It is a festival that is celebrated every year in India among Hindus, Sikhs and Jains as part of their religious calendar. The Diwali festival is celebrated with colourful events across the country in autumn for those in the Northern Hemisphere and Spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
The word Diwali is derived from a Sanskrit Deepavali which means “a series of lighted lamps” which explains the name festival of lights. Though celebrated by Indians worldwide, the significance of Diwali means different things to Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism.
For the Hindus, it means the return of deities, Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after fourteen years in exile. For some others, Diwali honours the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi. This period will mark the beginning of a business of the year for many who will be asking for the blessings of Lakshmi.
For those who practice Jainism, it is the celebration of the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira. For the Sikhs, Diwali is the day Guru Hargobind Ji who was the Sixth Sikh Guru was released from prison.
The Nature of Celebrations
This year’s celebration falls on the 19th of October and the celebration is largely characterized by the lighting of candles, lamps, music, food and decorations. Fireworks are done to honour the legend of Rama who it is believed received a reception of lights when he was released from exile.
These celebrations of Diwali covers a five-day period when people share love, sweets, food, money and love. Everyone is expected to wear new clothes and keep their homes clean.
Although the celebration means different lore and stories for religious groups, the universal significance of Diwali, “festival of lights” is to celebrate the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.
Understanding the Daily Rites
Dhanteras: Known as the festival of wealth, where metal (not iron) is bought
Naraka Chaturdasi: People undergo early morning rituals with oil, flowers, and sandalwood for this day.
Lakshmi Puja: This is the day to offer prayers to the goddess of wealth and prosperity Lakshmi.
Padwa, Balipratipada: A day to celebrate the love between man and wife. Men present gifts to their wives.
Bhai Duj, Bhaiya Dooji: This is the last which celebrates the love between brothers and sisters with prayers offered.
The festival period for Diwali is regarded as the largest shopping season in India when people go to buy new clothes, gifts and gold. With the celebration of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth being part of it, any expenses in this period is seen as auspicious. Last year, it was estimated that $3.9 billion was spent by Indians for the Diwali festival.
Credit: Forbes, Mirror