DIWALI / DEEPAVALI : THE INDIAN FESTIVAL OF LIGHT, VICTORY & PROSPERITY

Diwali (also called as Deepavali or Divali) – is the Indian festival of lights, usually lasting five days and celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November). Diwali is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Jainism and has cultural, seasonal & religious significance. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”.The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, with many other regional traditions connecting the holiday to Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, Kali, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kubera, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman. Furthermore, it is, in some regions, a celebration of the day Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in Lanka and serving 14 years of exile


DIWALI / DEEPAVALI


WHAT IS DIWALI / DEEPAVALI ?


THE INDIAN FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, VICTORY & PROSPERITY


DIWALI OR DEEPAVALI IS A FESTIVAL WITH CULTURAL, SEASONAL & RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE


DIWALI / DEEPAVALI SYMBOLIZES THE SPIRITUAL VICTORY OF


“LIGHT OVER DARKNESS´´


“GOOD OVER EVIL´´


´´KNOWLEDGE OVER IGNORANCE´´


  • Diwali also called as Deepavali or Divali – is the Indian festival of lights, usually lasting five days and celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November)
  • Diwali is one of the most popular festivals of Hinduism & Jainism and has cultural, seasonal & religious significance
  • Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”
  • The five-day celebration is observed every year in early autumn after the conclusion of the summer harvest
  • This coincides with the new moon (amāvasyā) and is deemed the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar calendar
  • The festivities begin two days before amāvasyā, on Dhanteras, and extend two days after, on the second day of the month of Kartik
  • This night ends the lunar month of Ashwin and starts the month of Kartik – The darkest night is the apex of the celebration and coincides with the second half of October or early November in the Gregorian calendar
  • The festival climax is on the third day and is called the main Diwali
  • The festival is widely associated with Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity, with many other regional traditions connecting the holiday to Sita and Rama, Vishnu, Krishna, Yama, Yami, Durga, Kali, Hanuman, Ganesha, Kubera, Dhanvantari, or Vishvakarman
  • Furthermore, it is, in some regions, a celebration of the day Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in Lanka and serving 14 years of exile

WHAT IS THE NOMENCLATURE OF THE WORD ´´DIWALI OR DEEPAVALI“?


Diwali ( Divali is from the Sanskrit dīpāvali meaning “row or series of lights”. The term is derived from the Sanskrit words 

  • dīpa, “lamp, light, lantern, candle, that which glows, shines, illuminates or knowledge”

and 

  • āvali, “a row, range, continuous line, series”

HOW IS DIWALI / DEEPAVALI CELEBRATED ?


IS IT OVER ONE DAY ?


DIWALI IS USUALLY CELEBRATED TWENTY DAYS AFTER THE DUSSEHRA (NAVRATRI / DASARA / DASAIN) OVE 5 DAYS


  • FIRST DAY
  • DHANTERAS / YAMA DEEPAM
  • SECOND DAY
  • NARAKA CHATURDASHI / KALI CHAUDAS / HANUMAN PUJA
  • THIRD DAY
  • LAKSHMI PUJA / KALI PUJA / SHARDA PUJA / KEDAR GAURI VRAT
  • FOURTH DAY
  • GOVARDHAN PUJA / BALIPRATIPADA / GUJRATI NEW YEAR
  • FIFTH DAY
  • BHAI DOOJ / VISHWAKARMA PUJA

IS DIWALI IMPORTANT TO AND OBSERVED BY & CELEBRATED ONLY BY HINDUS ?


NO


DIWALI IS SIGNIFICANT TO AND OBSERVED & CELEBRATED BY HINDUS, JAINS, SIKHS & NEWAR BUDDHISTS


IS DIWALI OBSERVED & CELEBRATED ONLY IN INDIA ?


NO


DIWALI IS OBSERVED & CELEBRATED OUTSIDE INDIA AS WELL ?


