Pinch, punch, it’s the first of the month and that means another month of religious celebrations, regional festivities and much fun is about to begin. This month’s guide gives you the low down on three of India’s biggest and explains what’s happening, when and where you can to join in.
September might seem like a relatively quiet month when it comes to religious festivals, but don’t be fooled. Ganesha Chaturthi, Bakr Id and Onam pack a real punch for India’s different religious communities.
Ganesha Chaturthi, a Hindu festival, takes place from the 5th to the 14th September
Ganesha Chaturthi, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, celebrates the birth of Elephant headed Hindu God, Ganesha. India Today wrote this great article on the festival last year. It gives some background on Ganesha, what happens at the festival and why the celebration takes place.
Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is one of the most recognised Hindu gods. He can be found everywhere. As the remover of obstacles, he is invoked at the start of prayers and on at the time of his birth he is worshipped with great fervour.
Huge Ganesha idols are installed in temporary shines (called pandals) prior to the start of the festival and people buy new Ganeshas for puja (prayers) at home.
On the final day of the festival on 14th September, known as Ganesha Vissarjan, idols are taken from their pandals, paraded through the streets and then immersed in water and left to float away.
Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated right across India, but is done so with particular passion in the states of Maharashta and Telengana. It’s absolutely massive in Mumbai where huge idols leave their pandals and are followed by hundreds of thousands to the city’s iconic Chowpatty beach to be immersed in the sea
Delhi’s celebrations are on a much smaller scale, but the city’s half a million Marathi’s will be out preparing their pandals. The Sree Vinayak Mandir in Sarojini Nagar and the Sankatahara Ganapathy Temple in Vasudhara Enclave are well known spots for Ganesha’s followers, as are Anandvan Society in Paschim Vihar and Metro Staff Quarters in Radio Colony.
Bakr Id, A Muslim festival, will be held on Monday 12th September
Bakr Id, (also known as Eid ul-Adha), is a Muslim festival. It is observed in India and right across the Muslim world.
It honours Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ismail, at what he thought was God’s command. Before Ibrahim is able to act, God sends his messenger, the Angel Jibra’il (Gabriel), to inform Ibrahim that his willingness to sacrifice his son is enough.
On this day, Muslim’s sacrifice an animal, often a goat. The meat of the animal is divided into three parts. One third is kept by the family, one third is gifted to relatives and friends, and the final third is handed out to the poor.
Mosques in Muslim areas around Old Delhi and Nizamuddin will see a rise in footfall as the faithful come to prayer and to share.
Onam will take place from the 4th September to 17th September in God’s own Country, Kerela.
You’ll have to head to Kerela to catch Onam in full swing.
The southern states most important festival, celebrating the harvest festival and the annual visit of King Mahabali, the leader who reigned at a time when there was peace, prosperity and equality, is action packed.
Things kick off on the 4th September with the Athachamayam festival. Held at Tripunithura, Ernakulam in Kochi, decorated elephants, floats and musicians parade through the streets.
Keralites continue to celebrate Onam, with music, dancing, food, sports, games, for the next 13 days. The most important day of Onam, Thiruvonam, is celebrated on the 14th September, right across the State.
Kerala Tourism helpful website gives a good run down of events, what is happening, where and when. Kochi, Trivandrum, Thrissur, and Kottayam host the main celebrations.
If you are heading to the South think about staying until the 17th September for Pulikali, the dance of the tiger. Men are prepared with make up to represent and celebrate the Tiger. Again, Kerela Tourism website gives you the background. Swaraj Round in Thrissur is one of the main places for Puli Kali performance.
You need a big belly to be a good looking tiger, but there’s no shortage of men with the stomach for the job. Click on the You Tube click below if you don’t believe me.