Diwali is a national festival, celebrated and enjoyed by all the people of India regardless of belief and faith: Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Newar Buddhists. Diwali is a five days long celebration includes a series of events each day. Diwali is a festival that symbolizes the victory of knowledge over of ignorance and good over evil and light over darkness.
Diwali is the biggest and also the brightest festival of India. This festival is totally a five days extravaganza. It is one of the most awaited festivals in India also the most celebrated festivals.
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Deepawali/Deepavali has come from a Sanskrit word where “deep” means diya/Deepak (light) and “Awali” means row/series/line which signifies that Deepawali means a row/ arrangement of light (diyas). This is the reason Diwali is known as the “festival of light”.
Diwali is celebrated at the end of the monsoon season usually in the month of October or November every year. It basically falls on the 15th day (Amavasya) of the month of Kartik according to Hindu calendar. Dates are not fixed as they depend upon the movement and cycles of the moon.
Why is Diwali celebrated?
There various legends and events which marks the origin of Diwali and tells the history of Diwali in Hinduism. The most famous and best-known legend associated with the celebration of Diwali is related to Lord Rama.
Return of Rama to Ayodhya
In the Northern part of India, the legend of the return of Lord Rama is very famous. It is believed that Diwali is celebrated in the honor of Lord Rama.
According to the Hindu Epic “Ramayana,” Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman returned back to Ayodhya after completing the exile of 14 years and also killing the demon King Ravana.
People of the kingdom celebrated the homecoming of Lord Rama by decorating and lighting up their houses and whole kingdom with lamps. Since then it is celebrated as the festival of victory of light over darkness.
In some parts of India, Diwali is believed to be celebrated on the day when Lord Krishna destroyed the demon king Narakasura. This is the reason that the second day of Diwali is known as Narak Chaturdasi in some parts of Eastern and Southern India.
Apart from these legends, several other beliefs are also there in Hinduism behind the celebration of this festival. Many people believe that Diwali is celebrated as the birth of Goddess Laxmi from Samudra Manthan.
In Bengal, Diwali is associated with Goddess Kali. Similarly, there are a number of tales associated with the celebration of Diwali in Hinduism.
In Sikhism, Diwali is associated with the release of Guru Hargobind along with some Hindu Kings from the Mughal Emporer Jahangir whereas Jain celebrates Diwali as the nirvana of Mahavir.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of beliefs related to this celebration of lights but all give the message of oneness and symbolizes the victory of good over bad.
Spiritual Significance of Diwali
Diwali is celebrated by various Religions viz. Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs etc. Every religion has different belief and faith related to Diwali but together in all the religions it spiritually signifies the triumph of light over darkness.
This festival of light symbolizes the illumination of the inner self. It gives the message of rising and shine, unifying the world, and maintaining peace and harmony among all the beings. Diwali lights send the message of spiritual awaking by illuminating the heart, mind, and soul and getting close to the divinity.
How Diwali is celebrated?
Diwali is a celebration of goodness, life, and enjoyment which lasts for 5 days. Each day a different ritual is performed. Diwali holidays are one of the best holidays of the year as they are full of fun, lights, togetherness food, and all the good things. It is the festival when people share the bounty of the year and pray for prosperity.
People start cleaning their houses and business premises a week before. Houses and all the buildings are illuminated with oil lamps and lights. Delicious food and sweets are prepared and the gifts are shared on this special occasion.
Houses are decorated with beautiful Rangoli made with colors, flowers, and color coated sand.
The first day of Diwali is known as Dhanteras. People worship Goddess Laxmi and celebrate prosperity. This day is marked with the shopping of utensils, firecrackers, and jewelry. Purchasing of gold or gold jewelry on this day has a great significance.
The second day is known as the Choti Diwali. In some part of India, it is celebrated as Narak Chaturdasi. A lot of sweets are purchased and prepared on this day. People visit their relatives and friends and wish them the best and exchange gifts. People in Goa burn Demon effigies to celebrate Narak Chaturdasi.
Day 3- It is the most important day when the celebration is at its peak. People prepare sweets and other food items. Goddess Laxmi is worshiped and special Pujas are organized. People wear new clothes and gather together to perform the rituals.
People illuminate their houses and workplaces with lights and oil lamps. Sweets and gifts are shared. Houses, temples, each and every corner of India shine brightly on Diwali. All people get into the festive mood and light firecrackers and have fun. Land and sky both shine brightly with the lights.
Lightning earthen lamp, candles, and burning firecrackers are one of the rituals that are performed on this night. People also gamble and play cards on this day but this is done as a ritual and enjoyed as a fun activity.
Traders worship Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Kuber and Goddess Saraswati and pray for prosperity, good health and wealth. They also close their old accounting books and open new books.
Day 4- It is known by various names like Govardhan Pooja, Annkut, Padwa etc in different regions of India. People perform different rituals as per their belief.
Day 5 and the last day of Diwali celebration is celebrated as Bhai Duj/Bhaiya Dooj. It is similar to Rakshabandhan where sister and brother meet together and celebrate the bond between them.
Facts about Diwali
- Diwali is a five-day long festival.
- Apart from India, Diwali is a national holiday in other countries like Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Jamaica, Fiji etc and celebrated with great enthusiasm by Indian Diaspora.
- The biggest Diwali celebration outside of India is hosted by the British city of Leicester.
- This festival of light marks the beginning of the new financial year and trader closes their previous accounting books and opens a new
- There is also a tradition of gambling on the night of Diwali.
- The foundation of the very famous Golden Temple was laid on the auspicious day of Diwali.
- Though it is the festival of light “Rangoli” has great importance in it.
- The occurrence of Diwali depends on the cycle of the moon like most of the festivals of Hindus.
- It is known by different names and is also celebrated differently in various states of India.
Diwali commemorates the awakening of knowledge, wisdom, and light. Celebrate this festival with the light of knowledge and enlighten your hearts.