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Rangoli decorations, made using coloured powder, are popular during Diwali
|Also called||Deepawali, Translation: Row of Lights; Festival of Lights,|
|Observed by||Hindus, Jains and Sikhs|
|Type||Religious, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Surinam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji (National holiday in these countries)|
|Date||Decided by the Hindu Lunisolar calendar|
|2012 date||Tuesday, 13 November|
|2013 date||Sunday, 3 November|
|2014 date||Thursday, 23 October|
|Celebrations||Decorating homes with lights and candles, Fireworks, distributing sweets and gifts|
|Observances||Prayers, Religious rituals (see puja, prashad)|
Deepavali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Diwali, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a five-day Hindu festival which starts on Dhanteras, celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Ashwin and ends on Bhaubeej, celebrated on second lunar day of Shukla paksha (bright fortnight) of the Hindu calendar month Kartik. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.
For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BCE. Arya Samajists, celebrate this day as Death Anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. They also celebrate this day as Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti.
The name "Diwali" or "Divali" is a contraction of "Deepavali" (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvalī), which translates into "row of lamps". Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps ( dīpa in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst because it is believed that it drives away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.
The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival is called the Naraka Chaturdasi. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Kartika Shudda Padyami. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.
It begins in late Ashvin (between September and October) and ends in early Kartika (between October and November). The days in Ashvin are in the Krishna Paksha ("dark fortnight") of that month, while the days in Kartik are in its Shukla Paksha ("bright fortnight"). The first day is Dhan Teras. The last day is Yama Dvitiya, which signifies the second day of the light half of Kartika. Each day of Diwali marks one celebration of the six principal stories associated with the festival.
Hindus have several significant events associated with Diwali:
- The return of Rama after 14 years of Vanvas (exile). To welcome his return, diyas (ghee lamps) were lit in rows of 20.
- The killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura, who wreaked havoc. In different versions, either Krishna or Krishna's wife Satyabhama killed Narakasura during the Dwapara yuga.
Other events associated with Diwali include:
- Return of Pandavas after 12 years of Vanvas and one year of agyatavas (living incognito).
Diwali celebrations are spread over five days, from Dhanteras to Bhaiduj. In some places like Maharashtra it starts with Vasu Baras. All the days except Diwali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar. The days are:
- Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Go means cow and vatsa means calf. Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped. The story associated with this day is that of King Prithu, son of the tyrant King Vena. Due to the ill rule of Vena, there was a terrible famine and earth stopped being fruitful. Prithu chased the earth, who is usually represented as cow, and ‘milked’ her, meaning that he brought prosperity to the land.
- Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan teras or Dhanwantari Triodasi (28 Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is considered an auspicious day for buying utensils and gold, hence the name ‘Dhana’. This day is regarded as the Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) of God Dhanvantari, the Physician of Gods, who came out during Samudra manthan, the churning of the great ocean by the gods and the demons.
- Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Chaturdashi is the 14th day This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas, Rajasthan : Roop Chaudas). In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolams / rangolis outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.
- Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India. Hindu homes worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings, and then light lamps in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.
- Bali Pratipada and Govardhan Puja (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika) : In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, also called Annakoot, and is celebrated as the day Krishna – an incarnation of god Vishnu – defeated Indra and by the lifting of Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolising the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna. In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu in his dwarf form Vamana over the demon-king Bali, who was pushed into the patala. In Maharashtra, it is called Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. It is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar, in Gujarat.
- Yama Dwitiya or Bhaiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) (2 Kartika or 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika): on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). It is based on a story when Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami (the river Yamuna). Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called 'YAMA DWITIYA'. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters
Goddess Lakshmi Puja
Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolises wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.
There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana avatar of the big three Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to kill the king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.
As per spiritual references, on this day "Lakshmi-panchayatan" enters the Universe. Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this "panchayatan" (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:
- Lakshmi: Divine Energy ( Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
- Vishnu: Happiness (happiness and satisfaction)
- Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
- Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
- Gajendra: Carries the wealth
- Saraswati: Knowledge
Diwali is not only celebrated by Hindus; it is also a Sikh festival. Hindus celebrate Diwali because of the Ram Sita story; however, Sikhs celebrate Diwali as it marks the Chhorh Divis. This was when the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, released 52 Hindi kings out of prison.