YES


  • DIWALI is an official holiday in a dozen countries, while the other festive days are regionally observed as either public or optional restricted holidays in India
  • The main day of the festival of Diwali (the day of Lakshmi puja) is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, India, Malaysia (except Sarawak),Mauritius, Myanmar,Nepal,Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago
  • In Nepal, it is also a multi day festival, although the days and rituals are named differently, with the climax being called the Tihar festival by Hindus and Swanti festival by Buddhists
  • Diwali has increasingly attracted cultural exchanges, becoming occasions for politicians and religious leaders worldwide to meet Hindu or Indian origin citizens, diplomatic staff or neighbours
  • Many participate in other socio-political events as a symbol of support for diversity and inclusiveness
  • The Catholic dicastery Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, founded as Secretariat for non-Christians by Pope Paul VI, began sending official greetings and Pope’s message to the Hindus on Diwali in the mid-1990s
  • Many governments encourage or sponsor Diwali-related festivities in their territories
  • For example, the Singaporean government, in association with the Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore, organises many cultural events during Diwali every year
  • National and civic leaders such as Prince Charles have attended Diwali celebrations at prominent Hindu temples in the UK, such as the Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, using the occasion to highlight contributions of the Hindu community to British society
  • Since 2009 – Diwali has been celebrated every year at 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister
  • 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 President of the United States, Obama released an official statement sharing his best wishes with “those celebrating Diwali”
  • Every year during Diwali, Indian forces approach their Pakistani counterparts at the border bearing gifts of traditional Indian confectionery, a gesture that is returned in kind by the Pakistani soldiers who give Pakistani sweets to the Indian soldiers

HOW IS DIWALI OBSERVED & CELEBRATED ?


  • In the lead-up to Diwali, celebrants will prepare by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their homes and workplaces with diyas (oil lamps) and rangolis
  • During Diwali, people wear their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas and rangoli, perform (Lakshmi puja) – worship ceremonies of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared
  • Diwali is also a major cultural event for the Hindu and Jain diaspora from the Indian subcontinent
  • The five-day long festival originated in the Indian subcontinent and is mentioned in early Sanskrit texts
  • Diwali is a five-day festival, the height of which is celebrated on the third day coinciding with the darkest night of the lunar month
  • During the festival, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs illuminate their homes, temples and work spaces with diyas, candles and lanterns
  • Hindus, in particular, have a ritual oil bath at dawn on each day of the festival
  • Diwali is also marked with fireworks and the decoration of floors with rangoli designs
  • Food is a major focus with families partaking in feasts and sharing mithai
  • The festival is an annual homecoming and bonding period not only for families but also for communities and associations, particularly those in urban areas, which will organise activities, events and gatherings
  • Many towns organise community parades and fairs with parades or music and dance performances in parks
  • Some Hindus, Jains and Sikhs will send Diwali greeting cards to family near and far during the festive season, occasionally with boxes of Indian confectionery
  • Diwali is a post-harvest festival celebrating the bounty following the arrival of the monsoon in the subcontinent
  • Depending on the region, celebrations include prayers before one or more Hindu deities, the most common being Lakshmi
  • In relation to goddess worship – Lakshmi symbolises three virtues: wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant crops, as well as good fortune
  • Merchants seek Lakshmi’s blessings in their ventures and will ritually close their accounting year during Diwali
  • Fertility motifs appear in agricultural offerings brought before Lakshmi by farming families, who give thanks for the recent harvests and seek her blessings for prosperous future crops
  • A symbolic piece of traditional fertiliser, a dried piece of cow dung, is included in the ensemble in Odisha and Deccan region villages, an agricultural motif according to Kinsley
  • Another aspect of the festival is remembering the ancestors
  • Rituals and preparations for Diwali begin days or weeks in advance, typically after the festival of Dusshera that precedes Diwali by about 20 days
  • The festival formally begins two days before the night of Diwali, and ends two days thereafter

HOW IS DIWALI CELEBRATED ?


IS IT OVER ONE DAY ?


Diwali is usually celebrated twenty days after the Dashera (Dasara, Dasain) festival over 5 days

  • FIRST DAY
  • DHANTERAS / YAMA DEEPAM
  • SECOND DAY
  • NARAKA CHATURDASHI / KALI CHAUDAS / HANUMAN PUJA
  • THIRD DAY
  • LAKSHMI PUJA / KALI PUJA / SHARDA PUJA / KEDAR GAURI VRAT
  • FOURTH DAY
  • GOVARDHAN PUJA / BALIPRATIPADA / GUJRATI NEW YEAR
  • FIFTH DAY
  • BHAI DOOJ / VISHWAKARMA PUJA

IS DIWALI IMPORTANT TO AND OBSERVED BY & CELEBRATED ONLY BY HINDUS ?


