Communities and Festivals

COMMUNITIES

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Tribes of Haryana mostly belong to Indo Aryan and Indo-Dravidian families. The entire tribal population of Haryana also include several allied agricultural communities. Some of the major tribal communities of Haryana are Jats, Rajputs, Ahirs, Rors, Gujjars, etc. They differ from one another as far as their culture, traditions and customs are concerned.

In the state of Haryana, Jats occupy a major place, being one of the largest groups in the region. Regarding their origin, some of the Jats claim that they have a Rajput origin and that their Rajput ancestors came from Malwa region and Bikaner. The Jats are further sub-divided into several chief and minor clans. The Jats are basically cultivators. They are also engaged in trade, commerce and production of local products, especially in rural areas. Jats also engage in government services, particularly army and police as well as civil services. Rajputs also occupy a significant portion of the state. They trace their ancestry to Kshatriyas. In Haryana, the two oldest clans of Rajput settlers are the Mandhars and the Chauhans. Other Rajput clans include Badgujar, Bachas, Tunwars, Gurs, etc. In Haryana, Ahir community is mainly concentrated in Mahendragarh district. They are considered quite similar to the Jats have a number of clans. Roar is a small tribe of Haryana. This tribe is largely concentrated in Karnal district. They are engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Gujjars are mainly concentrated in Khadar and Karnal districts.

These are the major tribes of Haryana and they practice their indigenous religion maintaining their ethnicity.

FESTIVALS

The state of Haryana astonishingly combines both antiquity and plenty. Since times immemorial it has been a cradle of Indian culture and civilization. So the festive celebrations in Haryana are marked with great enthusiasm and traditional fervour. Festivals in the state of Haryana make for unrestrained merrymaking. Haryana participates in almost all the festivals taking place in the country the most vibrant one being Teez. The festivals of Haryana would not only enliven your spirits but also would be a warm welcome from the monotonous schedule of your regular life.

LOHRI

Lohri is celebrated in the state of Haryana just before the day of Makar Sankranti. For the community of Punjabis, the festival of Lohri is a very special festival. This auspicious and joyous festival celebrates fertility and the spark of life. The religious rites and traditions are observed with great devotion. All the locals gather around the bonfire throw sweets, puffed rice and popcorn into the flames. They also indulge themselves in merriment by singing songs and exchanging greetings. The first Lohri of a newly wedded bride and newly born child is extremely important.

MAKAR SANKRANTI

Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. According to the lunar calendar, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana, in the month of Poush in mid-January, it commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the earth from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar in Hindi, this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year.

BASANT PANCHAMI

This festival is celebrated in Haryana with as much pomp and fervour as that of the whole country. In this state, Basant Panchami is celebrated to welcome the season of spring after the death and decay of the winter season. People celebrate this joyous festival with much ebullience and the main attraction of this festival is kite flying.

MAHA SHIVARATRI

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It 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 Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all night long vigil.

HOLI KA / DHULANDI

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The festival of Holi assumes an entirely new colour in the state of Haryana and hence a different name is associated with the ‘festival of colours’, known as ‘Dulandi Holi’. Fun and frolic are also redefined in various forms in the festive celebrations here. People greet each other with colours and thus enhance the feeling of harmony due to which happiness prevails. The tradition of breaking pots is celebrated with much gusto here. It is an extreme pleasure watching the human pyramid breaking the pot of buttermilk high up in the street.

GANGORE

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The festival of Gangore is celebrated on Chet Sudi-3 or in the months of March/April. Huge idols of Gangore and Ishar are taken out in a procession and devotional melodies are sung in praise of the Lord till they are immersed in the water. This is mainly regarded as a springtime festival and is observed in the honour of the Goddess of abundance, Gauri.

The unmarried female members of the house worship for a spouse of their own choice while married women seek blessings for a long life of their husbands. The Goddess is worshipped throughout the preceding fortnight and thousands of people participate in the procession of Goddess Gauri adorned with beautiful dresses and semi-precious jewels.

BAISAKHI

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The festival of Baisakhi’s is a very important one for the Punjabis in the state of Haryana and is celebrated with joyous music and dancing. It falls every year on 13th April and once in 36 years, it falls on 14th April. It was on this particular day that the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, better known as Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa in the year 1699. The Sikhs on this day visit the Gurdwaras and listen to Kirtans. After the religious rites and traditions get over sweetened semolina is served to the masses. The function ends with ‘langar’ or the community lunch. Mock duels and bands playing religious tunes form part of the processions. This festival is also marked as the last opportunity for relaxing before they start harvesting of corn.

NIRJALA EKADASHI

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This festival forms a very important part of the lives of the women in the state of Haryana. It is celebrated in the month of Jaisth or the months of May/June according to to the English calendar. The women folks perform some religious rites and rituals for the welfare of their family. They keep fast for the whole and also remain abstained from the water.

