Hinduism is a religion, or a way of life, found most notably in India and Nepal. Although Hinduism contains a broad range of philosophies, it is a family of linked religious cultures bound by shared concepts, recognisable rituals, cosmology, shared textual resources, pilgrimage to sacred sites and the questioning of authority. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism among others, each with an interwoven diversity of beliefs and practices.
It has been said that Hindus have a holiday for every day of the year, but even that may be an understatement! Exactly how many Hindu festivals are celebrated is not known, but one scholar of Hinduism has listed more than a thousand different Hindu festivals. As in most ancient religions, many of the Hindu holidays are based on the cycle of nature. They mark the change of seasons, celebrate the harvest, and encourage fertility of the land. Others are dedicated to a particular deity, such as Shiva or Ganesh.
Still other popular holidays commemorate events in the lives of Rama or Krishna. In addition to the major Hindu festivals that are celebrated throughout India, many regional festivals are also held in honor of various deities. In general, Hindu festivals "are intended to purify, avert malicious influences, renew society, bridge over critical moments, and stimulate or resuscitate the vital powers of nature." They include a wide variety of rituals, including worship, prayer, processions, magical acts, music, dancing, lovemaking, eating, drinking, and feeding the poor.
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