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Transcript
List of Indian Festivals 2011
Whilst exploring Hindu religion it may also be interesting to explore the Hindi language and its script,
Devanagari. The Hindi language worksheet is designed to support this activity.
In January
13 January 2011 – Lohri
14 January 2011 – Makar Sankrati
26 January 2011 – Republic Day
Term 1
8 February 2011 - Basant Panchami
16 February 2011 - Id ul Milad
2 March 2011 - Maha Shivratri
19 March 2011 - Holi
Term 2
12 April 2011 - Ram Naumi
14 April 2010 - Baisakhi
22 April 2010 - Good Friday
Term 3
13 August 2011 - Raksha Bandhan
15 August 2011 - Independence Day
22 August 2011 - Janam Ashtami
31 August 2011 - Idul Fitar
1 September 2011 - Ganesh Chaturti
Term 4
2 October 2011 - Gandhi Jayanti
6 October 2011 - Dushera
26 October 2011 - Diwali
27 October 2011 - Goverdhan Pooja (Cow worship)
28 October 2011 - Bhaiya Dooj
7 November 2011 - Id ul Zuha
10 November 2011 - Guru Nanak Jayanti
6 December 2011 - Moharram
25 December 2011 - X’mas Day
Indian Festivals
Basant Panchami, the Festival of Spring, is celebrated mainly in Haryana and Punjab, during FebruaryMarch. It is celebrated at the end of winter to welcome spring. 'Basant Ritu' means the spring season in Hindi. During this
season in Haryana the mustard fields are in full bloom, giving the impression of yellow carpets laid out on acres of land.
People welcome this change of season by wearing yellow clothes, flying kites and having fun. A puja (prayer) is held in
the house, teeka applied on the deity as well as everyone's forehead.
Kite flying is the major and most colorful event of this festival. The sky is covered with different colorful fighter kites. The
kites (patang in Hindi) are of medium size normally from 1 feet to 4 feet across and made of paper on a frame of bamboo
strips. Preparation for this festival start many days earlier and people spend a lot of money on the kites. New clothes are
purchased for this festival and many delicious dishes prepared for this particular occasion. In Haryana, sweet yellow rice,
flavored with saffron, is prepared for Basant Panchami.
'Yellow' is the color of the festival and so it dominates everywhere i.e. in the kites, in the clothes, especially in the clothes
of ladies, as ladies make a lot of preparation for this particular occasion. There are kites in the sky not only in daytime but
also in night. People use searchlights in the night to fly the kites. All the family members gather at one single place, many
times on the rooftops, and celebrate this festival.
Saraswati Pooja by children
for education, books and learning
Id-e-Milad is a festival of both rejoicing and mourning. The festival of Id-e-Milad popularly known as Barah Wafat
the twelfth day is one of the important festival in the Muslim calendar. The day commemorates the birth and also the
death anniversary of Prophet Mohammed. It falls on the twelfth day of the third month Rabi-ul-Awwal of the Muslim
calendar, which is usually in September and October. The word 'barah' signifies the twelve days of the Prophet's sickness.
During these twelve days, priests and learned men deliver sermons and Koranic texts in mosques, focusing on the life
and noble deeds of the Prophet. In some parts of the country, a ceremony known as sandal rites performed over the
symbolic footprints of the Prophet engraved in stone. It is considered auspicious to offer prayers and give alms on this
day.
In India, however, the celebrations mainly consist of street processions and functions. Where Nats (poems praising the
Prophet and his noble deeds) are sung and scholars preach sermons on the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet. In
some parts of the country, a 'sandal' rite is also performed. Prophet Mohammed, son of Abdul Muttalib, of the Qureysh
tribe, was born at Mecca in 570AD. From about 610 AD, he began to receive revelations sent down from Allah through
angel Gabriel. He spread the word among people, and soon had a small community of followers. Later Islam became one
of the most popular religions of the world. In 632 AD, Prophet Muhammad went on a pilgrimage to Mecca followed by
thousands of his devotees, where he preached his farewell sermon and later left the mortal world forever. The festival
mainly commemorates the teachings and beliefs of Prophet Mohammed.
Hinduism - An introduction
Hinduism is the third largest world religion with about 900 million Hindus worldwide. In 2001 there were about 559,000
Hindus in the UK, most of whom came originally from Gujurat and Punjab in India.
