary inImmaculate Conception. She was a virgin, and an angel had told her and Josephthat she would bear a special baby. They moved from their home Nazareth toBethlehem (near Jerusalem), and Jesus was born in the stable in a manger. Afterthe birth three wise men came to look for Him, bearing three gifts. They hadseen a new star in the sky, and knew that it told of the birth of a specialking. Theyfollowed the direction of the star- east - and eventually found the place whereMary, Joseph and Jesus were staying. To bring honour to the child, they broughtrich gifts: gold, frankincense (a resin which burns with a beautiful smell), andmyrrh (plant oil with a very strong sweet smell).

Practice :
Christmas is a major event inIndian Christian households. There is a midnight mass held at all the churcheson the night of 24-25 December and people attend church the next day too. It isa time for cakes and turkey though most of the Christians in India substitutechicken for turkey. Christmas trees are put up and decorated in homes anddepartment stores, stuffed with gifts and sweets.
HINDU FESTIVAL
RAKSHA BANDHAN
Dates : Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the fifteenth day of Shravan, in July / August.

Legend : In the days when gods warred with the demons, the consort of Indra (the Puranic King of the Heavens) tied a rakhi (a silken amulet) around his wrist, by virtue of which, it is said, the god won back his celestial abode from his enemies.

Practice : Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in some parts of India as a festival to honour the sea god Varuna, where coconuts are offered to the sea Because of its three eyes, the coconut represents the three eyes of Shiva. As a mark of auspiciousness, coconuts are also broken at shrines and temples.

However, at most places, it celebrates the love of a brother for his sister. On this day, sisters tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers to protect them against evil influences. In some places, before tying the rakhi, barley saplings are placed on the ears of the brother.

This is also the day set apart for Brahmins to change their sacred thread they wear.
MAKAR SANKRANTI
Dates : 14 January every year.

Practice : Makar Sankranti marks the commencement of the sun's journey to the Northern Hemisphere and is a day of celebration all over the country. Wherever there is a body of water, people take a dip in the waters on this day and worship the sun. Also known as Gangasagar Mela, on this day, people come from all over India for a ceremonial cleansing in the River Hooghly, near Calcutta. In Gujarat, brightly coloured kites dot the skies, in celebration of Makara Sankranti.
DIWALI
Date : A family festival, it is celebrated 20 days after Dussehra, on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin (October / November).

Legend/s : Deepawali or Diwali, the most pan-Indian of all Hindu festivals, is a festival of lights symbolising the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The word Deepawali literally means rows of diyas (clay lamps).

This festival commemorates Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile. Another view is that Deepawali is meant to celebrate the destruction of the arrogant tyrant Bali at the hands of Vishnu when the latter appeared in his Vamana (dwarf) avatar.


Practice : Twinkling oil lamps or diyas light up every home and firework displays are common all across the country. The goddess Lakshmi (consort of Vishnu), who is the symbol of wealth and prosperity, is also worshipped on this day. This festive occasion also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is worshipped in most Hindu homes. Houses across the country are scrubbed till they are spotlessly clean, and whitewashed with fresh white paint. To enhance their new look, they are decorated with bright paper lanterns, diyas and flowers, while the girls of the house embellish the aangan (courtyard) and walls with traditional aesthetic designs and patterns called rangolis. New clothes are bought and the family gathers together to offer prayers, distribute sweets and light up their homes. Crackers and fireworks illuminate the sky and people pray for a prosperous coming year. In West Bengal, the Deepawali festival is celebrated as Kali Pooja and Kali, Shiva's consort is worshipped on this day.

ONAM
Dates : Celebrated in the month of August / September, Onam is an important festival of Kerala. It celebrates the bounties of nature and a year of good harvest. Ten days of feasting, boat races, song and dance are a part of the festivities.

Legend/s : Kerala's most colourful festival, Onam celebrates the mythical

King Mahabali and his golden rule. It welcomes the spirit of King Mahabali, and assures him that his people are happy and wish him well. The story says that gods feared the wise and good rule of Mahabali, the asura (demon) king, thinking that he might become too powerful. They sought the help of Vishnu or the preserver in the Hindu trinity, to curb Mahabali's power. Vishnu took the form of a dwarf called Vamana and approached Mahabali. Pleased with the dwarf brahmin's wisdom, Mahabali granted him a wish. The Vamana asked for three paces of land and the king agreed to it. Vishnu as the dwarf increased his size and with the first step covered the sky, blotting out the stars, and with the second, straddled the nether world. Realising that Vamana's third step will destroy the earth, Mahabali offered his head as the last step. He was pushed to the nether world but as Mahabali was so attached to his kingdom and the loved by his subjects, he was allowed by the gods to return once a year. Onam (Thiruonam) is celebrated on the day when King Mahabali comes from exile to visit his people.

Practice : Onam (Thiruonam) is celebrated as the day of Mahabali return from exile. The festivities begin ten days in advance and floral decorations (Pookkalam) adorn every home. Caparisoned elephants in a spectacular procession, fireworks and the Kathakali dances, are an integral part of the festivities. The Vallamkali (boat race) is one of the main attractions of Onam, and is best seen at Aranmulai and Kottayam. About a hundred oarsmen row huge and graceful odee (boats) with scarlet silk umbrellas. Their number denotes the affluence of the family owning the boat. Gold coins and tassels hang from the umbrellas. Oars dip and flash to the rhythm of drums and cymbals in each boat. In the evening girls perform the Kaikottikkali.
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