GURU PURNIMA

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Hindus celebrate it in the honour of the great sage Vyasa, who is seen as one of the greatest gurus in ancient Hindu traditions, and a symbol of the Guru-shishya tradition. Vyasa was not only believed to have been born on this day but also to have started writing the Brahma Sutras on ashadha Sudha padyami which ends on this day, hence their recitations as a dedication to him, are organised on this day, which is also known as Vyasa Purnima.

TEEJ

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This festival is celebrated on Sawan Sudi. It is celebrated to the welcome the season of monsoon. After the first showers of a rainy season, a small insect called Teej in the state of Haryana comes out from the earth’s soil. All the girls are excused from the household chores on this day as they apply henna on their hands and feet. They also receive new clothes from their parents. The puja or the worship is performed early in the morning and the ‘baya’ which consists of various foodstuff is placed on a platter at the place of worship. A decorated ‘chowk’ or square is also kept over there and an idol or picture of Goddess Parvati is installed. Different cultural performances are kept exclusively for the evening.

RAKSHA BANDHAN

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The festival is marked by the tying of a rakhi, or holy thread, by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her as she presents sweets to him. The brother and sister traditionally feed one another sweets. Since north Indian kinship practices give cousins a status similar to siblings, girls and women often tie the rakhi to their male cousins as well (referred to as “cousin-brothers” in the regional parlance) in several communities. Unrelated boys and men who are considered to be brothers (munh-bola Bhai or adopted brothers) can be tied rakhis, provided they commit to a lifelong obligation to provide protection to the woman or girl. Additionally, in cases when a sister is out of town, then another sister or cousin may tie a second Rakhi in her place.

JANMASHTAMI

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The birthday of Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu which is popularly known as Janmashtami is celebrated in Haryana along with the whole country with much dynamism and exuberance. All the temples of the state are vibrantly embellished. During this festival, many legends of Shri Krishna’s life, including his exploits and his amorous dalliances with the gopies are enacted in the Raaslila. Bathing the image of infant Krishna and then placing it on a silver cradle are included in the ceremonies of midnight. This festival is also celebrated with a special fervour by the people of Brij Bhoomi area.

GUGAPIR

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This festival is celebrated on the next day of Janmashtami. This festival is celebrated by both the Hindu and the Islam community and reflects the true secular spirit in the state of Haryana. A dance procession is also taken out in which the Panch Pirs are the main dancers. They sing songs in the honour and praise of Gugga.

DUSSHERA

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In the state of Haryana, the festival of Dussehra is celebrated just before Diwali. This festival is being associated with the great epic Ramayana. The Brahmins are fed on these days in memory of the deceased members of the family. The Shradas are followed by the Naucratis. On this day pudding or ‘halwa’ is eaten with rice and curd. All the members of the family except the women folks put stalks of green oats on their heads. On the last day, huge idols of King Ravana are burnt all over the city at night and mark the victory of the good over the evil.

The Mango Festival and the Kurukshetra Festival have become popular annual events in the state of Haryana.

DIWALI

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Diwali is celebrated with much enthusiasm in Haryana and is celebrated all over the state in the middle of the month of Kartik. ‘Choti Diwali’ or ‘Small Diwali’ comes first and the religious rites and traditions are celebrated with utmost sincerity and devotion. Rice and sugar are put in vessels with a paisa placed on the top and are given away to Brahmin and girls. It is in the name of the deceased ancestors that the ceremony is performed. The rich and trading classes especially consider it as their own festival.

GOVERDHAN POOJA

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It is celebrated as the day Krishna defeated Indra. Lord Krishna taught people to worship nature, as mountains bring rains to earth and to stop worshipping the God of Rains, Lord Indra. This was the message that we should take care of our nature. For Annakut a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan mountain said to be lifted by Lord Krishna to save the people from the wrath of Lord Indra, the God of rain. In Maharashtra, it is celebrated as Padva or BaliPratipada. The day commemorates King Bali. Men present gifts to their wives on this day. In Gujarat, it is celebrated as New Year, as Vikram Samvat starts on this day. Govardhan puja is when Lord Krishna stopped the people of Vrindavan Dham worshipping Lord Indra because Indra had gotten too proud of himself so Lord Krishna completely stopped it and told the inhabitants of Vrindavana to worship Govardhan Hill. This worship has carried on from 5000 years ago to the 21st Century.

BHAI DHOOJ

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It is observed primarily in northern India, and on this day sisters pray for the well-being and prosperity of their brothers. The rituals performed during the ceremony include sisters putting tika/tilak (vermilion spot) on the forehead of their brother, offering sweets and performing rituals to protect their brother and ward evils, such as taking their ‘aarti’. In return, the brother offers gifts to their sisters as an expression of love.