Holidays and Regular Observances

What are some of the other religious days Hindus observe?

Many of the lesser deities have feasts widely observed by Hindus across sectarian lines. The fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapada in early autumn marks the birthday of Shiva’s son Ganesha. This was originally a Dravidian fertility festival associated with early harvest. Another fertility feast celebrates the emergence of the Ganges from a sage’s ear—one of a number of metaphors for the sacred origins of the river. Observed in early summer, the day marks a time during which devotees can cleanse themselves of ten specific evils. Some also celebrate a late summer festival called “tying the lucky threads.” The day recalls how the wife of Vedic storm deity Indra saved her husband from a demon by slipping a magic string on his wrist. Sisters do the same for their brothers, and some celebrants use the occasion as a renewal of their investiture with the sacred thread of initiation.


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