Festivals or ‘Utsava’ is the expression of complete happiness or pleasure.

Purposes of Festivals

Festivals are generally times for celebration and remembrance, specifically:
Create a special atmosphere, diverting the mind from usual worldly concerns and joyfully focusing on spiritual matters.
Invoke the soul’s natural qualities by creating an environment replete with auspiciousness and the abundant gifts of nature.
Give people spiritual impetus and inspiration to help them perform their daily duties.
Achieve the natural tendency for celebration with spiritual goals.
Create a sense of belonging by peacefully bringing together individuals, families and communities.

Main Practices during Festivals
Fasting and feasting
Distribution of food (especially prasad)
Giving in charity (to temples, saints, the poor, etc)
Visiting the temple
Visiting relatives
Glorification of God (kirtan, bhajan, story recitals, dance, drama)
Manufacture and worship of temporary deities
Taking temple deities in procession
Wearing new clothes
Decorating houses, streets and temples with fruits, flowers, leaves and banana leaves

Types of Festivals
1. Celebrating a significant event in the life of a deity e.g. Janmashtami is Krishna’s birthday.
2. Celebrating a significant event in the life of a holy person e.g. the birthday of a particular guru.
3. Seasonal festivities or customs, e.g. spring festivals like Holi.