Festivals of the World

Wiki tells us that “A festival is an event, usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on some unique aspect of that community.”

1 can say that a festival is a window by which 1 can get the real feel of the place. That explains why world tours are made with an eye on them. What better opportunity for tourists than this, to get acquainted with the culture of the place.

This blog entry just attempts to list out some well known festivals around the world (in alphabetical order) :

  1. Chinese New Year :
  2. Dates : A date between January 21 and February 20.
    Countries : China
    Info :
    • Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays.
    • Each year has a presiding animal zodiac . The cyclic order is such : Rat, Ox (2009), Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig
    • According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or “Year” in Chinese.
    • The villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors & burst firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.
  3. Christmas :
  4. Dates : December 25 .
    Countries : Most Countries
    Info :
    • Christmas Day, is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.
    • Modern customs of the holiday include gift-giving, Church celebrations, exchange of Christmas cards, and the display of various decorations—including the Christmas tree, lights, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly.
    • Santa Claus (also referred to as Father Christmas, although the two figures have different origins) is a popular mythological figure often associated with bringing gifts at Christmas for children.
  5. Diwali :
  6. Dates : 3 consecutive days between October & November .
    Countries : India,Nepal
    Info :
    • Diwali or Dīpāvali is a significant festival in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and an official holiday in India.
    • Celebrations include decorating homes with lights, Fireworks, distributing sweets and gifts.
    • In Hinduism, across many parts of India and Nepal, it is the homecoming of Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over Ravana.
  7. Durga Puja :
  8. Dates : 6 consecutive days between September & October .
    Countries : India,Nepal & Bangladesh.
    Info :
    • It is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates worship of Hindu goddess Durga.
    • It is celebrated mainly in West Bengal, Assam , Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura states of India.
    • In Kolkata alone more than two thousand pandals(1 shown above) are set up, all clamouring for the admiration and praise of the populace.
  9. Easter :
  10. Dates : A date between 22 March and 25 April.
    Countries : Most Countries.
    Info :
    • Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day or Easter Sunday.
    • Relatively newer elements such as the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts have become part of the holiday’s modern celebrations.
    • The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the rebirth.
    • Celebrations include Religious (church) services, festive family meals, Easter egg hunts, and gift-giving.
  11. Eid :
  12. Dates : A date in September.
    Countries : Most Countries.
    Info :
    • Eid ul-Fitr often abbreviated to Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
    • Muslims are commanded by the Quran to complete their fast on the last day of Ramadan and then recite the Takbir all throughout the period of Eid
    • Celebrations include Congregational prayer, giving charity, wearing new clothes, eating sweet foods. Kids usually get gifts or money.
  13. Ganesh Chaturthi :
  14. Dates : 10 consecutive days between 20 August and 15 September.
    Countries : India.
    Info :
    • It is celebrated as the birthday of Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, who is widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
    • Ganesha Statues are installed in temporary structures (Called pandals) for people to visit & worship.
    • On the 11th day, the statue is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, and fanfare to be immersed in a water body symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of his devotees.
  15. Halloween :
  16. Dates : October 31.
    Countries : USA.
    Info :
    • It could be seen as a festival of the dead. The ancient Gaels believed that the border between this world and the otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through.
    • It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm.
    • Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, ghost tours, bonfires, visiting haunted attractions, pranks, reading scary stories, and watching horror films.
  17. International Kite Festival :
  18. Dates : Multiple dates in many countries.
    Countries : Many countries.
    Info :
    • The earliest written account of kite flying was about 200 B.C. when the Chinese General Han Hsin of the Han Dynasty flew a kite over the walls of a city he was attacking to measure how far his army would have to tunnel to reach past the defenses.
    • Kite flying is popular in many Asian countries, where it often takes the form of ‘kite fighting’, in which participants try to snag each other’s kites or cut other kites down.
    • In Vietnam, kites are flown without tails. Instead small flutes are attached allowing the wind to “hum” a musical tune.
  19. New Year:
  20. Dates : New Years Eve
    Countries : All Countries.
    Info :
    • In countries which use the Gregorian calendar, New Year is celebrated on January 1, the date that is considered the most festive.
    • Sydney launched over 80,000 fireworks at midnight, and had more than one and a half million attendees; it was also the most-watched event on television worldwide last year.
    • A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year’s Day and remain until fulfilled or abandoned.
  21. The Marathon :
  22. Dates : Multiple dates.
    Countries : Many Countries.
    Info :
    • Annually, more than 800 marathons are organized worldwide.
    • Five of the largest and most prestigious races, Boston, New York City, Chicago, London, and Berlin, form the biennial World Marathon Majors series, awarding $500,000 annually to the best overall male and female performers in the series.
    • Most participants do not run a marathon to win. More important for most runners is their personal finish time and their placement within their specific gender and age group, though some runners just want to finish.
  23. Mardi Gras :
  24. Dates : Day before Ash Wednesday (Between Feb 4 & March 10) .
    Countries : Many Countries
    Info :
    • It refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, ending on the day before Ash Wednesday. From the French term “Mardi Gras” (literally “Fat Tuesday”), has come to mean the whole period of activity related to those events, beyond just the single day, often called Mardi Gras Day or Fat Tuesday.
    • Mardi Gras(The feast before the fast) is the only entertainment venue in the world where the stars foot the bill and the audience gets a free ride.
    • The Catholic Church licensed Carnival, which means “farewell to flesh,” as a period of feasting before the fasting of Lent.
    • Mardi Gras generates more than $1 billion in annual spending.
    • The millions of colorful beaded necklaces thrown from floats are the most visible symbols and souvenirs of Mardi Gras.

Ref :
http://www.bugbog.com/festivals/exotic_festivals.html
http://www.journeymart.com/tools/holidays.htm

http://www.festivalsofindia.in/al.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festival
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/canleo/kitecalendar/
http://www.marathonguide.com/races/races.cfm?place=Intl
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