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Diwali is the festival of light. It is celebrated as a celebration of good over evil spread over 5 days.

Diwali is marked by fireworks all over India. Celebrations include lighting earthen diyas (candles), doing art work, distributing sweets and welcoming Lakshmi through man made homes for her.

The Name:

Diwali is a festival that is popular in the Indian subcontinent and the Indian diaspora globally. “Diwali” or “Deepawali” is marked by fireworks, light displays in homes across the length and breadth of India.

“Diwali” has its origins from “Diya” or lamp and means a row of lights.


How is Diwali celebrated?

Diwali is becoming increasingly popular globally as well with fairs & carnivals organized as part of the celebrations in cities such as Sydney, London, New York etc.

  • The 1st day is called the Naraka Chaturdasi and marks the victory of Lord Krishna against Naraka

– Amavasya is celebrated on the 2nd day by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi.

  • 3rd day of Diwali is called Kartika Shuddha Padyami. It is believed that King Bali ruled the earth as per the wishes of Lord Krishna.
  • The last day of Diwali is celebrated as Yama Diya or Bhai Dooj and has special significance for brothers and sisters with sisters inviting their brothers over.

What’s special about Diwali?

Diwali is popular with celebrations involving

  • Firework displays
  • Lighting around houses with “diya” or “artifical lights”
  • Construction of small castles of mud in preparation for Goddess Lakshmi
  • Fairs and carnivals
  • Dancing and Musical performances
  • Stalls with henna paintings
  • Creation of Rangoli
  • Food stalls for sweets & samosas and other Indian snacks
  • Burning of Ravana’s effigy. Ravana was the popular demon king from Indian mythology, Ramayana.
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People across the Indian subcontinent and the Indian cultural diaspora celebrate Diwali by

  • Wearing new clothiers
  • Distributing sweets and gifts
  • Buying gold and jewellery items
  • Having a get together with friends and family

Why is Diwali celebrated?

There are several reasons that people of Indian subcontinent associate Diwali with. As with most customs and festivals, each region, state, place has its own distinct way of celebration, although unified in its essence.

Triumph of Good over Evil: 

As per Indian mythology Ramayana, Ram returned back to his kingdom after 14 years of exile and after vanquishing Ravana, the demon king. Diwali is marked as a celebration of ram’s victory and is marked by burning of effigies of Ravana.

Goddess Lakshmi:

It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi visits houses during this time showering wealth and happiness. People keep their houses clean in anticipation of Goddess Lakshmi’s arrival

Attainment of Nirvana by Lord Mahavira: 

Jains link Diwali celebrations to the attainment of Niravana by Lord Mahavira.

Triumph of light over darkness:

Diwali is also associated with banishment of Bali to hell by an incarnation of Lord Vishnu vanquished Bali and drove him to hell. Bali was allowed to return once a year to light lamps to dispel darkness and spread warmth and love

Tradition of Gambling

Gambling is also associated with Diwali. Goddess Parvati is believed to have played dice with Lord Shiva (her husband). Gambling during Diwali is linked to prosperity and wealth.

Bandi Chhor Divas

Sikhs relate Diwali with Guru Har Gobind escaping from prison under the rule of emperor Jahangir. This is when Guru Gobind Singh had returned to Golden Temple in Amritsar

Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism:

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Emperor Ashoka who had fought the battle of Kalinga renounced war and converted to Buddhism on this day after witnessing death and ruin during the Kalinga war (modern day, Odisha).

Public Holiday

Diwali is marked as a public holiday in most parts of India spready across 2 days. Some parts of India celebrate Diwali, a day earlier than others.

Featured Photo by Kashyap Kinshuk

Diwali

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