Festivals are events that will be celebrated by communities that explore the characteristics of a particular religion and or culture.
There are various different types of festivals and they have evolved overtime. Historically, festivals have followed tradition and have followed cultural and religious beliefs. Overtime, they have evolved and festivals can be considered a celebration of other events.
For example, you can now find festivals catered for music, art, and seasonal and harvest festivals, which celebrate seasonal change.
Below, we have explored some of the most popular festivals relating to religion.
What are Hindu Festivals?
Hinduism is an incredibly diverse religion and this includes a range of amazing festivals that celebrate the multitude of beliefs within the religion. These religious festivals honour such beliefs.
Holi is a very popular Hindu festival. It has also been referred to as the Festival of Colours or the Festival of Spring. The festival is aimed at celebrating the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. It typically lasts for one day and one night, celebrations starting the night before Holi and the next day sees the festival of colours where people will cover each other with coloured powders and water.
This festival is often referred to as the Festival of Lights and it is a major festival within the Hindu community. It lasts around five days and requires a lot of preparation. Leading up to the festival those who celebrate will prepare their houses and decorate them with oil lamps and colourful patterns. They will wear the finest clothes, and create bright displays of lights throughout.
This can also be seen through fireworks and traditional displays of banquets.
This festival is celebrated once a year and is done so in honour of Shiva. This is another major festival as it used to remember the overcoming of darkness and ignorance in life. This is celebrated at night and holds an all night vigil with prayers.
The idea is that they refrain from sleeping in order to pray to Shiva, chanting hymns and performing dances.
This festival is used to celebrate the God, Sankranti. In addition, the sun is incredibly important also. This is because the sun shines primarily on the Southern hemisphere and moves towards the north over the day. This festival is celebrated by a day for success, peace and happiness. They bathe in sacred rivers and explore their gratitude and pay tribute to Sankranti.
This festival celebrates Lord Ganesh's arrival to earth. This is a ten day festival and is celebrated by performing aartis and pujas, in addition Ganesh idols are placed so that people can visit and give their prayers.
This festival is celebrated yearly and is used to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. It is typically celebrated by fasting, singing, prayers, food, night vigils and visiting temples in honour.
This is another annual celebration that is a major event for Keralites. The Onam is the official festival of Kerala. This doesn’t just celebrate one cultural attribute, but expands to a range of different ones. It is thought that this festival has religious origins that have developed into the celebrations that you can see today, such as parades, boat races, dance events, prayers and sports competitions.
This festival is used to celebrate the homecoming of Mahabali. This signifies the victory of hope over despair.
This spring festival celebrates the birthday of Shree Rama. Some festival activities include recitals and readings of Rama stories, visiting a temple, prayers, music as well as community meals.
An important part of this festival is to acknowledge the victory of good over evil.
This festival signifies the beginning of a new era and a new Hindu lunar calendar. It can be celebrated in a number of different ways, such as colourful patterns, decorations, buying and giving gifts, giving charity to the poor and preparing special food.
It is an important and historic festival for the Hindu community.
Navratri – Dussehra – Durga Puja
Navrati is a 9 day festival that celebrates Dussehra on one of its days. The day is celebrated through arts and dancing. Durga Puja is the Goddess that is worshipped.
As with many other religions, sikhs also celebrate a variety of different festivals throughout the year. It promotes great community cohesion and brings people together to celebrate the importance of events and dates.
Below, we have outlined some of the major sikh festivals.
This is celebrated by both Hindu’s and Sikhs across India. Also known as the Festival of Lights, it is symbolic of the good overcoming the evil. For sikhs, celebrations include the remembrance of Guru Hargobind and his bravery. They are reminded of the freedom in their beliefs and the strength in which their faith brings.
Some physical celebrations include wearing new clothes, homes are cleaned and decorated with lamps, street parades and fireworks.
This is a harvest festival that celebrates the gratitude and thanks given for the production of food and crops for that year and also includes prayers for a future of good crops. In addition, celebrations include fairs, sporting events and competitions, as well as music and dancing.
These are festivals that will celebrate the birth and or death of a Guru. This means that there are multiple celebrations that will take place throughout the year. It is worth noting that Guru Nanak’s birthday is the most important celebration to be held.
A traditional Gurpurb will be celebrated through fireworks, lights, candles and new clothes.
Festivals for Buddhism
The two main festivals that are celebrated by Buddhists are called Wesak and Parinirvana Day, but there are some smaller festivals that exist.
Most commonly celebrated in May, this festival is used to celebrate the birth of the Buddha, his enlightenment and his death. It is celebrated in a number of different ways, such as releasing paper lanterns and caged birds. The notion of light is used in order to symbolise the enlightenment of overcoming ignorance.
