Hindu devotees go into a trance before starting their pilgrimage to the Batu Caves temple during Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur February 2, 2015. Thousands of Hindus participate in the annual Hindu festival in which devotees subject themselves to painful rituals in a demonstration of faith and self punishment. Hindus believe they are cleansed of all sins and their misdeeds can be redeemed by observing prayers during Thaipusam. (Photo by Olivia Harris/Reuters)
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Diwali also known as Deepavali and the “Festival of Lights”, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the darkest, new moon night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja typically to Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After puja (prayers), fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.
A potter carries a basket filled with clay money boxes at a workshop ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in New Delhi October 16, 2014. (Photo by Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters)
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Thousands of Hindu devotees from across India and Pakistan on Monday celebrated the festival of Mahashivaratri with traditional religious fervor as chants of “bam bam bole” and “har har mahadev” reverberated in the air. Devotees from all over the country observed a fast and thronged Shiva temples to worship Lord Shiva. The festival is celebrated in the honor of Hindu God Shiva, one of the Trinity of Gods – the Creator, the Destroyer and the Preserver – who are intrinsic to Hindu mythology.
Pakistani Hindus too celebrated Mahashivratri after a gap of six years when a group of Indian pilgrims joined the festivities at the Katas Raj temple in Chakwal district in the Punjab province in Pakistan.
Hindu devotees pour milk over Shivling (a symbol of Lord Shiva) inside a temple during the Mahashivratri festival in the northern Indian city of Allahabad Feb. 20, 2012. (Reuters) Continue reading »
Maha Shivaratri, a holy Hindu festival, will be celebrated on Feb. 20 and be marked across the world. The festival is meant to honour Lord Shiva, a Hindu God and one of the Trinity of the Creator, the Destroyer and the Preserver, who rule Hindu mythology. Shivaratri falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the Lord of Destruction. As the legend goes, Shivaratri is the night Lord Shiva is said to have performed the dance of primal creation, preservation and destruction.
Another popular legend is that Lord Shiva turned himself in the form of a Linga for the first time. Since then, devotees celebrate it as the grand night of Shiva.
During this festival, devotees observe day and night fasts, chant mantras and worship Lord Shiva to appease him. Some devotees smear their bodies in ashes and pray to their lord.
A Hindu holy man, or sadhu, applies paint on his forehead at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. (REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar) Continue reading »
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