Three Days, Three Communities, Three Festivals – That’s India!

Sep 8, 2010

Ever since we are old enough to read and write we are fed over and over with the knowledge that ours is a secular country where people of hundred different languages and religions live together harmoniously. ‘Unity in diversity is the hallmark of our society,’ our teachers and text books tell us and we too memorise it in the hope of scoring at least one mark with ‘fill in the blanks’ question. However, what we are not taught in schools is the miraculous ways in which this statement is made true in the natural course of our lives – how the festivals of three major religions decide to unite the people in a mood of festivity and coincide in a span of three-four days, the way it happens this month, or rather, this week.

It’s not often that such a phenomenon takes place in our country; even though we celebrate some or the other festival almost every other day it is not usual for festivals of all the three major religions to fall in half a week’s time. There have been occasions in the past when Eid-ul-Fitr and Diwali came around at the same time, but rarely have Feast of Nativity of Mother Mary, Eid-ul-Fitr and Ganesh Chaturthi bedecked our nation with such a festive atmosphere. If you are a believer in one God, then consider it His way of uniting us in the common fibre of love and celebration. If you believe in many gods, then it might be that the gods got together to come up with a formula for spreading joy across the nation, and if you are an atheist or agnostic, just revel in the celebrations without thinking too much. Take it how you will, we all have something to celebrate.

Feast of Nativity of Blessed Mother Mary

The Feast of Nativity of Mary is the first of these festivals, and by the time you read this, Christians (except Protestants) around the world are already busy with the celebrations. The Feast originated in Jerusalem, and in fifth century was celebrated as the feast of the basilica Sanctae Mariae ubi nata est (now Basilica of Saint Anne). Later in the seventh century, the Byzantines and the Romans marked September 8 as the feast signifying the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and since then the tradition has continued. Her birth is said to mark the end of darkness and the beginning of human salvation. In both Christianity and Islam she is known for her purity, piety and as God’s chosen one to bear Jesus without sin.

The Feast of Nativity, known as Monthi Fest among the Konkani-speaking Catholics of west coastal region of India, is celebrated with much enthusiasm in these parts. The honouring of Blessed Virgin Mary and the blessing of the first produce of the harvest season are combined, and the occasion is marked by the distribution of the new corn among the devotees. The priests bless the harvest produce. Children carry flowers and shower them on the statue of Mother Mary, after which the Mass is offered. The children who shower the flowers are presented with sugarcane. There are also processions held to mark the ceremony, during which people carry corn, flowers and vegetables to the church. The corn, which is distributed among all, is powdered and had with milk. Perhaps the most special aspect of the feast is that it is a time for family reunion. Relatives staying abroad or far away too are remembered fondly and sheaves of corn are sent to them.


Next comes Eid-ul-Fitr, which will fall on either September 10 or 11 this year, depending on the sighting of the moon. The festival, one of the two major ones in the Islamic calendar (the other being Eid-ul-Adha or Bakrid), marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. On this day Muslims across the world offer special Eid prayers in congregation (at Idgah or a mosque, though women may do the same at home) and wish each other with the traditional greeting of ‘Eid Mubarak.’ Zakat, or charity, is offered to the needy before the prayers so that they too may partake of the festivities without constraint. Children especially enjoy Eid, for they are rewarded with ‘Eidi’ in the form of money or gifts by the elders.

Sweet dishes are prepared at the beginning of the day, while Biryani is usually served at lunch. Of course, that said, the cuisine would vary from place to place depending on the speciality of the region and personal tastes. However, it is customary to prepare at least one sweet dish and have it before going to Eid prayers to signify that one is not on fasting any more. The day is spent in visiting relatives and friends, with new clothes and perfume making up one’s getup. Muslim women get busy on the eve of the Eid itself, adorning their hands with exquisite mehendi designs. The very act of applying mehendi is exciting, as it sets the precedent for the festive mood in the household. Preparations begin days before the Eid - visit any tailor in the town during the last few days of Ramadan, and chances are they would refuse to take your order saying that they are busy until the festival!

Ganesh Chaturthi

That, in brief, is about how the Muslim brethren would be in celebratory mode this week. At the same time, our Hindu brothers and sisters too would be rejoicing the birthday of Lord Ganesha with the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. I have vivid memories of watching, as a child, the grand Chaturthi procession passing past my house. I would be awed by the mere size of the Ganesha idol, and fascinated with the splendid lights and colours making up the chariot. There would be hundreds of people chanting ‘Ganapati Bappa Maurya,’ dancing and whistling their way to the riverside where the idol would be immersed. The whole atmosphere may be described in one word – euphoria.

