India is a land of festivals, apart from the festivals that we celebrate throughout the country, every region of India celebrates some local cultural festivals that give a unique cultural identity to the people of that region. The valleys and the mountains of Kashmir are the living testimony of the brotherhood of different communities living peacefully in Kashmir for centuries and celebrate different festivals in Kashmir with trust and tolerance. The festivals of Jammu and Kashmir can be understood on the basis of regions – Jammu & Kashmir. Some festivals are unique to the region but unknown to the rest of India. On the other hand, some festivals are celebrated mainly in Northern India while some are celebrated mainly in Jammu and Kashmir but partially in India.


Lohri is one of the major festivals in Jammu and Kashmir. It is celebrated by the Hindu community of Jammu Kashmir and Punjab. It is celebrated on 13th January every year which marks the end of Winter. On this day a bonfire is lighted in the household yards to give Urg in the fire. Urg is a traditional practice of serving food to the fire lord. Also, a special cuisine is prepared with raw rice, jaggery, peanuts and more which is called Tricholi. On the day of Lohri, children go door-to-door in the neighbourhood to ask for Lohri (which is the mixture of peanuts and other eatables) by singing songs in the local dialects. Prior to the Lohri festival, boys prepare Chhajja and perform a folk dance which is locally known as Chhajja dance in Lohri, which is the prominent form of dance of Jammu and Kashmir.


Baisakhi (Basoa regionally)  is a harvest festival of Jammu and Kashmir celebrated in the month of April and one of the major festival in the Jammu region. Various fairs and Dangals are organised on the auspicious day of Baisakhi from 13 April to 15 April every year. In Jammu, 13 April is also celebrated as General Zorawar Singh Day. It is a regimental day. General Zorawar Singh was the Stalwart General of Dogra Regiment who conquered Ladakh under the leadership of Maharaja of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.


Jammu and Kashmir is the holy abode of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and in the Navratri, the Darbar of Mata Vaishno Devi is decorated as no less of a Heaven. Navratri festival is celebrated every year in the month of October for 9 days. However, the Navratris are celebrated twice a year. People also practice fasting in the holy days of Navratris. At the 9th and the last day of Navratri people practice Kanjak Pujan (worship of Girls). Literally, on this day people on the streets of Jammu city are waiting for the girls in order to observe the Kanjak Pujan ritual. On this day people organise Jagrans (locally known as Jagratas) in the homes and in the streets of Jammu which last for the whole night. A grand Mela/Fair and Jagran is also organised annually in Bahu fort Temple of Jammu.


As Janamashtmi is the major festival of Hindu religion celebrated in the month of August, it is also one of the major festivals of the Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir. On the pious day of Krishna Janmashtmi, elders practice fasting while the children enjoy flying kites. If the weather is favourable then you can literally see the sky of Jammu flooded with the Kites of different colours. People usually enjoy Janamastmi with music and all the members of the family are on the terrace to enjoy the kite festival.


In Jammu and Kashmir, Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of the Hindu community of Jammu and Kashmir. The Dogras, Kashmiri Pandits, Badherwahis, Paharis are all keen believers of Lord Shiva. Temples of Lord Shiva can be seen on the difficult mountainous terrain of the state. There are many famous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in Jammu and Kashmir. Shivratri is celebrated every year in the month of February. In Jammu city, people have to wait for hours in a queue to wait for their turn to enter the temple premises. As the Jammu city is known as the city of temples, among the various temples in the Jammu city most of them are Shiv temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. On the pious occasion of Shivratri people drink Bhang as Prashad of Lord Shiva. Also, people offer free meals to the pilgrims which are locally known as Bhandara.

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