THE HINDUS are a profoundly religious people. Their goal of life is Self-realisation or the
attainment of God-consciousness. A religion of some kind they must have—a religion which will
stir the depths of the heart and give room for the exercise of faith, devotion and love.
All Hindu festivals have a deep spiritual import or high religious significance. All great
Hindu festivals have religious, social and hygienic elements in them. In every festival there is
bathing in the morning before sunrise in the river or tank or well. Every individual will have to do
some Japa, prayer, Kirtan, recitation of Sanskrit verses and meditation.
Man gets tired on account of hard work or monotonous actions. He wants some change or
variety. He wants relaxation. He wants something to cheer him up. These festivals make him
cheerful and happy, and give him rest and peace.
In this book Gurudev has explained the significance and the philosophy of many of our fasts
and festivals. In two aspects of these observances, he has always allowed the greatest freedom: (1)
in the determination of the dates of the festival, which, as he has explained on page 53, vary, and (2)
in the traditional ways of celebrating them. For instance, in South India during the Durga Puja they
have the Kolu when various idols and toys are arranged in colourful galleries before which, every
evening, girls sit and sing. Again, in some places there is fire-walking without the Kavadi (see page
109), held in honour of Draupadi Amman who was born of fire; or in Ceylon, according to Yogi
Satchidananda of Ceylon, in honour of Kannaki Amman. Gurudev never disturbs anyone’s good
beliefs and customs.