Glorious India

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Variety & Diversity of India

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By a Proud Indian Santwana Korada

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Indian Festivals celebrated by varied cultures and through their special rituals add to the colors of Indian Heritage. Some festivals welcome the seasons of the year, the harvest, the rains, or the full moon. Others celebrate religious occasions, the birthdays of divine beings, saints, and gurus (revered teachers), or the advent of the New Year. A number of these festivals are common to most parts of India. However, they may be called by different names in various parts of the country or may be celebrated in a different fashion

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The Parsi New Year, Jamshed -e- Navroz is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Shehenshai calendar followed by the Zoroastrian faith. Named after the Persian ruler Jamshed , in whose reign the festival began, Jamshed -e- Navroz is symbolic of rejuvenation and rebirth. As in all the other New Year festivals, at Navroz too there's much excitement in the air. Homes are cleaned and decorated with ornate rangolis , new clothes are worn, and greetings along with the customary sweets are exchanged. This being the start of a new year, prayers are offered at the Fire Temple, and it’s usual for people to go thrice to the temple during the day to worship Khorshed and Meher , the two divine beings who preside over the sun and the moon respectively. Festivities of Navroz begin with cleaning and decorating of homes. Jasmine and rose are flowers primarily used for decoration besides other symbolic objects of Navroz . Parsees visit the fire temple for thanksgiving prayers and offering sandalwood sticks to the fire. After the prayers, they greet each other ‘Sal Mubarak’ and exchange gifts. It is a custom to lay down a table and place a copy of the Gathas , a lit lamp or candle, a shallow ceramic plate with sprouted wheat or beans, small bowl with a silver coin, flowers, painted eggs, sweets and rosewater, and a bowl of water containing goldfish in it. They all signify prosperity, wealth, colour , productivity, sweetness and happiness.

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Makar Sankranti or Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of southern India, mainly Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Pongal happens in the middle of January every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan (sun's journey northwards). The Pongal festival lasts for four days. It  marks the transition of the Sun into Makar rasi . It marks the gradual increase of the duration of the day. Pongal is the first day of  Uttarayan. Kite Festivals are organized on Makara Sankranti. Kite flyers from all over the world participate in the festival. Holi or Phagwah is a popular spring festival. Holi  commemorates the slaying of the demoness Holika by Lord Vishnu’s devotee Prahlad . Thus, the festival's name is derived from the Sanskrit words "Holika Dahanam", which literally mean "Holika's slaying“. The full-moon day in February-March is celebrated as Holi, the festival of colors. Holi is a festival of fun and gaiety for people of all ages. Bonfires are lit and people smear colors on each other. Holi signifies the start of spring and end of winter. People celebrate the new harvest and return of color in nature.   Holi fire is a symbol of destruction of all filth and impurity be it physical or mental. Dahi Handi also called gokulashtami is a popular ceremony, celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and glee. Dahi Handi is an enactment of Lord Krishna's efforts to steal butter from Matka (earthen pot) suspended from the ceiling.

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Deepawali literally means an array of lamps is the Festival of Lights. Depawali is the occasion of joy and jubilation for one and all in the entire Hindu world. All the illumination and fireworks, joy and festivity, signifies the victory of divine forces over those of wickedness. Deepawali symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Depawali is a festival that lasts 5 days.  It is said that Lakshmi , Goddess of wealth roams the earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean and brightly illuminated. It is also the beginning of the new financial year for the business community. Dussehra or Navratri is one of the most popular festivals of India. Dussehra also commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana of Lanka. The theme of this festival is the victory of good over evil. This nine-day festival of the Hindus is celebrated in almost all parts of India in the month of Ashvina , and is marked by fasting and praying to different aspects of Devi. Literally 'nine nights', this nine-day period from the new moon day to the ninth day of Ashvina is considered the most auspicious time of the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated as Durga Puja in the state of West Bengal. Durga Puja is the most important and the most eagerly awaited festival of the state. It commemorates the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura . The nine different aspects of Devi are worshipped over the nine days.

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Onam is also known as Vamana Jayanthi , is a Hindu festival and the state festival of Kerala celebrated by the people of Kerala, India. The festival commemorates the Vamana avatar of Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali . It falls during the month of August–September and lasts for ten days. The festival is marked by various festivities, including intricate flower carpets, elaborate banquet lunches, snake boat races it can be undoubtedly said that these elements constitute the colorfulness, diversity and richness that no other festival can Raksha Bandhan is a festival celebrated mainly in northern Indian states. Rakhi is a special occasion to celebrate the chaste bond of love between a brother and a sister. Raksha Bandhan stirs up one of the deepest and noblest .On this day sisters tie a rakhi which may be a colorful thread, a simple bracelet, or a decorative string around the wrist of their brother(s). The word " raksha " signifies protection, and " bandhan " is an association signifying an enduring bond; and so, when a woman ties a rakhi around the wrist of her brother, she signifies her loving attachment to him. He, likewise, recognizes the special bond between them, and by extending his wrist forward, he in fact extends the hand of his protection over her. Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebration of the birth of Ganesh . Ganesh Chaturthi , the birthday of Lord Ganesh , is celebrated in August-September. Ganesh is the elephant headed son of Goddess Parvati , consort of Lord Shiva. In Maharashtra, it is most important festival and is celebrated for 10 days ending with the submerging of the idol on the last day.

