Other Festivities


Akshaya Tritiya
The third day of the Vaishakh month is celebrated as Akshaya Tritiya. This is one of the 3 and a half most auspicious days in the Hindu Calendar (usually comes in the month of April). This marks the end of Haldi Kumkum festival which is a get-together organised by women for women. Married women invite lady friends, relatives and new acquaintances to meet in an atmosphere of merriment and fun. On such occasions, the hostess distributes bangles, sweets, small novelties, flowers, betel leaves and nuts as well as coconuts. The snacks include Kairiche Panhe (raw mango juice) and Vatli Dal.

Wat Purnima
This festival is celebrated on Jyeshtha Purnima (full moon day of Jyeshtha month of Hindu calendar), around June. On this day, women fast and worship the Banyan tree to pray for the growth and strength of their families, like the sprawling tree which lives for centuries. Married women visit a nearby tree and worship it by tying red threads of love around it. They pray for well-being and long life of their husband. These type of festivals makes the bond of marriage a strong one.

Ashadhi Ekadashi
Ashadhi Ekadashi (11th day of the month Ashadha, somewhere around July–August) is closely associated with Marathi Bhakti saints Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and others. Twenty days before this day, thousands of Varkaris start their pilgrimage to Pandharpur from the resting places the saint. For example, in case of Dnyaneshwar, it starts from Alandi with Dnyaneshwar's Paduka (footwear made out of wood) in a Palakhi. Varkaris carry tals or small cymbals in their hand, wear a rosary of tulsi around their neck and sing and dance to the devotional hymns and prayers to Vitthala. People fast all over Maharashtra on this day and offer prayers in the temples. This day marks starting of Chaturmas (The four Monsoon months, from Ashadh to Kartik) as per Hindu Calendar.

Guru Paurnima
The full moon day of the month Ashadha is celebrated as Guru Purnima. For Hindus 'Guru-Shishya' ('Teacher-Student') tradition is very important, be it educational or spiritual. Gurus are often equated with God and always regarded as a link between the individual and the Immortal. On this day spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Maharshi Vyasa, who is regarded as Guru of Gurus.

Mangala Gaur
Pahili Mangala Gaur (first Mangala Gaur) celebration is one of the most important celebration for the new brides in Maharashtra. On the Tuesday of the month of the Shravan falling within an year after her marriage, the new bride performs Shivling puja for the well-being of her husband and new family. It is also a get-together of all women folks. It includes chatting, playing games, Ukhane (married women take their husband's name woven in 2/4 rhyming liners) and great food. They typically play Zimma, Fugadi, Bhendya (more popularly known as Antakshari in modern India) till the wee hours of the next morning.

Hartalika
Third day of the month of Bhadrapada (usually comes around August/September) is celebrated as Hartalika in honor of Harita Gauri or the green and golden goddess of harvests and prosperity. A lavishly decorated form of Parvati, Gauri is venerated as the mother of Ganesha. Women fast on this day and worship Shiva and Parvati in the evening with green leaves. Women wear green bangles and green clothes and stay awake till midnight.

Gauri / Mahalakshmi
Along with Ganesha, Gauri (also known as Mahalaxmi in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra) festival is celebrated with lot of festivities in Maharashtra. This is three-day festival. On the first day, Gauris arrive at home, next day they eat lunch with variety of sweets and on the third day they return to their home. Gauris arrive in a pair, one as Jyeshta (the Elder one) and another as Kanishta (the Younger one). They are treated with lots of love since they represent the daughters arriving at their parents' place. In many parts of Maharashtra including Marathwada & Vidarbha this festival is called Mahalakshmi or Mahalakshmya or simply Lakshmya.

Ghatsthapana
Starting with first day of the month of Ashvin as per Hindu calendar (around month of October), the nine-day and -night festival immediately preceding the most important festival Dasara is celebrated all over India with different traditions. In Maharashtra on the very first day of this 10-day festival, idols of Goddess Durga are installed at many homes. This installation of the Goddess is popularly known as Ghatsthapana. During this period, little girls celebrate 'Bhondla/Hadga' as the Sun moves to the thirteenth constellation of the zodiac called "Hasta" (Elephant). During the nine days, Bhondla (also known as 'Bhulabai' in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra) is celebrated in the garden or on the terrace during evening hours by inviting female friends of the daughter in the house. An elephant is drawn either with Rangoli on the soil or with a chalk on a slate and kept in the middle. The girls go around it in a circle, holding each other's hands and singing the Bhondla songs. All the Bhondla songs are traditional songs passed down the generations. The last song typically ends with the words '...khirapatila kaay ga?' ('What is the special dish today?'). This 'Khirapat' is a special dish / dishes often made laboriously by the mother of the host girl. The food is served only after the rest of the girls have guessed the covered dish/dishes correctly.

Kojagari
Short form of Sanskrit 'Ko Jagarti?' (meaning 'Who is awake?'), Kojagiri is celebrated on the full moon day of the month Ashvin. It is said that on this Kojagiri night Goddess Lakshmi visits every house asking "Ko Jagarti?" and blesses those who are awake with fortune and prosperity. To welcome the Goddess, Houses, temples, streets, etc. are illuminated. People get together on this night usually in the open space (e.g. garden or on the terrace) and play games till midnight. At midnight, after seeing reflection of full moon in the boiled milk (boiled with saffron and various varieties of dry fruits), they drink this milk. Eldest child in the household is honored on this day.

Khandoba Festival / Champa Shashthi
A six-day festival, from the first to sixth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Margashirsha, in honour of Khandoba is celebrated by many Marathi families. Ghatasthapana, similar to navaratri, also takes place in households during this festival. The sixth day is called Champa Shashthi

Maha Shivratri
Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivaratri or Sivarathri (Great Night of Shiva or Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Maagha (as per Shalivahana or Gujarati Vikrama) or Phalguna (as per Vikrama) in the Hindu Calendar (that is, the night before and day of the new moon). The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all night long vigil. 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 life's summum bonum steadily and swiftly.

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