Diwali greetings in some languages
- Deepavali Habbada Shubhashayagalu (ದೀಪಾವಳಿ ಹಬ್ಬದ ಶುಭಾಶಯಗಳು): Greeting in Kannada
- Subha Dipawali ko mangalmaya subha kaamanaa (शुभ दिपावलीको मंगलमय शुभ-कामना): Greeting in Nepali
- Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein (दिवाली की शुभकामनाएं): Greeting in Hindi
- Diwadi ni khub khub Shubhkamnao / Saal Mubarak(દિવાલી ની ખૂબ ખૂબ શુભકામનાઓ / સાલ મુબારક): Greeting in Gujarati
- Tuhanu diwali diyan boht boht vadhaiyan (ਤੁਹਾਨੂੰ ਦਿਵਾਲੀ ਦੀਆਂ ਬਹੁਤ ਬਹੁਤ ਵਧਾਈਆਂ ਹੋਣ ): Greeting in Punjabi
- Diwali Mubarak Ho Aap Savke (दिवाली मुबारक होआप सव के ): Greeting in Bhojpuri
- Deepavali Aashamsagal ( ദീപാവലി ആശംസകള് ): Greeting in Malayalam.
- Deepavali Nalvazhthukal (தீபாவளி நல்வாழ்த்துகள்) :Greeting in Tamil
- Deepavali Shubhakankshalu (దీపావళి శుభాకా౦క్షలు) :Greeting in Telugu
- Diwalichya hardik Shubhechha (दिवाळीच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा ): Greeting in Marathi
- Subho Deepabalir Preeti O Subechsha (শুভ দীপাবলীর প্রীতি ও শুভেচ্ছা) :Greeting in Bengali
- "Happy Diwali!" :Greeting in English language
- Diwali ki shubh kamna:Greeting in Hindi (Bundelkhand)
- Deepavalira Anek Shubhechha (ଦୀପାବଳିର ଅନେକ ଶୁଭେଛା) :Greeting in Oriya
- Diwali mubarak ho aap sabko:Greeting in Hindi (Bhind)
While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning behind it is "the awareness of the inner light". Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. The celebration of Diwali as the "victory of good over evil", refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings anand (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light.
While the story behind Diwali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light ( Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman).
Significance in other religions
Diwali, the Festival of Light, comes at the end of October or early November. It's a festival that Hindus, Sikhs and Jains celebrate.
Diwali has a very special significance in Jainism. It is celebrated as Deva Devali around the full moon day ( Purnima) of Kartik. Lord Mahavira, the last of the Jain Tirthankar of this era, attained Nirvana or Moksh on this day at Pavapuri on 15 Oct 527 BCE, on Chaturdashi of Kartika, as Tilyapannatti of Yativrashaba from the sixth century states: Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of this era, revitalised Jainism Dharma followed by Jains even today. Though few outdated history books still mention that he established Jainism. According to tradition, the chief disciple of Mahavira, Ganadhara Gautam Swami also attained complete knowledge (Kevalgyana) on this day, thus making Diwali one of the most important Jain festivals.
Mahavira attained his nirvana at the dawn of the amavasya (new moon). According to the Kalpasutra by Acharya Bhadrabahu, 3rd century BCE, many gods were present there, illuminating the darkness. The following night was pitch black without the light of the gods or the moon. To symbolically keep the light of their master's knowledge alive:
16 Gana-kings, 9 Malla and 9 Lichchhavi, of Kasi and Kosal, illuminated their doors. They said: "Since the light of knowledge is gone, we will make light of ordinary matter" ("गये से भवुज्जोये, दव्वुज्जोयं करिस्समो").
Dipavali was mentioned in Jain books as the date of the nirvana of Mahavira. In fact, the oldest reference to Diwali is a related word, dipalikaya, which occurs in Harivamsha-Purana, written by Acharya Jinasena and composed in the Shaka Samvat era in the year 705.