This is a festival that celebrates buddhists own immortality and death. In order to do this, they may partake in a pilgrimage that takes them to the site of Buddha’s death. This includes visiting the temple and giving thanks.
A retreat can be celebrated by most religions, but for Buddhists in particular, this can involve remembering key life events for Buddha and practice meditation as well as freeing themselves from craving.
The Elephant Festival
This festival will explore the buddhist belief in which a person who is new to Buddhism will form a special relationship with an older buddhist. A wild elephant signifies being harnessed as to become tame.
Whilst festivals can refer to practices within a faith, Christianity has a variety of different celebrations and pilgrimages that a Christian will celebrate.
This is a holiday that is used to celebrate the birth of Jesus. However, note that the festival of Christmas is celebrated on different dates, for example, Protestant and Catholic Christians will celebrate Christmas on December 25, whereas Orthodox Christians will celebrate January 6.
With that being said, Christmas in the UK is celebrated by people who are also not religious for it consists of gift giving, food and parties, which those who do not follow faith wish to celebrate too.
Easter is another holiday that is not just celebrated by Christains, but is a Christian holiday. It begins at Lent and ends with the day of resurrection. On Good Friday, it celebrates Jesus’ crucifixion and his death. Some traditional ways of celebrating this are through ending lent and eating hot cross buns.
Churches will hold services and others will hold reenactments of Jesus’ final journey. Easter Sunday is the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Churches will hold vigils and services. In addition, it is a big tradition in the UK for eggs to be given and gifted as to symbolise new life and the egg shape resembles the shape of the boulder that rolled away from Jesus’ tomb.
This is a four week period that leads up to Christmas. This celebrates the upcoming birth of jesus. In the UK, an advent calendar is given, which counts down the days until his birth, a calendar will typically contain a small chocolate or a gift.
Music - The UK’s Best Festivals
Aside from religious festivals, there are other forms such as music festivals. These include a community event, where people get together and listen to music and performances of a particular genre.
A music festival can take place at any time, typically held by independent musicians or organisations. With that being said, a music festival is a large part of understanding culture and experiencing their music.
Glastonbury is a festival that is celebrated through different genres of music. Music lineups often include some of the most popular and talented artists. It is often muddy and people will camp on festival grounds using tents.
It is the biggest and the longest running festival in the UK and is arguably the UK’s best festival.
Download festival is centred around rock music and metal music. It is most likely the largest within this genre. The festival typically lasts for five days and features different artists and performers across them.
Like Glastonbury, this festival will showcase a variety of different genres of music. It takes place in Reading, hence the name, and takes place over a long weekend. They provide platforms for new artists, as well as established, and they provide music from genres such as:
This is typically an annual festival.
Catered for Urban music, this festival has gained popularity through being the biggest and the UK’s best festival within that genre. They feature big acts and have popular performers on their stages, with huge displays for the massive number of people who attend the festival.
British Summer Time Hyde Park
Held once a year over two weekends, this festival is held in Hyde Park and showcases huge names, such as Bon Jovi, Kylie Minogue and Taylor Swift. They also hold other free activities and forms of entertainment during the week of the festival that differs from the main music festival events.
Taking place in Edinburgh, this festival is Scotland’s largest electronic festival and holds almost 40,000 guests. It is a two day event that displays techno and an amazing display of lights.
The visuals alone make this one of the UK’s best festivals.
Below, we have outlined the dates of some music festivals that are upcoming in the following months. We have supplied the name, dates and a small brief for each festival.
Southport Weekender Festival
This festival is being held on the 18th of March and will finish on the 20th (2022). It is being held in Bognor Regis and is a festival catered to bringing people together. It is friendly and showcases music such as House, R&B, Garage and Disco.
Liverpool Sound City
Running from the 30th to the 1st of May, this venue is being held in Liverpool. It highlights new music, no matter the genre or style and celebrates new music and artists.
The Great Escape
Located in Brighton, this festival takes place on the 11th of May and finishes on the 15th. This is another one that caters for new and exciting music. They feature over 150 acts over the course of the festival and have been doing so since 2006.
Taking place from the 10th to the 12th of June, download, as explored above, is one of the UK’s largest festivals and showcases big names such as Guns N Roses and Marilyn Manson.
This festival is the UK’s largest metropolitan festival. It starts on the 11th of June and finishes on the 12th, coinciding with the Download Festival. Deciding which one to pick may be difficult, perhaps base your decision on your favourite artists! This festival is located in Manchester.