Delhi Festivals in January
The year in Delhi begins with a light morning chill, streets, gardens and parks surrounded with bare trees and paths filled with yellow leaves that mark only one thing which is the beginning of a New Year. Filled with happy moods and greetings, New Year is widely celebrated on 1st January not only around the world but in the Capital City of India too with positive expectations, anticipation, excitement and eagerness towards a better, optimistic and prosperous year ahead. Be it young, old or middle aged, Delhi people look forward to this occasion with the advent of a shopping splurge, eating out and spending time with family and friends. Most youngsters indulge in partying and dancing from 31st December night till the stroke of midnight accompanied by fireworks.
Other facilities include a Multi-cuisine Restaurant, Doctor-on-call, Safe deposit lockers, Car rental, Recreational room, Travel Helpdesk and activities include Nature Walk, Trekking and evening dinner with bonfire.
Lohri is celebrated in the month of January to mark the beginning of a cold winter month in Delhi. It is also connected with the solar year and accepted as the festival of fire. The day starts with Children collecting money from their homes and neighbours followed by an evening of dance like Bhangra with Dhol and Gidda and traditional songs surrounding a huge bonfire accompanied by food and hard drinks collectively celebrated by Punjabis and people of different religious sects too. More significance is added to this festival if there is a happy event in the family which can either be the first Lohri of a newly wedded couple or a new born baby boy.
Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti
Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti is celebrated by the Sikhs all over the world to mark the birthday of their 10th and last Guru on the first week of January. On this day, a large procession is organised accompanied with hymns, special prayer sessions, Kirtan and a story telling session about the Life and Teachings of their Guru in all the Gurudwaras. Guru Gobind Singh was born on 22nd December 1666 as per the Hindu Bikrami or Lunar Calendar; however, as per the Nanak-Shahi Calendar, the festival falls on 5th January every year.
Makar Sankranti or the harvest festival is celebrated in Delhi to mark the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon. 'Makar' means 'Capricorn' and 'Sankranti' means 'the movement of earth from one zodiac sign to another'; hence, the festival is celebrated on 14th January when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to Tropic of Capricorn or movement of Dakshinayana to Uttarayana in Hindi language. This festival also marks the commencement of spring season and new harvest when an inauspicious facet in Indian culture transits into an auspicious one and the day begins with warmer and longer days. It also holds an ancient religious significance that makes a mention in the Mahabharata epic when people dedicated this festival to the Sun God regarded as a symbol of wisdom and divinity.
Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu and equally celebrated in Delhi for four continuous days but more common amongst the South Indian community that have settled in the city. The first day called 'Bhogi Pongal' is celebrated only within the confines of the house when evil spirits are driven out of the house and burnt in bonfires and the house walls receives a fresh coat of paint or whitewash. The second day called 'Surya Pongal' begins with thanking God for a bountiful harvest and a special dish called 'Sarkkarai Pongal' is prepared on a new stove and in new utensils along with the newly harvested rice, moong daal or lentils and jaggery and offered to the Sun God for blessings and eaten in the family. The third day called 'Mattu Pongal' begins by bathing the cows and bullocks to honour them for their contribution to a good harvest. The fourth day marks the beginning of their New Year and the people praise and thank God in good faith. Everybody including animals, insects and birds are fed 'Kollam' prepared from rice and flour. This festival is also celebrated on 14th January coinciding with the Makar Sankranti festival, Lohri, Bhogali Bihu Assamese festival and Bhogi festival of Andhra Pradesh. Pongal is also one of the few Dravidian festivals that have survived the influences of Indo-Aryan reign and also finds a mention in the ancient Puranas.
Republic Day is one festival celebrated across India devoid of any religious customs, barriers and filled with patriotic fervour on 26th January that marks the Day the Indian Constitution took effect. This celebration is attended by the President of India, the various cabinet ministers and MLAs and all Delhiites at India Gate accompanied by Indian Army and Military Parade, folk dances and cultural shows depicting all Indian States. On 1st January 1930, the tricolour Indian Flag was unfurled and hoisted by the Indian National Congress and pledges were taken to commemorate the 26th of January every year as the Indian 'Republic Day'. This pledge was redeemed officially on 26th January 1950 though the actual Independence was achieved on 15th august 1947. Three days later, the Armed forces play different patriotic tunes with pride and honour at Vijay Chowk also known as the 'Beat the Retreat' occasion.