Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in autumn in the northern hemisphere (spring in southern hemisphere). It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. On the island of Jamaica, it is celebrated proudly by the Indo-Jamaican community, however in 2010 it was inaugurated as an official yearly event at the historic Devon House residence for the first time, in an effort to celebrate the country's Indian heritage on a national level. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed. The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over four to six day period. The word Diwali is used by some communities to mean all the festivities while others think of it as one festival night on the no moon day of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika in Bikram Sambat calendar (the month of Aippasi in Tamil Calendar). In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls in mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali, people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. During Diwali, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfits, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) to Lakshmi – the goddess of prosperity, light fireworks, engage in family feasts, sharing mithai (sweets), and exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
The name of festive days as well as the rituals of Diwali vary significantly among Hindus, based on the region of India. In many parts of India, the festivities start with Vasubaras, the day for the cattle, followed by Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodashi (in northern and western part of India). Dhanteras is followed by Naraka Chaturdasi and Laxmi Puja. Laxmi Puja on the no moon day is considered the main day of Diwali in some communities. Next day after the no moon day, is Goverdhan pooja in Northern part of the country. On the same day, in some places, Diwali Padva is celebrated which is dedicated to the relationship of wife and husband. The festivities end with Bhai Dooj dedicated to the bond between sister and brother. Dhanteras usually falls eighteen days after Dussehra.
On the same night that Hindus celebrate Diwali, Jains celebrate a festival also called Diwali to mark the attainment of moksha by Mahavira, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison, and Newar Buddhists, unlike the majority of Buddhists, celebrate Diwali by worshipping Lakshmi.
The holiday is known as dipawoli in Assamese: দীপাৱলী, dipaboli or dipali in Bengali: দীপাবলি/দীপালি, divāḷi in Gujarati: દિવાળી, divālī in Hindi: दिवाली, dīpavaḷi in Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Konkani: दिवाळी, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, Marathi: दिवाळी, dipābali in Odia: ଦିପାବଳୀ, dīvālī in Punjabi: ਦੀਵਾਲੀ, diyārī in Sindhi: दियारी, tīpāvaḷi in Tamil: தீபாவளி, and Telugu: దీపావళి, Galungan in Balinese and Swanti in Nepali: स्वन्ति or tihar in Nepali: तिहार and Thudar Parba in Tulu: ತುಡರ್ ಪರ್ಬ.
Diwali dates back to ancient times in India, as a festival after the summer harvest in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika. The festival is mentioned in Sanskrit texts such as the Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana both completed in second half of 1st millennium AD but believed to have been expanded from a core text from an earlier era. The diyas (lamps) are mentioned in Skanda Purana to symbolically represent parts of the sun, the cosmic giver of light and energy to all life, who seasonally transitions in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.
Hindus in some regions of India associate Diwali with the legend of Yama and Nachiketa on Kartika amavasya (Diwali night). The Nachiketa story about right versus wrong, true wealth versus transient wealth, knowledge versus ignorance is recorded in Katha Upanishad composed in 1st millennium BC.
King Harsha in the 7th century Sanskrit play Nagananda mentions Deepavali as Deepapratipadutsava (Deepa = light, pratipada = first day, utsava = festival), where lamps were lit and newly engaged brides and grooms were given gifts. Rajasekhara referred to Deepavali as Dipamalika in his 9th century Kavyamimamsa, wherein he mentions the tradition of homes being whitewashed and oil lamps decorating homes, streets and markets in the night. The Persian traveller and historian Al Biruni, in his 11th century memoir on India, wrote of Deepavali being celebrated by Hindus on New Moon day of the month of Kartika.
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Diwali is one of the happiest holidays in India and Nepal with significant preparations. People clean their homes and decorate them for the festivities. Diwali is one of the biggest shopping seasons in India and Nepal; people buy new clothes for themselves and their families, as well as gifts, appliances, kitchen utensils, even expensive items such as cars and gold jewellery. People also buy gifts for family members and friends which typically include sweets, dry fruits, and seasonal specialties depending on regional harvest and customs. It is also the period when children hear ancient stories, legends about battles between good and evil or light and darkness from their parents and elders. Girls and women go shopping and create rangoli and other creative patterns on floors, near doors and walkways. Youth and adults alike help with lighting and preparing for patakhe (fireworks).
There is significant variation in regional practices and rituals. Depending on the region, prayers are offered before one or more deities, with most common being Lakshmi – the goddess of wealth and prosperity. On Diwali night, fireworks light up the neighborhood skies. Later, family members and invited friends celebrate the night over food and sweets.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs and Newar Buddhists to mark different historical events and stories, but they all symbolise the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, hope over despair.
The mythical stories told for Diwali vary regionally and within the traditions of Hinduism. Yet, they all point to joy and the celebration of Diwali with lights to be a reminder of the importance of knowledge, self inquiry, self-improvement, knowing and seeking the good and the right path. It is a metaphor for resisting evil, for dispelling darkness and for compassion to others. Diwali is the celebration of this inner light over spiritual darkness, of knowledge over ignorance and right over wrong. It is a festive restatement of the Hindu belief that the good ultimately triumphs over evil.
