India is a country rich in cultural diversity and traditions. The connection with nature has been an integral part of the Indian way of life, and it is evident in the country's various festivals and celebrations. In this article, we will explore five such Indian festivals that celebrate nature, its bounties, and the spirit of gratitude towards the environment.
Historically, tribes in Jharkhand state of India have followed animistic beliefs and worshiped nature, particularly trees. They believe that trees have a divine spirit and play a crucial role in their lives, providing them with food, shelter, and other essential resources. The Santhals, the Oraon, the Munda, and the Ho tribes welcome their local New Year by worshiping the trees. This is known as the festival of Sarhul, which is a three-day spring festival that starts from Chaitra month in Shukla Paksha to Chaitra Purnima. During this festival, men and women dress up in traditional attire, dance to local songs, and carry out a procession in the streets. The festival is celebrated with great traditional fervor and is a way for them to honor and worship nature.
Source: Social News XYZ
2. Ayilyam Mahotsavam
In India, snakes are considered a symbol of rebirth and are believed to be divine creatures with mystical powers. It is commonly believed that if one snake is killed, many snakes regenerate to take revenge on the culprit. The worship of snakes, known as Naga worship, is an integral part of the religious fabric of various communities in Kerala.The Sree Nagaraja Swami Temple, located in Vettikode, Alappuzha district, hosts the annual Ayilyam Mahotsavam, a grand celebration dedicated to serpent deities. The festivities commence a week before the Ayilyam asterism and include a ceremonial procession from the temple to Meppallil Illam, a ancient Brahmin home. Special rituals, including the Sarpabali ritual to appease the serpent Gods, are conducted during this time. This respect for the snake, a symbol of rebirth and mystical power, shows that many communities do not see humans as the center of their world, but rather as a small part of a larger ecosystem that includes all living beings.
Bihu is a festival celebrated three times a year in the Indian state of Assam, during the months of Bohaag (Baisakh), Maagh (mid-January), and Kaati (Kartik). Assamese society is predominantly a farming society, and Bihu is celebrated as per the farming calendar. The festival is an occasion for farmers to offer prayers and thanks to the deities for a bountiful harvest. While feasting is a significant aspect of Bhogali Bihu or Magh Bihu, Kongali Bihu is celebrated with a sense of solemnity. Regardless of their caste, creed, and belief, every resident of Assam continues to celebrate these three Bihus, which are an essential part of their cultural and social fabric.
4. Chhath Puja
Chhath Puja, a festival celebrated in the northern and eastern states of India, is dedicated to worshipping the sun god and nature. The festival involves offering prayers and performing rituals near rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, as well as fasting and abstaining from certain foods. The worship of the sun, the giver of life and energy, and the purification of the mind and body through rituals are central to the Chhath Puja celebration, emphasizing the close relationship between humans and nature.
5. Itu Puja
Itu Puja, also known as Aitihya Puja, is a festival celebrated in the Indian state of West Bengal, primarily in the districts of Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia, and Birbhum. It is a unique ritual that is performed in the worship of the Sun God. During the festival, devotees wake up early in the morning and offer prayers to the sun. It is believed that the festival dates back to the prehistoric times when the people of this region worshipped nature, as it was the source of their livelihood. The festival is considered to be a way of thanking the sun for providing light, heat, and energy to the earth. It also marks the beginning of the sowing season and the worship of the Sun God is considered auspicious for a bountiful harvest.