Ganesh Chaturthi, held in honor of Lord Ganesha, is one of the most popular hindu festivals . The festival is also associated with abundant harvest and is celebrated as a thanksgiving festival. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated from 2 to 11 days and sometimes for even more.
The preparations start early. Houses are cleaned and decorated to welcome lord Ganesha. Artists prepare clay idol of god Ganesh in different shapes, sizes and paint them with attractive colors. A canopy is made using fruits and gourds, to house the idol of lord Ganesh.
The festival is time for prayer and pageantry. It is also the time for cultural activities like songs and “Bhajan”. Families and friends congregate to celebrate and rejoice at the birth of Ganesh, the lord of plenty and prosperity. Idols of Lord Ganesh are displayed in houses and shrines. Though Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated along the same lines as in the rest of country, Konkan add a special touch to it by wishing each other Happy Ganesh !
After the idol is installed ritually, prayers and pujas are performed and Lord Ganesh is offered the choicest of his favorite sweet, laddoos and “Modak”. People sing devotional song and burn license stick. On the last day of festival , the idol is taken out in a procession, accompaniment with devotional songs, beat of drums and crackers. Then the idol is immersed in water. At the time of immersion , people urge lord Ganesha to return next year, bringing them more prosperity.
Shimgyachi Holi(March – April)
This is the interested traditional festival of konkan region. Holika Dahan or the lighting of bonfire takes place on the eve of Holi as a symbol of triumph of good over evil. The day is also popularly called ‘Chhoti Holi’ or the ‘Small Holi’. Play with the colour takes place on the next day. But in konkan, very few people used to play with colors. There are numerous legends associated with this ancient tradition and it is difficult to pin-point as to when actually the tradition started.
Holikotsav finds a mention in the Vedas and Puranas. It is stated that during the Vedic period the sacred fire of Holi was burnt amidst the chanting of specific mantras which were intended for the destruction of the demonic forces.
According to Narad Purana, this day is celebrated in the memory of Prahlad’s victory and the defeat of his aunt ‘Holika’. The legend has it that there once existed a mighty demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who wished that everybody in his kingdom should worship him. His son, Prahlad became a follower of Lord Naarayana. Hiranyakashyap instructed his sister, Holika to sit in the burning fire with Prahlad in lap. She was blessed with a boon, as a result of which no fire could burn her. But the opposite happened, Prahlad survived and Holika was charred to death. Thus ‘Holi’ is celebrated to commemorate the victory of virtue over evil. It is because of this event, Holika (a bonfire) is burnt every year on Holi. The burning of the effigy of Holika is called Holika Dahan.
There is also a specific way in which Holika Dahan takes place. A log of wood is kept in a prominent public place. People go on throwing twigs, dried coco leaves, branches of trees left through the winter besides any other combustible material they can spare, on to that log which gradually grows into a sizable heap. Then a old man from the people prays in the form of ‘Garhane’ which is most famous pray type of konkan. After every sentence the people gathered around the ‘Holi’ support the’ Garhane’ by loudly saying ‘Hoy Maharaja’, (Yes Sir/Lord). At the end, Prasad (mixture of coconut pieces, Sweets ) is distributed among the gathered people.
Narali Pournima (August)
The full moon day of the month of Shravan(August) is celebrated in different parts of Maharashtra Known as, the ‘Narali Purnima’ ,coconut day is dedicated to the sea god Varuna. This festival marks the end of the monsoons and is celebrated by the fishermen of Malvan. The fishermen paint their boats and coconuts are broken against them as offering to the sea god. It is said that to calm the sea fishermen offers coconut to sea. Narali Pournima also marks the advent of the new fishing season. Garlands made of flowers are also offered to the boats to mark the beginning of a new fishing season.