The religion dates back over 4,000 years.
Hinduism is made up of a variety of different religious beliefs and practices which originated near the river Indus in India.
The name 'Hindu' comes from the word Indus.
Beliefs
Central to Hinduism is the belief in a supreme God Brahman, the universal soul, which is found in everything.
Brahman is worshipped in a variety of forms, including Vishnu, Krishna, Rama, Shiva and several others. Hinduism does
not have any founder.
Hindus believe that life is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, governed by Karma.
Hindus believe that every action has an effect and there is a cause for everything. This is called the law of Karma.
Hindus believe that the soul passes through a cycle of lives and that the next life is dependent on how the previous life
was lived.
Holy Books
The main Hindu scriptures are:
 the Vedas, a collection of hymns praising the Vedic gods. Veda means 'knowledge'
 the Ramayana, long epic poems about Rama and Sita
 the Mahabharata, which includes the Bhagavad Gita
 the Puranas, a collection of stories about the different incarnations and the lives of saints.
Worship
Puja (worship) takes place in the Mandir (temple).
Mandirs vary in size from small village shrines to large buildings, surrounded by walls.
People can also visit the Mandir at any time to pray and participate in the bhajans (religious songs).
Hindus also worship at home and often have a special room with a shrine to particular gods.
Festivals:
Hindus celebrate many holy days
Holi
The meaning of Holi - the festival of colours (Key Stage 1) - Explain the meaning of Holi and the legends which lie
behind it.
Holi is a festival celebrated in north India. It marks the coming of Spring, usually in March.
Celebrations
Some families hold religious ceremonies, but for many Holi is more a time for fun than religious observance. Holi is a
colourful festival, with dancing, singing, and throwing of powder paint and coloured water. Bonfires are lit and roasting
grains, pop corn, coconut and chick peas are thrown on by Hindu families The next day, people of all ages go into the
streets for fun and paint-throwing. Everyone gets involved - with no distinctions between caste, class, age or gender.
Hindus have fun by smearing each other with paint and throwing coloured water at each other, all done in a spirit of
celebration
Religious story
Holi also celebrates Krishna, and the legend of Holika and Prahlad.
Some believe the origin of the festival lies with Krishna who was very mischievous as a young boy and threw coloured
water over the gopis (milkmaids) This developed into the practical jokes and games of Holi. The story of Prahlad is seen
to symbolise good overcoming evil and is why traditionally bonfires are lit at Holi. Prahlad was a prince. His father, the
king wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him. But Prahlad refused and worshipped Lord Vishnu instead. The
king's sister Holika, who was supposed to be immune to fire, tricked her nephew Prahlad into sitting on her lap in a bonfire
in order to destroy him. But because she was using her powers for evil, the plan failed and Prahlad emerged from the fire
unharmed, while Holika was devoured by the flames. In some parts of India effigies of Holika are burnt on the fire. Ashes
from Holi bonfires are thought to bring good luck.
Pupils could make cardboard cut-outs to retell the story of Prahlad and Holika. The Prahlad and Holika worksheet
may help with this activity.
Hindu worship (Key Stage 2)
Watch a video extract which looks at the Hindu idea of God in many forms. If possible, show and discuss some
shrine figures. Explain that many families choose a particular deity or form of the one supreme God to worship,
including Krishna, Lakshmi and Ganesha, the elephant-headed god.
Ask pupils to choose a shrine figure, investigate what they are holding or wearing, and explain why. As a class,
share findings and collate results. The Hindu Gods and Goddesses sheet may help with this activity.
Ask the children to draw a picture of themselves which shows their many different roles and interests, for
example wearing different hats or clothes, or holding different objects, showing the many sides and
characteristics that one person can have.
Religious expression through colour (Key Stage 2)
Look at how colour is used by different faiths to express religious feelings and ideas: for example in stained
glass windows or Buddhist mandalas. Look at examples of Indian artefacts.
Mix powder paints with pupils and paint pictures of bonfires or of people with painted faces.
Questions answered
Why is Krishna often shown as having blue skin?
1. It is thought that a demon attempted to kill baby Krishna by giving him poisoned milk. This made the baby turn
blue but he did not die and the demon shrivelled up into ashes.