ततस्तुः लोकः प्रतिवर्षमादरत् प्रसिद्धदीपलिकयात्र भारते |
समुद्यतः पूजयितुं जिनेश्वरं जिनेन्द्र-निर्वाण विभूति-भक्तिभाक् |२० |
tatastuh lokah prativarsham-araat ako
samudyatah poojayitum jineshvaram
Translation: The gods illuminated Pavanagari by lamps to mark the occasion. Since that time, the people of Bharat celebrate the famous festival of "Dipalika" to worship the Jinendra (i.e. Lord Mahavira) on the occasion of his nirvana.
Dipalikaya roughly translates as "light leaving the body". Dipalika, which can be roughly translated as "splendiferous light of lamps", is used interchangeably with the word "Diwali".
Vira Nirvana Samvat: The Jain year starts with Pratipada following Diwali. Vira Nirvana Samvat 2534 starts with Diwali 2007. The Jain business people traditionally started their accounting year from Diwali. The relationship between the Vir and Shaka era is given in Titthogali Painnaya and Dhavalaa by Acharya Virasena:
पंच य मासा पंच य वास छच्चेव होन्ति वाससया|
परिणिव्वुअस्स अरिहितो तो उप्पन्नो सगो राया||
Thus the Nirvana occurred 605 years and 5 months before the Saka era.
On 21 October 1974 the 2500th Nirvana Mahotsava was celebrated by the Jains throughout India.
Sikh festival Bandi Chhor Divas falls on the day of Diwali. Devotees of the Sikh faith celebrate this festival during between the end of October and the middle of November, the celebration of Diwali is done by Sikhs because it rejoices the time when the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Singh was released from his imprisonment. The Sikh Diwali consists of many differentiated practices such as the reading of the Sikh holy scripture the Guru Granth sahib at the holiest Sikh shrine Amritsar in the Punjab regions of India. Sikh families all get together to share a Vegetarian meal to give respect to animals and man alike. To make the crescendo of the joyous festival of lights fireworks are released into the air which represents freedom and liberty
The founder of Arya Samaj Swami Dayanand had died on Kartik Amawasya (30 October 1883). Followers of Arya Samaj celebrate Rishi Nirvanotsav as his Death Anniversary on this Day.
Shardiya Nav-Shasyeshti is also celebrated by Arya Samaj Community as welcome of winter Season. Special Yagya is performed by them chanting Vedic Mantras.
Regional New Year celebrations
- The Marwari New Year is celebrated on the day of the festival of Diwali, which is the last day Krishna Paksha of Ashvin month & also last day of the Ashvin month of Hindu calendar.
- The Gujarati New Year is celebrated the day after the festival of Diwali (which occurs in mid-fall – either October or November, depending on the Lunar calendar). The Gujarati New Year is synonymous with sud ekam i.e. first day of Shukla paksha of the Kartik month -, which is taken as the first day of the first month of Gujarati lunar calendar. Most other Hindus celebrate the New Year in early spring. Gujarati community all over the world celebrates the New Year after Diwali to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year.
- The Nepal Era New year is celebrated in regions encompassing original Nepal. The new year occurs in the fourth day of Diwali. The calendar was used as an official calendar until the mid 19th century. However, the new year is still celebrated by citizens of original Nepal, the Newars.
Regional variations within India
In Gujarat the Diwali celebrations take on a number of distinct characteristics.
Diwali occurs in the second (dark) lunar fortnight ( Krishna Paksha) of the month of Ashvin ( Gujarati: "Aaso") and the first (bright) fortnight ( Shukla Paksha) of Kartika (Guj: "Kartik"). Aaso is the last month of the Gujarati calendar, and Kartik the first.
Celebrations start earlier in Gujarat than in the rest of India, commencing on Agyaras, the 11th day of the Krishna Paksha of Aaso. On the 12th day is Vagh Baras, the festival of the cow and the calf. On the 13th day is Dhanteras, the days Diwali starts in the rest of India. The 14th (elsewhere known as Naraka Chaturdashi in South India and Choti Diwali in the North) is celebrated as Kali Choudas. The 15th (new moon day) is Lakshmi Puja, celebrated throughout India. The next day, the first day of Shukla Paksha of Kartik, is Bestu Varsh, New Year's Day, start of the Gujarati calendar. The 2nd day of Kartik is Bhai Bij, the day Diwali ends.
