Why Do We Celebrate Diwali?
SIGNIFICANCE OF DIWALI
This 5 day festival of lights is considered very auspicious across the country.
Diwali symbolises victory of light over dark, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
Diwali is one of the most popular festival in Hinduism.
Diwali, the festival of lights is also spiritually signifies time of inner illumination.
There are several reasons why Diwali is celebrated. Here are 12 various reasons why Diwali has so much importance and celebrated widely.
- Rama’s Return to Ayodhya after Ravana’s Defeat: According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Lord Rama, his brother Laxman and wife Sita returned to Ayodhya after a period of 14 years in exile after defeating demon king Ravana.
- Lord Krishna Killed Narkasura: In Dwapara Yuga, Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu killed demon Narkasura the evil king of Pragjotishpura near present day Assam. Narak Chaturdashi is viewed as the day on which Lord Krishna killed Narkasura.
- Pandava’s Return to Hastinapur: The five Pandava brothers had been tricked into losing a bet in gambling after which their Kaurava cousins banished them for 12 years. The Pandavas returned to Hastinapur on Kartik Amavasya, as per the Hindu epic Mahabharata.
- Goddess Lakshmi’s birth: As per another popular tradition, Diwali is celebrated as the day Goddess Lakshmi was born from Samudra Amntham, the churning of the cosmic ocean of milk by the gods and demons. On the night of Diwali, Lakshmi chose Vishnu as her husband and married him.
- Vishnu rescued Lakshmi: It is believed that Lord Vishnu, in his fifth Vaman-avatar, rescued Goddess Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali. On this day, King Bali was banished to rule the netherworld on the order of Lord Vishnu.
- Bandi Chhor Diwas: In Sikhism, Diwali is related to a historic event. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, along with 52 other Hindu kings, was released from captivity by Mughal emperor Jahangir on the day of Diwali.
- Mahavira Nirvana Diwas: In Jainism, the festival of Diwali is celebrated to observe the anniversary of Nirvana of Mahavira’s soul, the twenty-fourth and last Jain Tirthankara of present cosmic age. Mahavira attained moksha (liberation) on Chaturdashi of Kartik month.
- Maharshi Dayananda attained Nirvana: On the new moon day of Kartik, Maharshi Dayananda, founder of Arya Samaj, attained Nirvana.
- Maharaja Vikramaditya’s coronation: Legendary Hindu king Vikramaditya was crowned on Diwali. He is characterised as an ideal king known for his generosity, courage and patronage of scholars.
- Kali Puja: As per the Kalikula sect of Shaktism, the day of incarnation of Kamalatmika, the last manifestation of goddess Mahakali, is celebrated as Kamalatmika Jayanti. It falls on the day of Deepawali. Kali Puja is celebrated in regions of Bengal, Mithila, Odisha, Assam, Sylhet, Chittagong and the town of Titwala in Maharashtra.
- End of harvest season: According to another popular belief, Diwali may have originated as a harvest festival, marking the last harvest of the year before winter.
- Diwali as New Year: In western states such as Gujarat and some northern Hindu communities and also business families of India, the festival of Diwali signifies the start of a new year.
How is Diwali Celebrated?
The weeks leading up to the 5 days festival of Diwali are traditionally time for cleaning/ redecorating houses, buying new clothes, jewellery, exchanging sweets and gifts among friends and families and preparing sweets and namkeens usually known as faral.
This is the season for dinner parties, outdoor food festivals and craft fairs, all of which help build up excitement ahead of the main Diwali celebration.
Two days before the main festival day, it’s considered good luck to buy a metallic kitchen implement, such as a steel ladle, or, if budget allows, a more extravagant kitchen appliance.
The day before Diwali is known as ‘chotti Diwali’ (or ‘little Diwali’). Traditionally, it was a day for getting on with preparations for the big day, but now it’s also an opportunity for last-minute errands and gift exchanges. It’s also a time when intricate floral and geometrical designs, known as ‘rangoli’, are created on floors using coloured powders, rice flour and flower petals.
The third day is the main Diwali celebration. As the sun sets, prayers are said to Lakshmi and Ganesh, then dozens of clay lamps are arranged around the house. Firework displays follow, but in recent years these have been scaled back due to noise and air pollution concerns. This doesn’t dampen the party spirit, though – especially as there’s a lavish dinner to enjoy.
Activities on the day after Diwali will vary across different regions. In north India, for example, the morning is dedicated to worshipping the tools of work. Chefs will pay homage to their kitchen implements, businessmen will venerate their ledgers, and artists will offer gratitude for their paints and palettes.
On the fifth and final day of Diwali celebrations, sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers, and receive sweetmeats and gifts in return.
When is Diwali Celebrated?
Diwali follows the Hindu lunar calendar and its date changes annually.
It is celebrated on a moonless night in October or November and Hindu Month of Kartik.
In year 2021 Diwali will be celebrated from 1 November to 6 November.