Diwali or Deepawali, is India’s biggest & most important holiday of the year

Dipawali celebration in Licestershire, England

Dipawali celebration in Licestershire, England

Indian culture is one of the ancient and unique cultures in the world. India is often and justly described as a land of fairs and festivals. Every month of the calendar holds a festival that one can enjoy and celebrate. It is impossible to understand India, and her people fully without the knowledge of Indian festivals. Festivals are India’s pride and treasure. They are the fragrance of religion. In the ancient India, festivals went hand in hand with religion. In one sense we may say that festival turned inward is religion and religion turned outward is festival. Thus, the festivals are so deeply imbued with Indian culture that Indians have great adherent with them.

Diwali, or Dipawali, is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (or deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.

This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians. Deepawali, celebrated in October or November each year, originated as a harvest festival that marked the last harvest of the year before winter. India was an agricultural society where people would seek the divine blessing of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, as they closed their accounting books and prayed for success at the outset of a new financial year. Today, this practice extends to businesses all over the Indian subcontinent, which mark the day after Diwali as the first day of the new financial year.

diyas-1

Floating candles on Diwali day.

Dhanteras“, is an important part of Diwali celebration. It is the first day of five day celebration of Diwali festival. This auspicious day is also observed as Dhantrayodashi  or Dhanvantri Jayanti (the birth anniversary of God of Ayurveda. The word “Dhana” signifies money or wealth and “Teras” means thirteenth day as per the Hindu calendar. The festival of “Dhanteras” falls in the Hindu calendar month of “Kartik” (Oct-Nov) on the 13th lunar day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight). This auspicious day is celebrated two days before of the festival of lights “Diwali”.

Dhanteras is associated with wealth and prosperity. On this auspicious day people buy precious metals gold and silver ornaments and utensils to enhance the household prosperity. It holds special significance for the business community.

As the country is  gearing up to celebrate a time of great joy and rejoice in a multitude of festivities including light, sweets, gifts and new possessions, one can’t help but wonder the real significance of this festive season. Case in point, bring up the word ‘Dhanteras’ and chances are everyone around you will immediately talk of buying gold, diamonds, electronics & other items of value.

Indians celebrate with family gatherings, glittering clay lamps, festive fireworks, strings of electric lights, bonfires, flowers, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi. Some believe that Lakshmi wanders the Earth looking for homes where she will be welcomed. People open their doors and windows and light lamps to invite Lakshmi in. Over the centuries, Diwali has become a national festival that is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith: Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

Hindus interpret the Diwali story based upon where they live: In North India they celebrate the story of King Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he defeated Ravana by lighting rows of clay lamps. South India celebrates it as the day that Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. In western India the festival marks the day that Lord Vishnu, the Preserver (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity) sent the demon King Bali to rule the nether world. In all interpretations, one common thread rings true—the festival marks the victory of good over evil.

Non-Hindu communities have other reasons for celebrating the holiday: In Jainism, it marks the nirvana or spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira in Oct. 15, 527 B.C.

In Sikhism it marks the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru was freed from imprisonment. Five

Days of Diwali, On the first day of Diwali, housewives consider it auspicious to spring clean the home and shop for gold or kitchen utensils. On the second day, people decorate their homes with clay lamps or diyas and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand. This is the main day of the festival when families gather together for Lakshmi puja , a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi followed by mouth-watering feasts and firework festivities.

 It is believed that if you play dice, cards or gamble on this day, your wealth will be doubled.

This is the first day of the Hindi new year when friends and relatives visit with gifts and best wishes for the season. On the last day of Diwali, brothers visit their married sisters who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.

Create design patterns called ‘Rangoli’ on the floor using colored powders or sands is very popular

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More to come… the significance and stories behind the festival

 

 

 

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7 responses »

  1. Ashish sharma says:

    Happy diwali,

    Dear Shanepedia

    Like

  2. Ranjan says:

    Happy diwali

    Like

  3. rohit says:

    Happy Dipawali

    Like

  4. Stevens says:

    Good to read

    Like

  5. nick says:

    Indian festivals are really fascinating

    Like

  6. Reblogged this on Arrested Developments and commented:
    Diwali is here – the gracious festival celebrating victory, of myth and mystery; the festival that signals triumph over tragedy. May it Bestow all with Love and Happiness!

    Happy Diwali

    Like

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