2. Don't people get upset when coloured paint is thrown at Holi?
3. People throw powder paint (called "gulal") at each other (yes, even at complete strangers) and no-one seems to
mind. The air is often bright with clouds of coloured powder.
4. You can throw paint at strangers, soak your friends with coloured water while saying "don't be offended, it's Holi",
and, unless you're very unlucky, no-one will be upset. (But don't try this outside India!)
Shivaratri
is celebrated on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (Feb or March) every year. On the auspicious day,
devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the 'Tandava'.
It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and
offer fruits, flowers and bel leaves on Shiva Linga. Per scriptural and discipleship traditions, the penances are performed
in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach the goal more swiftly and avoid rebirth.
Ram Naumi
On
, or Rama Navami, on the nineth (navami) day of the month of Chaitra, we celebrate the birth of
Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who from time to time appears on this earth in many different forms and
restores order whenever evil gains the upper hand.
In the Indian city of Ayodhya, which still stands today, there ruled, during the Golden Age, a famous king, Dasaratha, who
was a model of virtue and an ideal ruler. He had three wives, which was not uncommon in Royal Families, and sometimes
essential, to ensure male offspring for the continuance of the royal line. These were Queen Kaushalya, Queen Sumitra
and Queen Kaikeyi. For several thousand years (Adhyatma Ramayana 1.4:9-10, p 21), King Dasaratha had been wishing
and praying for a son, but not even a single child had been born to him. Therefore he performed a famous, rare and
elaborate ceremony which only Kings are allowed to perform, the Great Horse Sacrifice. It took many years to prepare,
the most eminent priests from all over the world were put in charge to ensure that no mistakes were made. When the
sacrifice was held, people came from all over the world to receive its blessings.
Much of the rest of the world was in a terrible state. There was a demon king, Ravana, who ruled in
Sri Lanka. He had ten heads, and he used them all to think up evil deeds, to use foul language, tell lies, take drugs, eat
filthy food, and not to brush his teeth. His demonic allies (called Rakshasas) were causing trouble all over the world,
especially to religious people who wanted to serve God by doing honest jobs and by praying and meditating in peace and
quiet. The Rakshasas were not merely motivated by greed, as many crooks and criminals are today, but they positively
hated God, hated goodness, were malicious and power-hungry, and wanted to cause as much trouble as they possibly
could. They also had magic powers. They could assume any shape they wished, e.g. appear as a golden deer, or as a
beautiful woman, or as a trust-worthy Brahmin entitled to respect. That made them very dangerous because, as even
today, it was then not easy to tell who was good and who was bad. Eventually they ruled much of our world. Even the
gods in heaven and in the underworld, and even the Americans, were frightened of them. A long time ago, when he was
not yet as bad as now, Ravana had been given a boon (promise) by God Brahma, namely that he could never be
defeated by any god. Ravana had forgotten to ask that he should be safe from men as well because he thought men were
so puny that he could defeat them without a boon.
The Gods called on Lord Brahma for help. Brahma, as usual, turned to Lord Vishnu and asked him to become a human
being, since only as such would he be able to defeat Ravana. Vishnu knew that King Dasaratha was just offering the
Great Sacrifice to support his prayer for a son and how virtuous he and his Queens were. So he decided to help the world
by being born into the King's family.
Suddenly a celestial messenger arose out of the sacrificial fire, casting about him a light as bright as an atomic explosion.
He carried in his hands a golden chalice filled with payasa broth (milk and rice), but this payasa was divine. He told the
king to give it to his wives and promised him sons. The King tasted a little immediately, then went to his wives and gave
half to Kaushalya, one third to Sumitra, one eighth to Kaikeyi, and, "after reflection" (Valmiki), the remainder to Sumitra.
So in effect Kaushalya received 4/8, Sumitra 3/8 and poor Kaikeyi only 1/8, and she was destined to cause a lot of trouble
later in the story. The three queens soon became pregnant, and a divine light radiated from their wombs.
At the same time many of the other major and minor gods, in fact thousands of them, incarnated in both humans and
animals (e.g. monkeys, bears, birds), were born and even had off-spring, became a multitude of warriors, all to be on
stand-by to help Lord Rama in his task of subduing evil.
