San Fermin Festival

The Festival of the San Fermin in city of Pamplona (Navarre, Spain) is deeply rooted celebration held annually from 6 July when the opening of the party is marked by the setting off the pyrotechnic chupinazo to midnight 14 July, with the singing of the Pobre de Mi. While its most famous event is the encierro, or the running of the bulls, which starts happens from the 7 July to 14 July, the weeklong celebration that involves many other traditional and folkloric events. It is locally known as Sanfermines and it is held in honour of Saint Fermin, the co patron of Navarre. It has become probably the most international renowned fiesta in Spain where over than 1,000,000 people come to participate.

Origin of the Festival:

The celebration of the festival has its origin in the combination of 2 different medieval events. The commercial secular fairs were held at the beginning of the summer. As the cattle merchants came into town with their animals, eventually the bullfighting came to be organized as the part of the tradition. It was first documented in the 14th century.  On other hand, the religious ceremonies honouring the saint were held on the October 10, however in year 1591 they were transferred to 7 July to take place at the same time as far as the fair, when the Pamplona’s weather is better. This is considered to be the beginning of the San Fermines. During the medieval times acts included an opening speech, Musicians, tournaments, theatre, bullfights, dances or even the fireworks. The Giant’s Parade was created by the end in this mid of the 19th century. The first official bullring was constructed in the 1844.

The day of the festival is 7 July, when the thousands of people accompany the 15th-century statue of Saint Fermin through the old part of Pamplona. The statue is always supported by the dancers and the street entertainers and the different political and religious authorities including the city mayor. During the ancient traditional dance (Jota) is performed for the saint, the rose is offered in the Saint Cernin well and the “gigantes”. 

Kartik Poornima

Kartika Poornima (Kartika purnima) is the Hindu, Jain and holy festival, celebrated on the Purnima (full moon) day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartika (November–December). It is also known asTripuri Poornima and Tripurari Poornima. It is sometimes called Deva-Diwali or Deva-Deepawali - the festival of lights of the gods.

Kartik purnima marks the victory of Lord Shiva over the demons Tripuri. The Kartik Purnima festival also coincides with the festival of Jain light and Guru Nanak's Birthday.
Hindus celebrate it as a day when the god incarnated himself as a ‘Matsya’ or the Fish. God Vishnu took the fish incarnation to save Vaivasvata, the 17th Manu and the progenitor of human race from Deluge.

It is believed that all the worship done in this month contributes to the spiritual upliftment of individual. When the lord Ganesha( son of lord shiva- The destroyer in Hindu Trinity) was known as Pratham Pujya. His younger brother Kartikeya questioned the decision and then it was determined that entire month in the year would be dedicated to Kartikeya and to be called as Kartik.
Kartik Poornima is only day of the year when the Lord Brahma, the Creator of the universe, is worshiped. As legend goes, Lord Brahma wished to perform a ‘Yajna’ or sacrifice on the earth and selected hill on which he would perform a Yajna. Here Lord Brahma followed his penance for 1000 years. From the sky, he then dropped the Lotus flower, which is said to have created the holy lake of Pushkar which means ‘Lotus’.

Just before he set to commence the sacrifice, Lord Brahma eldest wife, Savitri was nowhere to be seen. Lord Brahma impatiently commenced the ‘Yajna’ with the younger wife, Gayatri. When Savitri learnt this, she was shocked and cursed him and stated that, he would only be worshiped on a one particular day of the year that is-Kartik Poornima.

It is believed that also on this day Lord Shiva with help of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to destroy the demon, Tripur. Tripur had the boon that neither God nor humans would be able to kill him. With no fear of death, he started harassing everyone and so all the Gods asked Lord Shiva to destroy Tripur.

White Nights Festival/Scarlet Sails, St. Petersburg, Russia,

The White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia is an annual international arts festival during the season of midnight sun. The white Night Festival consists of the series of classical ballet, opera and music events and includes the performances by the Russian dancers, singers, musicians and actors as well as famous international guest stars. The Scarlet sails celebration is the culmination of the White Nights season, the largest public event anywhere in Russia with the annual estimate of million people, most of whom are students from many schools and colleges, both local and international.
It is organised by the Saint Petersburg City Administration, festival begins in May with the “stars of the White Nights” at the Mariinsky Theatre and ends in July. However some performances connected to festival take place before and after the official dates.