The celebration begin at about three o’clock at afternoon, where when the prominent traders as well as common citizens gathered at the Hanuman temple in Somwar Peth, for the worshiping the coconut. The formal ‘Puja’ is performed by a prominent trader. The gathering then formed itself in to a passion which wends at way towards the jetty. Now comes the time to worship the sea. As per the tradition, the first coconut is offered from the peolpe of the sindhudurga fort. In the early days, a gold plated coconut was offered. Over the years a coconut wrapped in golden colored paper has taken its place. The ceremonial armed salute has been replaced by fire crackers. After the fort ritual is over, people offer their coconuts from Jetty. Thousands of people dressed in their best & youngsters with their colorful apparel forms major attraction of celebration. Many hawkers sells ballons, toys & chat items on jetty & people purchase these to their children.
The coconut breaking contest form an interesting side light of celebration. Malvani people crowd to see the contest & enjoy the moment. The contestant who break the maximum number of rival coconut become the proud winner of the contest. Many visitors also visit Malvan to enjoy this festival.
The celebration generally ends up with ‘kabaddi’ match played between local teams.
Makar Sankrant (January)
Sankrant means the passing of the sun from one Zodiac sign (i.e. Dhanu)to the other(i.e.Makar). -People exchange greeting and good wishes on this day. Sweet and crunchy ladoos made of sesame and jaggery called “TilGul”are the favourite sweets. In typical marathi the saying goes “Tilgul ghya aani god bola” i.e. take this tilgul & be sweet & kind to each other
This festival is specially for women. Women wore beautiful saries & Jewelries, visit all neighbor families, also give invitation to other known ladies for “Haldi-Kunku” ceremony. Thus ladies enjoy the day offering sweets & chatting.
Makar Sankranti usually falls on 14th of January every year. This festival is one of the many festivals which have been celebrated since the vedic period. On this day the sun comes across the north of equator. On this very day it is believed that ‘the morning’ of the deities commences. This particular period, when the sun is positioned across the north of equator has been considered as an ‘accomplishment giving period’ by the scholars. Even Astrology endorses this fact and this period is supposed to be auspicious for the various activities like construction of the houses, performance of oblations, establishment of the deities etc. This period is considered to be so auspicious, that if a person dies during this period he is supposed to attain liberation..
Women of Maharashtra attired in beautiful apparels visit the houses of their relatives and friends, where they are welcomed. The hosts honour them by applying ‘Kumkum’.
Christmas is the biggest Christian festival and one of the national festivals of India. It celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th December every year. It is called “Nataal” in Marathi.
The city and villages dress up for the yuletide spirit. Shops get ready to do brisk business and offer mega discounts and sales. People buy new clothes, gifts (exchanging gifts is an age-old Christmas practice and people choose gifts for their loved ones with great thought and affection), a variety of things to cook, Christmas decorations, amongst other things.
Folks send Christmas greetings to their friends and families in faraway places. People decorate their homes to the hilt with Christmas trees (or the various substitutes available in the markets), wreathes with bright red decorative baubles, festoons, bells and other small trinkets.
Christian people hang beautiful star-shaped paper lamps of various colours and sizes outside their homes.
Nearly a week before Christmas, the church, club and school choirs start doing the rounds of their neighborhood and are greeted by people with cakes and other eatables. Christmas carols are sung in various local languages all over the country.
Churches hold a special Midnight Mass, attended by most people of the community. People especially look forward to this Mass, as this is not only a sacred prayer ceremony but an important social event as well. Men and women wear new clothes and come for the Mass looking and smelling their absolute best. The Mass goes on for over a couple of hours and people fondly remember the Savior who gave up his life so that they may live.
After the mass, people head off home on this hallowed night, and children gambol on their way back, burning sparklers and bursting loads of crackers. Everyone sleeps with a peaceful easy feeling, as the next morning brings with it, the Big Day! On Christmas Day, people get ready for the biggest feast. Relatives and friends visit and wish each other a ‘Happy Christmas’ or a ‘Merry Christmas’ and eat the ‘haute cuisine’ especially prepared for the occasion. Many towns hold special carnivals and circus shows on the 25th and the entire community gets together to have a jolly good time. Young people organize excursions, go out to watch films and shows and generally live it up. Thus, all to soon, Christmas comes to an end but each year, it leaves the people with more memories to cherish.
Is celebrated with traditional fervor, amity and exchange of gifts. A dish of seviyan is specially cooked and served on the occasion.