Diwali is a festival of lights celebrated by millions of people in India and a few other countries. It marks the return of Lord Rama back to the kingdom Ayodhya. The festival also coincides with the Hindu new year and is also celebrated as the victory of good over evil. It is one of the most important festivals celebrated in India every year.
How is it Celebrated?
Diwali in India is always very special to people of all walks of life. Most people organize parties and have a gala time with friends and family. Professional people have office parties and celebrate in style. The cool weather and vibrant atmosphere enhances the festive spirit of joy and warmth.
How is the Date Decided?
The Diwali date is decided by the Hindu lunar calendar and usually celebrated between the middle of the month of October or November.
Some Lesser-known Facts about Diwali
- This is the only time when soldiers posted on the Indo-Pak border forget their differences and exchange sweets to their counterparts every year.
- It is a national holiday for the people of India, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Mauritius, Guyana, Singapore, Suriname, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Fiji.
- As it marks the release of their guruji – Guru Hargobind Sahibji – and 52 other kings and princesses of India that were made captives by the mogul emperor Shah Jahan, The Sikhs also celebrate this day every year.
- Some business houses start a new accounting book and farmers end their harvest season. It also marks the onset of winter in India.
- The festival of Diwali originated in India as a celebration of Lord Ram and his wife Sita’s return to his kingdom of Ayodhya after killing the evil king Ravana in Lanka.
- People generally think that Diwali is a Hindu festival but it is also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs and some other people with great fervor and gaiety.
- It is celebrated for almost 5 days in northern India and various different activities are planned to enjoy the festivities with reverence involving all the family members and friends.
- The exact dates for Diwali change each year depending on the position of the moon and the Hindu calendar.
- It is celebrated as Diwali in north India and Deepawali in South India which is usually one day ahead of Diwali since the dates are different.
- The word Diwali or Deepavali means a row of lights and people decorate their homes with oil lamps called diyas. But nowadays people decorate their homes with fairy string lights and other such decorations.
- Diwali is also celebrated to honor the Hindu goddess of wealth Lakshmi to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
- There is a popular belief in Jainism that this is the day when Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana.
Deepawali in South India
People wake up early on Deepawali day to have an oil bath and put on their new clothes and offer prayers to the Gods. Then they distribute sweets and burst crackers which actually night to spread the light, happiness, and cheer.
It’s a joyful time for the entire family as everybody gathers together to celebrate and have a great time. It is also the time to clean and decorate the homes with colorful Kolam (rangoli design patterns) made on the floor with colored powder at the entrance of the home.
Diwali in West Bengal
In the West Bengal region on the new moon day (Amavasya) goddess Kali is worshiped.
Kali is the more aggressive and destructive incarnation of the Goddess Durga. She destroys all evil and promises a renewal of life and justice on earth.
In West Bengal, it is not the Lakshmi puja but Kali Puja which makes the festival unique and special. Kali is generally a goddess to be feared rather than venerated.
But, Diwali is also celebrated with great enthusiasm and it is a time for great joy and feasting. The houses are well decorated and lit with diyas.
Two or even four plantain leaves decorate the entry to the house or the property, with a row of diyas illuminating the doorstep. The entire family gathers around for Lakshmi puja in the evening.
This festival is celebrated throughout India with great pomp and show and most business offers big deals and discounts.