Festivals are socially and culturally significant, and this is especially true in Gujarat.
Celebrations of any kinds bring people together by creating a sense of cultural unity and brotherhood. They develop in individuals a sense of community and belonging.
When our daily lives are filled with things that have to get done and things we have to do, we find ourselves working with others, or working alone, doing so in boredom or joy. Festivals, which request or sometimes even require our full engagement with friends or family, inspire purity of heart and thus provide a pleasant break from the often tedium of everyday life.
Most gujarati festivals correspond with the cycles of the weather and the moon. Long ago, many celebrations were associated with farming, the harvest, monsoon, spring, etc.
For example, during Holi which takes place in early spring, people light a fire and walk around it chanting prayers. This is so appropriate as the timing coincides with our just having come out of winter, a time when our bodies need added warmth. Fire also kills the insects and mosquitoes hatching or lingering on. During Holi, we eat coconut and ghee which warms us from the inside. We play with kites which brings movement and blood flow to our sedentary bodies.
As your familiarity with Gujarati festivals deepens, you will discover that many have a scientific and cultural reason behind the traditions we follow. We wear specific clothes, eat certain foods, follow certain rituals and celebrate at a certain time of the year. We do it because our parents tell us to or out of our own fear of the desires and consequences of God.
WELL-KNOWN GUJARATI FESTIVALS
Uttaryan/Makarshankranti The Kite Festival
Prajashtak deen Republic Day which takes place on January 26th
Vasant Panchami Spring and Goddess Saraswati’s celebration
Holi/Dhuleti The color Festival
Maha Shivratri Celebration of Lord Shiva
Ram Navami Celebration for Lord Ram
Janmasthmai Lord Krishna’s birthday
Jayaparvati/Aloona Vrat Young women’s celebration
Navratri/Dusshera Goddess Durga’s celebration with dancing
Diwali 5-day Indian New Year’s celebration
Rakshabandhan Celebration for brotherly and sisterly bonds
Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrating Lord Ganesha
Shraadh Celebrating all ancestors who have died
Swatantrya deen Indian Independence day marked on August 15th
Guru Purnima Celebration of all teachers, especially your Guru
Sharad Punam Full moon night celebrating with milk & pauha!