Most of the holidays and festivals in honour of deities and saints observed by Hindus in other parts of Maharastra are also observed by Dhulia Hindus. Similar is the case with the Muslims who observe Id, Ramzan etc., as in other parts of Maharastra. Every month has one or other such day and they are shown in the annual Festivals. calendars made by astrologers. Some of these are fasting days also such as Asadhi and Kartiki Ekadasi and Mahasivaratra. One or other day in the week is also a fasting day for some. This depends more or less on family tradition or individual choice. Fairs in honour of some deities and local shrines are a feature of the countryside. The following festival days are commonly observed by the largest majority of the district.
Gudhi Padva.―The first day of the first half of Caitra is the new year day according to the Salivahan era and observed as such. A
gudhi is erected in front of or on top of a house. It is a bamboo pole at one extremity of which is fastened a silver or copper pot, a silk cloth piece or a costly bodice piece and a string of
flowers and so it looks a hoisted flag. This day is also known as the Dhvajaropana day. People eat early in the morning after bath, a mixture of kadulimba leaves and sugar which is supposed to have healthy action on the intestines. Heavy dinner follows in the noon and a forecast of the whole year as given by the village priest usually a gramajosi is heard in a temple congregation. This is one of the four highly auspicious days of the year.
Ramanavami.―The birthday anniversary of Rama, seventh incarnation of Visnu around whose life Valmiki has written the great epic Ramayana is celebrated on the 9th day of the first half of Caitra. On this day people gather together at the temple of Rama at 12 noon. The birth of Rama is announced by a kirtankar who for the previous eight days keeps on dilating on the doings of Rama and various aspects of his life as an ideal king. Then prasad which is usually sunthavada i.e., powdered dry ginger and sugar mixed together is distributed to all present. Some people observe this as a fasting day.
Hanuman Jayanti.―Practically continuous with the Ramanavami celebration is the Hanuman Jayanti festival which starts with kirtans at the temples of Maruti on Ramanavami and ends on the 15th full moon day of Caitra when the birth of Hanuman is announced at sun-rise.
Caitri Haladikumku.―Hindu women are in a festive mood from the 3rd day of Caitra to the 3rd day of Vaisakh. Many homes celebrate the worship of Gauri on one of these days. The idol of Amba or Parvati, picked up from the family gods is decked with flowers, various decorative articles in the house are arranged about her in a corner and illumination is improvised. Women relatives and friends are invited and served halad kumku, handfuls of wet grams or groundnut and sweets are distributed. Even men who
are intimate friends and relatives are separately entertained after the women have finished. A beverage of boiled raw mangoes sweetened by gul or sugar is a patent drink on this occasion as also sugarcane juice. Serving ice-cream is the latest fashion.
Aksaya Tritiya.―The third of Vaisakh known as Aksaya Tritiya is one of the most four auspicious days of the year. On this day, peasants make a beginning of their field activities in connection with the approaching rainy season. This is also considered as the most desirable day for weddings.
Vatapaurnima.―This day is particularly sacred to orthodox Hindu women of all communities with their husbands alive. It is observed in the honoured memory of the great mythological character. Savitri an incarnation of conjugal loyalty, fidelity and devotion. She is portrayed in the Puranas as having reclaimed her lost husband from the god of death by her penance and wit. Women worship on this day a banian tree, because Savitri's great achievement was under its shade. They distribute vayans to other women and Brahmans, consisting of fruits of the season, rice or wheat and coconuts. They remain without food or water for the whole day in close imitation of Savitri.
Sravana Month Events.―The month of Sravana is held as particularly sacred by all Hindus and a number of fasts and festivals occur in it. The two eleventh days in the first and second halves of Asadha are fasts even for children. The same is true about corresponding days in Kartika. Followers of the Bhagvat or Varkari school are most particular about these. All Mondays in Sravana are. regarded as god Siva's specially dedicated days. Fast is observed in the morning and the evening meal is a light feast. Devotees of Siva devote this month for special prayers to him like Laghurudra and Maharudra. Fridays in Sravana are observed by women as Laksmipuja days in order to propitiate her for the good of their children. All Tuesdays are observed as Mangalagauri days when goddess Parvati is worshipped by girls with their husband living for five successive years after marriage. Elderly women also participate in the celebration. Siva is also worshipped by them with a handful of rice on previous Mondays.
Nagapancami.―The bright fifth of Sravana is called Nagapancami, when images of cobra drawn on a pat with sandalpaste are worshipped. Even clay images are used by some. In villages, it is a strict non-working day for the peasantry and artisans and activities like digging, ploughing and cutting are stopped as being hurtful to snakes. This is also the day on which orthodox Brahmans perform the
sravani, a ritual of changing the old sacred thread and putting on a new one.