The white Nights Festival is really unforgettable music and arts festival in the St. Petersburg, Russia, celebrated over the few weeks during the season of Midnight Sun, where the daylight hours are their longest.

The White Nights Festival is the series of events that take place from the end of May to the end of June, during the longest days of the sunlight all year in the St, Petersburg.

The stars of the White Nights are one of the highlights, focusing on all types of music from Jazz and brass, to classical and the pop. Many of the top international pop stars have performed in the festival at the St. Petersburg’s Ice Palace and festival also features many ballet, opera and performances by the actors, dancers, singers and more.

One of the most highlighted events during the White Nights is the Scarlet Sails celebration, which celebrates the end of the school year. There is the huge display of the fireworks and the fleet of ships with the red sails set sail along the river, and there is the large celebration with music, performance, fire throwers, mimes, jugglers and more, all along the River Neva.

Nothing can be better than going out during this amazing time and observing raising the bridges, meeting people and observing the magical atmosphere of the city.

Songkran Water Festival, Thailand

The water Festival is the New Year’s celebrations that take place in Southeast Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand as well as Yunnan, China. It is called as the ‘water Festival’ by the westerners because people splash/ pour water at one another as the new year falls during the hottest month in the South East Asia, many people end up dousing strangers and passersby in the vehicles in boisterous celebration.

The traditional water pouring is meant as the symbol of washing away the all of their sins and bad and is sometimes filled with the fragrant herbs when celebrated in the traditional manner.

The Songkran Water Festival lasts for three days. The activities of first 2 day’s activities are concentrated on the banks of the Lancang River. On the 1st day, the grand celebration marks the beginning of the festival. An outdoor market is all set up, where the locals go for New Year shopping. It is also the great place to purchase the local souvenirs. Local food and snacks are other highlights traveller may not want to miss.

The third day, climax of the festival, is reserved for water splashing. On that day, the Dai put on their newest and best clothes, and then assemble at the local Buddhist temple, where the monks chant the Buddhist scriptures. After that, a symbolic water splashing ritual is enacted whereby the Buddhist statue with the pomp and ceremony, is the first coaxed out of the temple courtyard then splashed with the water. This is the important ritual which is called as ‘Bathing the Buddha’.

This water splashing ceremony, however is more than just good-natured fun, it also contains the religious element: water is regarded by the Dai as the symbol, firstly of religious purity but also of goodwill among people.

The festival has many different names specific to each country such as the Songkran in Laos and Thailand, Chaul Chnam Thmey in the Cambodia and Thingyan in Myanmar.

“Water Splashing Festival” is one of the most influential ethnic festivals in Yunnan area. It attracts thousands of tourists every year from all over the China.

Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), Netherlands

Koningsdag or the King’s Day is the national holiday in the Kingdom of Netherlands. Celebrated on the 29 April, the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander. It is assumed to mark to be an occasion of national harmony and integrity.

The trend began on the August 31, 1885 on the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, who subsequently became the Queen Wilhelmina. Following the taking over the Queen Juliana in the 1949, the day is celebrated on the April 30 or the birthday of Queen Juliana. Despite the fact that the birthday of Queen Beatrix is on the January 31, but she formally observes her birthday on the April 30.

The contemporary observation of this occasion was initially planned by the Liberal Union, the Dutch Liberal Political Party, to be the day of countrywide harmony in the Netherlands.

From the 1885 to 1890, the event was known as the Princess’ Day or the Prinsessedag, before the enthronement of the Wilhelmina in the 1890. Since the 31 August 1891, the celebration was called the Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day.

The day was not only the Queen’s Birthday, but also the last day of the summer vacation, which made the festivities admirable with kids.

Traditionally, the celebrations involved the parade (for Wilhelmina), the floral tribute (for Juliana), and the tour of the town of Netherlands by the Beatrix who uses the opportunity to honour her country’s citizens and thank them for their service.