A further celebration takes place on the 5th day of Kartik, Labh Pancham.
Gujarat is also the location of the Jain festival of Deva Devali, two weeks later, around the full moon day of Kartik. This takes place at the sacred mountains of Girnar and Palitana, in south Gujarat.
Known as Deepavali(தீபாவளி), in Tamil Nadu (தீப + ஆவளி = தீபாவளி meaning series of lights). It commemorates the death of Narakasura at the hands of Lord Sri Krishna. It is believed that Narakasura, a wicked demon, tortured common people and they prayed lord Krishna to defeat him. The people then celebrated narakasura's defeat with sparkles, lights and crackers. This celebration was continued down the generations as deepavali. The day begins with an early morning oil bath, wearing new clothes, bursting of crackers, visiting Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu and Shiva temples. The exchange of sweets between the neighbours, visiting the relations, preparing Deepavali special sweets are tradition of the day.
Typical Deepavali celebrations begin with waking up early in the morning, before sun rise, followed by an oil-bath. The bathing tradition involves extensive massaging of warm til-oil containing pepper corns, betel leaves. New clothes are typically worn as a part of celebrations. After the bath, a home-made medicine known as "Deepavali Lehiyam" is consumed, which is supposed to aid in soothening digestive problems that may ensue due to feasting that occurs later in the day. Extensive use of sparkles, crackers and lights, much like the rest of the world where Deepavali is celebrated.
It is celebrated as Deepavali (deepa + aavaLi → light + row) in Kannada. It is celebrated on the previous and next day of Amavasye (New Moon Day) as Naraka Chaturdashi (before new-moon day) resembling Satyabhama's victory over Narakasura and as Bali Padyami, the first day of Kartika masa; inviting the greatest emperor of times, Bali Chakravarti to each and everybody's homes. The entire house is cleaned and new clothes are purchased for the entire family which is followed by lighting of oil lamps around the house and bursting firecrackers. The tradition in Kannada families is that all members gather together for the three days celebration. The thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha is celebrated as "neeru tumbo habba" when the house is cleaned, painted afresh and the vessels are washed, bedecked and filled with fresh water for the festival. The next day is Naraka Chaturdashi, considered very auspicious. People wake up before dawn and apply oil on their scalp and body before taking bath, a ritual known as Tailabhyanjana. In parts of North Karnataka, this is followed by the women of the house performing Aarti on the men. The bursting of the crackers ensues. The next day is Lakshmi mahaapooje on Amavaasye (new-moon day) and then on the fourth day decorating the whole house and especially entrance with flowers and floor decoration to invite Bali to their homes; a special fort-entrance kind of thing is made on the entrances of every home which is made out of cow-dung (gOmaya) and Sandalwood (siri-chandana) which both have a high divine reverence in Kannada tradition. The day is of special importance to agricultural families as they celebrate Govardhan Pooja on this day. The houses are adroned with Keraka (replica of the Govardhana giri using cow dung) bejewelled with flowers and maize, ragi stalks. Also fire-camps are kindled on both Naraka Chaturdashi and Bali Padyami days of Deepavali; where in respective community people's gathering is significant and huge firework bursting ceremony happens. Later the whole Kartika maasa (till next new-moon day) is celebrated by praying Kunti idol in every house; this signifies that Kunti; the mother of great Pandavas has come to mother's (tavaru mane in Kannada) home for Kartika maasa. In villages on the third day Bali Padyami also known for gOvpooje (reverence to cows) all the cattle in the home are decorated gorgeously and are prayed for good will of next coming year. also go melas happen the same day. The celebration of Diwali is marked by the lighting of innumerable lamps in every courtyard and the bursting of crackers. Sweetmeals, new clothes and spirit is there as in other festivals. Kajjaya is a special Deepavali delicacy in Bangalore region. Holiges, Chakkulis are prepared in all households. The time for rejoicing is mainly early morning and late night. The legend is that Lord Krishna killed demon Naraka in the wee hours of the morning, hence people burst crackers at this hour to mark the victory over evil. These hours of darkness bordering the waking hours are preferred as lights and crackers are the highlights of the festivities and these need darkness to have their illuminating effect. Hence people rise early and go to sleep late.
