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History of festivals

This topic deals with the stories behind each festival.

Bathukamma (Festival of Telangana state)

According to the Hindu religious scholars and pundits, once upon a time there was a King named Dharmangada who belonged to the Chola Dynasty. This particular king largely ruled over South India. His wife gave birth to a girl child after many years of rituals and prayer. She was named as Princess Lakshmi. During Baby Lakshmi brought up she survived many unforeseen accidents and incidents in life. The parents felt life and death while bring up their only child. Later they named their daughter as Bathukamma. According to the Telugu language, Bathuku means life and Amma means a female names and mother.Then on this particular Bathukamma festival is grandly celebrated by young girls in Telangana state in India. The main purpose of this particular festival is to pray with devotion to the Goddess in the strong belief that all young girls would get their beloved husbands as per their desire and wish soon.On the other hand, married women along with their household friends and relatives celebrate this festival in order to pray to the Goddess for prosperity and good health of their family. This particular festival is primarily celebrated by unmarried young girls who are in the marriageable age. On the other hand men folks along with their wife’s and other family members, relatives and friends help in the gathering of flowers and floral arrangement of a beautiful flower stack during the festival season.This festival is plays a vital role in the culture and tradition of Telangana state. Every year, Bathukamma festival is eagerly looked forward by the Hindu religious people.

Diwali

It is believed that on this day Lord Rama, along with his consort Sita and loyal brother Lakshman was returning to his hometown Ayodhya after 14 long years of exile in the forest. He had just finished battling and overcoming the fierce demon king of Ceylon, Ravana, who had abducted Sita. In this battle he was ably helped by Lord Hanuman and his army of monkeys as well as an army of courageous bears. The people of Ayodhya lit lamps in every home to welcome their true King as well as celebrate his victory over Ravana and also the safe return of their Queen Sita. They danced and made merry and lit firecrackers to express their joy over his return. And as a mark of respect and worship the festivities continue every year till this today.

As another lesser-known story goes, Lord Krishna had battled a demon called Narakasura and emerged victorious. The people of the city were overjoyed and welcomed Krishna back with lamps in their hands.Since Rama and Krishna are two of the most popular gods in the Hindu lore, it is only logical that Diwali is celebrated with such pomp and glory.

Bonalu (Festival of Telangana state)

The festival history started in 1813 in Hyderabad and Secunderabad regimental bazaar. Plague disease broke out in Twin Cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, claiming thousands of lives. The military battalion of Hyderabad deployed at Ujjain knowing about the plague in Hyderabad, prayed to the Mother Goddess in Mahankaal Temple – Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. They vowed that if people were saved from the epidemic they would install the idol of Mahankali back in their city. It is believed that Mahakali destroyed the disease and kept pestilence at arms length. Military Battalion came back to the city and installed an Idol and every year people offer Bonalu to Mother Goddess Mahankali.

It is also believed that this is the time when Goddess Mahakali comes back to her parental home during Ashada Maasam or the period from late June to August.

Dussehra

The celebration of Dussehra is rooted in the Hindu epic of Ramayana. Lord Rama, the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu, killed the ten-headed demon Ravana, in Satyug. Ravan had abducted Rama's wife Sita. Rama, along with his brother Lakshmana, follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys, headed towards Lanka (Ravana's Kingdom) in order to enter a war with Ravana and rescue Sita. On his way to Lanka, Rama organized Chandi Pooja to seek the blessings of Ma Durga, the Goddess of power and courage. After seeking her blessings, Lord Rama defeated and killed Ravana, with the help of his fellow beings. Therefore, the day was celebrated to commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravana, which later came to be known as Vijayadashmi or Dussehra.

Another legend is connected to Goddess Durga. According to the story, all the Gods in swarglok and the living beings on earth were upset by the tyranny of the demon Mahishasura, because he had acquired invincible power to conquer the world. He was undefeatable, even by the mighty deities - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Therefore, all the Gods decided to create a power, which would destroy Mahishasura and free the living beings from his despotism and restore the swarglok to them. This gave rise to the creation of Goddess Durga, an avatar of Ma Shakti. With the weapons given to her by the Gods, Goddess Durga went to fight against Mahishasura. She defeated the demon, successfully, and restored the swarglok to the Gods, as promised. Her victory is celebrated as Vijayadashmi or Dusshera, by many people following Hinduism.