NO


DIWALI IS SIGNIFICANT TO AND OBSERVED & CELEBRATED BY HINDUS, JAINS, SIKHS & NEWAR BUDDHISTS


  • Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Newar Buddhists although for each faith it marks different historical events and stories
  • Nonetheless the festival represents the same symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil
  • Some other faiths in India also celebrate their respective festivals alongside Diwali
  • The Jains observe their own Diwali which marks the final liberation of Mahavira
  • The Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas to mark the release of Guru Hargobind from a Mughal Empire prison
  • Newar Buddhists, unlike other Buddhists – celebrate Diwali by worshipping Lakshmi,
  • The Hindus of Eastern India and Bangladesh generally celebrate Diwali, by worshipping Goddess Kali

HINDUISM


DIWALI IS CELEBRATED IN HONOU OF LAKSHMI – THE HINDU GODDESS OF WEALTH


  • The religious significance of Diwali varies regionally within India
  • The festival is associated with a diversity of deities, traditions, and symbolism
  • One tradition links the festival to legends in the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Diwali is the day Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman reached Ayodhya after a period of 14 years in exile after Rama’s army of good defeated demon king Ravana’s army of evil
  • As per another popular tradition, in the Dwapara Yuga Period, Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, killed the demon Narakasura, who was evil king of Pragjyotishapura, near present-day Assam and released 16000 girls held captive by Narakasura
  • Diwali was celebrated as a significance of triumph of good over evil after Krishna’s Victory over Narakasura
  • The day before Diwali is remembered as Naraka Chaturdasi, the day on which Narakasura was killed by Krishna
  • Many Hindus associate the festival with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and wife of Vishnu
  • The start of the 5-day Diwali festival is stated in some popular contemporary sources as the day Goddess Lakshmi was born from Samudra manthan, the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk by the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (demons) – a Vedic legend that is also found in several Puranas such as the Padma Purana, while the night of Diwali is when Lakshmi chose and wed Vishnu
  • Along with Lakshmi, who is representative of Vaishnavism, Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Parvati and Shiva of Shaivism tradition, is remembered as one who symbolises ethical beginnings and the remover of obstacles
  • Hindus of eastern India associate the festival with the goddess Kali, who symbolises the victory of good over evil
  • Hindus from the Braj region in northern India, parts of Assam, as well as southern Tamil and Telugu communities view Diwali as the day the god Krishna overcame and destroyed the evil demon king Narakasura, in yet another symbolic victory of knowledge and good over ignorance and evil
  • Trade and merchant families and others also offer prayers to Saraswati, who embodies music, literature and learning and Kubera, who symbolises book-keeping, treasury and wealth management
  • In western states such as Gujarat, and certain northern Hindu communities of India, the festival of Diwali signifies the start of a new year
  • Mythical tales shared on Diwali vary widely depending on region and even within Hindu tradition yet all share a common focus on righteousness, self-inquiry and the importance of knowledge which is the path to overcoming the “darkness of ignorance”
  • The telling of these myths are a reminder of the Hindu belief that good ultimately triumphs over evil

  • JAINISM

  • Diwali is celebrated in observance of “Mahavira Nirvana Divas”, the physical death and final nirvana of Mahavira
  • The Jain Diwali celebrated in many parts of India has similar practices to the Hindu Diwali, such as the lighting of lamps and the offering of prayers to Lakshmi
  • However, the focus of the Jain Diwali remains the dedication to Mahavira
  • According to the Jain tradition, this practice of lighting lamps first began on the day of Mahavira’s nirvana in 527 BCE when 18 kings who had gathered for Mahavira’s final teachings issued a proclamation that lamps be lit in remembrance of the “great light, Mahavira”
  • This traditional belief of the origin of Diwali, and its significance to Jains, is reflected in their historic artworks such as paintings

SIKHISM


  • Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas in remembrance of the release of Guru Hargobind from the Gwalior Fort prison by the Mughal emperor, Jahangir, and the day he arrived at the Golden Temple in Amritsar
  • Guru Amar Das, the third Guru of the Sikhs, built a well in Goindwal with eighty-four steps and invited Sikhs to bathe in its sacred waters on Baisakhi and Diwali as a form of community bonding
  • Over time, these spring and autumn festivals became the most important of Sikh festivals and holy sites such as Amritsar became focal points for annual pilgrimages

The festival of Diwali – highlights three events in Sikh history : 

  • The founding of the city of Amritsar in 1577
  • The release of Guru Hargobind from the Mughal prison and 
  • The day of Bhai Mani Singh’s martyrdom in 1738 as a result of his failure to pay a fine for trying to celebrate Diwali and thereafter refusing to convert to Islam