Lord Ganesha, with his elephant head that makes for easy identification, is the god of wisdom and protector against obstructions and problems (Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles as he is known), regarded as Vighneshwara. Devotees, before any important work, first seek his blessings and also make an invocation to him before any other god. The celebrations go on for ten days, at the end of which, on the occasion of Ananta Chaturdashi, the idol of Ganesha is immersed in the water. Some families though immerse the idol after the third, fifth or seventh day. The festival comes around in the Hindu calendar month of Bhaadrapada, between late August and early September. This year, it is slated to be on September 11. Interestingly, it was Lokamanya Tilak who declared Ganesh Chaturthi as a public festival, as a mark of solidarity against the British. It is significant that he chose this festival, because Lord Ganesha is worshipped across the Hindu pantheon, with no regional boundaries either.

With these three festivals regaling our lives with joy, light and colour, not to mention our appetites with scrumptious food, it is little wonder that this weekend will probably be the most awaited one in India and perhaps the world. And of course, business-wise it must indeed be a three-fold blessing. After all, it’s not always that the nation reverberates with such joy for three different, yet common reasons.

Let’s Celebrate!

By Anisa Fathima
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Comment on this article

  • Daniel, Belthangady

    Sun, Sep 12 2010


  • Rajesh Romel Lobo, Bantwal / Abudhabi

    Sat, Sep 11 2010

    Very nice article by Anisa Fathima. But this things apply to these three days only i guess. After that everything will be forgotten and starting the communal violence. Becoz This is India........

  • Anwar, Mangalore/Africa

    Sat, Sep 11 2010

    Full enjoyment for three communities. A wonderful cultural mix up we can see only in India good luck to Anisa for giving us this article to us a real celebration.

  • fouziya, udupi

    Sat, Sep 11 2010

    good article

  • satheesh, udupi/dubai

    Fri, Sep 10 2010

    Great article.....wonderful....Eye opening writing..God bless you anisa

  • Patric Wilson , Dubai

    Fri, Sep 10 2010

    Very good article Anisa. Very nicely you have united the sentiments of three comunities at this fastive ocasion. We are proud as Indians and unted with celebrations irrespective of any relegion or calture.

  • Martha Daruwalla, Shankerapura-Udupi/Mumbai

    Fri, Sep 10 2010

    Thank u Anisa Fatima. Very good thought of "Unity in Diversity". Your article reminded this to everyone who read read it.


    Hope, everyone, I mean whole of India thinks this way. Then there would be no fights between any human being due to different religious beliefs. As, ultimately "GOD" IS ONE. And "HE" created everyone and everything in the whole of Universe. So let us be united AS ONE (brothers/sisters) in thoughts and deeds to please, that, ONE GOD.


  • Raju, nellyadi/ dubai

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    Nice article.fathima ur a great thuoghts, gud luck,god bless u,

  • Ashraf, Mnagalore.padubidri

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    very nice and good article ..very nice anisa keep up the good work

  • M. Irshad Abudhabi, Bolar, Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    I really appreciate for ur exclusive words, jai karnataka, jai hind...


    Thu, Sep 09 2010


  • irene sequeira, derebail/kuwait

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    Very nice article Ms. Anisa. Please keep writing. MERA BHARAT MAHAN. JAI HO. Happy Monti fest, Eid Mubarak and best wishes for Ganpathi Pappa.

  • jailani mohtisham, Bhatkal/Dubai

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    Kudos to Anisa Fatima for such wonderful article. lets all indian comes together leaving hatred aside to build strong INDIA.

  • Alban D Souza, Udyavrara\Mumbai\Doha Qatar

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    Fatima! Good understanding article. What a beauty of Indian rich culture. Big Democratic secular country. Getting together different religions people on 3 continueos days. This is the beauty of India. Mixing and exchanging values views of different faiths. This is what we call East or west India is the best. Our aim is to reach God through faith and this the way of worship to the Almighty God through different faiths together celebrations as one unity in diversity.

  • Madina, Srinagar

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    ..nice write up...Allah bless you ....Eid Mubarak to u....

  • Lawrence D'Souza, Kalmady

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    That's what the beauty of Indian religon and the culture

  • Stanley D'Souza, Bijai/Kuwait

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    This is an eye opner article i hope and pray this will be thoroghly gone thru and will be exucuted by each one of us becuse unity in diversity is the only and ultimate solution aviable with us may almighty bless Anisa "THATHASU"

  • Fredrick Correa, Nairobi, Kenya

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    Dear friends, while it is a great feeling to have three feasts of three communities, I am deeply pained and troubled by the proposed burning of the Holy book of Quran by one Pastor Terry Jones of Dove Word Ministries of the US on 11th September. The Pope and the Vatican have condemned the same. None of the other churches have anything to do with this incident. This is a testing time for all people of good will to stand united and not to retaliate in any violent way. Just pray, pray and pray that this person may come to his senses and avoid the proposed burning of the book.

  • Rizwan, Bantwal

    Thu, Sep 09 2010

    Very good article Anisa,I wish you all A Happy Feast of Nativity of Mary, Eid Mubarak & Rejoicing Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.

