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There are 29 states in India and almost all states have their own Harvest festival at different times throughout the year.
Some of the major Harvest festivals in India are Makara Sankranti which is also known as Pongal, Uttarayana, Lohri, and Bhogali Bihu.
Makara Sankranti in January
This is one of the major Harvest festivals of India celebrated with different names and ways due to the diversity of culture in India.
The movement of the earth from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar in Hindi, this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context.
It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14th January every year.
Makar Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture.
Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.
Holi in February–March
The festival of colors is celebrated between the February and March with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day.
Holi has many significances and one of them is changing of season and beginning of the new spring season. Holi marks adieu to winter and welcome the season of spring with enjoyment and pray for good harvests.
The religious purpose of Holi is Holika Dahan and Rangapanchami,the Braj region is famous for its traditional Lathmar Holi,a major tourist attraction in India.
Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.
Baisakhi in April
Baisakhi Festival falls on the first day of Vaisakh month (April-May) according to Nanakshahi or Sikh Calendar. For this reason, Baisakhi is also popularly known as Vaisakhi. According to English calendar, the date of Baisakhi corresponds to April 13 every year and April 14 once in every 36 years. This difference in Baisakhi dates is due to the fact that day of Baisakhi is reckoned according to solar calendar and not the lunar calendar. The auspicious date of Baisakhi is celebrated all over India under different names and different set of rituals and celebrations.
Baisakhi is celebrated as the Indian thanksgiving day by farmers of Punjab, praying for future prosperity and thanking God for harvest.
It also has religious significance for the Sikhs community as the foundation of the Panth Khalsa on this day by the Guru Gobind Singh.
Rongali Bihu in April
Bihu is the national festival of Assam celebrated three time in the year, Maagh in January, Bohaag in April and Kaati in October. Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu is the major among the other and most popular Bihu festival celebrated as the Assamese New Year in mid April along with Spring season.
The seven days festival is celebrated with the feeling of joy,worship,traditional cuisines and folk dance.
Beautiful agricultural state of Assam celebrates major agricultural events as the festival of Bihu.
Rongali Bihu derives its name from Sanskrit Vishuvam meaning vernal equinox when day and night is of equal duration. At the time of Rongali Bihu people welcome the spring season and pray for a bountiful and rich harvest. Bohag Bihu falls in the first month of the Assamese calendar called Bohag.
To celebrate the joyous Rongali Bihu festuival, people of Assam wear new and colourful clothes. People visit their neighbors, friends and relatives and distribute sweet as they greet each other a Happy Bihu.
Hareli Festival in July-August
Hareli is one of the major harvest festival of tribal Chhattisgarh state,celebrate during the holy month of Sawan or in the month of monsoon (July-August). During the Hareli festival tribes worshipping farm equipment, cows and pray for good crops along with many social and cultural events.
The word 'Hareli' is derived from the Hindi word 'Haryali' meaning greenery. It is mainly a festival celebrated by the various communities of farmers in the month of Shravan. The celebration of the Hareli festival corresponds with the months of July and August in the Gregorian calendar.
The Hareli festival in Chhattisgarh is celebrated on the new moon day of the month or the Sravana Amavasya. It is an old traditional festival of Chhattisgarh that marks the beginning of Shravan month, the holy month for Hindus.
Onam in August–September
Onam festival is the grand carnival of Kerala state, celebrated during the month of August–September. The ancient festival has a significance of homecoming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali and harvest of rice and rain flowers in Kerala. The ten day festival is celebrated with various festivities such as flower carpets, Vallamkali, Puli Kali and Kaikottikkali.
Nuakhai in August–September
Nuakhai also known as Nabanna and it is the Harvesting Festival of Orissa. It is very similar to Onam. Nuakhai is mostly celebrated in the western region of Orissa and a major social festival of Kosal.
NUAKHAI is a festival which has integrated within its fold of rituals elements of the aborigines, the ethnic, the agrarian and the Aryan ways of nature worship. The prince and the pauper, the crown and the commoner, all take the blessed offering in leaf-cups sitting on the ground facing east. The offering is performed by the eldest in the family.
Diwali Festival in October-November
The festival of lights is also celebrated as Harvest Festival, as it occurs at the end of a cropping season or the last harvest of the year before winter. Diwali is the most popular festival in India, celebrate the triumph of good over evil, in the form of lighting up of houses, burning the candles and set off fireworks.
Kut Festival in November
Kut festival is a major Post Harvest festival celebrate in the month of November by Kuki-Chin tribes. The annual festival is a leading festivals of Manipur state and does not restricted by community any more, various cultural events are Organized to celebrate the kut festival such as folk dances,traditional dances and songs along with Miss Kut contest. Another harvest festival of Manipur is Chumpha Festival,celebrated by the Tanghul Nagas tribes of the region.
Tokhu Emong in November
The festival of Tokhu Emong is celebrate by the tribes of Lotha nagas in the first week of November. Tokhu Emong is a popular post harvest festival enjoy with tribal folk dances and old folk songs and held for 9 days.Other harvest festival of the Indian states includes Navanna in West Bengal,Wangala in Meghalaya,Pawl Kut of Mizoram and most famous Garia Puja of Tripura.
Pongal in December
Pongal is a harvest festival just like the Tamil equivalent of Thanksgiving. In an agriculture based civilization the harvest plays an important part. The farmer cultivating his land depends on cattle, timely rain and the Sun. Once a year, he expresses his gratitude to these during the harvest festival. With the end of the wet month of Margazhi (mid December to mid January) the new Tamil month of Thai heralds a series of festivals. The first day of this month is a festival day known as "Pongal Day". Pongal means the "boiling over" of milk and rice during the month of Thai.
According to the calendar based on the solar system the year is divided into two halves following the apparent movement of the Sun northwards and Southwards. On the first day of the Thai, the Sun leaves the zodiac sign of Sagittarius and enters that of capricorn, the latter is known as Makaram. The event thus is celebrated as Pongal.
The four day celebration of Pongal Marks a period of plenty, peace and happiness. It is held to honor the Sun, for a bountiful harvest. Families gather to rejoice and share their joy and their harvests with others. The Sun is offered a "Pongal" of rice and milk.