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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Other Festivals


History: Deepavali means row of lights. This festival is celebrated on the new moon day (Amavasya). It is believed that the demon Narkasura was killed on this day, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya on this day after slaying Ravana, Emperor Bali donated his kingdom to Vamana (avtar of Vishnu) on this day, King Vikramarka descended to his throne on this day.

Deities worshipped: Goddess of wealth Lakshmi

Celebrations: The festival is celebrated with pomp and gaiety by lighting of firecrackers and lamps all around. It is believed that 14 varieties of vegetables and leaves should be used in curries on this day.


Holi is celebrated on Purnima day in the month of Phalguna. According to a legend, when Siva was meditating, Manmadha (cupid) shot his darts at him to induce love in him for the good of the world. But Siva was incensed at the disturbance and opened his third eye and burnt Manmadha to ashes. Rathi Devi wife of cupid asked for mercy, but Siva said that it was not possible, but I grant one thing. He will put on his original form on Sukla Thrayodasi in the month of chaitra every year. As promised and blessed by Siva, Cupid assumes his original physical form on that day.

A week or so before the punnami day, various sticks & logs of wood are collected and heaped at cross roads and a dummy of Manmadha with a short turban & moustaches is put up on the heap. Young men shout, scream, sing and dance around the fire. The next day is celebrated by throwing colored water or by applying gulal to friends. In Rayalseema, the districts bordering Karnataka observe this as "Kama Dhanam" by sprinkling colors at others.


It is celebrated on the 1st of Shawwal, tenth lunar month of the Islamic calendar after a period of fasting which lasts for one whole month. The fast commences at 4 a.m. in the morning and lasts till the sun set every day. During the fasting period nothing is eaten or drunk. The fast is generally broken with dates or melons. The night of the 27th of Ramzan is called Lailut-ul-Qadar, as the Holy Quran is believed to have descended from heaven on that night. Hence that night is spent in reading the Quran.

Celebrations: The Muslims prepare a special dish for Idd with milk & date palms called as Shir Khurma. For this occasion new clothes are made, bangles are purchased for girls; new caps, new shoes, new sherwanis and new turbans are made for male children.

Krishna Ashtami

Description: This festival is the celebration of the birth of Lord Krishna.

Celebrations: On this day a mandapam is made and a "Utti" is hung in the center decorated with special festoons. This "Utti" is tied to a pulley, which is operated by one man, and group of persons try to break it amidst water being splashed by the on lookers. Various fruits are collected & tied over the Mandapam. An idol of infant Krishna is placed in the mandapam. After the puja Krishna’s idol is put in a cradle and moved back and forth.

The special offering of the day is butter mixed with jaggery & dry ginger. The fast is broken the next day. In some villages, pots of curd & buttermilk are hung from the branch of a tree and people throw stones at the pots and get drenched trying to break the pot.

Maha Sivarathri

Description: Mahasivarathri means the great night of Siva. It is believed that Lord Siva was born in the form of a lingam on the night of Krishna Chaturdasi (14th day of the dark fortnight).

On this day after bath a lingam is placed in the mandapam. It is then worshipped with bel leaves (Aegle marmelos maaredu). In the evening the devotees take bath & go to the Siva temple & chant Siva’s name continuously, listen to Siva’s stories & remain awake the whole night & break their fast the next day.


Description: Muhammadeans fast on this day in memory of the death of Hazrat Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. Religious assemblies are held both during day and night in mosques and in the houses of pious men, where an account of the birth of Prophet Muhammad and his miracles are recited. At the close of the function sweetmeats are distributed.

Month of Rajjab: It is celebrated to mark birthday of Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII. On his birthday the Nizam used to pray twice in the Public Garden mosque.


Description:It is celebrated to commemorate the martyrdom of Hasan and Hussain, the two sons of Hazrat Ali Bin Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed. The elder son Hasan was poisoned by his own wife and his younger brother Hussain and all his male companions except an ailing son were killed at Kerballa on the 10th of Muharram in a battle against the army of Yazid.