Two of these incarnations were particularly important:
 Lord Hanuman, an incarnation of Lord Shiva in the form of a monkey, was Rama's most loyal and loving servant,
much beloved by all of us, and for us the role-model of a loyal servant, employee and ally.
 Sita, an incarnation of Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu's heavenly wife, went on to marry Lord Rama in his human existence
and is our model of the ideal wife.
In due course, the three Queens, one after another, gave birth to four divine children:
 Kaushalya to Rama, who was formed from half of Lord Vishnu
 Kaikeyi to Bharata (after whom India is named 'Bharat'), a quarter of Lord Vishnu
 Sumitra to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna, one eighth of Lord Vishnu each
On the eleventh day after their birth they were named. Lakshmana became closely attached to Rama, and the two were
inseparable. Similarly Shatrughna and Bharata became very close.
The subsequent life of Lord Rama is a big story, the Ramayana, and has been written down in several epics by different
authors in different Indian languages, e.g. Valmiki (Sanskrit), Tulsidas (Hindi), Kambar (Tamil), Krittivasa (Bengali), and
they have become literary and devotional classics in their languages. They describe Rama's childhood, adolescence, life
with his guru, marriage to Sita, his 14-year exile, the abduction and rescue of Sita, the battle with, and death of, Ravana,
Rama's triumphant return to his capital Ayodhya (which we celebrate at Diwali).
Some unholy and unscrupulous politicians have tried to make a religious issue of the question whether it is more
meritorious to worship Rama on the exact spot where he is said to have been born rather than doing so a few hundred
yards away, and thousands have died in the resulting communal violence. The people participating in this violence have
forgotten the ancient proverb from one of the great epics:
"A thousand Ramas born in Ayodhya will do No good if he's not born in you."
When Hanuman was asked: "Where is your beloved Rama?", he tore open his chest and revealed the image of Rama in
all his divine glory residing in his heart.
Ayodhya is our heart. Ayodhya is here in Blackburn. Wherever we are, Ayodhya is always HERE. We invite Rama to be
born in us, and we worship him, not by public clamour, aggression or revenge, but by studying his life and following his
example, as the ideal son, brother, disciple, loving and respectful husband, soldier and king. 'Soldier and King' in our case
means being honest and reliable when doing our own job. This goes for men and women and for Rama, Sita and
Hanuman alike, each picking the lessons from which he can benefit. If we do this, if we concern ourselves with our own
duties rather than with those of others, and with our duties more than with our rights, then truly a million Ramas will be
born on this earth, we will be Rama's servants in his battle against evil, and Vishnu will be incarnate even today and win
the Battle of Lanka, for Lanka, too, is in our heart. Each moral and COMPASSIONATE decision in our daily life is an arrow
fired against Ravana. We fight this Holy War (jihad!) each time we have to decide whether to do right or wrong - and
whether or not to follow the example of Rama, Sita and Hanuman.
Baisakhi Festival
Baisakhi is one of the major festivals of Sikhs and is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm
and gaiety in the state of Punjab and all throughout the world where there is a significant
Sikh population. For the large farming community of Punjab, Baisakhi Festival marks the
time for harvest of rabi crops and they celebrate the day by performing joyful bhangra and
gidda dance. For the Sikh community, Baisakhi Festival has tremendous religious
significance as it was on a Baisakhi Day in 1699, that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh
Guru laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa-the Order of the Pure Ones.
Date of Baisakhi
Baisakhi Festival falls on the first day of Vaisakh month (April-May) according to
Nanakshahi or Sikh Calendar. For this reason, Baisakhi is also popularly known as
Vaisakhi. According to English calendar, the date of Baisakhi corresponds to April 13 every year and April 14 once in
every 36 years. This difference in Baisakhi dates is due to the fact that day of Baisakhi is reckoned according to solar
calendar and not the lunar calendar. The auspicious date of Baisakhi is celebrated all over India under different names
and different set of rituals and celebrations. Baisakhi date coincides with 'Rongali Bihu' in Assam, 'Naba Barsha' in
Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and 'Pooram Vishu' in Kerala.
