Winter is the season during which we have lots of festivals lined up each one having its own speciality and each one giving a special reason to enjoy with friends, neighbours, and kith and kin. We have festivals right from the start of the winter season till the end of it. In India, Diwali (the festival of light) marks the onset of winter. It’s celebrated with a lot enthusiasm and joy. People of all ages play with fire crackers and this festival has the distinction of mutual exchange of gifts among families, friends, relatives, neighbours, colleagues and so on. Next in line is Christmas that comes immediately a couple of days after the winter solstice which in turn marks the shortest duration during the day time. This time around, it’s in the middle of the cold season that people enjoy the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ. It’s celebrated with lots of piety among the Christians and this marks the beginning of celebrations through the week that culminates on the New Year day i.e., the first of January which marks the beginning of a new year.
New Year Day is among the biggest reasons for celebrations worldwide. It’s being celebrated with lots of enthusiasm. Even in those countries which are not primarily Christian population dominated, this has become a big day, thanks to the globalisation and the resultant shrinking of the national borders among the people. In India, less than two weeks after the New Year Day, there is another festival called ‘Pongal’. This is called with different names in different states- ‘Pongal’ in Tamil Nadu, ‘Sankranti’ in Andhra Pradesh, etc. This marks the harvest of the crops and people celebrate this festival in traditional style with all the activities generally found in the village merged and celebrated through three days during the middle of the month of January. The day ‘Makara Sankranti’ marks the shifting of the movement of the Sun towards the northern hemisphere which marks the shift from winter to the summer via the spring season.
Mahashivaratri is another festival celebrated in India generally in the latter half of February. This marks the closing days of winter season and the onset of spring wherein the trees lose all the leaves and are ready to become green once again with the growing up of new leaves on them. This festival is also celebrated across India with people taking long tours visting the Shaiva shrines spread right from the Himalayan mountains to the southern end of Kanyakumari town in India. Thus, the winter season offers a foreigner vibrant colour in India that is available variedly in a very short span of two to three months. The festivals do not exist merely for sweets and coulour. They each of them has its own significance. But the bottom line is that all of them give the people a reason to meet the far and near and to exchange goodies among the known and the unknown. They signify lots of events in one’s life that people wait eagerly for these days to come so that they can live the moments of joy and share their joy with their fellow human beings. This marks the hallmark of the concept called humanity. It’s the winter season’s good fortune that so many festivals fall during this season and that people eagerly wait for the season to set in.