Ethnicity Online

Cultural Awareness in Healthcare

Hindus: Holidays

Holidays and festivals have implications for Hindu staff, who may wish to take time off work, and for patients, who may have large numbers of visitors on special days. major religious holidays The Hindu calendar is based on movements of the sun and moon, with each of the 12 months having a dark and light half, each of 15 days, according to the phases of the moon. Festival dates are worked out carefully according to whether they are deemed favourable within the lunar calendar. The 11th day of each half month (ekadashi), and the day on which there is a full moon, are particularly auspicious, with many Hindus fasting then. Once every 3 years or so, an extra month must be added to bring the lunar year into phase with the solar year.

Here are some of the numerous holidays that are celebrated by various Hindu groups:

Makar Sankrant (Lohri, Pongal)


This is the first festival of the solar calendar year.

Mahashivratri (Great Shiva Night)


Hindus spend the night at the temple worshipping Lord Shiva and offering up milk. Some Hindus may also fast.


(February/March, 2–5 days)

This a festival of colours that are associated with the defeat of the demoness Holika and stories of the gods Vishnu and Krishna. Traditionally, people throw coloured powder, water, dye, paint or even mud at each other. As it is a spring festival, it also celebrates creation and renewal, and people dance around bonfires.

Yugadi (Gudi Parva)


Many Hindus celebrate this festival as the start of a new year. It is often marked by feasting and holy rituals (puja).

Rama Navami (Hari Jayanti)


Devotees of this festival celebrate the birthday of Lord Rama by fasting, praying and reciting stories of his life.

Raksha Bandhan (Shravani Purnima, Salono, Rakhi Purnima)


Family relationships are strengthened during this festival. Some Hindu women celebrate by tying threads (rakhi) on to their brother's wrist to protect them against evil. The men, in return, may give them money or gifts. Priests are also given presents when they visit the community during this festival.

Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanti)


This festival celebrates the birthday of Krishna.

Ganesh Chaturthi


This festival celebrates the birthday of Lord Ganesh.

Diwali (Deepvali)

(October/November, lasting several days)

Diwali is the most widely celebrated Hindu festival, which is considered by some Hindu groups to be the start of a new year. Known also as the 'Festival of Lights' it celebrates the triumph of light (knowledge) over darkness (ignorance). Small oil lamps are ceremoniously lit and presents may be given in honour of the gods Rama and Krishna and the goddess Lakshmi, goddess of good fortune.

Annakuta (Nutan Varsh)


Hindus offer sweets and other food to the gods on the day after Diwali.

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