Diwali - Indian Hindu Festival of Lights

Diwali Festival

Diwali Festival in India

Diwali, the festival of lights, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India and people participate in it with much gusto. The festival generally falls on October every year and this year it is on November 7. Also known as Deepawali, the festival is observed nation-wide in the autumn season. The main festive night usually coincides with the Hindu Lunisolar month of Kartika in the Bikram Sambat calendar. According to the ‘Gregorian calendar’, however, Diwali night comes between mid-October and mid-November. Days before Diwali, people clean their houses and workplaces and on the day of the festival they decorate their homes with lights and candles. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on that day as the devotees offer prayers to the goddess of wealth for materialistic abundance and prosperity. Later, fireworks are performed followed by offering sweets and exchange of gifts among families, friends and relatives. The celebrations begin with Dhanteras, followed by ‘Narak Chaturdasi’ on the second day, Deepawali on Day 3, ‘Diwali Padwa’, which is dedicated to matrimony, on the fourth day and it all ends with ‘Bhai Dooj’, dedicated to the sister-brother bond on the fifth day. On Diwali night, Jains celebrate the attainment of salvation by Lord Mahavira, while ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’ is celebrated among Sikhs to mark the release of Guru Hargobind Singh from a Mughal emperor. A majority of Buddhists celebrate Diwali by worshiping Laxmi.

Public Life : Diwali is a gazetted holiday in India so government offices and many businesses (including local offices and shops) are closed. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States but some cities hold large celebrations for the Diwali festival.

Background : Diwali is called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana. People lit their houses to celebrate his victory over evil (light over darkness). The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, also figures into the celebration. It is believed that she roams the Earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. The Diwali festival in southern India often commemorates the conquering of the Asura Naraka, a powerful king of Assam, who imprisoned thousands of inhabitants. It was Krishna, a deity worshipped in Hinduism, who was finally able to subdue Naraka and free the prisoners. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light”. It is also the beginning of the new financial year for the business community.

Symbols : Lamps, fireworks and bonfires illuminate this holiday, as the word “Deepawali” means “a row or cluster of lights” or “rows of diyas (clay lamps)”. The festival symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. During Diwali, or Deepawali, the goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth, happiness and prosperity, is also worshipped.

It is not possible to mention every activity that takes place on this occasion as celebrations vary in different regions. However, this article provides a general overview of the main celebrations that usually occur during this event. Moreover, the date in which Diwali is celebrated may vary depending on locations and calendar interpretations.

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