Knowing India Through Her Holidays

If you want to understand the history or customs of a country quickly, one of the ways to get started is to take a look of her national holiday. India’s 36 administrative districts, including 29 states, 7 federal territories. 36 districts have their ‘gazette’ holidays issued by the highest administrative departments. Sum of days will be different every year, mostly about 20 days … It seems that there is not much difference between the national holiday days of many other Asian countries. However, the real ‘angel’ is hidden inside those so-called I’restricted holidays’ or ‘local holidays’, as long as you make good use of these restricted and local holidays, you can keep-on having festive atmosphere throughout the year. Like in the Sikh-dominated Punjab state, traditional festivals of Sikhs such as some gurus’ birthday or martyrdom day; as for the southern Indian Kerala state that had once been colonized by Portuguese, French, Dutch and British, Christian-related festivals such as Easter is included in the ‘gazette’ holidays. In the northeast corner of India, in the Arunachal state bordering Tibet and Myanmar, the government gazette holidays appear to be more down-to-earth. New Year followed by the longest holiday festival Makar Shankranti in India, where people can flying kites, having bonfires to worship and welcome the ‘sun god’ in those days. Although the winter solstice is a festival of many states, Arunachal is the first place in India can see the sun after the winter solstice, the locals must have a special feeling for this festival. In addition, Arunachal has 28 days of local holiday in conjunction with many local ethnic minorities, and every one of them can choose the holidays whenever they wanted or need. Because different administrative districts have their own different conditions, some may have restricted holidays only, some may restricted holidays and local holidays are both available. Also, some administrative district governments would let the decision-making power of such holidays be handed over to private companies, and some administrative districts directly incorporate these two types of holidays into gazette holidays. According to the regulations, the employees of private companies can decide by their own when they will enjoy 2 days from these two types of holidays. There are even private companies that respect ‘all kinds of religious members from all over the world’ wouldn’t have 2 days’s limited, as long as the boss of the company decides, all members of the company can happy together at the same time. And this kind of private companies will also have a phenomenon, that is, the day before the holiday, when it is time to get off work, everyone is still waiting for the ruling party to decide whether need to work or not in the next day. People working in Indian public offices can have at least 50 paid-holidays including gazette holidays, restricted holidays, earn leave and casual leave … weekends not yet counted. However, only few states of India has ‘5 working days per week’ policy. In the capital, Delhi, many private companies’ employees have to work as usual on Saturdays. Some companies strongly encourage their employees to use all the holidays within deadline. However, due to the strong cohesiveness of the Indian families, as long as any family once has a sudden situation, they must make full use of the casual leave. If the employee has to take time off due to family marriage, there is absolutely no boss who won’t know the situation, will please to prove a ‘2 or 3 days leave’ is very common. Next month, the world famous Holi Festival will be on stage, if the North Indians choose March 20th’s restricted holidays of Holika Dahan, plus the Holi Festival 1 day after, 1 day of casual leave and the weekend, they will have a 5 days long holiday. It’s no wonder that the Indians said, “We have mood of having festival at any time, we can celebrate anything!”

Stephen Childs

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