Days and Festivals
OBSERVANCES AND BENEFICIAL EFFECTS
every major world religion. Hinduism has proclaimed certain
days of the week as sacred. The Jews observe the Sabbath.
Muslims observe Friday as their day of special prayer and the
Hindus follow the lunar calendar, which is based on the waxing
and waning of the moon.
month is divided into two; the fortnight following the full
moon day is called krishnapaksha and the fortnight
succeeding the new moon day shuklapaksha. The full moon day is
termed Purnima and
the new moon day is termed Amavasi.
these days are sacred to the Hindus and they are enjoined by
the scriptures to observe fast, or at any rate take only light
food in the night.
scriptures proclaim that the Cosmos is reflected in man. It
is a scientific fact that man is essentially made of the same
elements as the surface of the earth and in the same
proportion. Since man is composed of 80% liquid and 20% solid
as the surface of the earth, the gravitational pull of the
moon on human beings is at its highest on full moon day, just
as the gravitational pull of the moon is at its highest on the
ocean-high tide and low tide in scientific terms. This
gravitational pull of the moon on human beings affects the
composition of the body elements, particularly the Water
content. This leads to emotional imbalances in human beings,
making them tense, irritable and violent. Hence the term
lunatic which is derived from the word luna’ meaning moon in
ancients obviously recognised the effect of the moon on human
behavior as it waxed and waned. It Is well-known that the
mentally unstable are susceptible to violence during the
full moon and new moon days - to wit: New York’s ‘Son of
Sam” committed murder on eight nights, five of them during
the new or full moon days.
wise men that they were, our ancients sought a way to combat
the evil effects on human behaviour during the full moon and
new moon days. They found that light food on these days would
lower the acidic content in our system, which helps human
beings to retain their mental balance. By fasting or taking
light food the whole system is given a rest. By praying man
would not allow his emotions to run wild. When the system is
at rest psychologically also there is rest in man. He feels
comfortable physically and psychologically and will not be
prone to irritation and outburst of temper. Hindus also
observe fasting on Ekadashi,
the eleventh day of the fortnight and also on Saturdays.
This is intended to give a rest to the digestive system In the
human body, so that the stomach muscles can easily throw out
the toxic contents of the food without strain.
is a sort of-Self discipline. When we keep fasts for a
purpose, we act on the faith that our prayers will be
answered. Faith is positive thinking: so the chances are that
what you wish for will come to pass.
the Hindu, each day of the week is governed by a planet.
Sunday by the sun: Monday by the moon: Tuesday by mars:
Wednesday by Mercury: Thursday by Jupiter: Friday by Venus:
Saturday by Saturn. This shows that the ancients were fully
aware about the planets, with the sun in the centre.
ancients prescribed worship of these planets as they were
aware of their gravitational influences on the subconscious of
man. By worshipping them, man is attuned to their
influences, thereby helping him to get a control over his
the general run of men are normally not adequately mentally
developed to grasp the inner significance of the scientific
and hygienic reasons of these observances, our ancients
prescribed them as part of their religious duties. Thus, even
though the masses may not be aware of the “why” of them,
still they derive benefits from the observances. For the same
reason, our ancients abjured eating of flesh and recommended
vegetarian diet. Eating Vegetarian food was recommended for
physiological reasons as well as moral ones.
moral viewpoint of the vegetarians’ belief is based on the
theories of Ahimsa and Karma. Ahimsa
believes In non-aggression and non-violence on any living
creature and the law of karma
proclaims that we are the builders of our own destiny and
that from good deeds joy shall come and from evil deeds,
meat-eating would necessitate the slaughter of animals which
is a violation of the ahimsa
theory, vegetarians do not indulge in non-vegetarian food
as they do not want to increase their karmic
debts by partaking of flesh.
physiological reason is that meat increases the acidic content
in our blood, which results in the lowering of the amount of
vegetables has the opposite effect: the acidity is reduced and
carbon dioxide pressure in the lungs is increased, thereby
reducing the amount of oxygen going to the brain.
yogis claim that a vegetarian diet is conducive to meditation,
may be because the five senses (sight, hearing, sound, smell
& touch) are less active due to less oxygen reaching the
brain and the stilling of the mind is a very important
prerequisite for a person who wants to maintain equanimity of
new biological discoveries tend to show that flesh eating is
not essential for good
some biologists are even of the opinion that flesh eaters are
more susceptible to illness than vegetarians.
ancient Hindus were however not fanatic about whether to eat
meat or abstain from it but looked more Into the practical
Certain sect of Hindus. the Sindhis, are told to eat fish only
on the day of the new moon.
mentioned earlier, the moon has an effect on the tides of the
ocean, hence on the fishing. There are certain kinds of fish
that tend to come to the surface during that time. The catch
of the fish is easier. Fish, being a perishable commodity, is
better consumed as soon as possible. So if you are not a
vegetarian, would it not make more sense if you eat fish on
new moon day when fish would probably be cheaper and fresher?
Of course, I am talking of the time when this custom started
when cold storage, as we know it, did not exist.
sections of modern English-speaking Hindus believe that one
should not eat fish during the months that have no ‘R’ in it i.e.
