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INDIAN HERITAGE - FESTIVALS

TEEJ (July 30, 2014)

The Teej festival is an important festival for women, and much anticipated monsoon festival. It commemorates the reunion of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Women apply henna to their hands and feet, get dressed up, and parade around. Artists such as folk singers and dancers follow the procession. Caparisoned elephants, bullock carts, and chariots add to the spectacle.

Basically a women's festival, Teej falls on the third day of the bright fortnight of the month of Shrawan (July-August).

Swings are hung from trees and decorated with flowers. Young girls and women colourfully attired, swing on them and sing songs in praise of the goddess and the monsoon. They decorate their hands and feet with henna in delicate designs. The popular belief is that darker the henna the more a man loves his woman. Girls engaged to be married receive gifts such as a dress, henna, lac bangles and sweets from their future in-laws and married women, from their parents.

JANMASHTAMI (August 18, 2014)

This festival is celebrated all over India in the Hindu month of Shravan (August/September) on the 'Ashtami' or the eighth day of Krishna Paksh or dark fortnight. Janmashtami is also known as Gokulashtami, Srijayanti and Krishnasthami. The day is celebrated with great zeal and devotion.

Fasting is observed on the first day of the festival until midnight, when Lord Krishna was believed to have been born. People spend the day at temples, offering prayers, singing, and reciting his deeds. At midnight, a traditional prayer is offered. Special baby cradles are installed in temples and a small statue placed in them. The most elaborate rituals are performed at Mathura, where Lord Krishna was born and spent his childhood.

Lots of chanting, with huge crowds at temples devoted to Lord Krishna. Children get dressed up as Lord Krishna and his companion Radha, and people play games and people perform dances depicting the various events in Lord Krishna's life.