Festivals & Fairs
As elesewhere in the state, fasting and feasting are the special features of the Hindu festivals, which are spread all over the year. A short account of the principal ones are given below:
The first nine days of the Hindu calendar or the Vikram Samvat begining with the first day of the bright half of the Chaitra are called Navratra. On the eighth day falls the Shitala Ashthami when Devi, particularly in the form of Shitala is worshipped. The next day Ram Navami marks the birthday of Rama when the Hindus of the district fast and the temples of Rama are specially decorated and illuminated at night and the Ramayana is read in them and in the home of the devout where large numbers gather to listen to the recitation. Some of the places where fairs are held on this occasion are Sultanpur municipality and Dera (in tehsil Kadipur).
Nagpanchami is celebrated in the district as elsewhere, on the fifth of the bright half of the Shravan month to appease the Nags or the serpant God.
The Guriya festival is also celebrated on the same day (Nagmanchami). The women go to their parents and receive clothes, etc. as gift. Jhula or the swing provides a lot of fun to village women and girls on the occasion. They go high up in the swings singing melodiously songs, known as kajari.
the festival celebrating the birth of
Dasahra is celebrated by the Hindus of the district on the tenth day of bright half of the Ashvina to commemorate the victory of Rama over Ravan and Ramlila celebrations are held at several places in the district, big fairs being held at Sarwanpur, Katra Lalganj, Sengthi and Ramganj (all in tehsil Amethi); Mayang, Kurwar, Aliganj, Guptarganj, Dhammaur, Kurebhar, Bandhua Kalan, Pratappur and Sultanpur (in tehsil Sultanpur); and at Koeripur, Dostpur-Firozpur and Dera (in tehsil Kadipur).
Dipavali, the festival of lights is celebrated in the district (as alsewhere) on the last day of the dark half of Kartika when the houses of Hindus are illumunated and the Godess Lakshami is worshipped. Festivities start two days earlier with the Dhanteras (when metal utensils are purchased as token of prosperity) followed by Narak Chaudasi when a few earthen lamps (diyas) are lit as a preliminary of the main day of the festival. For the traders and businessmen, Dipavali marks the end of the fiscal year and they pray for prosperity in the ensuing new year. There is no fasting on the occasion as Dipavali is regarded as a festival of feasting.
Kartik Purnima is a big bathing festival which falls on the full moon day of Kartika, when people take a bath in the Gomti. A big fair is held at Dera.
Shivratri falls on the fourteenth day of Phalguna in honour of Shiva. Hindus in the district fast throughout the day and vigil is kept at night when the God is worshipped. The Shiva temples of the district are specially decorated and illuminated and large numbers of devotees offer water, flowers and bel-patra (leaves of Aegle Marmelos, the bel tree) to icons and images of Siva and sing devotional songs in his praise. Big faires are held at Misrauli, Pindara Karnai and Soraon (in tehsil Musafirkhana); and Tala, Bandoia and Sonari in Tehsil Amethi.
Holi, the festival of spring, is the last major festival of the Hindu calender year and falls on the full-moon day of Phalguna. People in the rural area start singing phaaga (songs of Phalguna) during the nights long before the actual day of the festival. On the night of the festival itself big open-air fires are lit to celebrate the annihilation of the forces of evil, on which newly harvested cars of barley and wheat are roasted for offering to the Gods. Widespread rejoicing marks the following day of the festival when, till about noon, people throw coloured water and coloured powder on each other and in the evening, visit relatives and friends.
As many as thirty-eight Hindu religious fairs, big and small, are held in the district annually. Of these fairs, only 13 are such as attract gathering of about 10,000 persons or more. The Dhopap Ghat fair which is held at Shahgarh on Jyeshtha, Shukla 10nth, appears to be the biggest, attracting, a gathering of about 90,000 persons. It is followed by the Pandey Baba fair fair held at Badhuna Din on Ashwina, Shukla 1-10th, and the Shivratri fair held at Belai on Phalguna, Krishna, 13th (both in tehsil Kadipur), where the congregation is estimated to be about 70,000 persons.
The bathing fair of Kartika Purnima is held on the bank of the Gomti at, Dera and Dasahra fair at Koeripur. The fairs of Sagara held at Sitakund on Chaitra, Shukla 9th, Lohramau Bhavani (held at Lohramau on 1st Monday and Friday after Shravan, Shukla 5th) and Ram Vivah held on Agrahayan, Shukla 5th at Pratappur (all in tehsil Sultanpur) attract a large gathering.
20,000 persons assemble annually at the Ram Navami fair held on Chaitra, Shukla 9th and
the Sitakund fair held on Magha,
The Muslims of the district celebrate a number of festivals. Id-uj-Zuha is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Zilhijja the last month of Hijri calendar to commemorate the occasion when the prophet Ibrahim submitted himself to the will of God. Men attend morning prayers in Idgahs or mosques and sheeps and goats are sacrificed in the God's name.
first ten days of the month of Muharram
commemorate the tragedy of
Chelhum falls on the 40th day from Ashra. It usually marks the end of the period of mourning.
Barawafat (or Id-e-Milad), the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, is celebrated on the 12th day of Ravi-al-awwal when alms are distributed and muslim gather to listen to discourses (Milad Sharif) on the prophet's life.
Shab-e-Barat, falling on the 14th of Shavan, is a festival of rejoicing. It is marked by a display of fireworks, distribution of sweets and reciting of fatiha (prayers) for the piece of the souls of the dead.
Id-ul-Fitra falls on the 1st of the month of Shawal when thanks giving prayers are offered by Muslim men in mosques for the successful completion of the fasts of the preceding month of Ramadan. Besides these traditional and orthodox festivals urs celebration are held at the tombs of different pirs (Muslim saints).
The Sikhs celebrate the birthday of their gurus, Nanak and Govind Singh, when portions of the Granth are read or recited, congragational prayers are held and processions taken out.
The main festivals of the christians of the district are Christmas, which falls on December 25th and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; Good Friday, which commemorates his crucifixion; and Easter which celebrates his resurrection.
The Jains of the district celebrate the birth and nirvana anniversaries of Mahavira, their 24th tirthankar. The other important festivals of Jains are Paryushan (the last ten days of Bhadra) and the three Ashtinhikas falling during the last eight days each of Asadha, Kartika and Phalguna.