BUDDHISM


  • Diwali is not a festival for most Buddhists, with the exception of the Newar people of Nepal who revere various deities in the Vajrayana Buddhism and celebrate Diwali by offering prayers to Lakshmi
  • Newar Buddhists in Nepalese valleys also celebrate the Diwali festival over five days, in much the same way, and on the same days, as the Nepalese Hindu Diwali-Tihar festival
  • According to some observers, this traditional celebration by Newar Buddhists in Nepal, through the worship of Lakshmi and Vishnu during Diwali, is not syncretism but rather a reflection of the freedom within Mahayana Buddhist tradition to worship any deity for their worldly betterment

DIWALI CELEBRATIONS


 FIRST DAY


DHANTERAS / YAMA DEEPAM


  • The First Day – Dhanteras, or the regional equivalent, marking the first day of the festival when celebrants prepare by cleaning their homes and making decorations on the floor, such as rangolis
  • Dhanteras, derived from Dhan meaning wealth and teras meaning thirteenth, marks the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik and the beginning of Diwali
  • On this day, many Hindus clean their homes and business premises
  • They install diyas, small earthen oil-filled lamps that they light up for the next five days, near Lakshmi and Ganesha iconography
  • Dhanteras is a symbol of annual renewal, cleansing and an auspicious beginning for the next year
  • The term “Dhan” for this day also alludes to the Ayurvedic icon Dhanvantari, the god of health and healing, who is believed to have emerged from the “churning of cosmic ocean” on the same day as Lakshmi
  • Dhanteras, derived from Dhan meaning wealth and teras meaning thirteenth, marks the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik and the beginning of Diwali
  • On this day, many Hindus clean their homes and business premises
  • They install diyas, small earthen oil-filled lamps that they light up for the next five days, near Lakshmi and Ganesha iconography
  • Some communities, particularly those active in Ayurvedic and health-related professions, pray or perform havan rituals to Dhanvantari on Dhanteras
  • On Yama Deepam (Yama Dipadana, Jam ke Diya), Hindus light a diya, ideally made of wheat flour and filled with sesame oil, that faces south in the back of their homes
  • This is believed to please Yama (Yamraj), the god of death, and to ward off untimely death
  • Some Hindus observe Yama Deepa on the second night before the main day of Diwali

DIWALI CELEBRATIONS


SECOND DAY


NARAKA CHATURDASHI


  • Naraka Chaturdashi also known as Chhoti Diwali, is the second day of festivities coinciding with the fourteenth day of the second fortnight of the lunar month
  • The term “chhoti” means little, while “Naraka” means hell and “Chaturdashi” means “fourteenth”
  • The day and its rituals are interpreted as ways to liberate any souls from their suffering in “Naraka”, or hell, as well as a reminder of spiritual auspiciousness
  • On the second day of Diwali, Hanuman Puja is performed in some parts of India especially in Gujarat
  • Diwali is also celebrated to mark the return of Rama to Ayodhya after defeating the demon-king Ravana and completing his fourteen years of exile
  • The devotion and dedication of Hanuman pleased Rama so much that he blessed Hanuman to be worshipped before him
  • Thus, people worship Hanuman the day before Diwali’s main day

DIWALI CELEBRATIONS


THIRD DAY (LAKSHMI PUJA)