Hindus across the world celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama, wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and lord Hanuman to Ayodhya from exile of 14 years after Rama defeated Ravana. To honor and celebrate Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman returning from Sri Lanka and to illuminate their path, villagers light Diyas to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. For some, Diwali also celebrates the return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas and one year of "Agyatavas" in Mahabharata. Furthermore, Deepavali is linked to the celebration of Lakshmi, who is venerated amongst Hindus as the goddess of wealth and prosperity and is the wife of Lord Vishnu. The 5-day festival of Diwali begins on the day Goddess Lakshmi was born from the churning of cosmic ocean of milk by the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (demons); while the night of Diwali is the day Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and they were married. Along with Lakshmi, devotees make offerings to Ganesha, who symbolizes ethical beginnings and fearless remover of obstacles; Saraswati, who embodies music, literature and learning and Kubera, who symbolizes book-keeping, treasury and wealth management. Other Hindus believe that Diwali is the day Vishnu came back to Lakshmi and their abode in the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her good mood, and therefore are blessed with mental, physical and material wellbeing during the year ahead.
Hindus in India's eastern region, such as Odisha and West Bengal, worship the goddess Kali instead of Lakshmi, and call the festival Kali Puja. In India's Braj and north central regions, the god Krishna is recognized. People mark Mount Govardhan, and celebrate legends about Krishna. In other regions, the feast of Govardhan Puja (or Annakoot) is celebrated, with 56 or 108 different cuisines prepared, offered to Krishna, then shared and celebrated by the local community.
In West and certain Northern parts of India, the festival of Diwali marks the start of a new Hindu year.
Diwali for Sikhs marks the Bandi Chhor Divas, when Guru Har Gobind freed himself and some Hindu Rajahs, from the Gwalior Fort, from the prison of the Mughal emperor, Jahangir, and arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Ever since then, Sikhs celebrate Bandi Choorh Divas, with the annual lighting up of Golden Temple, fireworks and other festivities. In the post-Guru Gobind Singh era, Sarbat Khalsa used to meet on Diwali and Baisakhi to discuss important issues concerning Sikh community.
Diwali has special significance in Jainism. Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankar of this era, attained Nirvana on this day at Pavapuri on 15 October 527 BCE, on Kartik Krishna Amavasya. According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BC, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness. Therefore, Jains celebrate Diwali as a day of remembering Mahavira. On Diwali morning, Nirvan Ladoo is offered after praying to Mahavira in all Jain temples all across the world. Gautam Gandhar Swami, the chief disciple of Mahavira achieved omniscience(Kevala Gyan) later the same day.
The Newar people in Nepal, who are Buddhist and revere various deities in the Vajrayana tradition, celebrate the festival by worshipping Lakshmi. The Newar Buddhists in Nepalese valleys celebrate the Diwali festival over five days, in the same way and on the same days as the Hindu Diwali-Tihar festival. According to some scholars, this traditional celebration by Newar Buddhists in Nepal, involving Lakshmi and Vishnu during Diwali, reflects the freedom granted in the Mahayana Buddhism tradition to worship any deity for their worldly betterment.
Diwali is a five-day festival in many regions of India, with Diwali night centering on the new moon – the darkest night – at the end of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin and the start of the month of Kartika. In the Common Era calendar, Diwali typically falls towards the end of October, or first half of November each year. The darkest night of autumn lit with diyas, candles and lanterns, makes the festival of lights particularly memorable. Diwali is also a festival of sounds and sights with fireworks and rangoli designs; the festival is a major celebration of flavors with feasts and numerous mithai (sweets, desserts), as well as a festival of emotions where Diwali ritually brings family and friends together every year.
Rituals and preparations for Diwali begin days or weeks in advance. The festival formally begins two days before the night of Diwali, and ends two days thereafter. Each day has the following rituals and significance:
Dhanteras or Dhanatrayodashi (celebrated in Northern and Western part of India) starts off the five day festival. Starting days before and through Dhanteras, houses and business premises are cleaned, renovated and decorated. Women and children decorate entrances with Rangoli – creative colourful floor designs both inside and in the walkways of their homes or offices. Boys and men get busy with external lighting arrangements and completing all renovation work in progress. For some, the day celebrates the churning of cosmic ocean of milk between the forces of good and forces of evil; this day marks the birthday of Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and the birthday of Dhanvantari – the God of Health and Healing. On the night of Dhanteras, diyas (lamps) are ritually kept burning all through the nights in honor of Lakshmi and Dhanvantari.
Dhanteras is also a major shopping day, particularly for gold or silver articles. Merchants, traders and retailers stock up, put articles on sale, and prepare for this day. Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evening. Some people decorate their shops, work place or items symbolizing their source of sustenance and prosperity.
Narak Chaturdasi is the second day of festivities, and is also called Choti Diwali. The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. The day is celebrated by early morning religious rituals and festivities followed on. This day is commonly celebrated as Diwali in Tamil Nadu, Goa and Karnataka. Typically, house decoration and colourful floor patterns called rangoli are made on or before Narak Chaturdasi. Special bathing rituals such as a fragrant oil bath are held in some regions, followed by minor pujas. Women decorate their hands with henna designs. Families are also busy preparing homemade sweets for main Diwali.
The third day is the main festive day. People wear new clothes or their best outfits as the evening approaches. Then diyas are lit, pujas are offered to Lakshmi, and to one or more additional deities depending on the region of India; typically Ganesha, Saraswati, and Kubera. Lakshmi symbolises wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.