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Deepavali which means "row of lights/lamps“ is called"Divali " in North India, Deepa means lamp and in Hindi a lamp is mostly called a Diya . The festival is celebrated on the occasion of Krishna and his wife Satyabhama killing a demon Narakasura Another story says the festival is celebrated for the return of Rama and Sita to the kingdom Ayodhyaafter fourteen years of exile. Bhai dooj , also referred to as Bhaubeej , is the ceremony performed by Hindus, generally, on the second day of Deepavali It is celebrated among brothers and sisters and is similar to Raksha Bandhan , except there is no tying of rakhi involved.

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Christmas is celebrated by Christians in various ways. In addition to this day being one of the most important and popular for the attendance of church services, there are other devotions and popular traditions. Customs contain the show of Holly, Christmas trees and Nativity scenes, the exchange of cards and gifts and the coming of Santa Claus (Father Christmas) on Christmas morning or Christmas Eve. Famous Christmas themes contain the promotion of peace, goodwill and compassion. New Year is the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's  year count is incremented. In many cultures, the event is celebrated in some manner. The New Year of the Gregorian calenda r today in worldwide use, falls on 1 January, as was the case with the Roman calendar. Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches. Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.

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Eid , is a Muslim holiday that marks the end ofRamadan , the Islamic holy month of fasting. The religious Eid is a single day and Muslims are not permitted to fast that day. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiṭr means "breaking the fast". The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month Shawwal. This is a day where Muslims around the world try to show a common goal of unity. They greet each other “Eid Mubarak’ and elders give money or gifts as “ eidi”to the youngsters. The sheer kurma is typically made on this day.

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Baisakhi is a major Sikh festival - a religious festival, harvest festival and New Year’s Day all rolled into one. In April, this day marks the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year. In fact this day is celebrated all over the country as New Year day under different names. It is also the time when the harvest is ready to cut and store or sell. For the Sikh community Baisakhi has a very special meaning. Karwa Chauth is a very significant festival for the women of North Indian. Karwa means clay pot and Chauth corresponding to the fourth. The festival is celebrated nine days before Diwali , on the fourth day of the waning moon in the Hindu month of Kartik , around October-November Traditionally the Indian woman was expected to uphold family honor and repute. The festival of Karwa Chauth is not only a day when women pray to God for the long and prosperous lives of their husbands, but is also symbolic of their unflagging loyalty towards their spouses. Married women, old and young, begin their fast on the day of Karwa Chauth well before sunrise, and eventually partake of food and water only after spotting the moon.

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India is a country of many ethnic groups, over 1,650 spoken languages, dialects, regional variations a land of myriad tongues numerous modes of apparel and countless mannerisms. For the most part, the continental size of the country accounts for the variations and diversities. Besides, there are many religions, sects and beliefs. At times the wide differences seem to predominate, and the resultant disharmony is regarded by many as irremediable, a phenomenon that the 100 crore people (ours is the second most populous country) have to live with, whether they like it or not. But those who stick to this impression ignore a vital factor there is a basic unity which runs through the Indian mainstream of life and thought. Culture and civilization are admittedly difficult to define, though both these signify certain identifiable trends and traits of character, especially restraint, consideration for others and a high degree of tolerance. .

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The Indian mind has assimi­lated much of the thinking of other cultures, thus enriching itself and making itself durable and virtually indestructible. The Western concepts and modes of dress, the English language, the study of English classics and European philosophers' works, even though they emphasized thoughts and beliefs dif­ferent from those of the Indian people, have not been spurned. Rather, a good part of these has become almost a part of the Indian way of living and think­ing, especially in the urban areas. The English-knowing elite exist alongside the Indian language enthusiasts, without tensions. The Western culture has always laid stress on materialism, while the Eastern, especially Indian, culture has been closely linked with spiritualism, simplicity, filial duty and affection, austerity, tolerance and harmony. Both are tolerated in this country

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The real strength of Indian culture lies in basic unity, vigor and the ability to contain an amazing diversity within itself. In this country there are people who belong to opposite schools of thought and who never seem to agree on anything. And yet, the concepts of one basic culture and one nation have continued. It is often said that there is unity in diversity in India. The people of India are united with a common cultural heritage have a feeling of unity in spite of having external differences. From ancient times it is been seen that India is divided into various castes, creed , religions, regions but then too they are united as one whole nation. Nothing in the past have made them broken into pieces. It is an whole of a nation with a huge population , and will remain united in whatever condition they may put to.

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India is a land of diverse physical features. There are snow capped mountains, hilly terrains, plains, plateaus, and coastal areas. There are deserts and places with extreme and scanty rainfall. There are regions with extreme and moderate climate. People of India follow different religions and castes. They follow different customs, traditions and speak different languages. They also differ in dress and food.inspite of so many differences; people have a feeling of oneness .they are bound by common cultural heritage and they share basic human values. When Indians go abroad, they call themselves Indians and they are known as Indians. Indian culture is dynamic and tolerant.indian culture is more varied and richer. Though the foreign cultures retained their basic character, they became a part of the Indian culture with the passage of time. The diversity of the Indians contributes to the variety and richness of Indian culture and strengthens national unity.

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Natural beauty of India

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Border../..Temples…/..Palaces…/…Caves….&…Forts of India

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Flora../…Fauna…/…&…Traditional Dresses of India

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