Baisakhi Celebrations
People of Punjab celebrate the festival of Baisakhi with exuberance and devotion. As the festival has tremendous
importance in Sikh religion, major activities of the day are organized in Gurdwaras. People wake up early to prepare for
the day. Many also take bath in the holy river to mark the auspicious occasion. After getting ready people pay a visit to
their neighbourdood gurdwara and take part in the special prayer meeting organized for the day. At the end of the
Baisakhi ardas, congregates receive specially prepared Kara prasad or sweetened semolina. This is followed by a guru ka
langar or community lunch.
Later, during the day people of Sikh faith take out a Baisakhi procession under the leadership of Panj piaras. The
procession moves through the major localities of the city amidst the rendition of devotional songs by the participating men,
women and children. Mock duels, bhangra and gidda performances make the procession joyous and colourful.
Celebrations by Farmers
For the large farming community of Punjab and Haryana, Baisakhi marks a New Year’s time as it is time to harvest rabi
crop. On Baisakhi, farmers thank god for the bountiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes and
make merry by singing, dancing and enjoying the best of festive food.
Cries of "Jatta aai Baisakhi", rent the skies as gaily men and women break into the bhangra and gidda dance to express
their joy. Everyday farming scenes of sowing, harvesting, winnowing and gathering of crops are expressed through zestful
movements of the body to the accompaniment of ballads and dhol music.
In several villages of Punjab Baisakhi Fairs are organized where besides other recreational activities, wrestling bouts are
also held.
Raksha Bandhan
Around mid-August, Hindus all over the world celebrate Raksha bandhan.
The Meaning of Raksha Bandhan
"Raksha" means protection, and "bandhan" means bound or binding therefore the name 'Raksha Bandhan' suggests 'a bond
of protection'.. In North India, the occasion is popularly called Rakhi, Raksha Bandhan or Rakshaa Bandhan- the tying of an
amulet. On this auspicious day, brothers make a promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles and the
sisters pray to God to protect their brother from all evil. The festival falls on the Shravan Purnima which comes generally in
the month of August.
Raksha Bandhan the bond of protection), or Rakhi , is a festival primarily observed in North India, which celebrates the
relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. The central ceremony
involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers
for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. The festival falls on the full moon day (Shravan
Poornima) of the Shravan month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
Previously, Rakhi festival encompasses the warmth shared between the siblings but now it goes way beyond it. Some
people tie Rakhi to neighbours and close friends signifying a peaceful co-existence of every individual. Rakhi Utsav was
first popularized by Rabindranath Tagore to promote the feeling of unity and a commitment to all members of society to
protect each other and encourage a harmonious Social life.
Dussehra
In the months of Ashwin and kartik, Hindus observe a 10 day ceremony of fast, rituals, celebrations, fiests to honor the
mother Goddess and triumph of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana. Dussehra also symbolizes the triumph of warrior
Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. Thus, it is a celebration of victory of good over evil.
This celebration starts from Navratri and ends with the tenth day festival of “Dussehra”. Navratri and Dussehra is
celebrated throughout the country at the same time, with varying rituals, but with great enthusiasm and energy as it marks
the end of scorching summer and the start of winter season.
The tenth day after Navratri is called Dussehra, on which number of fairs are organized throughout the northern India,
burning effigies of Ravana.It is also called “Vijayadashmi” as this day marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana.
VijayaDashami is considered to be an auspicious day for the Indian householder, on which he worships, protects and
preserves 'Shakti' (power). According to Scriptures, by worshipping the 'Shakti' on these nine-days the householders
attain the threefold power i.e. physical, mental and spiritual, which helps him to progress in life without any difficulty.
The 'Ramlila' - an enactment of the life of Lord Rama, is held during the nine days preceding Dussehra. On the tenth day
(Dussehra or Vijay Dasami), larger than life effigies of Ravana, his son and brother - Meghnadh and Kumbhakarna are set
to fire. The theatrical enactment of this dramatic encounter is held throughout the country in which every section of people
participates enthusiastically. In burning the effigies the people are asked to burn the evil within them, and thus follow the
path of truth and goodness, bearing in mind the instance of Ravana, who despite all his might and majesty was destroyed
for his evil ways.
Legends
Dussehra is also known as Vijaya Dasami, because of the victory of Ram over Ravana. On this day in Satya Yug, Ram
(the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), killed the great demon and king of Lanka, Ravana. Puranas also opined that in
this day warrior Goddess Durga defeated and killed the buffalo demon Mahishasura.
When is Dussehra?
