Diwali: the festival of light, sound, sweets and tradition

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Bellevision Media Network

25 October 2011: Diwali is known as the festival of lights. It is one of the most important festival for Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. During this festival they light Diyas, with cotton wicks in clay diya with coconut oil to mark the victory of good over evil. The festival occurs on the new moon between October 13 and November 14. According to Hindu calendar it falls on the new moon day that finishes the month of Ashwin and starting the month of kartik. This year, Diwali is being celebrated for five days from October 25 to 29. In Hinduism this festival marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya and the warm welcome by lighting rows of diya, thus the name deepawali originates.



Deepawali or Diwali is certainly the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It is the festival of lights that is marked by five  days of celebration, which literally illumines the country with its brilliance, and dazzles all with its joy. Each of the five days in the festival of Diwali is separated by a different tradition, but what remains true and constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment and goodness.


Five Days of Festivities:

The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. It is in fact the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh, the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik. On this day, Lord Dhanwantari came out of the ocean with Ayurvedic for mankind. This day marks the beginning of Deepawali celebrations.


On this day at sunset, Hindus should bathe and offer a lighted diya with Prasad (sweets offered at worship time) to Yama Raj, the Lord of Death and pray for protection from untimely death. This offering should be made near a Tulsi tree, the Holy Basil or any other sacred tree that one might have in their yard.


The second day of Deepawali is called Narak Chaturdasi. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. On this day, one should massage the body with oil to relieve it of tiredness, bathe and rest so that Diwali can be celebrated with vigour and devotion.



The third day is the actual day of Diwali. Many devotees visit their temples for worshipping Lakshmi, Goddess of beauty, wealth and wisdom with Lakshmi Poojas and also pray to Ganesh, the ’Lord of Beginnings’ and ’Remover of Obstacles’. When aarti is performed, oil lamps with a cotton wick are placed on a Puja Thali and offered to the deities, praising the deity by singing wonderful aarti songs. At night people light up little oil lamps called Diyas, Dipa Lights or Ghee Lamps and place them around their houses. They hang colourful lanterns and fairy lights, enjoying firework displays or blasting firecrackers.


The fourth day (Padwa) is first Kartika in the Hindu calendar and is also known as Govardhan Puja or Annakoot. It is said that Krishna defeated the god of rain and the heavens Indra on that day. He lifted Mount Govardhana to save people’s life from the floods. On this day people cook mountains of food resembling Mount Govardhana. According to another legend followed in South-India, Vishnu defeated the demon-king Bali on this day.


Finally, the fifths and last day of Diwali is called ’Bhaiduj’  also known as ’Yama Dwitiya’. This is the day for brothers and sisters to strengthen their relationships. Just like Yami prayed for her brother Yama (God of Death), sisters are praying for their brother’s well-being on this day, and brothers give little gifts to their sisters in return.


Origin of Diwali:

Historically, the origin of  Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali or ’Deepawali.’ Some believe it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. Whereas in Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Goddess Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is also worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day.



In Jainism, Deepawali has an added significance to the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana. Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen year long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.


Significance of Lights and Firecrackers:

All the simple rituals of Diwali have significance and a story to tell. The illumination of homes with lights and the skies with firecrackers is an expression of obeisance to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity. According to one belief, the sound of fire-crackers is an indication of the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the crackers kill a lot of insects and mosquitoes, found in plenty after the rains.



Hanging coloured paper lanterns (Goodu-deepas) in front of the houses, decorating the courtyard or the front portion of the house by colourful rangoli and even illuminating the homes and workplaces with tiny colourful electric lights are the highlights of the Diwali celebration that begins few days prior to the actual Diwali celebration and even continues for few days thereafter.


Tradition of Gambling:

The tradition of gambling on Diwali also has a legend behind it. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Parvati played dice with her husband Lord Shiva, and she decreed that whosoever gambled on Diwali night would prosper throughout the ensuing year. Diwali is associated with wealth and prosperity in many ways, and the festival of  ‘Dhanteras’’ (’dhan’ = wealth; ’teras’ = 13th) is celebrated two days before the festival of lights.



From Darkness Unto Light...:

In each legend, myth and story of Deepawali lies the significance of the victory of good over evil; and it is with each Deepawali and the lights that illuminate our homes and hearts, that this simple truth finds new reason and hope. From darkness unto light — the light that empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds, that which brings us closer to divinity. During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of India and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope.



Diwali is celebrated around the globe. Outside India, it is more than a Hindu festival, it is a celebration of South-Asian identities. If you are away from the sights and sounds of Diwali, light a diya, sit quietly, shut your eyes, withdraw the senses, concentrate on this supreme light and illuminate the soul.


Bellevision wishes a Happy Diwali to all its readers and well-wishers.



Comments on this Article
Sheld, Udupi/Mumbai Tue, October-25-2011, 9:13

Wishing all the readers of Bellevision.com a VERY HAPPY DEEPAVALI PROSPEROUS YEAR!!!!! let the celebrations be Eco friendly and stay happy!!!

Philip Mudartha, Qatar Tue, October-25-2011, 6:19
Dine, Drink and Dance. Do all Ds. Dhan msut be tera, gamble it or spend it, it is flowing and enriching lives. Happy Deepavali.
Benedict Noronha, Udupi Tue, October-25-2011, 4:50
deepavali is a festival of lights. Let this Deepavali elighten us and all those who are in the dark for want of fair reasoning andundestanding, living in prejudices and vengeance. Light a lamp in the dark and keep it at higher pedestal so that those who look at it see from its light and live in light. I wish all the viewers and our brotheren who believe nd celebrate Deepaavali as a festival of rejoicing, a VERY HAPPY DEEPAVALI A PROSPEROUS YEAR ahead.
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