Lakshmi is believed to roam the earth on Diwali night. On the evening of Diwali, people open their doors and windows to welcome Lakshmi, and place diya lights on their windowsills and balcony ledges to invite her in. On this day, the mothers who work hard all year, are recognized by the family and she is seen to embody a part of Lakshmi, the good fortune and prosperity of the household. Small earthenware lamps filled with oil are lighted and placed in rows by some Hindus along the parapets of temples and houses. Some set diyas adrift on rivers and streams. Important relationships and friendships are also recognized during the day, by visiting relatives and friends, exchanging gifts and sweets.
After the puja, people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe (fireworks). The children enjoy sparklers and variety of small fireworks, while adults enjoy playing with ground chakra, Vishnu chakra, flowerpots (anaar), sutli bomb, chocolate bomb, rockets and bigger fireworks. The fireworks signify celebration of Diwali as well a way to chase away evil spirits. After fireworks, people head back to a family feast, conversations and mithai (sweets, desserts).
The day after Diwali, is celebrated as Padwa. This day ritually celebrates the love and mutual devotion between the wife and husband. The husbands give thoughtful gifts, or elaborate ones to respective spouses. In many regions, newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals. Sometimes brothers go and pick up their sisters from their in-laws home for this important day. The day is also a special day for the married couple, in a manner similar to anniversaries elsewhere in the world. The day after Diwali devotees perform Goverdhan puja in honor of Lord Krishna.
Diwali also marks the beginning of new year, in some parts of India, where the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar is popular. Merchants and shopkeepers close out their old year, and start a new fiscal year with blessings from Lakshmi and other deities.
The last day of the festival is called Bhai dooj (Brother's second) or Bhai tika in Nepal, where it is the major day of the festival. It celebrates the sister-brother loving relationship, in a spirit similar to Raksha Bandhan but with different rituals. The day ritually emphasizes the love and lifelong bond between siblings. It is a day when women and girls get together, perform a puja with prayers for the well being of their brothers, then return to a ritual of food-sharing, gift-giving and conversations. In historic times, this was a day in autumn when brothers would travel to meet their sisters, or bring over their sister's family to their village homes to celebrate their sister-brother bond with the bounty of seasonal harvests.
The word Diwali means the row(avali) of clay lamps(deepas) which symbolizes the lighting that protect us from spiritual darkness, achieving knowledge from ignorance, love from hatred. They decorate their entire home with oil lamps, earthen lamps, candles, lights throughout the day into the night to prevent darkness and evil. The first thing that strikes our mind is crackers, lightings, colours in the dark new moon night sky.
On this festive occasion, Hindu, Jain and Sikh communities also mark charitable causes, kindness, and for peace. For example, at the international border, every year on Diwali, Indian forces approach Pakistani forces and offer traditional Indian sweets on the occasion of Diwali. The Pakistani soldiers anticipating the gesture, return the goodwill with an assortment of Pakistani sweets.
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To add to the festivals of Diwali, fairs are held throughout India. Melas are found in many towns and villages. A mela generally becomes a market day in the countryside when farmers buy and sell produce, and rural families shop for clothes, utensils and other products. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colourful clothing and new jewelry, and their hands are decorated with henna designs.
Among the many activities that take place at a fairs are performances by jugglers, acrobats, snake charmers and fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. There are a variety of rides at the fair, which include Ferris wheels and rides on animals such as elephants and camels. Activities for children, such as puppet shows, occur throughout the day.
Diwali is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on the same day as central, east, west and north India, and the festivities center over two days observed as state holidays – Naraka Chaturthasi and Deepavali Amaavasya (Diwali). The festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. Most people make a trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective gods. The night sky is lit up with a scintillating array of noisy fireworks.
Diwali is one of the seven most important festivals of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and mainly it is celebrated with name Deepavali. It is very popular with children who celebrate Diwali because of the excitement of bursting firecrackers. Special shops to sell firecrackers are set up in all towns, cities and bigger villages. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with fireworks. This will be burst by a person dressed as Lord Krishna or, more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna, who actually killed the demon Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Diwali for generations. The evening sky of Diwali is a colourful sight to watch.
People clean/white-wash or paint/decorate their homes as it is a very auspicious day; to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity i.e. Lakshmi devi to their homes. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colourful diwali rangolis adorn the doorways. After all this preparation all the members of the family perform the Lakshmi puja. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures.
Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, often beginning almost a month before Diwali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewellery, ornaments, and household goods increase. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in the largest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, are prepared or purchased from shops. The festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships, and ancient traditions.
In Puranas it was said that, Goddess Durga had taken rest at Vijayawada and the place is named as Indrakeeladri. Deepawali is celebrated with a great joy in Vijayawada. Lighting effect at Prakasam Barrage adds further tourist attraction.
