Festivals of Jammu and Kashmir

Makar Sankranti, popularly known as Lohri, is a festival that is celebrated on the 13th of January every year. It heralds the onset of spring. In the rural areas, custom requires young boys to go asking for presents from newly weds and new parents. A special dance called “Chajja” is performed on the event of Lohri. Thousands of people take a dip in the holy rivers on this occasion. Baisakhi, known as the harvest festival is celebrated either on the 13th or 14th of April. It is believed that the day Baisakhi is celebrated; it is an auspicious day for weddings. It is celebrated as the New Year of the state, where numerous fairs are organized and thousands of people come from all over the country to witness this celebration.  

The popular Parsi Navroz festival is celebrated with great fanfare in the State. It comes a week after the New Year day. They celebrate this nine-day festival with good eating and activities showing a spirit of gay abandon. 

The Urs (or Ziarats) is a typical Kashmiri festival. It is held annually at the shrines of Muslim saints on their death anniversaries. There is a saying " It snows when the Urs of Meesha Sahib is held, it is windy when the Urs of Batamol Sahib takes place, it rains on the occasion of the Urs of Bahauddin". These Urs are popular despite the rigors of weather. This is celebrated not only by Muslims but Hindus and Sikhs also. The inter-communal participation is the main feature of the Urs celebrations. The anniversary of Rishi Pir, a Hindu saint, held on the fifth day of the full moon of Baisakh, at his home in Srinagar is attended by Muslims also. 

Muslim festivals which are celebrated nationally include Shab-i Mairaj which is followed by Shab-i-Barat.  The dates of these festivals change in accordance with the appearance of the moon and shift by 10 days each year. During the night of Shab-i-Barat, the Muslims keep vigil. Legend goes that on this night the Holy prophet visits each house and relieves the pains of suffering humanity.

Then comes the Jeth Ashtami, succeeded in a month by Har Ashtami. These two days are the birthday and the incarnation day, respectively, of the Ragnya goddess. Hindus fast on these days and go on a pilgrimage to Khir Bhawani, a well known spring-girt temple. After a bath in the cool stream nearby, incense and candles are burnt at the altar of the goddess. 

The counterpart of Khir Bhawani, is Devibal in Anantang, which is also a spring-girt temple. It is visited on these Ashtamis by Hindus living in contiguous areas. A belief connected with these ancient shrines is that their water changes colour according to the state of the society. It has been known to become black before a disaster or calamity. 

Another Muslim festival of this area is Ramzan. During the month of Ramzan, Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during the day.

The Muslim festival, Muharram, marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the prophet's grandson. Huge taziyas made of paper and wood are taken out in procession.



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