In Hyderabad, the festival begins when the new moon makes its appearance in the month of Muharram by the beating of drums. This festival generally lasts for ten days, but in Hyderabad it continues till the fourteenth day after the 10th Muharram. On this day groups of persons beg alms from door-to-door reciting the story of the martyrdom.

During the festival, sunnis wear green clothes and the shias are in black as a sign of mourning. The shia women abstain from wearing ornaments, do not comb their hair, and even remove the bangles from their hands to exhibit sign of grief. This is widely observed in Rayalseema even by Hindus who regard "peers" as sacred.

Vijaya Dasami (Dasara)

Date : 2004-10-22

Vijaya means victory and Dasami means tenth day. Sri Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu killed the demon king, Ravana of Lanka on this day. It is also believed that Goddess Durga killed Mahishasura on Vijaya Dasami day.

All Hindus worship the Goddess of education Saraswathi on this day. Kshatriyas worship their arms on this day. Students place their books at the feet of the deity. Artistes, wrestlers, peddlers, hawkers, nomads and all sections of people have their own way of worshipping Durga Devi on this day. The Vijayanagara rulers used to observe the festival with gaiety, honouring men of letters.


Date : 2004-12-25

Christmas is a festival, which is celebrated all over the world. The cold winter brings with it a feeling of joy and excitement in the city and towns all over the world. As every where in the world, in India also the celebration of Christmas has always been, and continues to be, a season time to spend golden moments with family and friends, make new resolutions and receive the much coveted gifts of their choice.

Christians in Andhra Pradesh celebrate their festivals broadly on the pattern adopted worldwide. However some influence of local Indian tradition is evident among Syrian Christians who use elephants, umbrellas and traditional music as accessories to their festivities and celebrations. Christmas is a major event in all-Indian Christian households.

Christians recall the glorious day when Jesus Christ came into the world to be with them and save people from the sins. Christmas began to be celebrated on 25th December although nobody is sure about the birthday of Jesus Christ.

The churches are filled with people who sing songs and pray and celebrate making goodies and the mouth-watering Christmas cake that tickle the taste buds. The elders go into reverie recalling the sweet memories of the past and get busy with decorations.

Nagapanchami or Nagula Cahvithi

Description: Nagamuni means Cobra, the king of snakes. On this day King Cobra is worshipped. It is essentially a woman’s festival. Two special edible items are prepared for this festival.

Chimmili: A small ball made of sesame grains and jaggery

Chalimidi: A sweet rice cake with jaggery

A seven-headed cobra’s image is put on a mandapam in the house and worshipped with oleander flowers. Women, children & teenage girls wearing bright coloured clothes and ornaments put all the puja things in big brass plates and go to an ant hill to receive the blessings of Naga (Snake god) and pour milk. Ladies fast on this day.


Description: This is the festival of peasants. It is celebrated when the sun passes from Sagittarius to Capricorn & the transition is called Makara Sankranthi. A month before the festival the harvesting of crops begins.

Gangireddula Vadu: He comes with a colorfully dressed pet bull. The bull sways its head, dances, sits and stands and does things in accordance with the rhythm of the music and commands of its master.

The first day is called as Bhogi. On this day before sunrise youngsters collect dry twigs, grass, waste paper etc., make a heap & light a bonfire. Women and girls draw patterns on the ground using mortar powder. They make Gobbemmas i.e., lumps of cowdung and place it on the drawings in front of their houses. People pick up some ash from the bhogi fire & rub it on their foreheads.

The special dish of the day is Pongal, a mixture of husked greengram and rice with salt and pepper powder cooked in a pot.

The second day is the actual Sankranthi day. In the evening men & women go to their neighbors and relatives to offer sesame seeds, sugar & sugarcane pieces.

