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For Hindus, Diwali (Deepavali) is not only a festival of lights but also is a special occasion to worship Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Mahabali. For Jains, it is an occasion to remember Lord Mahavira.
Diwali, also called Deepavali, is a major Indian festival that is very significant in Hinduism. Known as the "Festival of Lights," it symbolizes the victory of good over evil, and lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for humankind. Celebrations focus on lights and lamps, particularly traditional dīpa or deeya (earthen lamp, as illustrated). Fireworks are associated with the festival. Diwali is a colloquial name used in North India, while the festival is formally called Deepavali in South India. Diwali is celebrated for three consecutive days at the end of Hindu month of Ashwayuja. It usually occurs in October/November, and is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited festivals in India. Diwali comes exactly twenty days after Dussehra. Hindus and Sikhs alike regard it as a celebration of life and use the occasion to strengthen family and social relationships. For Hindus it is one of the most important festivals, and beginning of the year in some Hindu calendars. There are several beliefs regarding the origin of the holiday. The most repeated version is that Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the time when Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana. Some also view it as the day Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura or in honor of the day Bali went to rule the nether-world, obeying the order of Vishnu. It is also a significant festival for the Sikh faith. In India, Diwali is now considered to be more of a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith
Dates in various calendars The festival is celebrated for a differing number of days by different communities. In Maharashtra and Karnataka, the celebrations start from Vasubaras, 12th day of the second fortnight of Ashvin (going on for 6 days) while in Northern India the celebrations start from Laxmi Puja the no moon day of the same month (going on for 2-3 days). Though the core days are common and fall on exactly the same set of days across India, they fall in different months depending on the version of the Hindu calendar being used in the given region. The Amanta ("ending on the no-moon") version of the Hindu Calendar has been adopted as the Indian national calendar. According to this calendar, which is prevalent in southern India and Maharashtra, the 6-day celebration is spread over the last four days of the month of Ashwayuja (Ashwin in Marathi) and the first two days of the new month of Kartika. According to the Purnimanta ("ending on the full-moon") version prevalent in northern India, it falls in the middle of the month of Ashwayuja/Ashvin. In the Gregorian calendar, it falls generally in the months of October or November. In 2006, it was celebrated on [October 21] (Saturday).
Significance in Hinduism Diwali is also known as festival of lights. Shown here is the view of Jaipur city on Diwali day. A Gurgaon office building decorated with lights.The festival marks the victory of good over evil. The Sanskrit word Deepavali means an array of lights that stands for victory of brightness over darkness. As the knowledge of Sanskrit diminished, the name was popularly modified to Diwali, especially in northern India. In South India, Diwali does not coincide with the beginning of a new year as South Indians follow a different calendar, the Shalivahana calendar.
On the day of Diwali, many wear new clothes, share sweets and snacks. Some North Indian business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day. Hindus find cause to celebrate this festival for different reasons:
It commemorates the killing of Narakasura, an evil demon who created havoc, by Lord Krishna's wife Satyabhama. This happened in the Dwapara Yuga during this time of Lord Krishna's avatar. In another version, the demon was killed by Lord Krishna himself. Before Narakasura's death, he requested a boon from his mother, Satyabhama (believed to be an Avatar of Bhudevi - Narakasura' mother), that everyone should celebrate his death with colorful light. According to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Shakti observed 21 days of austerity starting from ashtami of shukla paksha (eighth day of the waxing period of moon) to get half of the body of Lord Shiva. This vrata (austerity) is known as kedhara vrata. Deepavali is the completion day of this austerity. This is the day Lord Shiva accepted Shakti into the left half of the form and appeared as Ardhanarishvara. The ardent devotees observe this 21 days vrata by making a kalasha with 21 threads on it and 21 types of offerings for 35 days. The final day is celebrated as kedhara gauri vrata.
Diwali also celebrates the return of Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to Ayodhya from a war in which he killed the demon king Ravana. It is believed that the people lit oil lamps along the way to light their path in the darkness. This is the reason, why the festival is celebrated a day earlier in South India since Lord Rama travelled from the south to his kingdom in the north. In North India, the festival is held on the final day of the Vikram calendar. The following day marks the beginning of the North Indian new year, and is called Annakut. Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali. It is the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. As per the story, Krishna saw huge preparations for the annual offering to Lord Indra and questions his father Nanda about it. Why was this necessary? Why should human beings offer anything to some unknown being in the sky? He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He continued to say that all human beings should merely do their 'karma', to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna then lifted Mt Govardhan and held it up as protection to his people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. This aspect of Krishna's life is mostly glossed over - but it actually set up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.
