April 9, 2013
The celebration of a bountiful harvest is steeped in tradition, spirituality and revere. Springtime is often associated with rejuvenation, renewal and re-growth. The cohesion of spring and the ensuing harvest creates an ideal set of rudiments for celebration and the same is done and with much joie-di-verve!
Northern India celebrates the harvest with much gusto. Wheat is the main crop in this region and during festival time everyone dresses up. The harvest season begins with Holi where people throw water and powdered colour at each other. Bonfires are lit and the entire community provides fuel for these bonfires. The ensuing ash is rubbed on peoples head as a way of bringing good luck for the year ahead.
Eastern and Southern India celebrate the harvest with equal vigor. Rice is the main harvest crop here. Festivals are more religious in nature. In the east, springtime is considered the season of love and the love story of Krishna and Radha is fêted. Processions are held all over the east, people offer flowers at temples and the love story is dramatized through verse with the help of the “Bhagvata Purana”.
The Harvest Festivals in the south are diverse and numerous and involve the cleaning of homes, children picking flowers and temple visits, to thank the gods for the harvest. Onam includes ten days of feasting, boat races, song and dance. Pookalam or floral decorations are placed at the entrance of each house, in Kerala.
Pongal is a harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, wherein the newly harvested rice is ceremonially cooked and offered to the Lords. It is then eaten by the family members. All four days of Pongal has equal significance as separate deities are worshipped each day.
For the people of Coorg, the traditional harvest festival is called Puthari or Huthari, known for its varied folk songs and dances.
It is indeed a celebration of the advent of spring, a time for transformation and regeneration. It is ‘the reap’ that has the country grasped firmly in the chant of harmonious and spiritual exhilaration with a generous dose of exuberant celebration and familial togetherness.
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