Rain Of Gold Coins

According to a story, Kautsa, the young son of Devdatta (a Brahmin), was residing in the city of Paithan. After pursuing his education under the guidance of Rishi Varatantu, he wanted to offer a dakshina to his Guru. Although the guru refused initially, he later asked for 140 million gold coins. The student approached King Raghu for the coins, because he was renowned for his generosity. Within three days of the student's request, King Raghu asked the God of Wealth - Kuber - to create a rain of gold coins near the apati and shanu trees. After presenting the promised gold coins to his guru, Kautsa distributed the rest of the coins to the needy, on the day of Dussehra. Since then, people loot the leaves of apati trees and present to each other as a symbol of gold, on Dussehra. 

Shami Tree

Another legend connected to the origin of Dusshera finds place in the greatest Hindu epic - Mahabharata. According to a story, Pandavas where banished by Kauravas for 12 years and 1 year of disguise, because the former were defeated in gambling (chausar) by the latter. Subsequently, Pandavas decided to spend their first 12 years of exile in the woods and the last year in disguise. Since they were asked to remain incognito during that period, Pandavas did not want to be exposed to others. Therefore, they lay aside their divine and powerful weapons during the exile. They concealed their weapons under the shami tree, situated close to the place of their residence. At the end of every year of the exile, Pandavas came to the shami tree to check whether their weapons were there.

Whenever Pandavas approached the tree, they worshipped it and Goddess Durga, the presiding deity. In the mean time, Kauravas were making every attempt to trace Pandavas, so that they could extend the exile time, because it was said that if they were found, they would have to spend another 12 years in the woods. However, the Kauravas could find the Pandavas only past the stipulated time. Subsequently, the Pandavas went to the shami tree, fetched their concealed weapons and went straight to the battle field to fight the Kauravas. Pandavas emerged victorious. The event took place on dasami and since good had achieved victory over the evil, it came to be known as Vijayadasami. Since then, people hug each other under the shami tree and exchange its leaves.

Edupayala Jatara

According to the legend Nagsanpalli is the place where King Janamejeya offered the "Sarpayagam" to finish of the race of snakes. However, the snakes invoked the spirit of Ganga to flush the Sarpayagam. It is believed that Ganga arrived here and split into seven rivulets touching the feet of Goddess Bhavani giving the name of Edupayala.

Holi

There was once a demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Narayana and refused to worship his father. Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed. Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. The legend has it that Holika had to pay the price of her sinister desire by her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Narayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion. Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika. And, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.

Sammakka Saralamma Jatara

There are many legends about the miraculous powers of Sammakka. According to a tribal story, about 6-7 centuries ago, that is in the 13th century, some tribal leaders who went for a hunting found a new born girl (Sammakka) emitting enormous light playing amidst tigers. She was taken to their habitation. The head of the tribe adopted her and brought up as a chieftain. She later became the saviour of the tribals of the region. She was married to Pagididda Raju, a feudatory tribal chief of Kakatiyas (who ruled the country of Andhra from Warangal City between 1000 AD and 1380 AD). She was blessed with two daughters and one son namely Sarakka, Nagulamma and Jampanna respectively. After sometime, there was a severe drought that lasted for years and as a result the mighty Godavari River dried up. Pagedde Raju didn't pay tribute to King Pratapa Rudra. In turn, King Pratapa Rudra sent his army to subdue the tribals and collect the tribute. Then a War was fought between tribal chief Pagidde Raju and Kakatiya army on the banks of "Sampenga Vagu" (Jampanna Vagu). The Koya army fought valiantly but could not with stand the well equipped Kakatiya army. Though fought valiantly Pagididda Raju, his daughters Sarakka, Nagulamma, son in law Govinda Raju (husband of Sarakka) lost lives in the battle. Later Jampanna also died in Sampenga Vagu (later renamed as Jampanna Vagu in the memory of his heroic fight against well trained Kakatiya army). Upon hearing this news Sammakka also entered war and caused lot of damage to Kakatiya army. Surprised by her bravery and valour, the Kakatiya Prime Minister visited war ravaged Koya kingdom with a proposal of peace and offered Sammakka a place in the emperor’s harem as the chief queen.  Samakka turned down the offer and resolved to continue the fight to avenge the dead.  The battle continued and Sammakka was seriously wounded.  Samakka told her people that as long as they remembered her, she would protect them.  Then, she cursed the Kakatiya dynasty to perish  and with that wounded body proceeded towards Chilakala gutta and disappeared  in the forest.  The grieving Koyas searched for their queen. All they found were a red ochre box (a container of vermilion), her  bangles and the pug marks of a huge full grown tigress, at exactly the same place where she was found as a infant by the koyas.  The Kakatiya dynasty came to an end very soon. Since then the Koyas, Waddaras and other Indian tribes and castes have been holding festivals in memory of Sammakka and Sarakka regularly.

