Introduction to the New Edition
India a nation with history, which reaches way back into unrecorded time, still carries with it the heritage of its glorious past. Possessing a culture, which over the years has been able to absorb and assimilate within its own folds the knowledge and myth that abounded in other less vibrant or successful civilizations it has never bowed down before the onslaught of numerous invaders. It is said that even today this culture does not pass a single day without celebrating some kind of religious holiday or festival. That in fact states that at least three hundred and sixty five festivals exist to coincide with three hundred and sixty five days. In truth there are many more.
That the culture of India should have survived almost intact for about five thousand years (some even claim it to be in tens of thousands) is in itself an amazing feat. There must be a reason behind this survival of beliefs that now many scoff at. Many psychologists are of the opinion that a people with a strong heritage are less susceptible to the ills, which beleaguer mankind. And it is only now in the twenty-first century that many of the ills of the West are rearing their ugly head in India as the people themselves slowly slip away from their heritage.
It is mainly the religious aspect of the Indian life-style that has really held this culture together. It must be understood that religion as it is understood in India is greatly different from that of the West. In fact it is more of a way of life than an organized religion or ideology where the basic life-style of the people themselves revolves around their worship and vice-versa. One is not complete without the other.
The author in this book not only gives us a list of the holidays and festivals that are observed, he also delves into the shadowy and distant past to search for their origins and relevance to the societies of past eras. This book provides us with one of the most complete surveys of Indian festivals and holidays in existence today. With its rich reference to sources it will provide the reader with a great deal of information with which he can also delve further into any particular topic that interests him. Whether the heavenly bodies re named after the Gods or the Gods after them, is a question, which will ever remain undecided. But it cannot be denied that the study of the folklore of these holidays and ceremonials shows curious similarities in their attributes throughout the ancient world.
Mr. Gupte has correlated many of the astrological phenomena carefully recorded with these Indian Festivals s well as their contemporary festivals in other ancient civilizations. His opinions point towards a common form of worship prevalent throughout the ancient world, which often make us wonder how this mythology has managed to become lost to mankind. As it has been said these cultures no longer exist in their countries of origin and the only living trace to be found today in within the living culture and civilization of the subcontinent where one can still find these festivals celebrated with the same verve and enthusiasm as of old.
This book not only deals with the popular festivals but with the more obscure and least known as well. It provides those interested in Hindu festivals with a more complete insight into the intricacies of the Hindu mind and their close relationship with nature, something now very much forgotten and a thing of the past in the so-called more advanced societies of the West. To read this book is an education within itself.
The custom of marrying the Tulsi plant to the Shaligram is peculiar. In Sanskrit drama, of course, we often meet with the custom of marrying two shrubs to each other; e.g. Madhavilata to Asoka etc. The expression Patta-Rani, for Rukmini, the chief queen of Krishna, reminds one of the similar expression (Patta-Mahadevi), which is found in a copper plate inscription of the Bengal king Madana-pala-deva, who reigned about 1150 A.D.
Mr. B.A. Gupte has authored the "Indian Antiquary" he has also published papers on "Female Tattoo Designs in India," and on "Diwali Folklore," in the latter of which he reproduces a copy by Mrs. Gupte of the ritual design with which she decorates the threshold of their house at the time of the annual celebration of the Diwali ['dips,' a "lamp," of "dips" and 'avali,' a "row"] the Hindu "Feast of Lanterns," held in the new moon of Kartik [corresponding at present with October-November] in honour of Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, and "Goddess of Good Luck and Prosperity."
Christopher N Burchett
About the book:
This book operates not only as a record of Hindu holidays and festivals but also as a dictionary of the same. It answers some of the most intriguing questions about the origins of a culture, which appears to have no beginning or end.
Where do these festivals find their origins?
How have the deities earned their repute?
This book attempts to provide all the answers. It is an almost complete anthology of the festivals and fasts that are celebrated throughout the subcontinent.
As we delve into their origins the questions of whether the heavenly bodies are named after the Gods or the Gods after them, is a question, which will ever remain undecided. But it cannot be denied that the study of the folklore of these holidays and ceremonials shows curious similarities in their attributes and also the universal appeal of their origins.
The author Rai Bahadur B A Gupta worked closely with the British Ethnography Survey of India and provided a lot of the research material used by them during his tenure.
"These notes contain an immense amount of interesting matter, and should prove useful to students of Indian folklore and ceremonies."
"This publication is very interesting and illuminating."
Sir Edward Gait
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