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Dev Deepawali – November 26, 2023

Dev Deepawali or Dev Diwali takes place on the full-moon night of the Hindu month of Kartika. It takes place on November 26 this year. It’s a celebration that takes place 15 days after Diwali – the Hindu festival of lights. What makes Dev Deepawali different from Diwali? Diwali is for mere mortals; Dev Deepawali is the festival of the gods. It happens in Varanasi – one of the holiest cities in Hindu mythology.

Hindus believe that on this day, the gods celebrate the victory of Lord Shiva over the demon Tripurasura. Devotees light up Varanasi’s ghats (steps) with a million earthen lamps. But the lamps have nothing on the glow of the moon. Every year, Dev Deepawali falls on a full-moon night of the Hindu month of Kartika.

History of Dev Deepawali

Most people are familiar with Diwali – a festival celebrated by Hindu communities in India. Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after 14 years of exile. They come back victorious after slaying the demon Ravana. Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in India. People light their homes with diyas (earthen lamps) and lights. Eating mithai or sweets is the order of the day, as is a lot of food and card (taash) parties.

The celebrations don’t stop, since Dev Deepawali takes place 15 days after. It’s the Diwali of the Gods and also known as ‘Kartik Purnima.’ To experience the festival’s serenity, one must visit the ghats of Varanasi. Thousands of lamps illuminate the steps, their light reflected in the river’s shimmering waters. There’s hymn chanting, conch shell blowing, and rhythmic drum beating all around. It’s hard not to feel the presence of divine forces. Thousands of devotees take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges. People believe that bathing in the waters washes your sins away, bringing you closer to the gods.

Dev Deepawali honors Lord Shiva who defeated and killed three powerful demons: Vidyunmali, Tarakaksha, and Viryavana, together known as Tripurasura. Such a feat called for a divine celebration, no less, which is why the gods themselves revel in Shiva’s victory each year. It’s fitting that the celebrations happen in Varanasi, long considered the city of Lord Shiva.

Dev Deepawali timeline

100 B.C. — 1001 B.C.
Dev Deepawali Is Documented

A holy text called the “Shiv Purana” first documents the significance of Dev Deepawali.

300 B.C.
The Earliest Mention of Diwali

Vātsyāyana’s Kama Sutra first mentions Diwali celebrations.

1200 B.C.
The Origins of Varanasi

A holy city begins its foundations as the first settlements arrive in Varanasi.

1985
The Tradition of Lighting Lamps Begins

Devotees first light lamps at the Panchganga Ghat, a tradition that would become central to Dev Deepawali celebrations.

Dev Deepawali FAQs

How do you do Punja on Dev Diwali?

For a start, offer prayers and flowers to Lord Ganesha. Then, 21 Brahmins and 41 young girls offer diyas (earthen lamps) and chant the Vedic mantras along. And then the ritual known as Kartik Snan, which involves taking a dip in the river Ganges, follows.

What are the traditional practices for Deepawali?

During Deepawali, people wear their finest clothes; adorn the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas and rangoli; perform worship ceremonies of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth; light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared.

Is Deepawali for Indians or Hindus?

Though traditionally a Hindu festival, Deepawali is also celebrated by Indians of other religions, including the Sikhs and the Jains

How to Observe Dev Deepawali

  1. Visit Varanasi

    Take a trip to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and get the most out of the festival. Don’t miss out on the magical evening Arti, a ritual where people offer incense and light to deities.

  2. Read up

    Curious but not sure where to start? Pick up a book on mythology for fascinating stories on Hindu gods, goddesses, and demons.

  3. Light some lamps

    Dev Deepawali celebrates the victory of good over evil. Wherever you are, that’s a cause for celebration. If you can’t be in Varanasi, light candles or lamps to experience it vicariously.

5 Facts About Varanasi That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. The oldest living city in the world

    Varanasi is "older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together." – Mark Twain. 

  2. Named after two rivers

    “Varanasi” comes from the name of two rivers: Varuna and Asi.

  3. Birthplace of Yoga and Ayurveda

    Not only is it a city of the gods, but it’s also where the ancient healing systems of Yoga and Ayurveda were born.

  4. Where frogs marry

    People believe that catching frogs and marrying them off pleases the rain gods.  

  5. Home to Asia’s largest university

    Varanasi is home to the Banaras Hindu University, the largest institution of higher learning in Asia. 

Why Dev Deepawali is Important

  1. More peaceful than Diwali

    While known as the festival of lights, Diwali’s become more popular as the festival of noise over the years. On the other hand, Dev Deepawali feels like it’s all about light. There are no firecrackers or air pollution – just the serenity from thousands of lamps. 

  2. The sight of earthen lamps

    Fairy lights are great. But few things can compare to the sight of a serenely flaming diya. Several hundred burning diyas on steps leading to a river? Now, that’s the stuff of dreams.  

  3. A reason to visit Varanasi

    Dev Deepawali is a great day to visit one of India’s holiest cities. Varanasi is the hub of Hindu culture, history, and lore. It’s a dream destination for culture enthusiasts everywhere. 

Dev Deepawali dates

YearDateDay
2022November 7Monday
2023November 26Sunday
2024November 15Friday
2025November 5Wednesday
2026November 24Tuesday

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