India's Religious Festivals

Some consider the Indian civilization to be the oldest on earth, and its culture, traditions and religions reflect that history. The country plays host to a number of colorful and lively religious festivals that display its customs. For example, the Holi festival is both a religious and a harvest festival, and is striking due to its tradition of throwing colored powder or water at other revelers. Aarti is another religious festival, and the city of Varanasi holds a particularly significant incarnation of it along the banks of the River Ganges. In this video, explores the religions and festivals found in India.

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A Unique Culture

The Indian civilization is believed by some to be the oldest on earth. It is therefore no wonder the country’s culture is rich with tradition and history, and that these customs have found their way across the planet. Indian religions and cuisine are popular throughout the globe, and yoga has influenced the world.

The Dharmic Religions

India is considered the birthplace of a number of major religions, and these are communally known as Dharmic religions. These include Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Each of these faiths features a number of unique beliefs and traditions, and they are all central to the country’s culture.

The Holi Festival

For example, in Hindu culture, Holi is a festival held each year at the end of the winter season. The most energetic of the Hindu festivals, it is actually a harvest festival as well as a religious one. Celebrations begin with a bonfire on Holi eve. A colorful festival, the main day of the event is highlighted by people throwing colored powder and water at each other. Locations that hold this festival are becoming increasingly popular during its run, as this cheerful event provides an interesting look at local culture.

The Aarti Festival

Another Hindu festival is aarti. This ceremony of worship sees light offered to the gods. A plate with burning wicks is sometimes decorated with flowers. This ceremony is performed between one and five times each day, and during other Hindu celebrations. People gather, the smell of incense wafts through the air, and candles float down the river for a spectacular display of faith and ritual.

Varanasi's Aarti Festival

One city that holds an important aarti ceremony is Varanasi. Found on the River Ganges, this city is a central one to Buddhists, Jainists and especially to Hindus. In fact, Varanasi is a holy place in these three religions, and the holiest site in the world in Hinduism. The city’s significance is related to its proximity to the river, which is believed by many to have healing properties. It is for this reason that all Hindus must bathe in the Ganges at one time in their lives, as the water is said to cure the sick and wash away sins.

A sacred country, India has no shortage of religious and cultural ceremonies for you to discover on your next visit.

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