Deepavali falls on the preceding day of the New Moon in the Malayalam month Thulam (October–November). The celebrations are based on the legend of Narakasura Vadha – where Sri Krishna destroyed the demon and the day Narakasura died is celebrated as Deepavali. It commemorates the triumph of good over evil. It's celebrated with more enthusiasm in the southern parts of Kerala compared with northern Kerala. Firecrackers are burst and Ottamthullal performances are hosted. Exchanges of gifts and dresses are usually held. Especially on the 4th day of celebration, the ladies are invited to their father's house on the 4th day after the 'Deepavali' and given dress and money as gifts. The entire family buy new clothes, sweets and many other decorative items to decorate their home. Firecrackers are a major item found in all houses especially during diwalis. Children along with their friends and cousins have a lot of enjoyment and enthusiasm. Humongous amounts of sweets are made, some of the sweets are jelebi, laddoo, unniappam, paalappam etc. are made at every house. They decorate their homes with diyas (or deepams) and light many fire crackers especially a stick-like cracker called Kambithiri in Malayalam. All families decorate their homes with rangolis or flower designs. They hold a special Pooja in which newly painted idols of gods are prayed to.
In Andhra Pradesh, this comprises two days. The First day is Naraka Chaturthasi, Deepavali Amaavasya . The festivities start out at the crack of dawn and carry on well into the night. Most people make a trip to the local temple along with their families to seek the blessings of their respective Gods. The night sky is lit up with a scintillating array of noisy fireworks.
Diwali is one of the seven most important festivals of Andhra Pradesh. It is very popular with children who celebrate Diwali because of the excitement of bursting firecrackers. Special shops to sell firecrackers are set up in all towns, cities and bigger villages. There are some traditional customs followed such as buying new clothes for this festival. Buying new home or vehicles is considered auspicious. Special sweets are made too. Some eateries in Hyderabad make some delicious sweets during Diwali which will not be available at any other time. Meat and alcohol are generally not consumed. Tradition has it that Andhraites gift sweets during Diwali. Some areas host local stage story telling called Hari Katha. Some areas may put a huge Narakasura dummy made with firecrackers. This will be burst by a person dressed as Lord Krishna or, more accurately, a costume of Satyabhama, the consort of Lord Krishna, who actually killed the demon Narakasura; an event that is celebrated as Diwali for generations. The evening sky of Diwali is a colourful sight to watch.
People clean/white-wash or paint/decorate their homes as it is a very auspicious day; to welcome the goddess of wealth and prosperity i.e. Lakshmi devi to their homes. Homes are lit up with hundreds of diyas and colourful Diwali Rangolis (link) adorn the doorways. After all this preparation all the members of the family perform the Lakshmi pooja. Another custom involves decorating homes with paper figures.
Festivities cut across boundaries to move on from the small villages to the big towns, often beginning almost a month before Diwali. Sales of expensive silk saris, jewellery, ornaments, and household goods increase. From the poor to the rich, everyone indulges in the largest shopping spree of the year. Sweets, which are an integral part of any festival in Andhra Pradesh, are prepared or purchased from shops. The festival is full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships, and ancient traditions.
In Maharashtra, Diwali starts from Vasubaras which is the 12th day of the 2nd half of the Marathi month Ashvin. This day is celebrated by performing an Aarti of the cow and its calf – which is a symbol of love between mother and her baby.
The next day is Dhana Trayodashi. This day is of special importance for traders and business people. It is also considered an auspicious day for making important purchases, especially metals, including kitchenware and precious metals like silver and gold.