In Bhavishyottara and Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Diwali is associated with the Daitya king Bali, who is allowed to return to earth once a year. However in Kerala this is the reason 'Onam' is celebrated. 'Onam' festival falls around the month of August-September
Esoteric Significance Flowers are an integral part of Diwali as are many decorations.While Deepavali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant esoteric meaning is "the awareness of the inner light". Central to Hindu philosophy, is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Deepavali is the celebration of this Inner Light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman, comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (Inner Joy or Peace). Deepavali celebrates this through festive fireworks, lights, flowers, sharing sweets, and worship. While the story behind Deepavali varies from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).
The Five days of Diwali Diwali is celebrated over five days in most of North India. All the days except Diwali are named using the designation in the Indian calendar. A lunar half-month is 15 days. Diwali as a new-moon day, marks the last day of a 15-day period. Diwali being festival of lights, across India people celebrate it via symbolic diyas or kandils (colorful paper lanterns) as an integral part of Diwali decorations.1)Dhan-trayodashi or Dhan teras: Dhan means "wealth" and Trayodashi means "13th day". Thus, as the name implies, this day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is an auspicious day for shopping. 2)Naraka Chaturdasi: Chaturdasi is the fourteenth day on which demon Narakasura was killed. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas). In south India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up way before dawn as early as 2.00 in the morning, have a fragrant oil bath and wear new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolams /rangolis outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Lord Sri Krishna or Lord Sri Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. Hence, when people greet each other in the morning, they ask "Have you performed your Ganga Snaanam?". After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicement, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends. In the evening, lamps are again lit and Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and offered special dishes. This being a no moon day, many will offer special tarpana (offerings of water and sesame seeds) to their ancestors.
)Diwali: the actual day of Diwali, is celebrated on the third day of the festival, when the moon completely wanes and total darkness sets in the night sky. 4)Govardhan Puja or also called Annakut, is celebrated as the day Krishna defeated Indra. For Annakut a mountain of food is decorated symbolizing Govardhan mountain lifted by Lord Krishna. In Maharashtra it is celebrated as Padva or BaliPratipada. The day commemorates King Bali. Men present gifts to their wives on this day. 5)Bhayiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) — on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express their love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). Most Indian festivals bring together families, Bhaiduj brings together married sisters and brothers, and is a significant festive day for them. This festival is ancient, and pre-dates 'Raksha Bandhan' another brother-sister festival being celebrated today.
The celebrations vary in different regions: In Southern India, naraka chaturdashii is the main day, with firecrackers at dawn. The main festival in North India is on Amavasya(No moon) evening with Lakshmi Puja which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house.
Lakshmi Puja As per spiritual references, on this day "Lakshmi-panchayatan" enters the Universe. Sri Vishnu, Sri Indra, Sri Kuber, Sri Gajendra and Sri Lakshmi are elements of this "panchayatan" (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are: Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction) Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth) Kubera: Wealth (one who gives away wealth) Gajendra: Carries the wealth Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
Diwali in Maharashtra A circular arrangement of diyas.In Maharashtra, Diwali starts from Vasubaras which is the 12th day of the 2nd half of the previous month that is, Ashwin. This day is celebrated by performing an Aarti of the cow and its calf- which is a symbol of love between mother and her baby. The next day is Dhantrayodashi (tra-3 dashi-10 i.e. 10+3=13th day) or Dhanteras. This day is of special importance for traders and business people. The 14th day of Ashwin is Narakchaturdashi. On this day before sunrise, people wake up and bathe after rubbing scented oil on their body (they also bathe using Utna). After this the entire family visits a temple and offers prayers to their God. After this visit, everyone feasts on Faral which is a special Diwali preparation consisting of delectable sweets such as "karanji", "ladoo", "shankarpale" and "mithai" as well as some spicy eatables like "tschakli", "sev" and "chivda". Then comes Laxmi- poojan. It occurs on Amavasya i.e. no moon day. The dark night is illuminated by lamps and at dusk crackers are burst. New account books are opened after a pooja. The stock exchange performs a token bidding called Muhurta bidding. Generally the traders do not make any payments on that day (according to their belief Laxmi should not be given away but must come home). In every household, cash, jewellery and an idol of the goddess Laxmi is worshipped. Friends, neighbours and relatives are invited over and celebrations are in full swing. The broom used to clean one's house is also worshipped as a symbol of laxmi in some places .
