Makar Sankranti: This is the festival of the Sun God. According to the Hindu calendar Makar Sankranthi marks the end of an inauspicious period which starts from mid December. It also signifies the end of winter and the start of the new harvest season. In many parts of India, this festival is celebrated by flying kites. Unlike most Hindu festivals that are based on the Lunar calendar, this festival follows a solar calendar. Hence it is always celebrated on the 14th of January. Because of the earth’s axis, the date of this festival changes every 80 years.
Vasant Panchami and Saraswati Puja: This festival celebrates the start of spring. It is also a day to honor Goddess Saraswati who is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, wisdom, music and art. Goddess Saraswati has 4 hands that represent Intellect, Mind, Ego and Alertness. With two hands she plays the Veena (a sitar like instrument). In her third hand she holds a lotus which symbolizes knowledge and with her fourth hand she holds sacred scriptures.
Maha Shivaratri: There are many tales about why Maha Shivaratri is celebrated. One popular tale is that according to legend, Goddess Parvati had asked Lord Shiva which was his favorite ritual, to which Lord Shiva replied that the thirteenth new moon night in the month of Maagha is his favorite day. Every since, that day is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. His devotees fast all day and keep a night long vigil. The Shiva Linga is washed with milk, honey, water and bael leaves. This signifies the purification of the soul.
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