This is followed by Naraka Chaturdashi. On this day people get up early in the morning and take their bath before sunrise while stars are still visible. Bathing is an elaborate process on this day with abundant use of ‘utnas’, oils and perfumes, and is preceded by an Aarti performed on the person by some lady, usually mother or wife. The whole process is referred to as ‘abhyanga-snaan’.
Then comes Lakshmi- pooja. It occurs on Amavasya i.e. no moon day. The dark night is illuminated by lamps and at dusk firecrackers are burst. New account books are opened after a pooja. Generally the traders do not make any payments on that day (according to their belief Lakshmi should not be given away but must come home). In every household, cash, jewellery and an idol of the goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Friends, neighbours and relatives are invited over and celebrations are in full swing. The broom used to clean one's house is also worshipped as a symbol of Lakshmi in some places .
Padwa is the 1st day of the new month – Kartik in the Hindu calendar. It marks the start of Hindu financial year. Its a special day for Husband and wife. The wife puts tilak on her husbands forehead and gives him an expensive gift. In recent times there is a growing trend of organising a cultural event called 'Diwali Padwa' early in the morning.
Bhaubeej – it is the time when the bond of love between a brother and sister is further strengthened as the sister asks God for her brother/s' long and successful life while she receives presents from her beloved brothers. On these days People makes 'Faral' like Chakali, Laddu, Karanji, Chiwada etc.
Diwali is celebrated with great joy. Rows of oil lamps, candles adorn the thresholds of all houses. Firecrackers are burst, sweetmeals are relished and distributed. Some people also worship family goddess. Tarpanam is done in the morning of diwali. All the members of the household gather together just after dusk. A rangoli(Muruja) of a sailboat is made on the ground. The boat has seven chambers in north, ten chamber in east, and twelve chamber in south.the east chamber are meant for gods.north chamber for seer or Rishi and south chambers for manes and forefathers. Over the drawing of each different chamber several items are kept – cotton, mustard, salt, asparagus root, turmeric, sweets, cakes and a wild creeper. Over the central chamber are the offerings meant for [prasad]. Perched over the prasad is a jute stem with a cloth wick tied around the edge. It is lit at the beginning of the puja. All members of the family hold a bundle of jute stems in their hands, Lighting their respective bundles from the flame on the rangoli, they raise them skywards to their forefathers chanting: Badabadua ho andhaara e asa Aluaa e Jaao Baaisi pahacha e Gadagadau thaao (meaning-oh our ancestors, seers and gods you came on the dark night of Mahalaya, and now it is time for you to depart for heaven, so we are showing light, may you attain peace in abode of Jagannatha)
Beside the rangoli, a mortar and pestle and a plough are also kept and worshiped. After the puja and offerings, the family celebrates Diwali festival by bursting firecrackers. As in other regions, most people prefer to celebrate it in their own homes, though family gatherings are also common. For Diwali houses are brightly lit, with the doors and windows kept open as Lakshmi is supposed to visit every home, and you can't afford to leave it dark and abandoned. Various kinds of Pithas are prepared and given to the deities and forefathers, and enjoyed with family and friends. The ritual of Kali Puja is a famous affair in Puri, Bhadrak, Rourkela, Cuttack & Jajpur area.
Mithilanchal, West Bengal & Assam
Kali Puja is light-up night for Mithila region in Bihar, West Bengal & Assam, corresponding to the festival of Diwali (pronounced Dipaboli in Bengali), (in Maithili, it is known as Diya-Baati) where people light diyas/candles in memory of the souls of departed ancestors. The goddess Kali is worshipped for whole night on one night during this festival. This is also a night of fireworks, with local youth burning sparklers and firecrackers throughout the night. Both the traditions of worshiping the Goddess Kali as well as Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha is prevalent in the Mithila region. Kali puja is also known by the names of Shyama puja or Nisha puja in the Mithila region and west Bengal.