Kanumu the third day is celebrated as a cattle festival. On this day the peasants wake up early to bathe their cattle & paint their horns with bright colors and tie bells around their necks. Some farmers go out to their fields, sacrifice a goat or a sheep and sprinkle the blood in their fields. Still some others take cooked rice and milk to the cattle shed offer some of it to the cattle and take the remainder to their fields and scatter it there. They believe that this offering keeps the ghosts away from their crops. In the villages on this day cockfights are held.

Sri Rama Navami

Description: This day is celebrated as the birth of Lord Rama. People awake early in the morning, take oil and hot water bath, wear new clothes, raise a temporary mandapam & put some rice and a few betel leaves on it. In this mandapam are installed the idols of Sri Rama, Sita Devi, Lakshmana and Hanuman. Panakam, a beverage made with a mixture of new jaggery, cardamoms, black pepper powder and water is prepared.

Sri Rama Navami is also observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita. At night the story of Rama is recited or sung by a traditional performer called Harikathakudu or Haridasa.

On this day a special scene takes place on the outskirts of Vishakhapatnam, the district capital on the East Coast where there is a famous harbour. Near the town cheap makeshift huts are built. After the completion of celebrations a man disguising himself as Hanuman sets fire to the makeshift village called as Lanka the capital of Ravana.


Ugadi is the Telugu New Year day. It is specially associated with Pacchadi (chutney) in telugu. The chutney is prepared with tender flowers of neem, jaggery or sugar & new tamarind. The whole family has to eat the chutney. The chutney is offered to the deity first and then eaten by the members of the family.

Celebration:The whole family wears new clothes. Around 3.00 p.m. a brahmin sits on the pail outside the front yard door & recites the panchangam. All the nearby residents gather to listen to him about the new year, rain fall, agriculture, prices, education, eclipses, and auspicious days for marriages, health and astrological forecasts for the individuals and the community based upon the planetary position. In the evening many competitions are held like bullock-cart races, physical duels, lifting of heavy weights, running races, card games and so on.

VaraLaxmi Vratam

Description: This is a religious vow observed in the name of Varalakshmi (Lakshmi, consort of Lord Vishnu). It is celebrated on Friday before the full moon in the month of Sravana.

Celebration: On this particular Friday housewives wake up early, finish their mangalasnanam, wear new clothes and decorate their front yard with rangoli patterns on it. Later a small pandal is erected with plantain trunks and festoons are tied on its upper parts. A small copper vessel filled with water, coconut and three betel leaves (Kalasam) is placed on a stool. The Kalasam is worshipped by sprinkling flowers and rice mixed in turmeric powder.

After worshipping, the idol or picture of Lakshmi is put behind the vessel or in the vessel itself. Flowers and turmeric mixed rice are sprinkled on the idol or picture & sandalwood mixed rice is offered. After burning of incense, nine threads twisted together are worn round the right wrist as a bracelet. Fruits and cooked flour dishes are offered to at least 5 housewives, elders and others.

Vinayaka Chavithi

History: One day Parvathi, wife of Lord Siva made a boy with turmeric & breathed life into it. She then asked the boy to guard the door till she took her bath. The boy was instructed not to allow any one to enter. When Siva came and tried to open the door, the boy objected to it. In a fit of anger Siva severed the boy’s head with his Trishul. When Parvathi came to know what had happened to the boy she began to weep.

Seeing this Siva’s heart melted and he promised to put back life into the boy. After a massive search Siva’s disciples could find the head of an elephant to fix on the boy’s body. From then on he was called Gajanan, the elephant-headed boy. From this day is celebrated as birth of Lord Ganesha. The idol of the Lord is worshipped for 10 days and on the eleventh day it is immersed in river or sea amidst a huge procession.
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Nowhere is the fervor more evident for this festival than in Maharashtra. It is a community festival there. Crowds throng in thousands at various places during this festival. Cries of 'Ganpathi Bapa Moraiya' rent the air wherever his devotees congregate. But all over India too celebrations take place on a major scale. On the eleventh day, in Mumbai, millions of people participate to have a look at thousands of idols which are immersed in the waters of the Arabian Sea. The immersion ceremony is known as Visarjan or Nimajan. The festivity is marked by loud chants to the accompaniment of music which includes blowing of bugles, beating of drums, etc. But 'Lokmanya' Bal Gangadhar Tilak was instrumental in making this a mass festival in Maharashtra. He encouraged people to participate in large-scale. This was done with an intent to unite Marathas. Now these celebrations have spread their tentacles to states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, where they are growing in popularity.
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1/2 teaspoon of cardamom seeds (crushed)
1 1/2 cups of powdered dry coconut
1 cup of light jaggery (grated)
2 cups of plain flour
15 saffron strings which have to be mixed in 1 teaspoon of hot milk

