Asia is a continent of many civilizations. Evolving over thousands of years, the region has led to the emergence of some most stunning forms and varieties the world has ever seen. This variety can be seen today in everything from art and culture to religion, heritage and more. In the context of religion, one could say that Asia was the birthplace of numerous major religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, etc. And with the religion came the festivals, each with their own symbolism, meaning and traditions. All of these celebrations can be an interesting thing to witness, when you travel with your kids. There are many interesting and wonderful festivals, which make for an interesting experience unto itself. I’ve taken my kids to most of these festivals and recommend that if you are ever in Asia, you go see some of these! And if you need a reason why you should travel with your kids, we’ve already talked about that! This way, we can keep showing our kids what is real and what is not! (And if you haven’t please read about our newest vacation to Bimini, Bahamas!)
1. Chinese New Year
A festival celebrated across China and by ethnic Chinese around the world, it marks the beginning of the new year. The new years are not the same as the one celebrated by western cultures and is according to the Chinese calendar. Also called the Spring festival in mainland China, the event is marked according to the lunar and solar cycles, rather than the modern calendars used today. According to the Chinese calendar, the event is marked as falling on the second new moon, after the winter solstice. In modern calendars, the event usually falls in the month of January or February. Among the celebrations on the day include, among others, the preparation of gourmet meals, display of red lanterns, dances by dragons, decoration of buildings and other premises, etc.
Diwali is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’, it is a major Hindu festival, celebrated across India and wherever there are Hindu populations around the world. The event usually lasts about five days and is celebrated according to the Hindu Lunisolar calendar during the Kartika month. This typically falls between mid-October and mid-November, depending on the exact position of the moon. The event is marked as a symbolism of victory of good over evil, as well as that of knowledge over ignorance. In addition to this, the festival is also associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Among the celebrations held during Diwali include, among others, the lighting of diyas, decoration of homes, bursting of crackers, preparation of feasts and desserts, etc.
3. Lantern Festival
A festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the Chinese Lunisolar calendar, it is also called the Spring Lantern Festival and is a major event in Chinese culture. The event usually falls between February and March, according to the modern calendar, and is celebrated to mark the end of the Lunar New Year. The event is known for the flying of paper lanterns, as well as the consumption of a rice-based dish called Tangyuan. The lanterns in turn are typically red, as a symbolism of good fortune.
4. Ganesh Chaturti
Also called Vinayaka Chaturti by many, it is an important festival in Hinduism, and is a celebration of the arrival of Lord Ganesha to earth, from the Kailash Parvat, with his mother, goddess Parvati. It is a very iconic festival celebrated all over India, marked by the installation of a clay Ganesha idols both in public and private, which after being prayed to and worshipped, is submerged in water bodies. The submergence of the idol in turn, is a symbolism of his return to Mount Kailash, which happens after the tenth day of the celebration. Celebrated between the months of August and September, the festival is marked with the decoration of homes, preparation of feasts, a dessert called kadbu, processions, etc. An especially important place for the event in India, is Mumbai, where it is one of the most important festivals in the city.
A festival celebrated across India, it is called the festival of colors, and has several meanings. These include, among others, the celebration of spring, love and colors, as well as the victory of good over evil. The last one’s symbolism derives from the story of the destruction of Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyap by fire, in an effort to harm Lord Krishna. The event is most well known as a festival of colors, given the tradition of throwing and smearing colors on each others. Celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs, and increasingly by other faiths in other countries, it has become a major event across the world. The exact date of the event depends on the Hindu calendar, but typically lies in the month of March.
There are many more festivals in Asia! Think of the above as a few examples of the many such treasures scattered across the region, which leaves you wondering about it all even more.