Narali Paurnima.―The full moon day in Sravana is called Narali Paurnima or Coconut Day. After a sumptuous feast in the morning men and children go to the riverside and with due ceremonial
worship offer coconut to the god of water, Varuna. Yajurvedis and Atharvavedis wear new sacred thread on this day.
Janmastami.―The 8th day in the second half of Sravana is the birth day of Krsna. It is observed in the temples of Visnu or Vithoba in the same way as Rama's birthday is observed, only the time being midnight when Krsna is believed to have been born. Next day is observed in villages and mohallas of towns as a day for play and sports by young boys who are given milk and curds by householders in Krsna's memory.
Pithori Amavasya.―Some women pray to goddess Pithori to bless their offsprings, particularly those women whose children die prematurely. It is observed as a vrata, throughout life, the day being observed by the women concerned as a fasting day.
Gane's Caturthi.―On the fourth day of Bhadrapada comes Ganes Caturthi when a clay image of Ganapati painted brightly is brought from the market and installed with devotion and enthusiasm. It is an occasion for healthy
merry making for children. Ganapati is worshipped for ten days, five days or a day and a half according to the usage in a family. Modaks or rice flour balls stuffed with coconut kernel and gud or sugar are a special dish for this occasion as it is regarded as a favourite dish of this God of learning. The image is immersed in a well, pond or river according to convenience. During the last six or seven decades, public Ganes festivals have become very popular even in this district as in all Maharastra districts, the author of this new orientation being Lokamanya Tilak. For ten days programmes of entertainment and education are drawn up and observed. Lectures, kirtans, musical concerts, dramatic performances, elocution competitions, etc-- are held. A day earlier to Ganes Caturthi comes the Haratalika i.e., Parvati and her companions. Images of these made of clay and painted brightly like the Ganapati images, are worshipped by women who remain without cooked food for the whole day and cat fruits and roots only.
Gauripuja, Rsipancami and Gauripujan follow the installation of Ganapati. The former is observed in honour of the ancient sages as a fast, chiefly by Brahman women. Nothing that is grown by the labour of cattle or any animal is eaten on this day. Gauripuja is particularly popular among the peasantry. It is a dance festival for them. Gauri is the mother of Ganapati.
Pitrpaksa.―The second half of Bhadrapada is dedicated to ancestor worship. A day in this fortnight corresponding to the date on which one's father breathed his last is selected for a special sraddha ceremony and rice balls (pindas) are offered to all dead elderly ancestors. The ninth day known as Avidhava Navami is reserved as the anniversary day for all female ancestors who died within the lifetime of their husbands and lest there be any mistake in propitiaing the spirits of the forefathers, the last day of Bhadrapada. called Sarvapitri Amavasya is set apart for invoking all of them and appealing to them for blessings. A collective sraddha ceremony for all is performed by the leader of the household.
Navaratra and Dasara.―The Navaratra festival is held in honour of goddess Amba for nine days beginning with the first day of Asvin and ending with the tenth day which is known as Dasara or Vijayadasmi. What is called ghatasthapana is observed in almost all Hindu households in honour of Amba, Siva's consort. An earthen pot is filled with water and a coconut is placed on top of it. It is planted on a heap of rice and is worshipped in the customary way. A siring of flowers of varied colours is hung over the top of this jar, i.e. ghata
for nine days. There are nine such strings and they are removed together on the tenth day.
The 10th day, Vijayadasami is one of the four most auspicious days of the year. Every article in the household that represents some important function or other is worshipped. Artisans and men in similar vocations arc particular about worshipping their tools on this auspicious day. That is why it is also known as the
Ayudhapuja day. If a family has preserved old relics of weapons like the sword, musket, shield etc.,
they are also worshipped. It is an auspicious day for children being put to school and to begin any new study. In the afternoon people go out to the boundary of the town or village, make a heap of
apta or sami twigs, worship it under the leadership of a priest and a leading citizen and afterwards exchange the leaves among relatives and friends as gold. Younger people are expected to present this leafy gold to elders and receive their blessings. In towns, a big
ceremony like this being impossible, only social visits and exchange of apta leaves are gone through.
Dasara was regarded as a day for beginning the campaigns of Maratha troops for the recovery of their dues. Wrestling tournaments are held on this day in various places in the district.
Navanna Paurnima.―The full moon day of Asvina is called Navanna Paurnima or
Kojagiri Paurnima. It is considered as almost the end of the rainy season and fresh foodgrains ripen
by this time. Ears of different grains are plucked and a decorative plait or arch is hung up at the entrance of a house after due worship. Symbolic eating of fresh foodgrains is also gone through. Goddess Laksmi who symbolises plenty is regarded as going about on the night of this Paurnima and expects everybody to be awake and enjoying. She curses those who do not do so. People, therefore keep on playing at dice or cards and even indulge in betting to the accompaniment of music. Sugared and saffroned milk is served to all.