May. June. July. August. Note that the months coincide with
rainy months in India during which
fishing is a problem.
a matter of fact many Hindus observe the “Chaumasa”.
During these months, when they are vegetarians and have
their fast and prayers.
of the rainy season, vegetables are plentiful and fresh.
Besides most of our important Indian festivals fall during
these months namely Ramzan, Nagapanchami, Dussera, Nariel
purnima, Janmastami, etc.
The number of festival days in the Hindu
calendar is legion. But each festival serves a purpose.
& Folk-lore are the means by which our ancient tried to
impart spirituality to the masses.
of the most Important festival days of Hindus are: Deepavali,
Ramanavami, Shivarathri, Krlshnajanmastami and
Vinayakachaturthi. Just as national days are observed to
remind the people of the great men who helped free the country
from foreign yoke and who underwent untold hardships and even
made the supreme sacrifice to serve as inspiration to later
generations so also the festival days are observed so that we
may be reminded of the exemplary lives of the “Avatars”
(Godlike men) and their exploits.
is a day on
which Sri Ramachandra was born. Endowed as he was with all the
thirty-two lakshanas (the thirty two virtues which
characterise the perfect man), even today after many millennia
he serves as an inspiration to countless number of Hindus.
Valmiki’s Rama was an ideal son, ideal husband, ideal
brother and ideal king. Walter Whitman sang: “The lives of
great men all
remind us how to make our lives sublime”.
we worship Sri Rama on Ramanavami day we believe that we shall
be able to fulfill our duties to the members of our family and
society as well as he was able to.
is the festival of lights. The word “Deepavali” is a
Sanskrit compound made up of two simple words. “Deepa”
means light and “AvaIi” means a row. Hence the word means
a row of lights. The festival is associated with many legends
and beliefs. One is to commemorate the kllling of Narakasura,
a notorious demon, by lord Krishna.
however, because of his previous store of virtue, had been
granted a boon at the moment of his death. He asked that his
death might ever be commemorated as a day of feasting.
Deepavali is known as “Naraka Chaturdasi”.
fireworks that are burst during Deepavali symbolise the use of
fiery weapons used during the war that Krishna waged against
the demon, It is day of rejoicing as the people were saved
from atrocities of the demon.
among the North Indians it is believed that Deepavali is the
day on which Sri Rama returned from his 14 years of exile in
the forest, after having got rid of various demons who made
life hell for the sages and common people.
symbolises the victory of good over evil since it symbolises
the triumphant return of Rama to his kingdom. It is celebrated
with lamps and lights to welcome him back to his throne.
Deepavali day the member of the mercantile community open and
worship new account books and ledgers. This is because during
Deepavali the Sun enters its second course and passes Libra,
which is represented by the balance or scale.
Deepavali, spring cleaning is done as it is believed that the
Goddess of wealth Lakshmi would enter a clean, bright and
the Goddess Lakshmi come to the house or not, the fact remains
that a lot of lost items are found during the cleaning up of
nooks and corners and lot of dirt is removed from the house,
the breeding ground of infectious germs.
is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Sri Krishna. Sri
Krishna is a deity with whom one feels easier to identify
with, He is so endearingly human and lovable, and yet is deep
enough to expound the Immortal Bhagvad
Gtta - a philosophy which is true to life In every
respect, ever fresh every time one reads it and always a guide
In every circumstance.
is the festival of colour: it heralds the advent of spring and
symbolises the spirit, young at heart. During Holi, people let
themselves go in sheer abandon and sprinkle ‘gulal’ (coloured
powder) on one another.
a society where decorum is so much observed and rules are
strictly laid down as to how one ought to behave with elders
and relatives, the above festival is essential as it affords
an opportunity to give free play to one’s pent-up emotions.
of decorum is excused on that day and enemies become friends
commemorates the death of Holika, a demoness, again denoting
the victory of benign forces over evil ones.
burning of dead wood and rubbish, while reminding us of the
legendary fact that Holika was consumed by flames, has the
practical purpose of outdoor spring cleaning.
smearing of colour on one another has the symbolic meaning
that we ought to start with a new resolution. We ought to put
a new dye on our personality. We ought to change intolerance
and hostility into feelings of love, friendship and
is celebrated to commemorate the marriage of Lord Shiva with
Parvati. The whole night is spent in prayers & singing
devotional songs. One should remember that it is not enough to
be awake physically during the night but also endeavour to
awaken from the sleep of ignorance in which we seem to be
seeped so deeply.
festival of Ganesh. The idol of Ganapati who is considered the
“Remover of obstacles” is brought home and deeply revered
by family and friends. After days of devotional songs and
prayers, it is immersed in to the water. This festival induces
camaraderie and brings together the community into a mood of
spiritual festivity and cheer.
being a vast, colourful country has innumerable other
festivals. Some celebrate the victory of good over evil:
others are based upon instances in the life of several deities
in the Hindu pantheon: still others are connected with spring,
the season of love plentiful ness in nature. But all promote
togetherness in the hearts of people and induce them to put
aside their petty differences for a while and join together in
brotherhood and love.