India, the world's second largest country, has over 1 billion inhabitants, who speak 18 major languages and more than 1,000 minor languages and dialects. It features an infinite variety of landscapes and unsurpassed cultural richness. With so much diversity embedded within one culture, it is easy to understand why India is called "a land of festival and fairs."ÃÂ Every day of the year there is a festival celebrated in some part of the country.
As in any old civilization, most of these festivals have religious ties. Because India is still a predominantly rural nation, many of its festivals also welcome the coming of natural phenomena like the seasons of the year, the harvest, the rains, or the full moon. Thus, festivals often commemorate the sacred bond felt by the Indian villagers to their land. Nevertheless, there are those festivals, such as karwa chauth, practiced with great austerity by women of the Hindu faith in devotion to their husbands, which are not festivals as such, though there may be something of a festive air attached to these occasions.
Some festivals are observed throughout the country, or in a greater part of it; others, such as the famed snake race of Kerala, have peculiarly regional associations. Yet others, most notably Diwali and Holi, have been instrumental in bringing the diaspora of Indian communities back together. In remote places like Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana, these festivals are celebrated with a pomp and vigor not always witnessed in India itself, indicating the intensity of India culture even after it travels away from the subcontinent.
Among the most popular of all festivals, Dussehra symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. It takes place sometime between late September and early October. Every region observes this ten-day festival in a special way. In the North,