Divali Festival―By universal agreement, Divali is the biggest of Hindu festivals and the illuminations that are to be seen in the households of all, whether rich or poor, are an index of universal rejoicing when Divali comes. Now-a-days. wherever possible electric illuminations are substituted for the old earthen lamps which were burnt in hundreds. They are called pantis. No part of the house is
allowed to remain unilluminated. The festival begins on the dark 13th of Asvin known as Dhanatrayodasi.
Everything is kept spick and span, sweet dishes of various kinds are prepared and women take a special perfumed bath. The turn of the men for a similar bath very early in the morning comes on the next day known as Narakacaturdasi. On this day Sri Krsna is said to have killed the demon Narakasura. The whole day is spent in merry making, everybody is in a real holiday mood, people wear new clothes and even sport ornaments and temples are visited. Fireworks at night is a special feature of this festival only. On the last clay of Asvin i.e., Amavasya goddess Laksmi is worshipped in the presence of friends and guests and a prasad consisting of coriander seeds and gul is distributed besides pansupari, perfume and rose water. Traders and shop keepers are very particular about this celebration. The next day is the first day of Kartika on which the new year of the Vikram Samvat era begins. Landlords, merchants and savkars worship their account books as it is the beginning of their commercial year. It is also called Balipratipada On this day god Visnu as Vamana is said to have put down the demon king Bali. On this day, wives wave a lamp before their husbands who in their turn make presents to them. The last day known as Yamadwitiya or Bhaubeej is the brother's day. Every sister waves a lamp before her brother or brothers and gets present. If the sister is married, the brother is expected to pay a visit to her house and give her a present. Divali is the occasion when it is customary for scattered members of the family to get together at least once a year.
Tulasivivaha.―The 12th day in the bright half of Kartika is known as Tulasivivaha day. The Tulasi
plant which is indispensable in the courtyard of every Hindu is married to Krsna
with due ceremony as if it was a human marriage. The Hindu marriage settlement season begins with this event and permission is regarded as
universally granted to people to eat fresh tamarind, avalas, and sugarcane. The first taste of it is given on this day.
Makara Sankranta.―The day on which the sun enters the Makara (the Zodiac sign of Capricornus) is a solar incident occurring on January 14 every year but on an uncertain tithi (lunar date) in the month of Pausa is celebrated the Makara Sankranta. It is marked with a feast in the morning and in the afternoon people exchange tilgul or halva made of sesamum and gul or sugar as friendly greeting of the season. The universal wish to maintain fraternal feelings is indicated by this exchange of sweets. The day previous to Sankranta is called Bhogi. On this day it is customary to eat at daybreak a number of food articles in which ghee is a predominant ingredient. A preparation known as khicadi made of rice and mug pulse with the addition of a number of condiments and ghee is the main item in the menu. Newly married girls celebrate the day with a liberal distribution of some auspicious articles to suvasinis. It can be anything, useful and dainty, but usually it is some uniform pot or pan, or cloth or grain.
Mahasivaratra.―On the 13th day of the second half of Magha comes Mahasivaratra which is devoted to a fast and worship of Siva. The night is spent in singing devotional songs and a kirtan is performed in the Siva temple. Next morning a feast is held in which all participate, if it is a village. In some places, even a dramatic performance is staged. Mahasivaratra is usually a community festival.
Simga or Holi.―The last festival of the year is Simga or
Holi. In villages it is an occasion for general merry making for ten days especially for children and young people. Women completely abstain from the vulgar revelry that was associated with it in years gone by. From the fifth day of Phalguna children and young men burn firewood and cowdung cakes in a heap and indulge in physical pastimes till late night. Hutasani Purnima is the main day of the festival when the Holika goddess is worshipped with ceremony by a village leader and coconuts are offered to the fire. Even elderly men are present on this day and there is usually a musical concert with dance performances by professional dancing girls. There used to be much obscene and vulgar shouting, but under the influence of modern education and ideas about decent behaviour, this practice has practically died out. In the towns the Holika festival has taken the form of social gathering when lectures are delivered, debates held and plays staged by amateurs. The next
day known as Dhulvad is also observed as a holiday. This was a gala day for boisterous and mischievous elements for mudslinging and wayward, vulgar talk but now this has practically ceased. The 5th day of the dark half of Phalguna is called Ranga Pancami. Coloured water is sprinkled on one another through a piston or even
helter skelter and clothes are spoilt but that is to be taken as part of the game by everybody and no one makes a grievance of it. It is a day for sport events such as wrestling and other physical culture feats. Prizes are spontaneously offered to those who show special proficiency.
Public Holidays.―Besides these religious holidays, the Republic Day (26th
January), Ambedkar Jayanti (14th April), Shivaji Jayanti (17 April), Maharastra Day (May 1),
Lokmanya Tilak Death Anniversary (August 1), and Independence Day (August 15). are celebrated as public holidays when government offices are also closed.