Diwali begins in Konkan and Goa on the day of Naraka Chaturdashi. The houses are cleaned and decorated with kandeel (known as akashdivo in Konkani), lamps, mango leaves, and marigold flowers. The utensils are made to shine, filled with water, and decorated for the holy bath the following morning. On the eve of Naraka Charurdashi, paper-made effigies of Narakasura, filled with grass and firecrackers symbolizing evil, are made. These effigies are burnt at around four o'clock in the morning. Firecrackers are burst, and people return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a line. The women of the house perform aarti of the men, gifts are exchanged, a bitter berry called kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolising evil and removal of ignorance. Different varieties of poha and sweets are made and eaten with family and friends. Festivities continue until Tulsi Vivah and lamps are lit every evening. Celebrations include Lakshmi puja on the Diwali day, Krishna puja or Govardhan puja and cattle worship on Balipratipada day, Bhaubeej, and Tulsi vivah.
In Gujarat the Diwali celebrations take on a number of distinct characteristics.
Diwali occurs in the second (dark) lunar fortnight (Krishna Paksha) of the month of Ashvin (Gujarati: "Aaso") and the first (bright) fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of Kartika (Guj: "Kartik"). Aaso is the last month of the Gujarati calendar, and Kartik the first.
Celebrations start earlier in Gujarat than in the rest of India, commencing on Agyaras, the 11th day of the Krishna Paksha of Aaso. On the 12th day is Vagh Baras, the festival of the cow and the calf. On the 13th day is Dhanteras, the days Diwali starts in the rest of India. The 14th (elsewhere known as Naraka Chaturdashi in South India and Choti Diwali in the North) is celebrated as Kali Choudas. The 15th (new moon day) is Lakshmi Puja, celebrated throughout India. The next day, the first day of Shukla Paksha of Kartik, is Bestu Varsh, New Year's Day, start of the Gujarati calendar. The 2nd day of Kartik is Bhai Bij, the day Diwali ends. A further celebration takes place on the 5th day of Kartik, Labh Pancham.
Deepavali is celebrated as a five-day festival in Karnataka, with the third and fourth day called Thali Deepavali (concurs with Diwali, South India date) and Balipadyami Deepavali (the day after) respectively. The Balipadyami is also a state holiday in Karnataka.
Known as Deepavali (ದೀಪಾವಳಿ) in Karnataka, it is celebrated on the day before and day following Amavasye (New Moon Day) as Naraka Chaturdashi (before new-moon day) resembling Satyabhama's victory over Narakasura and as Bali Padyami the first day of Kartika masa in remembrance of King Bali. The entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers. The tradition in Kannada families is that all members gather together for the three days celebration. The thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha is celebrated as "neeru tumbo habba" when the house is cleaned, painted afresh and the vessels are washed, bedecked and filled with fresh water for the festival. The next day is Naraka Chaturdashi, considered very auspicious. In parts of North Karnataka, the women of the house perform Aarti on the men. The next day is Lakshmi mahaapooje on Amavaasye (new-moon day). On the fourth day, the house, especially the entrance, is decorated with flowers and floor decorations to invite king Bali into their homes and do pooja. A special entrance to the home is built, made out of cow-dung (gOmaya) and Sandalwood (siri-chandana). Both materials are revered in Kannada tradition as having divine significance. The day is of special importance to agricultural families as they celebrate Govardhan Pooja on this day. The houses are adorned with Keraka (replica of the Govardhana giri using cow dung) bejewelled with flowers and maize, ragi stalks. Fire-camps are kindled on both Naraka Chaturdashi and Bali Padyami days of Deepavali. The celebration of Deepavali is marked by the lighting of lamps in every courtyard and the bursting of firecrackers. Ravtegh is a special Deepavali delicacy in Bangalore region. Holiges and Chakkulis are prepared in all households.
Diwali or popularly known locally as Deepavali, falls on the preceding day of the New Moon in the Malayalam month Thulam (October–November). The celebrations are based on the legend of Narakasura Vadha – where Sri Krishna destroyed the demon and the day Narakasura died is celebrated as Deepavali. It commemorates the triumph of good over evil. The story of King Bali is also associated with Diwali by Hindus in Kerala.
Preparations for Diwali start before the festival with people preparing sweets and savory snacks collectively called 'Faral'. The snacks include Chakali, Laddu, Karanji, Chiwada and other festive foods.
In Maharashtra, Diwali starts from Vasubaras which is the 12th day of the 2nd half of the Marathi month Ashvin. This day is celebrated by performing an Aarti of the cow and its calf – which is a symbol of love between mother and her baby.
The next day is Dhana Trayodashi. Traders and business people give special importance to this festival. It is also considered an auspicious day for making important purchases, especially metals, including kitchenware and precious metals like silver and gold.
This is followed by Naraka Chaturdashi. On this day people get up early in the morning and take their bath before sunrise while stars are still visible. Bathing is an elaborate process on this day with abundant use of utnas, oils and perfumes, and is preceded by an Aarti.
The day after Naraka Chaturdashi comes Lakshmi-pooja. It occurs on Amavasya i.e. no moon day. The dark night is illuminated by lamps and at dusk firecrackers are burst. New account books are opened after a pooja. Generally the traders do not make any payments on that day to preserve Lakshmi in home. In every household, cash, jewellery and an idol of the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Friends, neighbours and relatives are invited over and celebrations are in full swing.
Bali Pratipada is the 1st day of Kartik in the Hindu calendar. It marks the start of Hindu financial year. It is a special day for Husband and wife. The wife puts tilak on her husbands forehead and he gives her an expensive gift. In recent times there is a growing trend of organising a cultural event called Diwali Padwa early in the morning.
