In Tamil Nadu, the nine-day Navaratri festival honoring the Shakti or universal primordial force, is celebrated in a unique way by venerating successively three goddesses: Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati; three days are dedicated to each of them. This festival punctuated by precise rituals symbolically ends with the victory of light over darkness called Vijayadashami.

The indigenous people of India (adivasi) are guardians of many ancient traditions expressed during festivals that can transport us to other worlds. Simultaneously, these traditional activities can evoke something somehow familiar, perhaps common roots echoing within us. Gavari is one of these festivals. This mystical folk-opera of the Bhil people of Rajasthan is expressed through several …

Radhakrishna represents the unique union of the Goddess-gopi Radha and her beloved Krishna, two highly revered deities in the Hindu Vaishnavite tradition. Radhakrishna is not any romantic relationship or simply the combination of the feminine and the masculine: it symbolizes the soul seeking the Divine Love.

I was visiting Gujarat for the second time. This time I had decided see the coastal region of the Saurashtra peninsula: Diu, Somnath and Dwarka. I don’t know how I ended up in Pingleshwar, I always have the habit of traveling without a guide to leave spontaneity. What I do remember, however, is that it …

The Undavalli Caves located 10 km from Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), are one of the best examples of rock art in India, which flourished from 322 BCE to the 15th century CE all over the Indian subcontinent. First inhabited by Buddhist and Jain monks, the Undavalli caves were later enriched, under the reign of the Vishnukundin …

Charbhuja Garhbor is one of the four major Hindu shrines in the Mewar region of Rajasthan along with Shrinathji, Shri Eklingji and Kesariyaji. Located in the charming village of Garhbor about 30 kilometers from Kumbhalgarh Fort, this shrine, cared for by the Gurjar community, has a long history dating back to Vedic times over 5,000 …

The Himalayan range that surrounds northern India is considered the home of the god Shiva, one of the three gods of the Trimurti (the Hindu trinity). It is therefore not surprising to find there many places of pilgrimage associated with the lord of Mount Kailash. The “Panch Kedar”, in the state of Uttarakhand, are one …

For the Bishnoi people, whose origins date back to the 15th century, ecology does not need to be taught, it is innate; it is a dharma (duty) that in the past has caused them to sacrifice their own lives to save trees. Due to this, they are referred to as “India’s first environmentalists”. In the …

Ayodhya, set on the banks of the Sarayu river, is a historical city: it is said to have been the capital of the Kosala Kingdom, which saw the birth of Lord Rama, the famous hero of the Ramayana epic. As such, it is considered by Hindus as one of the seven most sacred cities of …

Among the multitude of Hindu temples that dot India those of the 64 yoginis (Chausath Yogini), which you can count on the fingers of one hand, occupy a very special place. These sanctuaries, dedicated to the tantric worship and to the “Shakti”, the universal creative force, still remain an enigma. Surprisingly, very few thesis have …

During the month of Shravan (July-August), tens of thousands of Hindus undertake an arduous 40km pilgrimage through the scenic Himalayas to worship a very special symbol of Lord Shiva: an ice stalagmite-lingam that forms each year in the cave of Amarnath at the end of the Lidder Valley in Kashmir. 

Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi is a Hindu festival that takes place every year in August, mainly in the North of India, and celebrates the unique bond of love, protection and respect between brothers and sisters. This celebration delivers a strong message of fraternity so that this ceremony extends often to the other members of the …

Pattadakal, a World Heritage Site, is, along with Aihole and Badami, the architectural gems of northern Karnataka just like Beluru and Halebidu are those of the south. This site was not only used for the coronation of the Chalukyas rulers, but was also an important cultural center carried by a creative will. The remains of …

The ‘lingam’ or ‘Shiva-lingam’ is one of India’s most emblematic hindu representation, and one of the most powerful. Some theories trace the lingam back to the ancient fertility cults probably due to its phallic form. But though it is easy to jump to conclusions, it is a mistake to think of the Shiva lingam in purely sexual terms; The …

Originally from the state of Bihar, in north-east India, the festival Chhath Puja celebrates and thanks Surya and Usha, the sun-god and the goddess of dawn, sources of life and primordial energy. This tribute to the sun comes just after the festival of lights (Diwali) in October-November and is the occasion of elaborate rituals dating …

In a pious country like India, the pilgrimage is one of the pillars of the faith.There are tens of thousands of pilgrimage centres in India but some of them are the most sacred and every believer makes at least one of the subcontinent’s major pilgrimages in his or her lifetime.

India is a pious country and religion plays an important part in the lives of most Indians. Ritual and worship are part of daily life and the vast majority of the population consider themselves members of a religion. This spiritual fervour has given rise to many festivals that punctuate the year, week by week and …

In West Bengal and its capital Kolkata, the great festival of Navaratri celebrating the Divine Mother is called Durga-Puja or Durgotsava (Durga Festival). It marks the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. During the festival the city is up all night, decked in lights and embellished with temporary temples vying to be …

Grishneshwar is located near the Ellora caves, in a small village called Verul in the state of Maharashtra. There stands one of the 12 Jyotir Lingams or “Lingams of light”. It is believed to be the last Jyotir Lingam, where the pilgrimage round the Jyotir Lingams ends.

Mount Girnar is an undisputed must-see while you’re in Gujarat. Climbing the 9999 steps to its summit leaves an imperishable memory. The atmosphere is serene and friendly and the views are breathtaking.

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