Pad' is the 1st day of the new month - Kartik in the Hindu calendar. Bhaubeej - it is the time where in the bond of love between a brother and sister is further strengthened as the sister asks God for her brother/s long and successful life while she receives presents from her beloved brother/s. Homes are cleaned and decorated before Diwali. Offices perform pooja. Bonuses and holidays are granted to employees on these auspicious days. People buy property and gold on these days too. Children bulid replica forts in memory of the founder of Maratha empire, Shivaji Maharaj. For children, Fire works, new clothes and sweets make Deepavali the most eagerly awaited festival of the year. Ramadam is better unluky u guys
Significance in Sikhism The story of Diwali for the Sikhs is a story of the Sikh struggle for freedom. From the time of Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539), the founder of Sikhism, popular seasonal or folk festivals like the harvest festival of Baisakhi, or ancient mythological festivals like Holi and Diwali began to take on a new significance for the Guru’s students, the Sikhs. The Guru used these festivals and special days e.g. first day of each lunar month, as symbols or pegs for his teaching themes. And so the Sikhs were slowly diverted from darkness of superstitious ritualism based on fear and ignorance to an enlightened ideology based on reason and belief in One Creator. The enlightened ideology of Guru Nanak gave new significance to ancient festivals like Diwali and Baisakhi
Bandi Chhorh Diwas The Golden Temple, Amritsar being lit up for Diwali.For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, (hence also called "Bandi Chhorh Diwas" or "the day of release of detainees") and 52 other princes with him, from the Gwalior Fort in 1619. The Sikh tradition holds that the Mughal Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned Guru Hargobind and 52 other rajas (princes). Emperor Jahangir had imprisoned the sixth Nanak because he was afraid of the Guru's growing following and power. The Emperor was asked to release Guru Hargobind which he agreed to do. However, Hargobind asked that the princes be released also. The Emperor agreed, but said only those who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison. This was in order to limit the number of prisoners who could leave. However, Guru Hargobind had made a large cloak with 52 pieces of string and so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison. Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind Ji by lighting the Golden Temple and this tradition continues today.
[edit] Martyrdom of Bhai Mani Singh Ji Another important Sikh event associated with Diwali is the martyrdom in 1734 of the elderly Sikh scholar and strategist Bhai Mani Singh, the Granthi (priest) of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). He had refused to pay a special tax on a religious meeting of the Khalsa on the Diwali day. This and other Sikh martyrdoms gave further momentum to the Khalsa struggle for freedom and eventually success in establishing the Khalsa rule north of Delhi Bhai Mani Singh was a great scholar and he transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1704. He took charge of Harmandir Sahib's management on 1708. In 1737, he received permission from Mughal governor of Punjab, Zakarya Khan for celebrating Diwali at Golden Temple for a massive tax of Rs. 5,000 (some authors say it was Rs 10,000). Invitations were sent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhorh Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. Bhai Mani Singh thought he would collect the tax-money from the Sikhs as subscriptions who would assemble for the purpose of Diwali Celebrations. But Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakarya Khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh Ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Bhai Mani Singh could not manage to arrange the money to be paid for tax. Zakariya Khan was not happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh's assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice & devotion of martyr Bhai Mani Singh Ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhorh Diwas (Diwali) celebration.
Uprising against the Mughal Empire The story (according to Hindu Mythology) of Lord Rama returning home after destroying the demon god Ravana who had taken away Rama’s wife, Sita, of course, has no significance in the Sikh tradition. However, in the Sikh struggle for freedom from the oppressive Mughal regime, the festival of Diwali did become the second most important day after the Baisakhi, when Khalsa was formally established by the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. The Sikh struggle for freedom, which intensified in the 18th Century, came to be centered around this day. After the execution of Banda Bahadur in 1716, who had led the agrarian uprising in Punjab, the Sikhs started the tradition of deciding matters concerning the community at the biennial meetings which took place at Amritsar on the first of Baisakh and at Diwali. These assemblies were known as the "Sarbat Khalsa" and a resolution passed by it became a "gurmata" (decree of the Guru).
Diwali in Jainism Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankaras, attained Nirvana on this day at Pavapuri. According to Jain tradition the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhar Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this very day, thus making Diwali a really special occasion for the Jains to celebrate. Replica of Pava temple at Pansara. Mahavira attained Nirvana at Pava.Diwali is first mentioned in Jain books as the date of the nirvana of Lord Mahavira. The oldest use of the word "Diwali/Dipavali" occurs in Harivamsha-Purana written by Acharya Jinasena, composed in Shaka Samvat 705. The sample of text containing the word Diwali is below:
The way Jains celebrate Diwali is different in many respects. There is a note of asceticism in whatever the Jains do, and the celebration of Diwali is not an exception. The Jains celebrate Diwali during the month of Kartik for three days. During this period, among the Shvetambaras, devoted Jains observe fasting and chant the Uttaradhyayan Sutra, which contain the final pravachans of Lord Mahavira, and meditate upon him. Vira Nirvana Samvat: The Jain year starts with Pratipada following Diwali. Vira Nirvana Samvat 2532 starts with Diwali 2005. The Jain businesspeople traditionally started their accounting year from Diwali.
