Festival of Lights
This month saw many households light up for Diwali, the Festival of Lights, one of the main festivals celebrated in India and parts of Nepal …
Diwali or Deepavali?
Diwali, celebrated on the new moon day and lasting for 5 days, is known by various names in different regions of India. Originally, the name of the festival was Deepavali, which originates from Sanskrit. “Deep” means lamps or lighted clay pots, while “avali” means rows, so Deepavali literally translates to “Rows of Deep” in Sanskrit. Deepavali is commonly known as Diwali, which is a short form of Deep and avali.
Significance of Diwali
For Hindus, Diwali is associated with the return of Lord Rama, Sita and Lord Lakshman to Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile from his Kingdom on the orders of his father, King Dashratha, and the victory over the demon Ravana.
On this day, the kingdom of Ayodhya lit up the streets and houses with rows of Deep (clay lamps), and set off firecrackers in honour of Lord Rama’s return. This was the start of the tradition of lighting oil lamps to symbolise the victory of good over evil, and freedom from spiritual darkness.
Two Days before Diwali – Dhanteras
Dhanteras is the first day of the 5 day celebrations. This is an auspicious day to start business ventures or to invest in gold or silver. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped from this day, for wealth and prosperity.
One Day before Diwali – Chhoti Diwali
It’s believed that Lord Krishna killed the demon King Narakasur on this day, triumphing over evil. Lakshmi and Ganesh are worshipped and preparations are made for the next day.
The Big Day – Diwali
Diwali or Deepawali is the 3rd and the main day. People light up their houses with lamps (diya or deep), make rangolis to pray for prosperity and good fortune, set off fire-crackers, gamble, visit friends and exchange gifts. Lakshmi Poojan is observed at night, during which pujas are held at prominent temples and shops to seek blessings from the goddess of wealth. Cows are also worshipped, and are adorned with flowers and vermillion and offered fruits and leaves.
The 4th day – Govardhana Puja
This festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna defeating Lord Indra – the Rain God.
The last Day – Bhai Dooj
This festival is for brothers and sisters. A Tika ceremony takes place, sisters pray for the good health and prosperity of brothers and are showered with gifts in return.