Ganesh Chaturthi

The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi finds its origin in the Maratha reign, with Chatrapati Shivaji starting the festival. The belief lays in the story of the birth of Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Although there are various stories attached to his birth, the one most relevant is shared here. Goddess Parvati was the creator of Ganapati. She, in the absence of Lord Shiva, used her sandalwood paste to create Ganesha and put him to guard while she had gone for bathing. While she was gone, Lord Shiva got into a fight with Ganesha as he did not allow him to enter, as per his mother's orders. Enraged, Lord Shiva cut off Ganesha's head. When Parvati saw this sight, she took the form of Goddess Kali and threatened to destroy the world. This worried everyone and they requested Lord Shiva to find a solution and calm the rage of Goddess Kali. Shiva then ordered all his followers to immediately go and find a child whose mother has her back towards her child in negligence and bring his head. The first child seen by the followers was that of an elephant and they, as ordered, cut his head and brought to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva immediately placed the head on Ganesha's body and brought it to life again. The rage of Maa Kali was calmed and Goddess Parvati was overwhelmed, once again. All the Lords blessed Ganesha and the day till today is celebrated for the same reason.

Onam

A long long time ago, an Asura (demon) king called Mahabali ruled Kerala. He was a wise, benevolent and judicious ruler and beloved of his subjects. Soon his fame as an able king began to spread far and wide, but when he extended his rule to the heavens and the netherworld, the gods felt challenged and began to fear his growing powers. Presuming that he might become over-powerful, Aditi, the mother of Devas pleaded with Lord Vishnu to curtail Mahabali's powers. Vishnu transformed himself into a dwarf called Vamana and approached Mahabali while he was performing a yagna and asked for alms. Pleased with the dwarf brahmin's wisdom, Mahabali granted him a wish.The Emperor's preceptor, Sukracharya warned him against making the gift, for he realized that the seeker was no ordinary person. But the Emperor's kingly ego was boosted to think that God had asked him for a favour. So he firmly declared that there is no greater sin than going back on one's promise. He kept his word. The Vamana asked for a simple gift — three paces of land — and the king agreed to it. Vishnu in the guise of Vamana then increased his stature and with the first step covered the sky, blotting out the stars, and with the second, straddled the netherworld. Realising that Vamana's third step will destroy the earth, Mahabali offered his head as the last step. Vishnu's fatal third step pushed him to the netherworld, but before banishing him to the underworld Vishnu granted him a boon. Since he was attached to his kingdom and his people, he was allowed to return once a year from exile. Onam is the celebration that marks the homecoming of King Mahabali. It is the day when a grateful Kerala pays a glorious tribute to the memory of this benign king who gave his all for his subjects.

Another legend has it that King Mahabali was a devout worshipper of Lord Vishnu. He was sincere, honest, just and a good ruler. But he had one weakness — ego. And to eradicate his pride and redeem his beloved devotee of this one sin, Vishnu came to earth in the form of a dwarf Brahmin named Vamana. The king in his pride asked the Brahmin what he wanted for he could give anything. Vamana asked for three paces of land and the king agreed. To humble him Vishnu, as Vamana showed Mahabali that he is just a puny creature in front of God's universal stature. Mahabali, who was a man of principles, realized God's purpose and offered his head for Vamana's footstep, as he was sent to another world. This fatal step proved a blessing in disguise for the good king — the foot salvaged and released him from the recurrent cycle of birth and death. That is why Onam is celebrated by wearing new clothes and resolving to lead a new life of truth, piety, love, and humility.

Source: Portal Content team

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aleena Oct 17, 2018 03:24 PM

thanks for the post

Dheepika Oct 10, 2018 01:44 PM

Great post! Thanks for giving a brief explanation of different festivals celebrated in India.

sindhu Jan 18, 2018 12:12 AM

thank you for the post of explain the all festivals and real story it is very useful to us

Anonymous Mar 29, 2016 05:39 PM

nice explanations

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