Preparation Method:

Mix coconut and jaggery in a nonstick pan. Cook by stirring it continuously. The mixture takes the shape of soft dough. Then add cardamom and saffron. Mix and take remove it from the stove. Allow it to cool. Make a thin flour mixture by adding water. Add it to the cooled mixture put them in a large heavy deep container. Cook the mixture and stir. Continue the process till it becomes a soft dough. remove from stove and leave it to cool. Make a thick cake taking a small amount of the flour dough and insert a small chunk of coconut mixture in it. Mould the dough to cover filling and shape it like a modak. Fill al the modaks and heat them in a double boiler. Keep it on steam for 15 minutes and you modaks are ready.

Moong Dal Halwa


Moong Dal - one cup
Milk - half cup
Sugar - one cup
Saffron - a pinch
Khoya - three-fourths of a cup
Ghee - 1 cup
Almonds (or any nuts) - 15

Preparation Method:

After washing moong dal, soak it for 6 hours. Grind roughly using little water. Keep it aside. Prepare one strand sugar syrup by using one cup sugar and one and half cups of water. Keep this too aside. Soak saffron in hot milk and crumble khoya into fine grains. Put almonds in boiling water take them out once they lose their color. Let them cool. Then you can peel and slice them. Heat ghee in a wide-mouthed pan, add the moong dal paste. Stir with a low flame till the dal turns brown. Add sugar syrup and saffron milk, stir well till they are absorbed and the mixture is less thick. After adding mawa, cook till it dissolves. Garnish with sliced almonds. Moong dal halwa is ready!

Motichur Ladoo


besan 2 cups
ghee 2 cups
sugar three fourths of a cup
almonds 10 numbers (finely sliced)
cardamom powder half a table spoon
Kesar quarter of a cup

Preparation Method:

Mix gram flour with just enough water to make into a thick paste and add color. Heat ghee. Put the prepared paste and allow it to seep through a sieve into the hot ghee. Fry till the mixture turns pink and then drain out. Reserve the fried drops as boondis. Heat sugar dissolved in three-fourths cup of water and make a sticky syrup Add the fried boondis, almonds, cardamom powder and mix well. While the mixture is warm, knead the syrup-coated boondis into round ladoos. Allow them to dry. Your motichur ladoos are ready.



Thinly sliced potato pieces
Besan 250 gms
Baking powder one-fourth tsp
Ground turmeric one-fourth tsp
Ground coriander 1 tsp
chilli powder half tsp
Water as per requirement

Preparation Method:

Make batter by sifting besan, baking powder, turmeric, coriander and chilli into a bowl. Stir in water to mix make a thick batter. To make pakoras, dip vegetable pieces into batter, deep fry them in moderately heated oil until they turn golden brown. Drain the pieces by using absorbent paper.
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As one legend goes, Goddess Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva, while bathing created Ganesh out of the dirt of her body. She then placed him at the entrance of the house. She instructed him not to allow anyone while she went in for a bath. Lord Shiva who returned home was stalled by Ganesh at the entrance. Shiva got enraged and beheaded Ganesh. When Parvati came out after her bath, she was astonished and inconsolable as she saw Ganesha's head severed from body. Shiva realizing what he had done, and in order to appease Parvati ordered his celestial army (gana) to bring him the head of any living being they saw sleeping with its head facing the north. These ganas found an elephant in that position. They cut off the elephant's head brought it back to Shiva. The head was joined to the body and Lord Shiva restored this half elephant-half man to life and made him the leader (pati) of his army. Thus Ganesha also got the name Ganapati (lord of army). Shiva also blessed him with a boon by saying that people should worship him before embarking on any venture.

