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The Arab traders brought Islam to India in the early 8th century, but it was not until the 12th century that it became a force to reckon with in the Indian sub-continent. Unlike Buddhism , Jainism and Sikhism which emerged as offshoots of Hinduism, the concept, customs and religious practices of Islam were unique to this faith which professed universal brotherhood and submission to Allah - the God Almighty.

The Muslim invaders in the 12th century and the Mughal rulers in the 16th and 17th centuries helped in the spread of Islam in India. In its first phase, Islam was aggressive. But the mystics of Islam, or the Sufi saints, helped in spreading the message of peace and universal love.

The spirit of brotherhood propounded by Sufi saints and preachers like Kabir and Nanak helped in loosening the rigidity of the caste system. The interaction of the two faiths led to a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic elements in almost every sphere of life and culture. After an initial period of conflict and confrontation, today the two religions have accommodated and enriched each other.

The Indian calendar is one long procession of festivals. These are as varied in origin as they are large in number. There are innumerable national, regional, local, religious, seasonal and social festivities. This is not surprising considering the fact that India is the land of gods, goddesses, saints, gurus and prophets.

Festivals here are characterised by colour, gaiety, enthusiasm, feasts and a variety of prayers and rituals. Travellers are struck by the scale and multiplicity of the festivities that populate the cultural scene of this land.
Read more about Indian Festivals