India is one of the most diverse countries in the world when it comes to culture and religions. As a result, the celebration of holidays and festivals, whether traditional or religious, has always been an important part of Indian culture. Indians enjoy celebrating their differences and sharing their traditions with others and due to the variety of different groups in India, there is a festival celebrated most days out of the year in some part of the country. As diverse as India is, there are three national holidays that are celebrated everywhere and by everyone and several religious holidays that are celebrated by so many people they are considered to be public holidays. Employers are entitled to give their employees the day off on these days and children have the day off from school. Because India does celebrate so many festivals, all other holidays are considered on an individual and day to day basis. Employers generally let you have the days off for the holidays that are celebrated for your specific religion and culture.
There are three national holidays that are celebrated by everyone in India, in all states and union territories. These include Independence Day and Republic Day, as well as Gandhi Jayanti. Gandhi Jayanti is a day to honor Mahatma Gandhi, considered the “Father of the Nation,” and is celebrated on his birthday, October 2nd. The day is one of prayer service and tributes all over India, especially in Raj Ghat, Gandhi’s memorial in New Delhi. Popular celebration includes prayer meetings, honorary ceremonies as well as educating the young on Gandhi and his life.
The Hindu celebrations of Diwali, Holi, Pongal and Dussehra are the most popular religious holidays in India and therefore are considered by the government to be public holidays. This means that all children have the day off from school and most employees have the day off from work. Diwali is a major Hindu festival more commonly known as the “Festival of Lights.” It is a day to celebrate the victory of good over evil with celebrations focusing on lights and more recently, fireworks. The annual Hindu spring festival is called Holi, or the “Festival of Colors.” Holi takes place in late March or early April and lasts for five days. The holiday is meant to honor the death of Holika in order to save Prahlad. Pongal is an Indian festival celebrated in order to give thanks for the harvest. It is traditionally celebrated at the time of harvesting of the crops, and as a result is a celebration of the success related to the event. Duseehra is among the most important festivals celebrated in Southern India. As a day 10 day celebration, there are activities ranging from worshipping goddesses to exhibiting colorful toys. It is also known as the day of worshipping weapons; More recently, “weapons” have been replaced with “tools of the trade,” therefore people worship items such as computers, cars, machines, and cooking utensils.
Throughout India, there are dozens of other festivals and celebrations that take place celebrating different religious and cultural occasions. Although these are not considered to be “national” or “public” holidays by the Indian government, they are nevertheless observed and employees are allowed to take an unpaid day off for the ones in which they honor. Children are encouraged to go to school on these days and celebrate when they get home, however if a parent chooses to keep their child home, it is allowed. Aside, from religious and cultural holidays exclusive to India, there are a number of days, in which India shares celebrations with many other countries throughout the world. These include New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Children’s Day, and Victory Day.