Festivals are a global phenomenon. The world over, peopleno matter what their region, religion or backgroundcelebrate certain festivals. But have you ever thought about the origins of festivals? No, not the mythological story behind each festival, though thats always interesting and of relevance. The main reason behind why a certain festival is celebrated on a certain date, and why specific rituals are associated with each?If you havent asked yourself this question yet, you should, because the answer will not only surprise you but also enlighten you. The simple reason behind this statement, especially in the context of religions originating in the Indian subcontinent like Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism, is that most festivals origins are linked to Ayurveda and Ayurvedic principles like Ritucharya and Dincharya! Wondering how? Read on to find out.Ayurvedas Principles For Natural LivingAyurveda, in case you are unaware, is one of the oldest traditional systems of medicinebut its tenets actually encompass the entirety of a lifestyle. It is a form of nature-based system where the perfect balance between the natural world and the human world is required to maintain good health. This delicate balance is best explained via the principles that lie at the foundation of Ayurveda, which, a study published in 2017 in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, states very clearly.Ayurveda is based on the belief that there are five elements or Pancha Mahabhootas that make up the entire universe: Vayu (Air), Jala (Water), Aakash (Space or ether), Prithvi (Earth) and Teja (Fire). These elements form the three basic humours or Tridoshas that exist in every human body in varying amounts, and maintain all physiological functions: Vata Dosha, Pitta Dosha and Kapha Dosha. Ayurveda also believes that the human body has seven kinds of tissues or Saptadhatus which are regulated by the Tridoshas: Rasa (tissue fluids), Meda (fat and connective tissue), Rakta (blood), Asthi (bones), Majja (marrow), Mamsa (muscle), and Shukra (semen and reproductive organs) and three Malas (waste products) of the body, viz. Purisha (faeces), Mutra (urine) and Sweda (sweat).So, according to this system, Vata Dosha maintains cellular transport, electrolyte balance, elimination of waste products. Pitta Dosha regulates body temperature, optic nerve coordination and hunger-thirst management. Kapha Dosha manages the levels of sugar and fat in the body, and is related to proper joint and bone function. Ayurveda believes that the catabolism of the body is governed by Vata and Pitta, while anabolism is governed by Kapha. For the perfect state of health, a balance between the Tridoshas and Saptadhatus is critical. And to maintain this very balance, Ayurveda recommends a number of principles and practices.How Ayurvedic Ritucharya Practices Turned Into RitualsThe two pillars of Ayurveda that help maintain that perfect balance between the natural world and the human bodys Tridoshas and Saptadhatus are Dincharya and Ritucharya. As a study published in AYU: An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda in 2011 explains, Dincharya is a daily routinebased on the circadian clock and circadian rhythm of the bodyand includes everything from your sleep-wake cycle to daily activities like eating, exercising, meditation, work and leisure. Ritucharya, on the other hand, is a seasonal routine. Just like Dincharya recommends the best practices you must follow every day, Ritucharya explains the best practices you have to maintain throughout the six season changes that the Indian subcontinent goes through: Hemanta or late autumn Shishir or winter Vasanta or spring Grishma or summer Varsha or monsoon Sharat or autumnSo, Ayurveda believes that if you maintain the practices recommended in accordance with Dincharya and Ritucharya, and the recommendations that can help maintain the Tridoshas and Saptadhatus, then your health will flourish and youll lead a long and happy life. However, with time, these Ayurvedic recommendations have changed their form. A 2014 study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (J-AIM) suggests that while Ayurveda is a living tradition and is supposed to constantly evolve as per the changes the natural world goes through, it has slowly turned into just rituals in the absence of active and widespread practice of Ayurveda in the Indian subcontinent.Rituals Of Yesterday, Festivals TodayThis study shows that Ayurveda and its principles seeped into the traditions of the religions birthed in the Indian subcontinent. Ayurvedic traditions for good health became aligned with mythologies and festivalsbecause in case you have noticed, most festivals, in fact, are held around season changes anyways. A 1993 study in the journal Bulletin of the Indian Institute of History of Medicine explains, for example, how the festival of Vinayak Chaturthi involves the consumption of 21 kinds of beneficial, seasonal herbs which can help keep away diseases in the rainy season. The study also shows a similar link between festivals like Ugadi, Pongal, Dussehra and Diwali.Similarly, a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine establishes a parallel link between the Ayurvedic recommendations and festive traditions around Mahashivratri, Holi, Ranga Panchami, Gudi Parwa, Akshay Tritiya, Vata Purnima, Nag Panchami, Gokul Ashtami, Shravan Purnima, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, Dussehra, Diwali, Kojagari Purnima, Geeta Jayanti and Makar Sankranti. Clearly, and significantly in the case of Hinduism, all traditional festivals actually highlight our historic Ayurvedic lifestyle and the recommendations which not only promote good health, but also promote notions of environment preservation and sustainable living.Reviving The Essence Of Indian FestivalsIn this day and age, when conversations around climate change and the need for sustainable living are even more important, reviving the Ayurvedic lifestylewhich is anyways well-suited to both the natural world and the human world in the Indian subcontinentmay be a good idea. This is even more important because, as the above-mentioned study in J-AIM suggests, in current times, the Ayurvedic essence of each of these festivals which promote good health practices often gets lost. As time passes, traditions and rituals tend to become mechanical, and the logic, rationality and evidence behind them can lay forgotten. This also tailors the rituals themselves into ritualistic behaviours which can do more harm than good.For instance, the study states, the concept of fasting has a scientific basis, but, today, it has become a mere ritual. Healthy living traditions like ritucharya may get reduced to festivals and food recipes. A similar case can be made about house-cleaning, which is recommended as per Ayurveda not only to maintain hygiene and cleanliness, but also to prepare the home for the upcoming season changes and keep seasonal ailments at bay. However, today, most people tend to clean their homes most thoroughly not during every season change, but essentially during Diwali or Holi. Similarly, instead of focusing on preparing the body for the seasonal changes, festivals become a time of overindulgence instead of adopting diets that are both sustainable and healthy.Festivals originating in the Indian subcontinent have their roots in Ayurveda and Ayurvedic traditionsthis much is clear through all the research provided above. The fact that the essence of these festivals is not only celebration through festivities, but also the promotion of healing and good health through healthy Ayurvedic practices is also quite evident. Given that the biggest need of the hour is to adopt a sustainable lifestyle as a method of taking action against climate change, perhaps a true revival of the origins of our festivals is just what we all need to work towards.