About the Book
In India, the landscape is primarily of celebration. Barely does one festival end to commemorate the season, when another follows to honour a God, a prophet or a saint.
The festivals of India embody the face and voice of this ancient tradition, and their variety, the expression of the creativity of its people. It is in its festivals that the country finds its many face, its innumerable forms, its kaleidoscopic colour, and innovative spirit and yet within that there runs the defining commonality that says emphatically: this is India.
What comes out of the cultural cauldron is still the commonality that manages to let so many cultural, religious and racial differences live and find their own individual path to commemorate a racial, mythological and historical memory as well as celebrate a cultural continuity.
This book takes the reader through the unique blend of cultural strands that weave the magic of this land.
About the Author
Uma Vasudev, renowned Indian author and journalist, is the biographer of one of India's most controversial Prime Ministers, the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi. She was the first editor of India Today. She also held position as editor of India Quarterly, the magazine of the Indian Council of World Affairs.
As a journalist, she has covered topics ranging from politics to the arts. She has contributed to leading papers, journals and radio; produced and directed documentaries and fiction for television.
Currently, Uma Vasudev is the editor of the magazine, SURGE International.
In India, the landscape is primarily of celebration. Barely does one festival end to commemorate a season, when another follows to honour a God, a Prophet or a saint. And because the seasons vary in India-from the Himalayan snows in Kashmir and Himachal to the sun-baked days of the East, from the monsoon lashing and the rolling seas in the West to the flowering greens in the South, and the three in descent colours of the waters of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea converging at the triangular southernmost up of Kanyakumari-the call for a festive commemoration is unending. Even death, if it comes at the ripe old age of 100, is celebrated with a band accompanying the commemorative chants to thank the gods for a life well lived.
The 29 States and six Union Territories that constitute the Indian Union have Hindi as the main language, English as the second, and 18 officially recognised regional languages, as listed in the Constitution, for each state where education is imparted up to the level of university. Otherwise there are 35 languages, each sopken by a million people. There are approximately 22,000 dialects forming the base for a tapestry of sound within which are woven India's folk songs and melodies, reverberating to a 5,000-year old past and lending themselves to experiments with modern jazz and fusion. Tribal rhythms merge with regional folk-dance forms to beat time to changing norms which continue to connect with a past in terms of classical norms defined by ancient treatises and incorporated in mythological lore. The inspiration for Indian classical dance remains Shiva, the Lord of Cosmic Dance and for sound, it is the Nada Brahma, the Om, which is the all-perfect enunciation for all melodies to flow.
The festivals of India become the face and voice of this ancient tradition, the variety and expression of the creativity of its people. It is in its festivals that the country finds its many faces, its innumerable forms, its kaleidoscopic colours, its innovative spirit and yet within that runs the defining commonality that says emphatically: this here, is India.
The 25 festivals in this book have been chosen with a view to pinpointing the divergence of traditions and customs which the many religions in India stipulate for celebration. What comes out of this cultural cauldron is the commonality that manages to let so many cultural, religious and racial differences not only live under that one roof called India, but find their own individual path to commemorate a racial, mythological or historical memory while celebrating a cultural continuity.
Writing about these festivals was for me like going through a whole process of Civilisation memory and yet again experience the unique blend of cultural strands that weave the magic of this land. So many diversities, so many religions, so many colours, so many landscapes, so much of much-ness that can hold you perennially enthralled!
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