Diwali – The Festival of Lights, Joy, Happiness and Togetherness
Diwali is the occasion to celebrate Victory over Defeat. It is the festival to celebrate Light over Darkness and Awareness over Ignorance! Simply put; Diwali is the occasion to celebrate Life. In this blog post we try to take a look at the history and tradition of Diwali. We wish you a very happy and Safe Diwali!
India knows how to celebrate a festival. Ranging from pompous city events to rustic fairs, India’s festive calendar is always jam-packed, diverse and rich quite like her topography and tradition.
The star attraction of Indian festival is definitely the Diwali – the festival of lights; the celebration of the triumph of Good over Evil. It is usually celebrated in late October or early November, once the monsoon bids bye.
Diwali is the occasion to celebrate Victory over Defeat. It is the festival to celebrate Light over Darkness and Awareness over Ignorance! Simply put; Diwali is the occasion to celebrate Life.
The spirit of Diwali, the very essence of the triumph of good over evil can be felt in the hymns of Brihdaranyaka Upanisada.
“Om asato ma sadgamaya,
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya,
Om shantih shantih shantih”
“Oh Almighty! Lead us from the unreal (falsity)
to the real (truth) from darkness to light!
From death to immortality!
Oh Almighty! May there be Peace! Peace! Peace!”
‘Light’ in Hindu tradition is a significant metaphor and Diwali as typically the ‘festival of lights’ heralds the triumph of good over evil. On a deeper and philosophical level Diwali is also an invocation to search for light, knowledge and enlightenment and to banish the dark thoughts, desires and negative feelings.
The origin of the festival is still shrouded in mystery, myth and legends. Some believe that Diwali has a connection with the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura. Some on the other hand associate it with the worship of the goddess of wealth – Lakshmi. Some however says that Diwali as the festival of lights is celebrated in the remembrance of the ‘welcoming of Lord Rama’ after his exile for 14 years.
Although Diwali is typically the National Hindu festival however it is also embraced by other religions which include the Jains and the Sikhs.
While for the Jains, Diwali signifies the attainment of moksha by Mahavira, for the Sikhs however, Diwali typically denotes the release of Guru Hargobind , who had been detained by the Mughal emperor Jehangir at the Gwalior Fort.
For the Hindus, Diwali is the celebration of the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and his victorious return to the kingdom. As per the mythical records in order to make the home coming of Lord Rama as safe and as swift as possible the people of Ayodhya illuminated the way with twinkling diyas . Perhaps this is why lighting of the lamps has become such an inseparable component of this festival.
The festivity of Diwali last for 5 days but the festive mood and its effects hangs for another 364 days.
1st Day – The 1st day of Diwali is known as the Dhan Teras (Dhanvantari Triodas). It officially marks the beginning of the festival. Legend has it; Lord Dhanwantari emerged from the ocean on this day with the science of medicine – Ayurveda to benefit the mankind. This is an auspicious day and a huge amount of buying of gold, silver, precious stones and utensils are done on this day.
2nd Day –The second day is termed as the Narak Chaturdasi or Kali Chaudas. It is believed that Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasur on this day, thus freed world from oppression and fear. In some parts of India, it is just the Choti Diwali, celebrated before the actual Diwali
3rd Day– The third day is indeed the actual Diwali and it’s the time to worship Goddess Lakshmi along with Lord Ganesha.
4th Day – This day is celebrated in a number of forms all across the country. For instance; in Gujarat; this day is celebrated as ‘Bestu Baras’ – the New Year. In the Northern part of India the 4th day of Diwali is celebrated as the Govardhan Pooja. In some part it is also celebrated as Vishwakarma Day. This day is also known as Annakut.
5th Day: This day is celebrated as Bhai Dooj , Bhai Teeka or Bhai Fota. After all the high voltage dazzles of the Diwali festival, the last day glorifies the brother- sister bond all over India
The Customs and Traditions Of Diwali
Diwali symbolizes the replacement of ignorance with knowledge, the banishment of darkness with inner light. Indeed, spirituality lies at the heart of Diwali.
In both city and country side diyas and candles are placed at the very thresholds of every home, office and shops.
It is also believed that during Diwali, Lakshmi the goddess of wealth visits the homes that are well-lit and neat and visits the homes that are adorned beautifully
Rangolis that are symbols of nature are drawn in bright colors to welcome Lakshmi inside.
Gambling and card games are considered auspicious during Diwali and are played widely in cities. The ritual of gambling however springs from a legend. During the Fourth day of Diwali a Deity played a dice game with his consort and won. It is therefore believed that Gambling on Diwali can invoke Lakshmi
Diwali Marks the Start of The New Hindu Financial Year
New Year; New accounts and newness everywhere! Yes; Diwali marks the start of the new Hindu financial year. Almost as an obvious next step, businessmen, shopkeepers and traders open new accounts books.
Diwali is also the time to fire the crackers to set off the dusk. It is also believed that the noise and light from the crackers herald the defeat of the evil.
Yes, precautions are necessary to have a Safe Diwali!
A bit of precaution however could add some more sparkle to the festival of lights. Needless to say; even just a bit of carelessness may lead to fatal consequences.
The experts opine that emergencies are uncertain. Accidents may happen to anyone and at almost any point of time. In most of the times; emergencies during Diwali occur due to unsafe bursting of crackers and for failing to take adequate precautions while lightening the lamps.
Also over indulgence of sweets and other unhygienic foods may lead to stomach troubles. On the other hand; too much of smoke and dust from crackers may lead to respiratory problems.
Below are a few safety tips to mull over –
- Burst crackers in open space
- Keep safe distance when bursting the crackers
- Don’t leave the kids unattended when bursting crackers
- Don’t keep crackers near open flame
- Keep the refuge area or staircase clutter free to escape during any emergency
- Don’t over load the power socket to have a brighter Diwali
- Don’t use any home remedies on any burnt body surface as this may cause infection
- Rush to the nearest hospital in case of an emergency
In this ever evolving world, festivals stand as the key way to keep the culture and traditions alive. For us Diwali is the tradition of celebrating the triumph of good over evil and starting a new year with a positive approach.