Bhau-beej – it is the time when the bond of love between a brother and sister is further strengthened. The sister asks God for her brother's(s') long and successful life while she receives presents from her beloved brothers.
In Odisha, the festival is known as Deepavali (Odia: ଦୀପାବଳୀ). The festival day starts with drawing rangolis in front of the house. The rangoli is drawn in the shape of sailboat on the ground in front of the house and is filled with items such as cotton, salt, mustard, asparagus root, turmeric and a wild creeper. Prasad is placed in the central chamber, over which a deepa of a jute stem with cloth wick is lit. This marks the beginning of Puja. Tarpanam – the ritual meant to invoke the spirits of the ancestors. Immediately after the dusk, all members of household gather for lighting Kaunria (pith of the jute plant). A lighted lamp is placed inside an earthen pot that is tied to a pole erected in front of the house. All the members then hold a bunch of jute stick in their hands and light them from the fire from the main deepa and raise the bunch towards the sky chanting the following verse. Then, in the presence of every member of the house, a bundle of the Kaunria is lit during the Puja and raised skywards accompanied with the chant: "Badbadua ho andhaara re aasa aalua re jaa" meaning "O' forefathers come in the dark of the evening, we light your way to the heaven". The significance of the ritual is that we show respect to our ancestors who reinforce their absence from the physical world by our presence.
Known as Deepavali (தீபாவளி) in Tamil Nadu, it commemorates the death of Narakasura at the hands of Lord Sri Krishna. It is believed that Narakasura, a malevolent demon, tortured common people and they prayed to lord Krishna to defeat him. The people then celebrated Narakasura's defeat with sparklers, lights and firecrackers. This celebration has continued down the generations as Deepavali. In Tamil Nadu, Deepavali falls on the 14th day preceding the amavasya (new moon) in the solar month of Aippasi (ஐப்பசி).[better source needed] The day begins with an early morning oil bath, wearing new clothes, bursting of firecrackers, visiting Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu and Shiva temples. The exchange of sweets between neighbours, visiting relations, and preparing Deepavali special sweets are traditions of the day.
Typical Deepavali celebrations begin with waking up early in the morning, before sun rise, followed by an oil-bath. The bathing tradition involves extensive massaging of warm sesame oil containing black pepper corns and betel leaves. After bath, a home-made medicine known as "Deepavali Lehiyam" is consumed, which is supposed to aid in soothing digestive problems that may ensue because of feasting that occurs later in the day. Sparklers, firecrackers and lights are used extensively, much like the rest of the world where Deepavali is celebrated. Tamil Nadu always celebrates Deepavali on the day of, Naraka Chaturdashi preceding new moon in the month of aippasi. In Tamil Nadu, Deepavali is calculated when chaturdashi prevails during sunrise, precisely at 4am-6am. If chaturdashi prevails after 6am it is not considered. For example, if chaturdashi tithi begins at 2:30 pm the preceding day and ends at 1pm next day, the next day will be celebrated as Deepavali. Unlike much of the rest of India, lamps are not lit on Deepavali in Tamil Nadu. Instead, lamps are lit on the night of Karthikai Deepam, in the Tamil solar month of Karthikai. Also lakshmi puja is not very important. Most important Deepavali ritual is "Kedara gowri vratam" also known as"nombu"(நோன்பு) which would be done by most families on amavasya day. Some families do it on Chaturdashi day.
Diwali is the most important festival in this state and is celebrated with great vigor and gaiety. Diwali is celebrated in memory of Lord Rama's victory over the demon king Ravana and his subsequent homecoming to Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. People wear colourful clothes throughout the Diwali festival, and enthusiasm is visible over the entire festival. The ghats of Varanasi come alive with thousands of brightly lit earthen lamps. Visitors throng in large numbers to watch this. Fairs and art festivals are held in the state, a venue for fun and shopping. Other celebrations, such as puja, fireworks, sweets and gifts exchange are similar to the rest of India.Diwali is celebrated with pomp and antiquity in Uttar Pradesh. It is celebrated as the Festival of Lights. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm the children and the old.
In this region, Diwali marks the killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura, who wreaked havoc. In different versions, either Krishna or Krishna's wife Satyabhama killed Narakasura during the Dwapara yuga. The festival is celebrated over six days. It starts with Govatsa Dwadashi. Go means cow and vatsa means calf. Dwadashi means the 12th day. The story associated with this day is that of King Prithu, son of the tyrant King Vena. Because of the ill rule of Vena, there was a terrible famine and earth stopped being fruitful. Prithu chased the earth, who is usually represented as cow, and ‘milked’ her, meaning that he brought prosperity to the land. On second day, people shop for utensils, clothes, gold and other items. The third day is called Chaturdashi, the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. The day is celebrated with puja, fireworks, and feast. The fourth day, is Diwali night, celebrated like rest of India. The fifth day is Govardhan Puja, celebrated as the day Krishna defeated Indra by the lifting of Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. Symbolic mountains of food are prepared representing the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna, then shared in the community. The last day is Yama Dwitiya where brothers and sisters meet to mark their bond, love and affection for each other. If sister is married and lives in a distant area, the brothers typically visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there. The brothers also bring and give gifts to their sisters.
