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Indian Festivals — Religious & Social Aspects
By Tanveer Jafri
Contributing Writer
Ganesh Festival is a day on which Lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati, is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees.

These days, festivals are being celebrated all around in India. The people of India may be from any religion or community, are busy in celebrating their traditional festivals. India is a country, in which the number of festivals is very large. The reason behind is that people of many religions & faiths have been residing here all together for a long time. This country is full of communal harmony & there are many places where the festivals are celebrated collectively by the people of all the communities. All the communities contribute to a great extent in the organization of the festivals. The festivals such as Dushehra, Eid, Diwali, Ganesh Festival, Dandia, Durga Pooja, Holi etc. & many more can be written in this group.

These days, the celebration of Dushehra festival is in full swing. Ram Leela is being held in all the towns & cities of the country & the effigies of giant Ravana, Kumbhkarna & Meghnath like demons will be set on fire on October 21, in all over the country. Dusshehra festival is organized to show that goodness gets victory over the evil & burning of the effigy of Ravana represents it. In its historical context, this festival presents the high idealist life character of Lord Rama & at the same time it encourages to not to yield before the cruel & proud powers. In this way this is a rare example of communal harmony in the present communal atmosphere of the country. For example, whereas in the Ram Leela, which is organized almost by hindus at many places in India, the people of Islam & Sikh religion play a role in one form or another. While doing so, they never feel any orthodox hurdle.

Besides this, the effigies of Ravana prepared in India & other paraphernalia for the stage & goods of decoration associated with Ram Leela & in up keeping of these things, the people of the Muslim community play a significant role. An effigy of Ravana is being prepared in the Barara town in Haryana State in India that will set a new record of the communal harmony. It will also be a national record. The giant effigy of Ravana that is being prepared under the direction & patronage of founder president of Ram Leela Club, Barara, Tejinder Singh Chauhan will claim to be the India's highest effigy of Ravana, of this year. Tejinder Singh Chauhan had brought a group of 12 Muslim technicians from Agra to prepare this effigy of Ravana that is more than 110 feet high. Those skilled workers stayed in Barara for more than a month & have prepared this giant effigy with great labour. The organizer of the Barara Ram Leela, Tejinder Singh Chauhan says that collective celebration of such festival strengthens the bonds of the communal harmony. So it is wrong to name these festivals as religious festivals. Instead of it these festivals should be named as social festivals.

The Dandia festival which is celebrated in many parts of India is a festival in which the people of all the communities take part collectively & enjoy the Dandia dance. Similarly Ganesh Pooja festival which is specially celebrated in Maharashtra in India where the persons of all communities can be seen taking part. In spite of the fact that Ganesh Mahotsav is associated with the Hindu community & Lord Ganesha is worshipped only in the Hindu religion. Even then, at many places in India, it can be seen that the Muslim families have set up the idol of Lord Ganesha & worship him in their homes. Not only this, on the last worship day of Ganesh Pooja, along with the lakhs of devotees of Ganesha, the people from the Muslim community take part with full devotion in this programme.

Similarly in this country of colourful culture, the Hindus, too, keep Roza(fast) in the pious days of Ramzan, & make obeisance, without any discrimination, in the Mosques & the Dargahs, in India. Although Moharram is not a festival of happiness but sorrow, in which the Muslim community remembers the sacrifice of Hazrat Husain & his relatives made in Karbala in Iraq about 1400 years ago. Surprisingly, for the hundreds of years, the organization of Moharram has been done by the Hindu kings as well as the Hindu public. The Hindu community keeps Taziya's at many places in India & mourns in the memory of Hazrat Husain.

People from all the communities express their joy on the eve of the festivals such as the Eid, the Deepawali & the Holi & exchange sweets & joys. In this vast country of religious harmony, the festival holidays in government offices are even not on the basis of religion but people of all the communities enjoy these holidays on account of festivals, collectively. Besides the religious attitude, the business outlook of these Indian festivals also brings the people of different communities nearer & plays an important role.

The above circumstances are enough to make on understand that instead of calling these Indian festivals as religious festivals, it is better to name them, the social festivals. As in India, many people having conservative & extreme thoughts are always busy to spread hatred among the communities. Even then the increasing tendency of collective celebrating the festival clearly shows that the roots of the communal harmony are going deep day by day. The examples of communal harmony will not only strengthen the goodwill of the country at the international level. India will be looked upon as a strong country, not of a religion or a community but of the Indians.

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Other Articles by Tanveer Jafri
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Mr.Tanveer Jafri, who serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times, is a noted columnist in India. He writes on a variety of issues including world peace, anti-terrorism, and national & international politics for numerous news dailies and portals in India. As a devoted social activist he is a member of Haryana Sahitya Academy & Haryana Urdu Academy.






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