July, the season of rains, is when India comes alive with a vibrant mix of vrats and festivals. The beautiful rain spreads serenity and devotion throughout the country. Across India, many small, local festivals and events are celebrated in this month, each significant in their own way. Here is a rundown of the festivals of India that you should be on the lookout for:

1. Chaturmas Vrat

When: Begins on July 8th with Ashada Masam and goes on for the following 4 months.

Who celebrates: Chaturmas Vrat is observed by devotees across the country.

Chaturmas Vrat, as the name suggests is a four-month long fast observed by Hindus in India. It is a time when devotees avoid eating meat, sleep on the floor, perform poojas with the lighting of incense daily and fast by giving up one or two meals a day. There is no hard and fast rule on how to keep the vrat, it is usually left up to the devotees to decide what they want to give up in these four months. It is believed that the gods rest during these months, hence none of the auspicious ceremonies like marriage or thread ceremony takes place at this time of the year.

2. Devshayani Ekadashi

When: July 8th, 2014

Who celebrates: Observed by Lord Vishnu devotees

Devshayani Ekadashi is also known as Hari Shayani Ekadashi, as the disciples of Hari (Lord Vishnu) observe it. Devshayani Ekadashi takes place during Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) in the Hindu month of Ashad Masam. On this day, prayers and mantras are chanted, incense sticks are burnt and diyas are lit to please the souls of the ancestors, the devotees fast all day and the fast is broken only on the following day during the parana pooja.

3. Pradosh Vrat

When: July 10th, 2014

Who celebrates: Observed by Lord Shiva devotees

Pradosh Vrat is observed to seek blessing of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is believed that during this time the Gods are in an extremely favorable mood. Pradosh Vrat is also known as Pradosham, in southern India. The devotees worship the deity in the evening twilight with the fragrance of incense sticks spreading positivity and peace at home. It is observed on the Trayodashi of lunar fortnights (Shukla and Krishna Paksha).

4. Guru Purnima

When: July 12th, 2014

Who celebrates: Celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists

Guru Purnima is an auspicious day, when disciples pay respect to their spiritual gurus by remembering and worshipping them. This falls on the day of the full moon during the month of Ashada. On this day, the devotees thank their mentors who have enlightened them with knowledge and teachings.

These festivals in India celebrated in early July. We look forward to sharing the rituals and traditions of the other festivals of July later this month! May you have a peaceful and joyful July.

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