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Hindu celebrations vary widely throughout the East; various countries and ethnic groups have their own traditions. Some are:

bullet Maha Shivarathri is a festival dedicated to Shiva in mid-February
bullet Holi, a spring festival, is held in early March. It is a carnival-like celebration featuring bright colors, bonfires, and pilgrimages. It is dedicated to Krishna or Kama, the God of Pleasure.
bullet Ramnavami, the anniversary of the birth of Rama, is held in late March. Rama was an incarnation of Vishnu.
bullet Wesak, the birthday of the Buddha is celebrated in early April by Buddhists in the Mahayana tradition.
bullet Dusserah, a festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil is in early November. It is derived from early Hindu stories of struggles between a Goddess and a demon.
bullet Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights is held in mid November. It is mainly dedicated to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. It is the Hindu new year.

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Buddhists also have many local traditions and celebrations in various countries and ethnic groups. In most areas of the world, the holy days are synchronized with the phases of the moon. They thus vary from year to year according to the Gregorian calendar.

bullet Nirvana Day is held in mid February. It commemorates the death of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha.
bullet New Year Day is also celebrated in mid-February in China, Korea and Vietnam
bullet Wesak is the Buddha's birthday in April or May. In some traditions, it celebrates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.
bullet Khao Pansa marks the beginning of the Buddhist lent. It is the preferred day for Buddhist men in some countries to be ordained as monks. It is celebrated in the full moon of the eight lunar month, typically July.
bullet Boun Ok Pansa marks the end of Lent. It is at the end of the rainy season, in October.
bullet Bodhi Day, in early December, celebrates the Buddha's enlightenment in 596 BCE

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Sikhs celebrate the birthdays of the their ten Gurus: the spiritual teachers or preceptors of Sikhism. Two in particular are celebrated as festivals:

bullet Birthday of Guru Nanak, the first Guru, in Oct-Nov. He founded the Sikh faith and taught that there was neither Muslim nor Hindu.
bullet Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last of the Gurus in Dec-Jan. He founded the Khalsa brotherhood.

They have a number of other holy days:

bullet Holi is a festival shared with Hinduism: a celebration of spring where people light bonfires and make music.
bullet Baisakhi Day is also shared with Hinduism. It is held on Apr-13, the anniversary of the date in 1699 CE when Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa brotherhood. It is a time of both celebration and worship.
bullet Martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev, the 5th Guru, recalls the first martyr of Sikhism. The Mughal emperor Jehangir executed Guru Arjun Dev in mid-May of 1606 CE. He built the Amritsar temple.
bullet Martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th Guru, was another martyr executed by the Mughal emperor. His death occurred in late November. He promoted religious freedom.

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Reasonable care has been taken to prepare this list. Sources often differ, so check elsewhere if the precise date is important.

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Copyright 1996 to 2001 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2001-NOV-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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