Where: – India.
When: – New moon night of Hindu Lunisolar month of ‘Kartik’; 22 Oct. 2014; 11 Nov 2015
Diwali, also known as ‘Deepavali’ is the biggest & the most vibrant Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival, which is often regarded as the ‘Festival of Lights’, holds high spiritual as well as religious significance in traditional Hindu families. The festival is considered as the celebration of the victory of ‘good over bad’ & ‘radiance over dark’! Although Diwali is the most important festival of Hindus, people from other religions such as Jainism & Sikhism also participate & carry out many religious rites to celebrate Diwali with undying vigor & vitality!
The colorful festival of Diwali signifies the opulence & it boasts five-day long extravaganza celebrated by carrying out various holy rituals, illuminating the surroundings with oil lamps & lanterns as well as by bursting crackers. The five days of Diwali also serve as the annual gathering of all the family members & friends who multiply their joy by organizing feasts & sharing gifts & laughter with each other!
Although, Diwali is majorly celebrated in every corner of India, countries from the rest of the world such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Singapore, Malaysia, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji & Guyana also indulge in the celebration.
- WHY THEY CELEBRATE?
Diwali is one of the oldest festivals of Hinduism. In ancient times, the festival used to get celebrated upon the culmination of the summer harvest season in the Hindu month of Kartika. The festival is held to revere various mythological events those conclusively depict the victory of good over bad. The significance of Diwali varies greatly in India, although, it remains hugely dependant on the mythological legends with some local additions!
Significance in Hinduism:
The legend depicted in the great Hindu epic called ‘Ramayana’, reciting the event of the return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita & brother Laxman from 14 years long exile forms the vastly accepted base for the celebration of Diwali. However, in some part of the country, the legend mentioned in another Hindu epic called ‘Mahabharata’, narrating the incident of return of ‘Pandavas’ from 12 years of exile is considered as the reason for the commemoration. Diwali is also celebrated to worship, various deities such as the goddess Lakshmi-the deity of prosperity, Kubera who is believed to be the treasurer of gods & goddess Saraswati-the deity of knowledge & music.
Significance in Jainism:
Diwali also holds an important place in Jainism. The fact that ‘Lord Mahavira’– last Jain Thirthankar, had supposedly attained Nirvana on the day of Chaturdashi (a day prior to the New Moon) of Kartika signifies the importance of Diwali in the life of a devout Jain follower.
Significance in Sikhism:
For Sikhs, Diwali marks the remembrance of the glorious day when the Sixth Sikh Master ‘Guru Har Gobind’ & Hindu Kings managed to escape from the prison of Islamic Ruler Jahangir & reached at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Since then, Sikhs have started to observe ‘Bandi Chhor Divas’ (Day of Redemption) during the festivities of Diwali & also started adorning the holy ‘Golden temple’ with amazing lit decoration.
- HOW THEY CELEBRATE?
For the years, astounding decorations of oil lamps & lanterns have remained the way of celebration, which has earned this festival the fame as ‘The Festival of Light’! Diwali exhibits the excellence of Hindu culture in the fields of art & food. The five day celebration begins two days prior the night of Diwali, i.e. the night of New Moon & ends two days after it. Every day carries special importance & is celebrated by carrying out some rituals.
The festivity starts with Dhanateras followed by Naraka Chaturdashi on the next day, Lakshmi Poojan on the third day, Balipratipada on fourth & Bhai Dooj on the day of conclusion.
Dhanteras: – The day of ‘Dhanteras’ signals the beginning of the festival. The day is celebrated to venerate ‘Dhanvantari’- the god of sound health, as well as to mark the birth of goddess Lakshmi– deity of prosperity & wealth. Buying gold & silver articles on this day is considered auspicious & the evening is spent in worshiping the goddess ‘Lakshmi’ & praying for a prosperous future.
Narak Chaturdashi:- The second day of Diwali marks the victory of Lord Vishnu over the devil Narakasur. The day begins early in the morning & special bathing rituals consisting of fragrant oil bath are carried out.
Lakshmi Puja:- The new moon day is the most important day of Diwali. The goddess ‘Lakshmi’ is believed to roam around on the earth during the days of Diwali & people keep their doors wide open in order to welcome her. They make several intricate & colorful designs called Rangoli on the floor to appease the goddess & also lit up their houses & surroundings with myriad clay lamps & lanterns to shove away the darkness & evil spirit. In the evening, several deities such as Ganesha, goddesses Saraswati & ‘Lakhmi’ are worshiped & the sweets are distributed after completion of prayers.
Balipratipada:- Also recognized as Padwa in some region, the day of ‘Balipratipada’ is celebrated in the memories of the mythological king Bali who was exiled to hell by the Wamana– dwarf incarnation of lord Vishnu. Bali was allowed to return back to his kingdom on the earth once a year on the day of ‘Balipratipada’. People welcome their king by illuminating their houses with lamps & bursting crackers.
On the same day, another ceremony called ‘Padwa’ is observed to honor the relation of love & mutual devotion between husband & wife. The husband presents his wife gifts in order to show his respect & love towards his partner & also to appreciate her contribution in looking after his family & house.
Bhai Dooj:- The concluding day is celebrated to honor the bonding between sister & brother. On this day, all the siblings meet together & all the sisters perform ceremonies for the prosperity of their brothers. Brothers too, show their love & care for the sisters & present them gifts in the memories of their noble relation!
Thus, this bright festival comes to an end on the day of Bhai Dooj. All the days are celebrated amidst the energetic environment adorned with glittering clay lamps & amazing Rangoli designs. Extensive fireworks are carried out to illuminate the skies in order to ward of the obnoxious evil spirits. The fireworks & clay lamps are believed to express the gratitude towards the gods for offering the sound health, prosperity, knowledge & inner peace. This dazzling festival is certainly one of its kinds & is the finest demonstration of the idea of spirituality, gratefulness & submission towards the almighty, which are the most important aspects of Hinduism!