As we have been studying since 1st grade, Diwali is the festival of lights. Diwali Festival is one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs in India. Diwali Celebration usually lasts five days during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika. The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word that means row of lights and that is the reason why people light up their homes and workplaces with earthen lamps or electrical lights during Diwali Festival.
Hence this festival is also known as Deepawali. People wear new clothes and decorate their houses and celebrate the festival of light, hope, and prosperity with their friends and family.
Why is Diwali Festival celebrated?
The story, history, and significance of the Diwali Festival
There are several stories associated with the festival of lights – Diwali. According to the Hindu epic, Ramayana, It is believed that the people of Ayodhya hailed the homecoming of Lord Ram, Goddess Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman after a 14-year exile by illuminating the city’s streets with earthen lamps. It was the darkest night in the Hindu lunisolar calendar’s Kartik month.
Since then, every year Diwali festival is observed on Amavasya (no moon night) when people illuminate their sweet homes and workplaces with ‘diyas’- earthen lamps in rows, so as to expel darkness. As per the Skanda Purana, the Diyas or the earthen lamps symbolise the Sun as the cosmic giver of light and energy.
It is also believed by many Hindus that Goddess Lakshmi who is the Hindu Goddess of wealth and good fortune, was born during the Samudra Manthan (churning of the cosmic ocean) on the day of Diwali. And that’s why Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Diwali as the symbol of wealth and prosperity and Lord Ganesha is also remembered and worshipped on Diwali as a symbol of new beginnings.
Additionally, Diwali festival marks the death and defeat of demons like Ravana by Lord Rama, Narkasur by Lord Krishna, and the arrogant Bali by Lord Vamana. And that’s why the Diwali festival is celebrated every year to mark the victory of good over evil, knowledge over arrogance, and light over darkness.
The three minority religions in India namely, Sikha Jains and Buddhists have their own stories related to Diwali Festival. Sikhs believe that Diwali commemorates the release of their 17th century guru Hargobind after 12 years of imprisonment. Jains, who share many beliefs of Hinduism, observe Diwali Festival as the day when Lord Mahavira reached nirvana. For Buddhists, Diwali is the day when Hindu Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism.
What happens during the 5 day celebration of Diwali in India?
|5 days of Diwali|
|1st Day||Saturday||Dhanteras||22 October|
|2nd Day||Sunday||Narak Chaturdashi||23 October|
|3rd Day||Monday||Diwali||24 October|
|4th Day||Tuesday||Govardhan Puja||25 October|
|5th Day||Thursday||Bhai Dhooj||26 October|
The 5 day-Long Celebrations
In India, Diwali festival is observed for 5 days and each day of Diwali Festival has a unique significance. Check them out here-
Diwali 2022 is commencing from 22 October
The first day of Diwali is known as ‘Dhanteras’ or ‘Dhantrayodashi’ which sets the mood for the beginning of Diwali celebration. Dhanteras consists of two words, ‘Dhan’ meaning wealth and ‘teras’ meaning thirteen i.e., the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight). On this day, people worship Lord Dhanwantari, who is also associated with Ayurveda and various healing practices. People also purchase utensils, jewellery or any other item for household use to bring good luck and fortune to the house and family.
The second day of the diwali festival is called Narak Chaturdashi. This day signifies the triumph of Lord Krishna or Mahakali over a ferocious demon, Narakasur. On this day, people worship Mahakali or Shakti and thus this day is also referred to as Kali Chaudas. It’s a day to abolish laziness and evil which disturbs human life on Earth.
The celebration of this day is marked by using fragrant oils, sandalwood and flowers in the house to keep the vibrations uplifted. People in various parts of the country also make artistic patterns of ‘rangolis’ on the floor with colored sand, powder, rice or flower petals. in their houses on this day.
The third day of Diwali festival i.e Lakshmi Puja, holds utmost significance as it’s the day of Diwali or Deepawali. The most festive day of the five days which is celebrated with vibrance and great enthusiasm around the country. This day is the main day when Lord Rama finally returned to Ayodhya from exile. It also coincides with the return of Pandavas from the forest.
Grand celebration is observed on this day marked by many diyas or clay lamps illuminating every nook and corner of houses and shops, beautiful rangolis, and flowers decorating the main entrance of the houses, and fireworks dotting the sky. On this day, all family members worship Goddess Lakshmi by doing Lakshmi Puja along with Lord Ganesha and Goddess Saraswati, followed by prasad distribution.
It is considered to be the most auspicious day for traders and merchants families as they offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati, the giver of music, literature and wisdom and Kubera, the lord of wealth. This day also marks the first day of the financial new year for Indian Businessmen.
