FESTIVALS OF UTTAR PRADESH
Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) is cultural heartland of India. Lord Rama's and Lord Krishna's birth places, Ayodhya and Mathura, are located here. Spiritual and cultural capital of India-Varanasi- is situated here on the banks of holy Ganga. Confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and invisible Saraswati at Allahabad of Kumbha Mela fame is in Uttar Pradesh. Home to Buddhist pilgrimages like Sarnath and Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh is a land of rich culture and its celebration. As a result, festivals and fairs in Uttar Pradesh have immense significance.
Car Festival at Mathura (March/April): In the Sri Rangji Temples at Brindavan, near Mathura, gorgeous vahanas (chariots) carry the temple deity Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi through the streets for ten days. The Sri Rangji Temple was built in 1851 and is managed entirely by South India Brahmins.
Rama Navami (March/April): The birth days of Rama, the celebrated hero of the famous epic, the Ramayana, is enthusiastically celebrated at Ayodhya (Faizabad), his birth place. Temples are decorated, religious discourses are held and the Ramayana is recited for ten days. Peoples gather in their thousands on the banks of the sacred river Saryu for a dip.
Sravana Festival (July/August): The Sri Rangji Temple at Brindavan near Mathura is dedicated to the god Vishnu. According to a legend, the god sends his elephant to collect flowers. The elephant wandered too close to the water and its leg was snapped up by the crocodile. Vishnu answered the elephant's prayer for help and came riding on Garuda to save him.
Effigies of an elephant and a crocodile are floated in the temple tank. An ingenious device clamps the elephant's foot into the jaws of the crocodile. The god is then brought in on his mount, and a fire cracker flung by him at the crocodile separates the two figures in the tank.
Ban Yatra- the Forest Pilgrimage (August/September): In this month, Krishna is believed to have protected the villagers from heavy rains by lifting up the mountain Govardhan, situated a few miles from Mathura. This forest pilgrimage, which commemorates the events, lasts a month. During this period, the pilgrims visit all the places connected with the life of Krishna. Ras Lila, a dance-drama depicting episodes from the life of Lord Krishna, is performed here by troupes who specialise in this art.
Dussehra (September/October): Ramalila organized at Ramnagar town in Varanasi is fantastic. The acting area itself is about ten square Kilometers. The places where main incidents take place are Ayodhya (Rama's birth-place), Janakpuri (Sita's paternal home), Panchavati (the site where Rama stayed during his exile), the river Sarayu, the battle field, Ravana's court and his golden castle. The spectators move from locality to locality as the Ramalila scenes shift. The programmer is spread over forty days.
Kansa Ka Mela (October/November): To commemorate the destructions of the demons king Kansa of Mathura by Lord Krishna, a fair is held at Mathura and at Fatehpur Sikri (the sixteenth century capital of Akbar). Huge effigies of the demon are set up in the midst of the fair. Two boys, representing Krishna and his brother Balaram, are then carried in chariots or on horse-back, and they aim flower-decked arrows at the effigies. This is the single for a general onslaught on the helpless demon who dies the death he deserves.