According to another legend, there was a demon called Gajasura who was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Gajasura went on a prayer to worship Lord Shiva which was supposed to have lasted for several years. Lord Shiva was moved and granted Gajasura a boon. Gajasura had other evil motives, which Lord Shiva was not aware of. He asked the Lord Shiva to reside in his stomach. Parvati, Shiva's wife, who was not aware of this incident, became anxious about her husband's whereabouts. She then sought Lord Vishnu's help. Lord Vishnu told her not to worry and assured her that he would find her husband. To locate Shiva, he set out with Nandi - the vehicle of Shiva. Under the guise of a street player, he with Nandi reached the demon Gajasuras kingdom. Nandi regaled Gajasura by dancing to the tune of Vishnu. The monster who was pleased with the performance of Nandi decided to reward him.

Nandi asked Lord Shiva to be set free. Gajasura then realized that the street player was none other than Lord Vishnu. He had no option but to set Lord Shiva free. Subsequently, he offered his apologies to Lord Shiva and also begged him make him immortal. Shiva acceded to the wish by beheading Gajasura and carried the head along with him. When Shiva returned home, he was confronted by Ganesha, who was made out of Parvati's mud as narrated in the first legend. He was enraged with Ganesha and severed the latter's head. To restore Ganesha back to life, he installed Gajasura's head on Ganesha.

Ganesh is said to be highly fond of sweet pudding (Modak). During one of his birthdays, he was said to be going around from one house to another to eat sweet puddings offered to him. He overate and that night when he was about on his mouse, it suddenly tripped, as it had seen a snake and got scared. Ganesha fell down and in the process and his stomach broke out and the puddings tumbled. But irrepressible as he was, he stuffed them back into his stomach. He then held a snake stuck it around his tummy so as to protect these puddings from falling out again.

The moon-god (Chandra) who was witnessing all of this reportedly was amused and burst out into laughter. This infuriated Lord Ganesh, who pulled out one of his tusks, and flung it on him. He then cursed the moon-god by saying that no one should look at him on the Ganesh Chaturthi day. If anyone tries to defy this curse, they will beget bad luck. But anybody inadvertently looking at the moon can be saved from the curse by repeating or listening to the story of how Lord Krishna vindicated his character in the Syamantaka jewel tale. There is a reference to the above story in 'Srimad Bhaghavtham'.

The Syamantaka story begins with Satrajit, who procures a jewel named Syamantaka from the Sun-God (Surya). He is requested to part with it by Lord Krishna, as the latter says that the jewel would be safe in his custody. But Satrajit refuses this request. Once when Prasena, Satrajit's brother goes out hunting with the jewel adorning his body, he is killed by a lion. Jambavan a devotee of Rama, who witnesses this, kills the lion and gives it to his child as a plaything. When Prasena does not return, Satrajit suspects Krishna of killing Prasena. Lord Krishna disturbed by this accusation goes in search of the jewel and finds it in Jambavan's child hand. Jambavan finding Lord Krishna in his cave attacks him by mistaking him to be a thief who has come to steal the jewel. They fight each other for 28 days, after which Jambavan gets worn down by Krishna's strength. He then finds out that Lord Krishna is in fact his Lord Rama. Feeling remorse over this episode, Jambavan begs forgiveness and returns the jewel. He also begs Krishna to marry his daughter Jambavanti. Krishna after marrying Jambavanti returns to Dwaraka with the jewel. He returns the jewel to Satrajit. Satrajit then regrets for having falsely accusing him, and to compensate for this, he offers Krishna the jewel and his daughter Satyabhama in marriage. Krishna accepts to marry Satyabhama but does not accept the jewel.