Goa and Konkan
Divali begins in Konkan and Goa on the day of Naraka Chaturdashi. The houses are cleaned and decorated with kandeel, lamps, mango leaves, and marigold flowers. The utensils are made to shine, filled with water, and decorated for the holy bath the following morning. On this day, paper-made effigies of Narakasura, filled with grass and firecrackers symbolising evil, are made. These effigies are burnt at around four o'clock in the morning the following day/ Firecrackers are burst, and people return home to take a scented oil bath. Lamps are lit in a lineThe women of the house perform aarti of the men, gifts are exchanged, a bitter berry called kareet is crushed under the feet in token of killing Narkasur, symbolising evil and removal of ignorance. Different varieties of Poha and sweets are made and eaten with family and friends. Festivities continue till Tulsi Vivah and lamps are lit every evening. Celebrations include Lakshmi puja on the Diwali day, Krishna puja or Govardhan puja and cattle worship on Balipratipada day, Bhaubeej, and Tulsi vivah.
To add to the festivas of Diwali, fairs (or ' melas') are held throughout India. Melas are to be found in many towns and villages. A mela generally becomes a market day in the countryside when farmers buy and sell produce. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colourful clothing and new jewellery, and their hands are decorated with henna designs.
Among the many activities that take place at a mela are performances by jugglers, acrobats, snake charmers and fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. There are a variety of rides at the fair, which include Ferris wheels and rides on animals such as elephants and camels. Activities for children, such as puppet shows, occur throughout the day.
In other parts of the world
Diwali is celebrated in various parts of the world, particularly those with large populations of Hindu and Sikh origin. These include countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mauritius, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago,( Zimbabwe) the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. With more and more Indians now migrating to various parts of the world, the number of countries where Diwali / Deepavali is celebrated has been gradually increasing. While in some countries it is celebrated mainly by Indian expatriates, in others it has become part of the general local culture. In most of these countries Diwali is celebrated on the same lines as described in this article with some minor variations. Some important variations are worth mentioning.
In Nepal, Diwali is known as "Tihar" or "Swanti". It is celebrated during the October/November period. Here the festival is celebrated for five days and the traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are given food for their honesty. On the third day, Laxmi puja is performed. This is the last day according to Nepal Sambat, so many of the businessmen clear their accounts on this day and on finishing it, worship goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day is celebrated as new year. Cultural processions and other celebrations are observed in this day. The Newars celebrate it as "Maha Puja", a special ritual in which the body is worshipped to keep it fit and healthy for the year ahead on this day. On the fifth and final day called "Bhai Tika", brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts.
In Nepal, family gathering is more significant during Diwali. People in the community play "Deusi and Bhailo" which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group. People go to all the houses in the community and play songs and dance, and give blessings to the visited house, whereas the home owner gives gifts like rice, Roti, fruits and money. After the festival, people donate some part of the collected money and food to the charity or welfare groups and with the rest of the money and food, they go for a picnic. People also play swing called Dore Ping made out of thick ropes and Pirke Ping or Rangate Ping made out of wood.
In Sri Lanka, this festival is also called "Deepavali" and is celebrated by the Tamil community. On this day, it is traditional for people to take an oil bath in the morning, wear new clothes, exchange gifts, performing Poosai( Pūjā), and a visit to the Koil( Hindu Temple) is normal. Burning of firecrackers in the evening of the festival is a common practice of this festival. Hindus light oil lamps to invite the blessings of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and to banish any evil from the household for once and for all. The festival is marked by illumination, making of toys of enamel and making of figures out of crystal sugar popularly known as Misiri. Sri Lanka's celebration include many of the traditional aspects of Deepavali such as games, fireworks, singing and dancing, however the tradition of a large meal and fireworks are admirably preserved.
In Malaysia, Diwali festival is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians (Of all ethnic races like Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees) welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a scrumptious meal. This is a practice unique to Malaysia and shows the goodwill and friendly ties practised by all Malaysians during any festive occasion.
In Singapore, Diwali festival is a gazetted public holiday. Observed primarily by the minority Indian community (Tamils), it is typically marked by a light-up in the Little India district, the heart of the Indian community. Apart from the light-up, other activities such as bazaars, exhibitions, parades and concerts will also take place in Little India. The Hindu Endowment Board of Singapore along with Singapores' government organises many of these cultural events during this festive period.
