Festivals are an inherent part of Indian culture. Residents of all parts of the country engage in numerous festivities year round, enjoying the rich culture, traditions and customs embedded in the country for decades. Harvest festivals are quite a phenomenal part of the age-old heritage of India. The festivals are the testimonials of the fertile landscape and the greenery prevailing in its picturesque environment. I am happy to initiate a series on these wonderful celebrations of India. The essence of the festivals is the fact that people huddle together to express their joyfulness and appreciation on the hard work for the yearly harvest. The focus of today’s article is on the Harvest Festivals of North India.
One of the prominent harvest festivals of north India celebrated with immense vigour and enthusiasm. Lohri is celebrated in Punjab during the chilled winter months. The festival is dedicated to the harvest of sugarcane. The people of Punjab create bonfires and offer the Lords the first harvest of sugarcanes as a mark of respect. They sing and dance around the fire with great joy and enthusiasm. Adorned in colourful attire, the entire state rejuvenates in the festive moments.
Ladakh Harvest Festival
Ladakh is a land of serene beauty mingled with a treasure trove of natural wonders. The aura of the land personifies with the advent and celebration of the Ladakh Harvest festival. It is one of the most popular harvest festivals of India, enticing travellers from all over the world. The entire land flourishes with the commencement of the festival, transforming into a joyous land. The festival is held in the month of January with people offering their prayers to Lord Buddha at the various monasteries and stupas. The festival is welcomed with different cultural events, art and craft fairs, and the famous archery sports event. The performers put on colourful masks depicting different symbolical characters and walk on the streets.
Baisakhi is the most popular harvest festivals of India, celebrated in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. The festival is celebrated all across the region with great vigour and enthusiasm. They thank the Lords for the successful harvest and indulge in grand celebrations. The men folk perform Bhangra and the women folk perform Giddha, the two popular folk and traditional dance forms of the two states. The song and the dances are accompanied by the melodious beats of the dhol (a drum-like traditional musical instrument). Fairs are held at several places where different traditional sports events are held like wrestling, acrobatics etc. The festival is held during the month of April.
Popularly celebrated in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Makar Sankranti is one of the oldest harvest festivals of North India. The festival symbolizes the end of unforeseen events and the emergence of a divine world. In every household, it is a tradition to prepare sweets and distributed to neighbours and family members. Guests are welcomed with sweet packets and delicious snacks. Bonfires are created in various places especially in the rural areas where the people assemble to sing and dance around the fire. Several fairs are also held across the state hosting various sports and cultural events, attracting tourists from different parts of the country and abroad. The famous Kumbh Mela is held during the festival for 3 months at a stretch, once in every 12 years. Kite flying is one of the major attractions of the festival.
Please watch out for our next series on Harvest Festival, coming soon !!
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