The great variety of religious beliefs and cultural traditions accounts for the large number of festivals in India.
Dashara, one of the chief festivals of India, celebrated in September or October, symbolizes the triumph of Good over Evil. In Delhi, Dashara celebrations are climaxed with the burning of giant images of legendary demons made of bamboo and papier-mÃ¢chÃ© and stuffed with firecrackers. In Mysore, in southern India, a parade is led by the governor of the state riding on a richly decorated elephant.
Divali (or Dipavali), the Festival of Lights, is celebrated in October or November. All homes are lit with lamps or candles to show great joy.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year, is observed by Indian Muslims as a sacred month during which they fast every day from dawn to sunset. The Eid-al-Fitr festival marks the end of the month of Ramadan and is celebrated as an especially joyful event.
Christians throughout India celebrate Christmas. In some northern Indian villages, groups of Christians sing native Christmas carols to the accompaniment of musical instruments.
The birthday anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, is celebrated with great joy, as is the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, a Sikh religious leader.
Independence Day (August 15) is observed by people all over India with a sense of national pride, but Republic Day (January 26) celebrations in New Delhi, the capital, are the most impressive.