There are said to be more number of festivals in India, than there are days in a year. The religious and national ones are celebrated with great gaiety. The cultural ones attract many great artists from all over India. Hardly a day passes without a festival taking place somewhere in India. They range from small one-day village or temple functions to weeklong art functions.
In India, during the pre-historic Indus valley civilization (3000BC to 1500BC) people had been celebrating various occasions of joy. This is evident from the archaeological excavations at Mohenjadaro and Harappa. Those practices continued during the Epic and Vedic times (800-300BC). During the Mauryan times functions like birthday, marriages, return from a victory were indeed a grand show of wealth and pomp. Festive assemblies like Utsavs were held by the Kings to entertain people where delicious food and drinks were supplied. Such social festivals continued to be popular during the imperial Gupta age too. Festivals accompanied the worship of Gods and Goddesses.
Only a few of the festivals take place on a particular date. Most of them follow the lunar calendar and hence the exact date of the festivals varies from year to year. Muslim holidays and Muslim festivals follow the Islamic calendar. Most of the cultural festivals take place during the winter season. Most of the days of the festivals are not determined by the pre-set dates of a linear calendar, but according to the waxing and the waning of the moon. Fairs and festivals are moments of remembrance and commemoration of the birthdays and the deeds of great gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, gurus, prophets and saints. Seasonal or secular festivals underline the unity that draws together seemingly diverse groups.
For the men, festivals mean display of valour and virility through various races like the boat races of Kerala, or wrestling matches and animal fights. For the women it means cleaning the house and decorating it according to their artistic inclinations and proving their culinary skills to satisfy their wards and their hubbies. For the children, it is a time to be away from the tedious schools, with savories to munch all the time, new costumes and plenty of free time to roam around with their friends. Festivals also reinforce the presence of God in the life of the individual, the family and the community as a whole.