We are almost nearing the end of the year and Diwali is the most awaited festival for many. Diwali or as it is mostly referred as Deepavali in Sanskrit meaning – row of lights is a festival celebrating good over evil.
Before the festival we thought it would be a good idea to understand what is Diwali. Also, wouldn’t it be nice to understand why is Diwali celebrated and why there is so much craze about it?
What is Diwali
Diwali is a popular Hindu festival which is also popularly known as the festival of lights. It is one of the most awaited festival in Hindu culture and people often plan many things around this festival.
Diwali is 5 days festival and starts with Dhanteras each year. Each day has its own importance and their are popular historical stories and belief around it.
Diwali is often referred to as Deepavali or Deepawali since on this day people light lots of clay lamps (known as Deep or Diyas) to decorate their home.
Why is Diwali Celebrated
The most popular belief for celebrating Diwali among many others is to celebrate the return of Lord Rama after defeating Ravana who was a demon king.
Lord Rama was the son of King Dasharatha. He was exiled for 14 years by the King to keep up a promise which King Dasharatha made to his Queen – Kaikeyi.
Lord Rama honored his fathers request and accepted the exile. Since, he was the beloved prince of Ayodhya, on hearing about the news the whole kingdom grieved over his exile.
Lord Rama was accompanied by his wife – Sita and younger brother Lakshman. While in exile, demon King Ravana abducts Sita and this event leads to a war between Lord Rama and the demon king – Ravana.
Lord Rama along with his younger brother Lakshman and his biggest devote Lord Hanumana defeats Ravana after an intense war, ultimately rescuing goddess Sita.
After defeating Ravana and the end of exile, Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom Ayodhya along with his wife and younger brother.
To celebrate their beloved King’s return, people lighted whole city with oil clay lanterns aka Diya in Hindi or Deep in Sanskrit. That is the reason why diwali is celebrated.
Since, the whole city was lit with rows of light all over the places, the festival got its name – “Deepavali” which literally means – “the festival of light”.
Later the word – Deepavali morphed into Diwali which is its popular name now-days.
But even after so many years of this event (as per Hindu mythology), the festival is still a symbol of unity, peace, love, light, prosperity and life.
There are many facts about Diwali,
and it is good to amuse friends and family with them.
Why not check our article on – Few Amazing Facts about Diwali to share with friends and kids for more details.
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Five days of Diwali
Usually people believe that Diwali is a one day event however in reality it is a five day festival with each day having its own relevance.
Diwali is a five day festival
It is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists across the world.
The exact date of Diwali varies each year based on position of moon as per Hindu Calendar. Here is what happens on each day of the festival –
This day marks the official beginning of Diwali celebration. Dhanteras is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Karthik.
Lord Dhanvanteri – the god of Ayurveda is also worshiped on Dhanteras since he imparted the wisdom of Ayurveda for the betterment of mankind.
On the day of Dhanteras, people often go out in market and purchase new items such as Gold, Silver jewelries, new utensils etc.
People believe that purchasing new items bring good luck and prosperity to their family and hence they plan something to be purchased on this day.
It does not matter much what you plan to purchase but purchasing something big or small is considered good and auspicious.
Many people also purchase broom on Dhanteras in addition to other items since it considered auspicious.
Since, this is a well known tradition, people often plan months in advance what they would like to buy on Dhanteras.
For this, people make advance bookings in shops or go very early on Dhanteras to buy things before market runs out of items.
Some people even go to the length of purchasing items at a specific time during the day – “Muhurat”.
Purchase of items is not just restricted to jewelries or utensils but even bigger items such as purchasing a new vehicle or even home booking.
Many people often plan to purchase and take delivery of their new vehicles on this day. Therefore, many shops and showrooms specially plan for Dhanteras to meet delivery demands.
This also means many short term job opportunities for local people in different areas.
Usually buying metal especially Silver is considered very good on this day. In India and many other countries where Diwali is a prominent festival, observe people doing good amount of shopping on this day.
Naraka Chaturdashi aka Roop Chaturdashi (Small Diwali aka Chhoti Diwali in Hindi language)
It is day before the main festival and people tend to make preparations for the big day event such as decorating home, purchase fire crackers etc.
This day has religious value since it is believed that on this day Lord Krishna killed a notorious demon – Narakasur thus relieving world from evil.
It is also believed that people should give up on things which hold them back and move towards a more active lifestyle. This is done by starting the day early and preparing for the main day.
Diwali or Deepawali (Day of Lights – Main festival)
This is the main festival day and on this day people wake up early and start decorating their home using artificial lighting and traditional Rangoli.
By evening people are ready to worship goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha and cook some tasty dinner.
There are few tasty traditional recipes we would recommend this Diwali. Just check our article about them and let us know how you think about it.