THE MAIN DIWALI / DEEPAVALI FESTIVAL DAY


THE THIRD DAY IS THE DAY OF LAKSHMI PUJA 

AND

ALSO THE DARKEST DAY OF THE TRADITIONAL KARTHIK MONTH


  • The third day is the height of the festival and coincides with the last day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month
  • This is the day when Hindu, Jain and Sikh temples and homes are aglow with lights, thereby making it the “festival of lights”
  • The word Deepawali comes from the word the Sanskrit word deep, which means an Indian lantern/lamp
  • Shopkeepers and small operations perform puja rituals in their office premises. Unlike some other festivals, the Hindu typically do not fast during the five-day long Diwali including Lakshmi Pujan, rather they feast and share the bounties of the season at their workplaces, community centres, temples and homes
  • Lighting candle and clay lamp in their house and at temples during Diwali night
  • As the evening approaches, celebrants will wear new clothes or their best outfits, teenage girls and women, in particular, wear saris and jewellery
  • At dusk, family members gather for the Lakshmi Pujan although prayers will also be offered to other deities, such as Ganesha, Saraswati, Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman, or Kubera
  • The lamps from the puja ceremony are then used to light more earthenware lamps, which are placed in rows along the parapets of temples and houses while some diyas are set adrift on rivers and streams
  • After the puja, people go outside and celebrate by lighting up patakhe (fireworks) together, and then share a family feast and mithai (sweets, desserts)
  • The puja and rituals in the Bengali Hindu community focus on Kali, the goddess of war, instead of Lakshmi
  • In Bengal during Navaratri (Dussehra elsewhere in India) the Durga puja is the main focus, although in the eastern and north eastern states the two are synonymous, but on Diwali the focus is on the puja dedicated to Kali
  • The Diwali night’s lights and firecrackers, in this interpretation, represent a celebratory and symbolic farewell to the departed ancestral souls
  • The celebrations and rituals of the Jains and the Sikhs are similar to those of the Hindus where social and community bonds are renewed
  • Major temples and homes are decorated with lights, festive foods shared with all, friends and relatives remembered and visited with gifts

DIWALI CELEBRATIONS


FOURTH DAY


GOVARDHAN PUJA

AND

BALI PRATIPADA (PADWA)


  • The Fourth Day – In some parts of India, the day after Lakshmi Puja is marked with the Govardhan Puja and Balipratipada (Padwa)
  • The day after Diwali is the first day of the bright fortnight of the luni-solar calendar
  • It is regionally called as Annakut (heap of grain), Padwa, Goverdhan puja, Bali Pratipada, Bali Padyami, Kartik Shukla Pratipada and other names
  • According to one tradition, the day is associated with the story of Bali’s defeat at the hands of Vishnu
  • In another interpretation – it is thought to reference the legend of Parvati and her husband Shiva playing a game of dyuta (dice) on a board of twelve squares and thirty pieces
  • Parvati wins. Shiva surrenders his shirt and adornments to her
  • This legend is a Hindu metaphor for the cosmic process for creation and dissolution of the world through the masculine destructive power, as represented by Shiva, and the feminine procreative power, represented by Parvati, where twelve reflects the number of months in the cyclic year, while thirty are the number of days in its lunisolar month
  • In some rural communities of the north, west and central regions, the fourth day is celebrated as Govardhan puja, honouring the legend of the Hindu god Krishna saving the cowherd and farming communities from incessant rains and floods triggered by Indra’s anger which he accomplished by lifting the Govardhan mountain
  • This legend is remembered through the ritual of building small mountain-like miniatures from cow dung
  • The ritual use of cow dung, a common fertiliser, is an agricultural motif and a celebration of its significance to annual crop cycles
  • The agricultural symbolism is also observed on this day by many Hindus as Annakut, literally “mountain of food”

DIWALI CELEBRATIONS


FIFTH DAY


BHI DUJ / BHAU-BEEJ

AND

VISHWKARMA PUJA


  • The Fifth Day – Some Hindu communities mark the last day as Bhai Dooj or the regional equivalent, which is dedicated to the bond between sister and brother
  • While other Hindu and Sikh craftsmen communities mark this day as Vishwakarma Puja and observe it by performing maintenance in their work spaces and offering prayers
  • The last day of the festival is called Bhai Duj (literally “brother’s day”), Bhau Beej, Bhai Tilak or Bhai Phonta
  • It celebrates the sister-brother bond, similar in spirit to Raksha Bandhan but it is the brother that travels to meet the sister and her family
  • This festive day is interpreted by some to symbolise Yama’s sister Yamuna welcoming Yama with a tilaka, while others interpret it as the arrival of Krishna at his sister’s, Subhadra, place after defeating Narakasura
  • Subhadra welcomes him with a tilaka on his forehead
  • The day celebrates the sibling bond between brother and sister
  • On this day the womenfolk of the family gather, perform a puja with prayers for the well being of their brothers, then return to a ritual of feeding their brothers with their hands and receiving gifts
  • In some Hindu traditions the women recite tales where sisters protect their brothers from enemies that seek to cause him either bodily or spiritual harm
  • In historic times, this was a day in autumn when brothers would travel to meet their sisters, or invite their sister’s family to their village to celebrate their sister-brother bond with the bounty of seasonal harvests
  • The artisan Hindu and Sikh community celebrates this day as the Vishwakarma puja day
  • Vishwakarma is the presiding Hindu deity for those in architecture, building, manufacturing, textile work and crafts trades
  • The looms, tools of trade, machines and workplaces are cleaned and prayers offered to these livelihood means

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