[edit] Melas Henna is applied on women's hands at a Diwali Mela.To add to the festival of Diwali, fairs (or melas) are held throughout India.[1] Melas are to be found in many towns and villages. A mela generally becomes a market day in the countryside when farmers buy and sell produce. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colourful clothing, new jewelry and their hands are decorated with henna designs.
Among the many activities that take place at a mela are performances by jugglers, acrobats, snake charmers and fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. There are a variety of rides at the fair, which include Ferris wheels and rides on animals such as elephants and camels. Another attraction is the puppet shows that are shown throughout the day.copeyed from muslims who have a mela very offten.
Diwali in other parts of the world Diwali celebrations in Coventry, United Kingdom. The Divali Nagar or Divali village in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. In Singapore, Diwali is marked by 2 kilometres of lights across the Little India area.Diwali is celebrated in various parts of the world, in countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Suriname, Canada, Guyana, Mauritius, India, Fiji, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Australia, much of Africa, and the United States.[2] With more and more Indians and Sri Lankans now migrating to various parts of the world, the number of countries where Diwali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it has become part of the general local culture. In most of these countries Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations. Some important variations are worth mentioning.
In Nepal, Diwali is known as "Tihar" and celebrated during the October/November period. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day, cows are given offerings, in appreciation of the food they have given and agricultural work they have performed. On the second day, dogs and all living animals are revered and offered special food. On the third day, celebrations follow the same pattern as in India, with lights and lamps and much social activity. On the fourth day Yama, the Lord of Death, is worshipped and appeased. On the fifth and final day, brothers and sisters meet and exchange pleasantries. In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Divali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by various Hindu religious sects and social organizations, nightly worship of Goddess Lakshmi, lighting of deeyas, performances by various schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies. The festival culminates with magnificent fireworks displays ushering in Diwali. Thousands of people participate in an atmosphere devoid of alcohol and in a true family environment. In Malaysia, Diwali is known as "Hari Deepavali," and is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a sumptious meal. 'Open house' or 'rumah terbuka' is a practice very much unique to Malaysia and shows the goodwill and friendly ties practised by all Malaysians during any festive occasion.
In Singapore, the festival is called "Deepavali", and is a gazetted public holiday. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community, it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India district and is most known for the fire-walking ceremonies not practiced as part of the festival in other countries. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapores' government organizes many cultural events around Diwali time.
In Sri Lanka, this festival is also called "Deepavali" and is celebrated by the Tamil community. On this day, it is traditional for people to wear new clothes and exchange pleasantries. In Britain, Hindus and Sikhs celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm and in most ways very similarly to as in India. People spring clean and decorate their homes with lamps. People also give each other sweets such as laddoo and barfi, and the different communities may gather from around the country for a religious ceremony and get-together. It is also an important time to contact family in India and perhaps exchange gifts through the post. Diwali is becoming a well known festival in Britain and non-Indians also join in the festivities.
Economics of Diwali A typical household celebrates Diwali with fireworks.Diwali is an annual stimulus for the Indian economy. Indians purchase gold, gifts, decorations, crackers (fireworks) and household appliances during this festival and many Indian films (Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood, etc.) are released during this period. Companies offer huge discounts during the Diwali season to attract customers, which helps the economy and also helps the poor. Food distributed as acts of charity during community festivities also helps the underprivileged. Diwali also brings tourists to the country. Schools in India are closed during this festival, and many young people have the free time and the money to spend on luxury items. Also, people buy new clothes to wear during Diwali
Firecrackers To enhance the joy of Diwali both the young and the old light firecrackers and fireworks at night. Nowadays there is a significant growth in campaigns on creating awareness over the adverse impacts of noise and air pollution. Some Governments drive to keep the festival less noisy and pollution-free. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has banned production of crackers with over 125 decibel levels.[3] In survey of UP Pollution Control Board, it was revealed that the emission of smoke was found more in the light illuminating fire crackers. Levels of SO2 (Sulphur dioxide) and RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter) was found marginally higher on Diwali day. Crackers, which use large quantities of sulphur and paper, spew out sulphur dioxide and charcoal into the air.[4] Considering these facts, bursting of crackers is prohibited in silent zones i.e. near hospitals, schools and courts.
[edit] External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Deepavali in SingaporeAll About The Festival of Diwali Hindustan Times Special India Cultural Festivals BBC Diwali information BBC: Personal report on Hindu Diwali celebrations in UK Diwali in New Delhi Pics Diwali, Diwali Cards Diwali Gifts
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