Kali Puja is light-up night for West Bengal, Mithila region of Bihar and Assam. Kali Puja coincides with the festival of Diwali (pronounced Dipaboli in Bengali), (in Maithili, it is known as Diya-Baati) where people light diyas/candles in memory of the souls of departed ancestors. The goddess Kali is worshipped, not Lakshmi, for whole night on one night during this festival. The festival is popularly called Kali puja, not Diwali. Kali puja is also known by the names of Shyama puja or Nisha puja in parts of the Mithila region and West Bengal. Many people also celebrate this festival by lighting earthen lamps (deeps) which is a significance of Lord ram winning over the evil Ravana.
Deepavali is celebrated around the world, particularly in countries with significant populations of Hindu, Newar Buddhist, Jain and Sikh origin. These include Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and other the Caribbean nations, the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States. With more understanding of Indian culture and global migration of people of Indian origin, the number of countries where Diwali/Deepavali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it is becoming part of the general local culture. In most of these countries Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations.
It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia (except Sarawak), Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal (as Tihar), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.
In Australia, Diwali is celebrated publicly among the people of Indian origin and the local Australians in Brisbane and Melbourne. Diwali at Federation Square has been embraced warmly by the mainstream Victorian population beginning in 2006. The event has now become a part of the Melbourne Arts calendar and is celebrated over a week in the city.
Over 56,000 people had visited the Federation square on the last day of the festival last year and had enjoyed the entertaining live music and traditional dances of India, art and crafts as well as the variety of Indian cuisines with the festival culminating in a spectacular fireworks display on the Yarra River.
Many iconic buildings in Melbourne including the Victorian Parliament, Melbourne Museum, Federation Square, Melbourne Airport and the Indian Consulate are decorated over this week. Along with this, many outdoor dance performances and super banners immerse the city in Diwali mood in the City and Melbourne Airport. The Diwali event regularly attracts national organizations like AFL, Cricket Australia, White Ribbon, Melbourne Airport and artists from other communities and India. In Sydney, the Sydney Opera House has been annually lit up gold to celebrate the festival since 2014.
On the Australian external territory of Christmas Island, Deepavali is celebrated alongside many other celebrations common in Australia and Malaysia as well as local celebrations of the island.
The festival in the Hindu culture of Bali that celebrates the victory of good (dharma) over evil (adharma), just like Deepavali, is called Galungan. However, the dates and the ritual grammar are derived from the Balinese calendar and culture.
Galungan marks the time when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth. The last day of the celebration is Kuningan, when they return. The date is calculated according to the 210-day Balinese calendar. The series of Hindu religious ceremonies that are performed during this ten-day festival period are generally considered to be the most important ones of Hindu Bali. During this period the followers of the Balinese Hindu Dharma religion focus on the importance of living a life based on dharma. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor—bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These are installed by the side of roads.
Elsewhere, the Indian Hindus of Tamil descent pray in observance of Deepavali, at the Sri Mariamman temple in Medan, North Sumatra. Thousands of Hindus from other regions across Indonesia traveled to the temple to celebrate the holiday. The city government also give a Deepavali as facultative holiday for Indian community in Medan.
In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Diwali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights, located in Chaguanas, Trinidad. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by Hindu religious sects and social organisations, nightly worship of Lakshmi, lighting of deeyas, performances by schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies. Thousands of people participate in the island wide festivities. Sports grounds, schools and other public locations such as parks, host Deepavali Celebrations. Deepavali celebrations begin with Lakshmi Pooja and continue with lighting diyas and singing, dancing and sharing meals. The festival culminates with fireworks displays ushering in Diwali.
In Fiji, Deepavali is a public holiday and is a religious event celebrated together by Hindus (who constitute close to a third of Fiji's population), and culturally amongst members of Fiji's races and is a time in the year that is greatly looked forward to. Originally celebrated by imported indentured labourers from the Indian subcontinent during British rule in the then Colony of Fiji during the 19th century, it was set as a holiday at independence in 1970 as the government wished to set aside one religious public holiday each for Fiji's three largest religions, i.e., Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.
Deepavali in Fiji is often remarked by people from India as being observed on a larger scale than in India, as fireworks and Deepavali related events begin at least a week before the actual day. Another unique feature is the cultural celebration of Deepavali (aside from its traditionally religious celebration) where Fijians of Indian origin or Indo-Fijians, whether Hindu, Christian, Sikh or even Muslim along with the other cultural groups in Fiji celebrate Deepavali as a time for sharing with friends and family as well as signalling the beginning of the Holiday season in Fiji. On the commercial side, Deepavali is a time for many retail sales and giveaways. Deepavali celebrations in Fiji have taken on a flair of its own, markedly different from celebrations on the Subcontinent.
Deepavali marks a time for cleaning and buying new and special clothes for the celebrations amongst cultural groups along with dressing up in Saris and other Indian clothing, to work the day before. Homes are cleaned and Oil lamps or diyas are lit. Decorations are made around the home with an array of coloured lights, candles and paper lanterns, as well as the use of religious symbols formed out of coloured rice and chalk. Invitations are made to family, friends and neighbours and houses are opened. Gifts are made and prayers or pooja are made by Hindus. Sweets and vegetable dishes are often eaten during this time and fireworks are fired for days before and after Diwali.