On the fourth day of this five day Diwali celebration, Govardhan Puja is performed. This day has two main stories associated with it. The story of Gokul when Lord Krishna saved the villagers from the wrath of Lord Indra by lifting the Govardhan Mountain is the most prominent one. The second that follows is that this day is observed as ‘Padwa’ as the Vikram-Samvat was started from this day.
On this day, devotees observe fast and worship and offer food and sweets to Lord Krishna along with cows and calves. People celebrate this day by visiting temples or wearing new clothes and jewellery and distributing sweets and gifts among friends and neighbors.
The second day after Diwali or the fifth day of the Diwali festival is Bhai Dooj. This day is solely dedicated to the bond of love and trust between a brother and a sister. The festival carries the legendary tale of the strong brotherly affection between Lord Yama and his sister Yami.
On this day, people observe fast followed by aarti and applying a ‘teeka’ of rice and vermilion on the brother’s forehead and partaking of sweets. The brother promises to protect his sister while the sister prays for her brother’s long life.
All five days of Diwali festival celebrates human bond and inculcates feelings of truth, love, brotherhood and the divine light of oneness in all of us.
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Know about the Diwali Celebration in various parts of India-
This five-day festival of lights, celebrated by more than a billion people of all faiths, features prayer, feasts, fireworks, and, for some, a new year. And as the stories and legends of Diwali differ from region to region and culture to culture, the rituals and ways in which this festival is celebrated also differs. However, one thing is common across traditions, i.e., the feast of sweets, family gatherings, and the lighting of diyas that symbolise the light that shield each household from spiritual darkness.
In places such as Ayodhya and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Diwali is celebrated in a most enthusiastic and vibrant way than in any other North Indian city and people from all over the country visit these places during this time of the year to witness their extraordinary Diwali celebration. Various grand events include the staging of Ram Lila programmes, laser show, fireworks and lighting of upto 12 lakh earthen lamps on the banks of the river Ganga and Saryu.
People worship by being a part of the Ganga Maha Aarti. People in the Braj region of North India believe that Lord Krishna destroyed the evil Narakasura on Diwali and in Punjab, Diwali marks the beginning of winter. Sikha observed ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ on the same day. The Golden Temple is decorated with thousands of earthen lamps and langer (free food) and prasad are also organized for the devotees.
People of East India, especially in West Bengal dedicate the night of Diwali to the worship of the fierce Kali avatar of Goddess Durga as Diwali coincides with Kali Puja, although Lakshmi Puja is also observed in many homes.
In parts of old Kolkata, households are decorated with flying handmade paper lanterns and light 14 earthen lamps in honor of the ancestors and the day before people eat ‘choddo shaak’- a seasonal mix of 14 leafy vegetables and medicinal plants. In Odisha and West Bengal, people go pandal hopping- visiting marquees housing idols of the Goddess Kali in neighboring houses.
In the western part of India, Diwali festival is celebrated in several different ways. In Gujrat, various preparations are made for holding Lakshmi Puja, Diwali marks the end of the traditional year for the gujarati community. The fifth day after Diwali or the day of Labh Pancham marks the starting of business for the New Year. In Maharashtra, Diwali celebration begins with Vasu Baras. Maharashtrians celebrate Dhantrayodashi and Narak Chaturdashi in the place of Dhanteras and Choti Diwali. They too worship Goddess Lakshmi and also observe Diwali Cha Padva which celebrates the bond of marriage. The festivities conclude with Bhaav Bij with the commencement of the wedding season or Tulsi Vivah.
The main attraction of Diwali Celebration in Mumbai, Maharashtra is the colourful lanterns or Kandeels that are used to decorate the houses there. No other state in the country observes Narak Chaturdashi the way Goa does. Before being burnt, Narkasur effigies are paraded around the streets. Even competitions to award the best imaginative effigy are also held. The celebration of light has begun, symbolizing the defeat of evil and darkness.
Narak Chaturdashi (that’s actually Choti Diwali in the northern states) is the most important day in Diwali Celebration in the southern states of India. In Tamil Nadu, people begin their day by taking an oil bath before sunrise and performing various rituals like lighting the kuthi vilaku (lamp) and offering ‘naivedyam’ to deities.
In front of houses in south India, Kolam (a mixture of rice powder and chalk) is painted. The people there even prepare an Ayurvedic medicine called ‘lehyam’ for indigestion people may suffer from 5 days long festivities.
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Over the years, Diwali Festival has become India’s greatest festive season which is celebrated with great ardour and liveliness and even though it might stand for different ideologies and rituals associated with it, the feeling of togetherness and light continues to pertain. So this Diwali 2022, bring out the good in yourself and spread hope, light and positivity around to keep the spirit of Diwali alive.