By night time, people lighten up their houses with traditional clay oil lamps aka Diya, colored candles, artificial lighting. Many people also burn crackers at night to celebrate the event.
Padwa or Annakut (New year)
Padwa is celebrated due to multiple beliefs. In many regions across India this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja.
On this day it is believed that Lord Krishna defeated Indra and was able to break his ego of being supreme by lifting the Govardhan hill on his pinky finger or little finger.
It also marks the start of a new year day in Vikram Samvat – The Hindu Calendar.
Bhai Duj or Day of Siblings
This day marks the end of five day celebration and ends by celebrating the lovely bond between Siblings – brothers and sisters.
The ceremony starts with the ritual of inviting brothers for a magnificent meal made of their favourite dishes and sweets.
you can also check article on 10 best delicious recipes for Diwali.
On this day sisters pray for well being of their brothers while brothers visit their sisters and give them gifts.
Carrying forward the ceremony in traditional style, sisters perform arti for their brother and apply a red tika on the brother’s forehead.
This tika ceremony on the occasion of Bhai dooj signifies the sister’s sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother and treat them with gifts.
In return, elder brothers bless their sisters and treat them with gifts. This day family units and have good time together.
Diwali 2021 Date
Diwali is a five day festival hence it officially marks its beginning by celebrating Dhanteras.
To help you on the dates so you can plan your date and holidays here is Diwali 2021 date and important events around it-
- Dhanteras – 02nd Nov 2021
- Choti Diwali or Naraka Chaturdashi – 03rd Nov 2021
- Diwali – 04th Nov 2021
- Padwa or Annkut – 05th Nov 2021
- Bhai Duj – 06th Nov 2021
As Diwali is the main festival among these series of events hence the Diwali festival date is on 04th Nov 2021.
On 04th November 2021 people will perform Lakshmi Pooja or Diwali Pooja.
People celebrate Diwali by visiting friends and family and exchanging good wishes and gifts with them. It is also the time to cook delicious food and enjoy some good time with family.
Decorating house during Diwali
To celebrate Diwali, people nicely decorate their houses on the day of Diwali and since it is a festival celebrated at night people light up their houses using traditional clay oil lamps and candles.
Traditionally, clay oil lamps are considered mandatory since as per mythology this is how it was celebrated for the first time to welcome the beloved King Rama.
People also decorate their house entrances by creating Rangoli, which are beautiful art patterns created on the floor using Rangoli colours, coloured rice, dry flours and flower petals or colored sands.
In Modern times, people also use artificial lightning to decorate their houses. Since, Diwali is celebrated on the darkest night of the month, lights have their special relevance both from religious and practical perspectives.
People conduct Lakshmi Pooja at night during specific timings (Muhurat) as confirmed by the religious priests.
For Lakshmi Pooja, people make preparations by bringing in new idols from market and decorating their house temples for the ceremony.
People also create foot patterns called the Lakshmi foot patterns from their home entrance to the house temples.
This is done to welcome goddess Lakshmi who is believed to visit people home during Diwali night.
During this Diwali Pooja many Hindu businessmen worship their work ledgers or account books (Bahi Khata) as the next day of Diwali is considered the beginning of a new business year.
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Diwali Food dishes
On the day of Diwali, people will make traditional food dishes to celebrate the festival. People often take long holidays to visit their family and friends during this time.
People exchange food items and Diwali religious offering (Prasad or Prasadam) with their neighbours, friends and relatives.
Traditionally food items prepared in different parts of the India and those living abroad may vary but that is one of the most interesting things to experience in India.
In modern times celebrating a festival has introduced many new things. A more modern version of Diwali has moved from just being a festival of lights to being festival of fireworks as well.
There is a huge demand of fireworks now-days and people spend lot on buying new and different fireworks. There is a whole lot of firework industry which employ many people and contributes to the economy as well in India.
Diwali being one of the most awaited event therefore for people connected to this Industry.
While few may argue fireworks to be a mode of celebrating the festival however considering modernization and the toll it is bringing on our environment, fireworks are just adding to the crisis.
Recently there had been lot of noise around banning crackers during Diwali but there are both sides of arguments.
As per recent studies it has been found that in major polluted cities of India such as the capital – New Delhi, the contribution of pollution due to fireworks on Diwali though “small is statistically significant”.
Refer a good coverage by BBC on this issue.
Considering we all have a part to play in conserving our environment we wont suggest to give up on the celebrations but we all can make sure to just reduce the amount of fireworks we use this Diwali and get a middle way around.
Best Wishes for Diwali
Before we wind up, let us wish you all –
A very happy and prosperous Diwali
Spread the light of knowledge, care, love and celebrate this Diwali with joy.