Deepavali is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians (of all ethnic groups like Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees) welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a meal. Diwali in Malaysia has become an occasion for goodwill and friendly ties between religious and ethnic groups in Malaysia. On Deepavali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes, light up diyas (lamps and candles )inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi.
Deepavali is an official public holiday in Mauritius. About a week before Deepavali, many offices, supermarkets and other public buildings are adorned with lights and so are the homes of the people who celebrate this festival. People prepare sweets at home, such as Burfi, ladoo and other Indian inspired sweets, and distribute them to friends and family. Fireworks are lit on this day and prayers are made with special remembrance of Lord Rama, Lord Laxmi and other Hindu gods.
Deepavali is known as "Tihar" or "Swanti". It is celebrated over the same five day period concurrent with Deepavali in India. The traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are given food for their honesty. After Kaag and Kukur Tihar, Gai Tihar and Goru Tihar is celebrated on the third day, where cow and ox are decorated and fed. Also on the third day, Laxmi puja is performed. This is the last day of the year according to Nepal Sambat, so many of the businessmen clear their accounts on this day and on finishing it, worship goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Days before the Laxmi puja, houses are cleaned and decorated; on the day of Laxmi puja, oil lamps are lit near doors and windows. The fourth day is celebrated as new year. Cultural processions and other celebrations are observed in this day. The Newars celebrate it as "Mha Puja", a special ritual in which the body is worshipped to keep it fit and healthy for the year ahead on this day. On the fifth and final day called "Bhai Tika", brothers and sisters meet, garland each other, pray for the other's well being, mark the other's forehead with Tika. The brothers give gifts to their sisters, and sisters feed their brothers.
In Nepal, family gathering is more significant during Tihar. People in the community play "Deusi and Bhailo" which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group. People go to all the houses in the community and play songs and dance, and give blessings to the visited house, whereas the home owner gives gifts like rice, SelRoti, fruits and money. After the festival, people donate some part of the collected money and food to the charity or welfare groups and with the rest of the money and food, they go for a picnic. People also play swing called Dore Ping made out of thick ropes and Pirke Ping or Rangate Ping made out of wood.
Among Nepali people, after Lakshmi Puja, young girls assemble in groups of four to ten members on Diwali. They sing/dance and play Bhailo in each village, one by one.The head of the family of each house they visit gives them dakshani as a token. They play until Bhaitika (Bhaiduj). Similarly boys play Deusi. Diwali is rejoicingly celebrated during these days.
In New Zealand, Deepavali is celebrated publicly among many of the South Asian diaspora cultural groups. A large group that celebrates Diwali in New Zealand are members of the Indo-Fijian communities who have migrated and settled there. There are main public festivals in Auckland and Wellington, with other events around the country becoming more popular and visible. An official reception has been held at the New Zealand Parliament since 2003. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus. The festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness, justice over injustice, good over evil and intelligence over ignorance. Lakshmi Mata is worshiped. Lakshmi Mata is the goddess of light, wealth and beauty. Special Divali foods are barfi and Prasad.
Diwali was not a public holiday in Pakistan from 1947 to 2016. Diwali along with Holi for Hindus, and Easter for Christians, was adopted as public holiday resolution by Pakistan's parliament in 2016, giving the local governments and public institutions the right to declare Holi as a holiday and grant leave for its minority communities, for the first time. Diwali celebrations have been relatively rare in contemporary Pakistan, but observed across religious lines, including by Muslims in cities such as Peshawar.
Deepavali is a gazetted public holiday. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community (Tamils), it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India district, the heart of the Indian community. Apart from the light-up, other activities such as bazaars, exhibitions, parades and concerts will also take place in Little India. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapore's government organizes many of these cultural events during this festive period.
This festival, a public holiday in the island nation, is also called "Deepavali" and is celebrated by the Tamil community. On this day, it is traditional for people to take an oil bath in the morning, wear new clothes, exchange gifts, performing Poosai (Pūjā), and a visit to the Koil (Hindu temple) is normal.[note 1] Burning of firecrackers in the evening of the festival is a common practice of this festival. Hindus light oil lamps to invite the blessings of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and to banish any evil from the household for once and for all. The festival is marked by illumination, making of toys of enamel and making of figures out of crystal sugar popularly known as Misiri. Sri Lanka's celebration include many of the traditional aspects of Deepavali such as games, fireworks, singing and dancing; however, the tradition of a large meal, family reunions and fireworks are admirably preserved.
In Britain, Indians celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm. People clean and decorate their homes with lamps and candles. A popular type of candle is a diya. People also give each other sweets such as laddoo and barfi, and the different communities may gather for a religious ceremony and get-together. It is also an important time to contact family in India and perhaps exchange gifts.
The festival of Deepavali has begun to find acceptance in the broader British national consciousness as more non-Hindus appreciate and celebrate Hinduism on this occasion. Hindus celebrate all over the UK which also brings an understanding to different cultures for the rest of the community. Over the past decade national and civic leaders such as Prince Charles have attended Diwali celebrations at some of the UK's prominent Hindu temples, such as the Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, using the occasion to commend the Hindu community's contributions to British life. Since 2009, Diwali has been celebrated every year at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister. The yearly celebration, begun by Gordon Brown and continued by David Cameron, is one of the most anticipated events hosted by the British Prime Minister.
