On November 14th of this year, many Hindus will be celebrating Diwali (Deepawali). Although it is a Hindu festival, many other faiths including Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains take part in the festivities.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, the celebration derives its name from the clay lamps that Hindus light and place outside of their homes. For Hindus, there are many interpretations of the celebration, but the most popular include Lord Rama’s return to his home of Ayodhya after defeating the demon and king of Lanka Ravana, the celebration of Lord Krishna defeating the demon Narakasura, and the celebration of the day Vishnu sent the demon Bali to rule the netherworld. Regardless of the interpretation of the festival, the day represents the victory of good over evil. While Diwali is celebrated by Hindus to praise and welcome the Gods into their homes, Jains celebrate Diawali to mark the nirvana of Lord Mahaviram whereas Sikhs celebrate Diwali in honor of the day Guru Hargobind Ji was freed from imprisonment.
While the main day of celebration is on November 14, Diwali is actually a five day celebration and is celebrated to symbolize the triumph of good over evil, and new beginnings. The celebration is split into five days so that each day can symbolize different important rituals Hindus must complete. On the first day, people clean their homes and shop for gold or silver to help bring good fortune to their families. The second day is a day of decoration when people will begin to decorate their homes with diyas (clay lamps) and the floors with designs made of coloured powder. The day is also commemorated as Naraka Chaturdashi in remembrance of Krishna’s destruction of Narakasura. People will also use the day to pray for their ancestors’ souls. The third day is the most auspicious as families take part in the Lakshmi puja to ask for blessings, prosperity and good fortune. The fourth day is celebrated as a new year, and friends and families bestow each other with gifts and blessings. It is also known as Balipratipada to commemorate Krishna’s defeat of Indra. On the fifth day, sibling bonds are celebrated as brothers often visit their sisters who are married, who will in turn, welcome them to a hearty meal. They will also pray for each other’s success and well-being.
While Diwali is always a fun celebration for those who participate, one of the most important things is to celebrate and help those around you. Whether you donate to those who need, or give gifts to your loved ones, it’s important to give good wishes and blessings to those you know, to ensure they can also have a good new year.
To those who celebrate, have a happy and joyous Diwali!