Festivals In Pune
Festivals in Pune
The glorious city of Pune is heralded as the cultural capital of the state of Maharashtra. The city has a rich past that dates back to over 1600 years giving it deep roots, which can be seen in various regional as well as national festivals celebrated here. Besides, in the recent years, the city has also emerged as a major educational and IT industry hub, which has led to the influx of large number of students and professionals here. This has greatly enhanced the vibrant multicultural environs of the city. People of Pune celebrate various festivals, such as Gudi Padwa, Ganesh Chaturthi, Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti, Diwali, etc. with unparallel enthusiasm. Details of some of the highly celebrated festivals in this city are mentioned herein.
Similar to the rest of Maharashtra, the festival of Gudi Padwa is celebrated with great fervor in Pune as well. This resplendent festival is celebrated as per the Hindu calendar on the first day of the month of Chaitr, which as per the Georgian calendar falls somewhere between the months of March and April. This day commemorates the beginning of the Marathi New Year and is believed to be very auspicious. To mark this day, people decorate the entrances of their homes with colorful gudhis, which basically is a bamboo staff rapped with vibrant multicolor silken cloth. This ensemble further includes a garlanded kalash (goblet) that is kept on top of the gudhis, symbolizing triumph or accomplishment. Neem stalks are also tied to the gudhis, representing both sad as well as happy occasions that one has passed through in the bygone year. This is a unique Maharashtrian festival.
Lord Ganesha is one of the most revered Hindu gods in the state of Maharashtra. Thus, Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most vivaciously celebrated festivals in Pune. As the name suggests, the festival falls on the fourth day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada, which, as per the Georgian calendar, coincides with the months of August-September. The revelry of this festival continues for five to ten days as during this period, people buy idols of Lord Ganesha and keep them in their homes as a divine guest. Later, the images, accompanied by grand processions, are taken to a well, river or sea and ceremoniously submerged in the water.
Besides homes, massive community Ganesha pujas are also organized wherein huge, lavishly decorated pandals with colossal Ganesha idols are set up. People from all walks of life gather here to pray to Lord Ganesha. The entire atmosphere of Pune reverberates with the pious chant of “Ganpati Bapa Morya”. Lakhs of people gather on the first day of the festival to welcome the Lord and similar are the scenes on the last day festivities when he is sendoff with great pomp and show.
The Pune Festival celebrates the art and cultural heritage of this region including its wonderful customs, traditions as well as exhilarating traditional songs and dances. This festival is celebrated in tandem with Ganesh Mahotsav for 10 days between the months of August and September. The colorful festivities begin with the installation of idols of Lord Ganesha on the first day and culminate with the submersion of his idols on the tenth day. Today, Pune Festival has become a major cultural festival which is sponsored and promoted by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation as well as the Union government. Guests from around the country as well as world flock to Pune in order witness various spectacular, breathtaking classical musical recitals and dance performances presented here by many maestros and stalwarts from all over India. Besides these activities, one can enjoy many other fun events, such as film shows, theatrical performances, automobile rallies and traditional sports that are also organized during the course of this festival.
Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti
Another significant regional festival of Maharashtra is the birth anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is celebrated every year on February 19 with great revelry. Shivaji is considered one of the most iconic and majestic personalities in the history of Martha community and played a pivotal role in setting up of a Maratha kingdom by uniting various Maratha chiefs of Mayal, Konkan, and Desh regions. Thus, people of Pune celebrate this day with immense pride and honor. On Shivaji Jayanti, the city of Pune is wonderfully decorated and many colorful processions are taken out, in which people dress up like Shivaji and his comrades. Other than this, various cultural events are organized to showcase the accomplishments of this mighty Maratha King.
Similar to the rest of the country, Pune is no stranger to the charm of the festival of Diwali. The city celebrates the festival of Deepavali along with the rest of the country with great fun and frolic. Homes along with business establishments are cleaned and decorated. People illuminate their homes with earthen diyas and the entire city of Pune comes alive with the sight and sounds of hundreds of firecrackers being burst. Here, Diwali is celebrated to honor the legend of Lord Rama's return to Ayodhya along with his devoted wife, Sita and loyal brother, Laxman. It is believed that on this precise day, the first Diwali was celebrated by the people of Ayodhya to welcome back their beloved crowned price after an exile of 14 years. On this day, people in Pune exchange gifts with each other, eat sweets and wear new clothes. For kids, Diwali is the most awaited festival because of the the crackers they get to play with and the ever beloved Diwali gifts. These gifts, however, are not limited to just kids; even grown ups will gift each other something special for Diwali.
The festival of Bhaubeej, celebrated a day after Deepavali, is reveled with great gusto in Pune as well as all over Maharashtra. In other parts of the country, this festival is known as Bhai Dooj; however, the underlying theme of the festival remains the special bond of love and affection that exists between a brother and sister. During this festival, as per a special ritual indigenous to this region, a sister draws a square on the floor. The brother sits in it and consumes a bitter fruit called Karith. This tradition has its roots in a legend according to which, Lord Krishna tasted this fruit before going on the battle to vanquish the demon Narakasura. On this pious day, sisters place a vermilion mark on their brother's forehead and perform aarti, while praying for a long and prosperous life for their brothers. In return, brothers present them with gifts. Basundi Poori or Shrikhand Poori is the staple delicacy that is prepared in Maharashtra to celebrate this occasion.