The Koningsdag is famous for its nationwide “free market” at which many Dutch people sell their second hand items. It is also an opportunity for “Orange madness” for the national colour, when the normally strait-laced let down their hair, often dyed orange for the occasion.

The biggest celebrations take place in Amsterdam, with the festivities starting the day early on the “Queens Night” and taking over the stress, canals, parks and building.  The biggest festivity of the Queen’s Day takes place in Amsterdam, Queen’s Dance or in Dutch Koninginnedans in the Rotterdam and Queens’s Night in The Hague.

The other activities on this day include the Children’s games, musical performances and the musical shows. During the festivities, people put on the orange coloured dress to address the colour of Orange-Nassau. On the certain occasion, this activity is known as the “orange craze”. 

Sand fest, Port Aransas, Texas

The Texas Sandfest is the Texas Sand Sculpture Competition and is one of the largest beach festivals in the Texas on beautiful, sun-soaked Port Aransas beach.

Sand sculptors from all over the world make their way to Port Aransas each year for the annual Texas SandFest. Masters sculptors fly in from all over the world to complete by creating the huge life-size sand sculptures.

Including the Master Sculptors from around the world as well as many children and amateurs will put their creative skills to work to create the most artistic, imaginative sand sculptures at the Texas Sand Fest. Along with the sand sculptures, there will also be vendors live music and entertainers, sand sculpting lessons and more.

Billed as largest Master Sand Sculpting competition in the United States. The fest attracts millions of tourists to the shores of the Port Aransas each year. The 3 days and including the five competitive divisions, SandFest offers the great outlets for sand sculptors, as well as plenty to see more interested in looking at rather than building –sand sculptures. The event is free for the public and various vendors who are selling the on hand refreshments, curious, and souvenirs.

Holika Dahan

Holika Dahan also Kamudu pyre is celebrated by burning Holika, the devil. For many traditions in Hindusim, Holi celebrates the death of Holika in order to save Prahlad, and thus Holi gets its name. In olden days, people use to contribute a piece of wood or two for Holika bonfire.

It is a major ritual performed at the time of Holi which is also considered as an important Holi Puja. People lights up the bonfires on the eve of Holi festival to celebrate the victory of ‘good’ over the ‘bad’ which is known as Holika Dahan.

History of Holika and Prahlad:

According to the Hindu myth, there was a king named Hiranyakashipu, who is like a demons or Asuras had the intense desire to be immortal. Just to fulfil this desire he performed the required penance (Tapas) until he was given a boon by Brahma. Although God’s do not usually grant the boon of immortality, he used his cunningness to get the boon which he thought that will make him immortal. The boon gave the Hiranyakashyapu five special powers that he couldn’t be killed by neither the human beings nor animal, neither indoor nor outdoors, neither at the day nor at the night, neither by any weapons that are launched means by Astra nor by weapons that are hand held means Shastra and neither on the land nor in the water or air. As his wish was granted, Hiranyakashyapu felt that he was invincible, which made him arrogant. He even decreed that he is worshipped as God, if anyone didn’t accept his orders he or she will be punished or can be killed. His own son Prahlad was disagreed with his father and refused to worship his father as god. Prahlad continue believing and worshipping Lord Vishnu.

This thing made Hiranyakashipu angry and he made various attempts to kill Prahlad. During his attempt on his son’s life, he called upon his sister Holika for the help. Holika had the special cloak garment that prevented her from being harm her by fire. He asked him to sit on bonfire with Prahlad by tricking Prahlad to sit on her lap. However, as the fired roared the garment which Holika was wearing flew from her and covered Prahlad. Holika burnt to death and Prahlad came out unharmed.
 Vishnu appeared in form of Narasimha- half human and a half lion, at the dusk when it was neither the day nor the night yet, and took the Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep which was neither indoor nor outdoor, placed him on his lap which was neither a land, air, or water and then used lion claws to fight Hiranyakashyapu which was neither the Astra nor Shastra. In this way, the boon of five special powers granted to Hiranyakashyapu was not longer usefull and he was killed. Thus, Prahlad and the kingdom of human beings were free from the fear of Hiranyakashyapu.

The good was triumphant over evil.