Diwali or Deepawali, known as the ‘festival of lights,’ is usually celebrated in October or November, and is on November 4 this year. Lasting over five days, the holiday is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs worldwide. The name of this festival is derived from ‘avali,’ which means ‘row,’ and ‘deepa,’ meaning ‘clay lamps.’ When merged, these words mean ‘a row of lights.’ For this reason, lights are symbolic of this festival and Indians go overboard with sparklers and fireworks to fuel the inner light that spiritually protects them from the darkness.
History of Diwali
The beauty of Diwali is that it is not limited to the celebration of just one historical event. Each religion remembers different stories and historical events behind it. Hindus honor the return of their religious deities Sita and Rama to Ayodhya, following an exile of 14 years. The day when Goddess Mother Durga destroyed the demon Mahisha is also celebrated. The festival of lights also honors the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of Ramachandra.
Sikhs also celebrate the release of their sixth guru, Hargobind Singh, from prison in 1619. Remarkably, the foundation stone of the holiest place for Sikhs, the Golden Temple of Amritsar, was embedded in 1577 on Diwali. For Jains, Lord Mahavira, the founder of their religion, called Jainism, reached the state of Nirvana or Moksha on the occasion of Diwali.
Regardless of the events or religion surrounding it, Diwali brings with it happy tidings and a promise of a better tomorrow. People zealously light lamps in their houses and throw grand feasts to celebrate happiness, good times, and good fortune. Purity, cleanliness, and brightness are all synonymous with Diwali. The new harvest and new financial year in the business community also begins on this occasion.
Diwali festivities last five days. On the first day, people clean their houses and buy kitchen utensils or gold as a sign of good fortune. On the second day, colorful decorations and clay lamps are furnished. Day three, the main day of Diwali, brings families together for Lakshmi pooja, during which they praise the Goddess Lakshmi and host grand dinners. The same festivities then continue on days four and five, with the exchange of gifts and welcoming families and friends into homes.
"Nagananda," a Sanskrit play, refers to Deepavali when lamps are lit and brides and grooms receive gifts.
Portuguese traveler Domingo Paes documents his Diwali experience with the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire.
Diwali festivities come to The Met, New York with a grand performance.
A law allowing only two hours for fireworks is passed due to safety concerns.
Why is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali is the festival of lights, mainly celebrated in India. It lasts for five days and symbolizes spirituality in the form of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, and knowledge vs. ignorance.
What does Diwali mean?
Diwali means ‘a string of lights,’ derived from the Sanskrit word ‘dipawali.’
Do Muslims celebrate Diwali?
Muslims have been celebrating Diwali for centuries, most prevalently during the Mughal era in the Subcontinent. However, the holiday does not hold any historical or religious significance for Muslims.
Feast and have fun with loved ones!
It is not just about legends and lights. Diwali is a celebration of love and having fun with family and friends! Exchange gifts, host delicious dinners, or watch firework displays together. Go all out!
Make fabulous displays
Fresh flowers, colorful sand rangolis, and bright clothes! Shop and display your artistic abilities!
Count your blessings!
On this day, the Hindu Goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi, is meant to be appeased and worshipped for her blessings.
5 Illuminating Facts About Diwali
Good vs. evil
Ultimately, Diwali stands as a celebration of light taking over darkness, the timeless triumph of good over evil.
It is like Christmas!
Diwali is the most important holiday celebrated by Hindus — it is the equivalent of Christmas and New Year!
Ban on bang bangs!
The government of India had to ban the sale of firecrackers and sparklers during Diwali in recent years due to an increase in accidents and pollution.
The sweetest thing
Assorted sweets and special treats are a specialty of the occasion of Diwali — these include delectable 'gulab jamun' balls and 'barfi.'
Taking over the world
The festival has increased in popularity outside India, with annual celebrations taking place in communities in London, Sydney, and Toronto.
Why We Love Diwali
The festival is just so lit
No matter how old we get, we are always going to watch in awe at a good display of fireworks. Diwali lights up the streets with candles and lamps and this is the one night when the stars are not the only things lighting up the skies!
Music and dance galore
Laughter, music, and celebrations surround everyone on this joyous occasion. This week-long grand festivity brings with it the most spectacular entertainment.
Positive vibes only
Diwali is all about positivity and we are all for it! Love, peace, good food, family, friends, and just letting the good times roll — this is the spirit of Diwali, instilling good feelings and hope for a better tomorrow.