Deepavali or Diwali, the Festival of Lights for Hindus is celebrated every year with great enthusiasm and joy. Not only is it celebrated in a grand way in India, but also globally. An official holiday is declared every year in countries like Fiji, Guyana, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Mauritius, Suriname, Tobago and Trinidad. Recently, Sindh province also got registered in this list of official holidays for Diwali.
The festival of light signifies the victory of good over evil, light over darkness. The Hindu festival is a typical celebration of 5-days, starting from the Day of Dhanteras but Diwali night, is the main night of the festival.
When we try to paint a picture of Diwali celebrations in our mind, all we come across are the decorations with lights and flowers, candlelights, sweets, celebrations with friends and families. Diwali is the biggest festival in India. Not only Hindus, but different communities like Jains, Sikhs also celebrate this festival together. Diwali is all about commemorating the victory of good over evil and imparts a message for all of us to let go of the past and move on towards a happy life.
Why do we celebrate Diwali?
Diwali was initially celebrated to mark the homecoming return of Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Laxmana after a long exile of 14 years. The word ‘Diwali’ means row of lights. After defeating Ravana, it was their king’s return journey to his home. In order to celebrate Diwali, diyas were lit by the people of Ayodhya to welcome their king.
Some also believe that this day is celebrated to commemorate the marriage of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi Ji.
Jains celebrate this festival as the day of anniversary of Nirvana or liberation of their God Mahavira’s soul. Lord Ganesha is worshipped on the day of Diwali. In West Bengal, people worship Goddess Kali, who is a symbol of Shakti, meaning power.
How is Diwali celebrated in different parts of India?
Diwali: 19th October 2017
On this day, people wear new clothes, share gifts with their near and dear ones and some people also buy gold or silver jewelry during this festival.
- North India: People worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha at their homes on Diwali night. They celebrate it with fireworks, lights and distributing sweets.
- East India: People of West Bengal and Assam worship Goddess Kali whereas the people of Jharkhand and Bihar do Lakshmi pooja at their homes in the evening. They also make rangolis at their home on the verandah area.
- West India: Maharashtrians also perform Lakshmi pooja. On Narak Chaturdashi, they perform a ritual called the “first bath” during which they get up before dawn, massage their bodies with scented oils and a natural exfoliating powder called “ubtan”, have a bath, wear new clothes and then light diyas all over the house. Then they organise a special feast, known as “faraal”, where sweets and savoury snacks are eaten together by the family and also distributed. Gujaratis do it their way, by drawing footprints of Goddess Lakshmi on the onset of their house.
- South India: South Indians from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh worship Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. They celebrate their victory over the demon king Narakasura. People from Karnataka take an oil bath and also build forts using cow dung at their homes.
- Wear cotton clothes only.
- Keep yourself away from synthetic fibres.
- Keep first aid kit ready.
- Do not burn fire crackers in closed area.
- Do not burn crackers while you’ve been holding it in your hand.
- Keep a fire extinguisher ready in your home.
Have a Happy and Safe Diwali!