There was once a dispute between Lord Ganesha and his brother Lord Subramanya or Karthikeya as to who was the more powerful of the two. They asked Lord Shiva to intervene and decide as to who was greater. Shiva declared that the person who would tour the whole world and return first would be proclaimed the winner. Subramanya set off on this world tour by riding his vehicle, the peacock. But Ganesha encircled his parents and chanted mantras in their praise. As the World was manifested in their parents, Ganesha was declared the victor. His mother Parvati presented him with a fruit on the occasion of this victory.
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On Ganesh Chaturthi day, worship starts in the morning when devotees start listening to the tales of Lord Ganesha during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then they take a bath and visit the temple offer prayers to Lord Ganesha. As he is supposed to be very fond of (modak) rice puddings, these are cooked in every Hindu household and placed before the idol of Lord Ganesha. They are later consumed by the all the family people once the worship is over. During the prayer, one hundred and eight different names of Lord Ganesh are repeated after the ceremonies and the same number of flowers are strewn over him.

During these celebrations, clay figures of the Lord Vinayaka are made in different hues, sizes and shapes. All of them have to be immersed in water on the odd days after the festival. Eleven is the maximum number of days that the idol can be kept in public display.
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Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chathurthi or Ganesh Puja is among the one of the grandly celebrated festivals in India. It is celebrated on the occasion of Lord Ganesha or Vinayaka's birthday, which is on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). Lord Ganesha is an the elephant-headed god.

Ganesh puja festival starts in the morning, when devotees listen to the legends related to Lord Ganesha. As a part of the prayer, one hundred and eight different names of Lord Ganesh are chanted. One flower is placed on his idol as each of his names is chanted. Lord Ganesha's favorite snack is supposed to be modhak (a ball shaped pudding). They are prepared by the dozens on the Ganesh Chaturthi day and placed before his idol, before they are consumed by the devotees.

Lord Ganesha who is an elephant-headed God controls the psychic centre in the body (Kundalini). Ganesha's importance in the Hindu pantheon is underlined by the fact that no prayer in Hindu religion can be performed without first invoking his name. 'Om' the chief mantra of Hindu religion, in fact, refers to Lord Ganesha. So even Vaishnavites (devotees of Lord Vishnu) worship him before starting any prayer. His idol has four hands, one of which holds a goad, another holds a rope, and there is a sweet in the third hand. The last one is in a blessing posture. His vehicle is a mouse which symbolizes effacing of the ego. Among his assets are that he is considered to be the destroyer of greed and selfishness and so also the Lord of power and wisdom. His elephant head epitomizes the Atman (the transcendental being), and his human body signifies Maya or the materialistic being. Other names of Lord Ganesha are Ganapati, Vigneshwara, Ekadanta, Gajanana, etc.

His idols are made of clay, which are later immersed in water on the tenth day following the puja, or before that on an odd day only. The ceremony wherein the idols are immersed is known as Visarjan or Nimajan as it is also known. Though the festival is most popular in Maharashtra, states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka do not lag far behind. Pandals (podiums) are erected on every street and cultural programmes are organized during these festivities.

There are quite a few legends related to Lord Ganesha's birthday. According to one of the popular ones, Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva, created Ganesh by carving out a human idol from the dirt of her body. She then infused life into this image. She then asked this boy to stay put at the entrance of the house and not allow anyone as she was going in for a bath. Lord Shiva, who came back to his house, was disallowed by this boy. Furious with this boy's behavior, who he did not know was created by Parvati, Lord Shiva beheaded him. Parvati who came out after having her bath grieved upon seeing her son's beheaded body. Shiva then realizing his mistake immediately summoned his celestial army and ordered them to bring him a head of any living being they sighted sleeping with its head facing the north. They found an elephant sleeping with its head facing the north. They severed the elephant's head and took it to give to Lord Shiva. The head was affixed to the body. Life was infused this time by Lord Shiva. This was Ganesha.
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