Famous Festivals of Maharashtra
Situated on the western region of the India, Maharashtra is the third largest state of the country and holds the title of being the world’s second most populated sub-national entity. Considered as one of the wealthiest and most developed states, Maharashtra has always been the peak of dynastical upheaval. This State of India has been popularly known for its vibrant and magnificent festivals that take place throughout the year, thus, giving the people a reason to celebrate year round. Most of these festivals were initially started by the five Maharashtra Brahmin clans namely Deshastha, Konkanastha, Daivadnya, Devrukhe and Karhade. The festivals follow the ‘Saka’ or the Hindu calendar that is followed in most places of the country. Here’s a look at these famous festivals of Maharashtra.
A visit to Maharashtra would be simply incomplete if one does not experience the following festivals. These festivals are not only rich in culture but also hold the heritage of India’s glorious past.
Celebrated on the first day of the Hindu month of Chaitra, which according to Gregorian calendar lies within March to April, Gudhi Padwa is one of the major festivals of Maharashtra that is celebrated with enough elements of happiness and splendour and marks the start of the year. For Gudhi Padwa, a Gudhi or victory pole is erected outside each house which is believed to defeat evil and bring prosperity to the family. Like Diwali, Gudhi Padwa is also celebrated for three and a half auspicious days. During Gudhi Padwa, delicious dishes are prepared but before having them, neem leaves are eaten to ward off illness. Also, women of neighbouring households are known to conduct a haldi-kumkum ceremony during the festival.
Celebrated during the Shukla Paksha that falls on the 9th day of Chaitra, Ram Navami is observed throughout the country but noticeably more in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, the latter being the birthplace of Ram. In Maharashtra, the festival generally lasts for 9 days during which various holy ceremonies like Bhajans and Kirtans are organized along with community meals in most neighbourhoods. Idols of Ramchandra along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman on either side, are worshipped along with an idol of Hanuman Ji. The day is also observed as Hanuman Jayanti that marks the birthday of Hanuman Ji. A special snack called Sunthawada is eaten by new mothers during Ram Navami.
Narali Purnima is observed on the full moon day of the month of Sravan which generally falls in July or August. This is one of the most significant and holy days for the Brahmins as on Narali Purnima, their sacred threads are changed. The day is also celebrated as Raksha Bandhan in various parts of the state and sisters tie a holy band called Rakhi on the wrist of their brothers to pray for their well-being, in return of which the brothers swear to protect their sisters from any calamity till their last breath. Narali bhat, a special sweetened rice is the dish of the occasion and is prepared mostly in Brahmin households.
The festival of Mangala Gaur is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is celebrated on any Tuesday of the Hindu month of Sravan. In Maharashtra, Mangala Gaur is one of the most important festivals for the newly wed brides during which they worship Lord Shiva praying for their husband’s well-being and longevity. The festival is also a sort of get-together for women folks of a community which they celebrate by singing Bhajans and playing various instruments to accompany Antaksharis. While Raksha Bandhan celebrates the holy relationship of brothers and sisters, Mangala Gaur celebrates one of the most cherished relations in the world, i.e. the one shared between husbands and wives.
Celebrated during the second half of Sravan, Janmashtami usually falls in the month of August or September. The festival is observed to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna and is thus, one of the most popularly celebrated festivals of every Maharashtrian family. Janmashtami, locally known as Gokul Ashtami, is celebrated with much pomp and show and is observed with a fast. The favourites of Lord Krishna like Butter, Milk and Curd are offered to Him to pray for the family’s happiness. Gopalkala, a special dish made of curd, pickle, popped millets and chilli, is prepared for the children to please Lord Krishna who is believed to residing inside them.
Ganeshotsav follows a ten day celebration in Maharashtra which starts from the 4th day of the Bhaadrapada of the Hindu lunisolar calendar and falls either on August or September. This happens to be the most favourite festival of the people of Marathi origin as Lord Ganesh is worshipped as their supreme God. Through the efforts of Lokmanya Tilak, Ganeshotsav had become a public celebration about a century ago and its glory continues to live till this day. The festival continues for as long as 10 days during which Lord Ganesh is offered various delicacies and worshipped in different ways. The favourite sweet of Ganesh called Modak is prepared especially for this occasion. Some Brahmins of Maharashtra even worship Gauri during the festival.