Dussehra is the last day of Navratri; it falls on the 10th day of the waxing moon during the Hindu month of Ashvin (around
September or October).
Diwali
Festival of Lights
Diwali is perhaps the most well-known of the Hindu festivals.
The word Diwali means 'rows of lighted lamps'. Diwali is known as the 'festival of lights' because houses, shops and public
places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas
Celebrating Diwali
For many Indians this five day festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.
People start the new business year at Diwali, and some Hindus will say prayers to the goddess for a successful year.
Lamps are lit to help Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, find her way into people's homes.
They also celebrate one of the Diwali legends, which tells of the return of Rama and Sita to Rama's kingdom after
fourteen years of exile.
In Britain, as in India, the festival is a time for:
 spring-cleaning the home,
 wearing new clothes
 exchanging gifts (often sweets and dried fruits) and preparing festive meals
 decorating buildings with fancy lights.
 huge firework displays often celebrate Divali.
In India Hindus will leave the windows and doors of their houses open so that Lakshmi can come in. Rangoli are drawn on
the floors - rangoli are patterns and the most popular subject is the lotus flower.
The meaning of Diwali
The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance, although the
actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India:
 In northern India and elsewhere, Diwali celebrates Rama's return from fourteen years of exile to Ayodhya after the
defeat of Ravana and his subsequent coronation as king;
 In Gujarat, the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth;
 In Nepal Diwali commemorates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakaasura;
 In Bengal, it is associated with the goddess Kali.
Diwali
Classroom activities
Diwali celebrations (Key Stages 1 and 2)
Discuss the stories behind Diwali and encourage pupils to talk or write about the characters involved. The Diwali writing
activities and Diwali videos may help support this activity.
In groups, pupils could re-write the story of Rama and Sita as a script and act it out, or make puppets and perform it as a
puppet show.
Make diyas with pupils (using clay, plasticine, papier maché, dough or paper) and encourage them to explore the meaning
and symbolism of light and fire. Create paintings of firework celebrations.
Make Diwali and new year greeting cards and to construct traditional geometric rangoli patterns. Explore Indian cultural
traditions, clothes and cooking. The pictures of children's Diwali clothing may help support this activity.
Beliefs and festivals (Key Stage 3)
Build a calendar of religious dates and investigate the beliefs behind these festivals through research and creative writing,
such as a letter to a friend describing the experience of celebrating a key festival. The Diwali letter writing frame could
be used to support this activity.
The Diwali Festival and its significance - Diwali and new beginnings
Gandhi Jayanti
The birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, popularly known as the ‘Father of the Nation’, is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti
with reverence all over the country. He was the man who played a significant role for achieving independence for India
from the British Empire, with his simplicity and strong willpower! Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as 'Bapu',
or Gandhiji, was born on the October 2nd 1869, in Porbander, Gujarat. Gandhiji was a preacher of truth (Satyagraha) and
'ahimsa' (non-violence). He started the 'Satyagraha' movement for the Indian freedom struggle. He believed in living a
simple life and in 'Swadeshi'. He proved to the world that freedom can be achieved through the path of non-violence - a
true symbol of peace and truth!
Until 1914, Gandhi led the Indians in South Africa against the apartheid of the British. His stint in India took a turn when
national leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale initiated him into the Indian freedom movement. Gandhi, with his ideals of ahimsa,
non-cooperation and satyagraha, soon established himself as the frontrunner in the struggle for freedom. From then
onwards, till India gained independence, Gandhi gathered an entire nation behind him in his relentless quest. However,
partition came as a big blow to his dreams and ideals. Five months after independence, Gandhiji was assassinated by
Nathuram Godse while on his way to his daily prayer meeting. The 78-year-old ‘Father of the Nation’ had left a country
that was just discovering its feet, orphaned.
On this day of Gandhi Jayanti, the President and Prime Minister, along with other eminent political leaders, pay homage at
Raj Ghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi where he was cremated. Gandhi Jayanti is a national holiday and hence, all
offices and schools, throughout the country, remain closed. Verses and prayers are read out from the holy books of all the
religions. Gandhi's favorite song, ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’, is invariably sung at all the meetings associated with
him. Prayer meetings are held in various state capitals as well. Gandhi Jayanti is observed all over the country, both in
government and non-government forums.