Festivals in India
In India, festivals do not just offer people a temporary reprieve from their daily grind. Imbued with deep inner significance, each festival is a multifaceted celebration. The day on which a particular festival is celebrated has a special astrological significance, and certain observances on these days yield manifold benefits. That is why Indian festivals are marked by certain observances such as fasting, oil massages, particular pujas, abstinence, etc.
In the Indian tradition all one’s needs, be it at a totally gross level or the most subtle, are sought through the Divine. So if one wants material prosperity, one worships Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity; for knowledge one worships Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. Though Hindus ultimately believe in one Supreme Divine Entity, to meet the differing needs and mindsets, the different aspects of the Supreme are worshipped as different gods and goddesses.
Each festival is also associated with a story from the Puranas that gives an insight into the deeper spiritual significance underlying the celebration. Part of common folklore, these stories reach out to ordinary people in a way that dry theological facts cannot. These stories are also underpinned by certain philosophical premises. In India, the term for philosophy is darshan, which means to see or perceive.
In Indian philosophy, that which is seen by a rishi (Self-realized seer) is the Truth, and what he or she propounds is the Truth; speculations about Truth do not fall within the scope of Indian philosophy. It was these rishis of ancient times who conceived of festivals as a...