There are about three million Hindus in the United States. Diwali was first celebrated in the White House by George W. Bush in 2003 and was given official status by the United States Congress in 2007. Barack Obama became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009. On the eve of his first visit to India as the president of United States, Obama released an official statement sharing best wishes with "those celebrating Diwali".
The Diwali Mela in Cowboys Stadium boasted an attendance of 100,000 people in 2009. In 2009, San Antonio became the first U.S. city to sponsor an official Diwali celebration including a fireworks display; in 2012, over 15,000 people attended. In 2011, The Pierre in New York City, now operated by Tata Group's Taj Hotels, hosted its first Diwali celebration.
A number of school districts across the US have adopted Diwali as an official school holiday (as "professional development" or "weather" day):
New York: East Meadow School District, East Williston Union Free School District, Half Hollow Hills Central School District, Herricks Union Free School District, Hicksville Union Free School District, Jericho School District, and Syosset Central School District
New Jersey: Glen Rock School District, Millburn School District, West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, Piscataway School District, Passaic City School District, Edison Township, and South Brunswick School District
Others: Unionville-Chadds Ford School District (PA), Harvard Public Schools (MA), and Howard County District (MD). However, Coppell School District (TX) rejected a simialr request in 2017.
In 2016 – Diwali was commemorated for the first time at the United Nations in New York City.
The United States Postal Service issued a Diwali postage stamp on 5 October 2016.
Diwali marks a major shopping period in India. In terms of consumer purchases and economic activity, Deepavali is the equivalent of Christmas in the West or Durga Puja in Bengal. It is traditionally a time when households purchase new clothing, home refurbishments, gifts, gold and other large purchases. The festival celebrates Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and investment, spending and purchases are considered auspicious. Diwali is a peak buying season for gold and jewelry in India. It is also a major sweets, candy and fireworks buying season. At retail level, about US$800 million (INR 5,000 crores) worth of firecrackers are consumed in India over the Diwali season.
There has been growing concern and questions on the environmental and health impact of Diwali, as with other major festivals of the world.
According to a study done by Barman et al. in Lucknow India, the amount of fine (PM2.5) particulates in the air can worsen following firework celebrations, but not during it. High accumulations of particulates produced from fireworks can remain suspended in the air for around 24 hours after their use. Another study indicated that ground-level ozone pollution is also generated by fireworks; their dispersal and decay times is also about one day.
The main concern with Diwali has been the excessive amount of crackers being burst, which can lead to serious health issues, including phlegm, lung cancer, asthma amongst many others. A study just before Diwali in 2017 revealed that crackers like Anar, Fuljadi, Chakra etc. are almost 200 times over the WHO standard of PM 2.5 Level. In particular, the Snake Tablet cracker is 2,580 times over the WHO limit. In the immediate aftermath of Diwali, there is always a massive dip in air quality across most of India, especially metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi.
On 9 October 2017, the Supreme Court of India banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi, but not their use. The court acted on the belief that banning festive use of fireworks would substantially improve the air quality of Delhi. (2016 Diwali celebrations saw PM2.5 levels easily exceed 30 times the safe level.) Critics state that this decision was a judicial overreach (as one could purchase their fireworks outside of Delhi instead) and that it is a bias against the Hindu culture, while supporters state it will improve public health. It had a somewhat positive impact, with the air quality in Delhi ranked as "very poor" by the CPCB, an improvement from 2016 when the air quality was ranked "severe".
There is an increase in burn injuries from fireworks in India during Diwali. A firework called anar (fountain) has been found to cause 65% of the injuries. Adults are the typical victims. Newspapers advise splashing cold water immediately after the burn, which along with proper nursing of the wound helps reduce complications. Most burns are Group I type burns (minor) requiring outpatient care.
Because the dog is one of the most common domesticated animals around the world, some countries have gone to the liberty of banning festive fireworks in private neighborhoods due to the provocation caused to the dogs. Animal-rights organizations believe the sound of the fireworks trigger the nervous-system in dogs, causing them to become agitated and fearful as well as provoking continuous barking, which the dogs' owners find incredibly disruptive to the peace in the neighborhood.
Asato ma sat gamaya (असतो मा सद्गमय ।)
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya (तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।)
Mṛtyor ma amṛtam gamaya (मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।)
Om shanti shanti shantihi (ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥)
From untruth lead us to Truth.
From darkness lead us to Light.
From death lead us to Immortality.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure on Diwali. Goddess Lakshmi likes cleanliness, and she will visit the cleanest house first. Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess. They are believed to light up her path.
Fireworks and firecrackers are set off to chase away evil spirits, so it is a very noisy holiday too.
First Diwali day called Dhanteras or wealth worship. We perform Laskshmi-Puja in evening when clay diyas lighted to drive away shadows of evil spirits.
There are firecrackers everywhere to scare off evil spirits and contribute to the festive atmosphere.
But as well as delighting the spectators, the fireworks are believed to chase away evil spirits.
According to a resolution passed recently by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, the festival is celebrated by almost 2 million in the United States and many millions more around the world. The bill, H.R. 747, calls for the U.S. Congress to acknowledge 'the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali.'
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