  • morris, mangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Great !! Ms.Fathima, Hats OFF to U. We and 4get..but this one shouldn't B. tks/

  • S.M. Nawaz Kukkikatte, udupi

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Three Days, Three Communities, Three Festivals – That’s India... Thts why, "Sare janha se accha hindustan humara"

  • Patriot, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    'Sare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Hamara' Wherever we are, We Love our Mother India. Ms Anisa, we want more articles from u.

  • khadar vittal dubai, dubai

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    oh! What a nice article by anisha fathima keep it up and my special thanks for u.

  • Navin A, Bangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Beautiful article, absolutely fantastic to learn the unity with diversity. It can only happen in India and I am proud to be an Indian. Mera Bharat Mahan

  • Walter D'Souza, Udupi

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Let's be united always.

  • vijay koraboina, mangalore/brisbane

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Nice article Anisa,Thats what makes India a wonderful country to live in. Jai ho India. If we all leave together in peace than no one dare to touch india

  • Edwin Lancy , MANGALORE

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Nice, short, and beautiful article keep it up Anisa Fathima.
    Thank You.

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Let us all exchange the greetings with one another and celebrate the festivals united. Unity in Diversity is our Incredible India. My Family and I wish you all A Happy Feast of Nativity of Mary, Eid Mubarak & Rejoicing Festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Long live our unity.
    Sare Jahaan Se Achha Hindustaan Hamara! Jai Hind!!

  • Gladys Mudarth, Mangalore/Canada

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Thank you Anisa.
    Great Article.
    Incredible INDIA.
    Hope not only for these three days
    and these three festivals. If there
    is one GOD .......

  • Gabriel Vaz, Bangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Nice article. It is just a coincidence that these 3 festivals of 3 different religious communities are celebrated on 3 consecutive days. But, even otherwise, all of us Indians must truly live like Indians Unity in Diversity.

  • maimoona.m.denjipady, mangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    fantastic article anisa.keep it up

  • azam sheikh, bikkernakatte/muscat

    Wed, Sep 08 2010


    Very nice article Fathima. keep it up.

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    This article reminded me of my earlier working years in Pune when we used to frequently enjoy communal festivities. At Christmas time, I used to invite my Hindu and Muslim friends and colleagues home to enjoy some snacks (kusvar) or lunch, whereas, during Diwali and Bakri-id festivals, me and my family used to go over to their place and enjoy the Diwali sweets and Haleem/Kheer (vorn) etc. During the Ganpathy festival, specially at the time of immersion of the statue, I used to join my Hindu friends in the procession and actively take part in dancing and singing etc. We also used to enjoy the Holi festival which used to be full of fun and merry making. Missing all those good years!. By the way, nice article Anisa and keep going.

  • Shruthi, Mangalore/Dubai

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    It is a wonderful & refreshing thought... article worth reading and very informative Fathima.

  • navya, mangaluru

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Good article anisa. thats why India is always great...

  • Reyan, Kuwait

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Very nice article by Anisa. But this things apply to these three days only i guess. After that everything will be forgotten and starting the communal violence. This is India.

  • athaulla umer mukve, puttur /mangalore/dubai

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    well done anisa... its very nice article.keep it up. offcourse,India is famouse for an amazing land of various well as its cultural activities.

  • Manohar Veigas, UDUPI

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Good and Timely Article by Anisa Fathima. Let these three festivals bring peace and unity among all our brethern.

  • Musthak Hameed, kulur/Mangalore/Dubai

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Nice article Anisa. It Happens Only In INDIA

  • TSPA, oman

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    The important thing is everyone is celebrating!

  • NAVEED, kavall katte/dubai

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    verry nice article keep up the good work anisa

  • Abdul Rasheed, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    This is really a very nice Article. Well done Anisa..

  • Ashwini , Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 08 2010

    Good thought...We Indians always have unity in Diversity.M proud to be an Indian.I started my day reading ur article....Its just wonderful...keep up the good work Anisa..I wish everyone on this wonderfull occassion...IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA....

  • Sadashiv Manjeshwar, MANJESHWAR/SHARJAH

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    very nice article

  • Rj Avinash , 92.7Bigfm,Mangalore, Udupi/Kundapur/Manglore

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    I was just mentioning about this in yesterdy's show. Nice article... "idu Souhaardateya sanketha!!!" Thats why India is a Lovely country to live in....


    Avinash :)

  • Steeda, Kinnigoli/Kolhapur

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Very Nice article.... People may not have thought of these festivities this way... too good :)

  • Vishvanath Shetty, Kaup/ Mangalore

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    A Classy article I have read recent time. keep the good work going Anisa.


    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Good article. keep it up.

  • George Olivera, Thrithahalli

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Three days, three communities, three Festivals - that's India! is a nice article to celebrate communal harmony in the society. It is in this spirit the multi-religious society can survive. Dialogue is the right path for social integration of multi-diverse society of ours. Congrats to the author for the write-up

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Thats what makes India a wonderful country to live in. Wonderful culture and full of life. Jai ho India. Beautiful thought Anisa. Amar -Akbar -Anthony indeed.

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