In Trinidad and Tobago, communities all over the islands get together and celebrate the festival. One major celebration that stands out is the Diwali Nagar, or Village of the Festival of Lights. It features stage performances by the east Indian cultural practitioners, a folk theatre featuring skits and plays, an exhibition on some aspect of Hinduism, displays by various Hindu religious sects and social organisations, nightly worship of Lakshmi, lighting of deeyas, performances by various schools related to Indian culture, and a food court with Indian and non-Indian vegetarian delicacies. The festival culminates with magnificent fireworks displays ushering in Diwali. Thousands of people participate in an atmosphere devoid of alcohol and in a true family environment.
In Britain, Hindus celebrate Diwali with great enthusiasm. People clean and decorate their homes with lamps and candles. A popular type of candle is a diya. People also give each other sweets such as laddoo and barfi, and the different communities may gather for a religious ceremony and get-together. It is also an important time to contact family in India and perhaps exchange gifts. Diwali is becoming well known in Britain and some non-Indians join in. Leicester plays hosts to some of the biggest celebrations outside of India. Diwali also coincides with British Bonfire Night traditions on 5 November. In the East End of London, a kind of joint festival has evolved where everyone enjoys the same fire and fireworks for their own diverse reasons.
In Fiji, Diwali is a Public Holiday and is a religious event celebrated together by Hindus (who constitute close to a third of Fiji's population), and culturally amongst members of Fiji's various races and is a time in the year that is greatly looked forward to. Originally celebrated by imported indentured labourers from the Indian Subcontinent during British Rule in the then Colony of Fiji during the 19th Century, it was set as a holiday at independence in 1970 as the government wished to set aside one religious public holiday each for Fiji's three largest religions i.e., Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.
Diwali in Fiji is often remarked by people from India as being observed on a larger scale then Diwali celebrations in India, as fireworks and Diwali related events begin at least a week before the actual day. Another unique feature is the cultural celebration of Diwali (aside from its traditionally religious celebration) where Fijians of Indian origin or Indo-Fijians, whether Hindu, Christian, Sikh or even Muslim along with the other cultural groups in Fiji celebrate Diwali as a time for sharing with friends and family as well as signalling the beginning of the Holiday season in Fiji. On the commercial side, Diwali is a time for many retail sales and giveaways. Diwali celebrations in Fiji have taken on a flair of its own, markedly different from celebrations on the Subcontinent.
Diwali marks a time for cleaning and buying new and special clothes for the celebrations amongst various cultural groups along with dressing up in Sari's and other Indian clothing, to work the day before. Homes are cleaned and Oil lamps or diyas are lit. Decorations are made around the home with an array of coloured lights, candles and paper lanterns, as well as the use of religious symbols formed out of coloured rice and chalk. Invitations are made to family, friends and neighbours and houses are opened. Gifts are made and prayers or pooja are made by Hindus. Sweets and vegetable dishes are often eaten during this time and fireworks are fired for days before and after Diwali.
In the United States, with increasing Indian population, Diwali is assuming significant importance year after year. Diwali was first celebrated in the White House in 2003 and was given official status by the United States Congress in 2007 by the former president George W. Bush. Barack Obama became the first president to personally attend Diwali at the White House in 2009. On the eve of his first visit to India as the President of United States, Obama released an official statement sharing best wishes with "those celebrating Diwali". Indians in the US celebrate Diwali in different parts of the US, just as in India. The Diwali Mela in Cowboys Stadium boasted an attendance of 100,000 people in 2009. In 2009, San Antonio became the first U.S. city to sponsor an official Diwali celebration including a fireworks display and 5000 people in attendance. In 2011, The Pierre in New York City, now operated by Tata Group's Taj Hotels, hosted its first Diwali celebration.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia, Diwali is celebrated publicly among the people of Indian origin and the local Australians in Melbourne. On 21 July 2002 an organisation "The Australian Indian Innovations Incorporated" (AIII) consisting of a conglomerate of independent organisations and individuals was formed to celebrate Indian Festivals in Melbourne. AIII facilitated opportunities to depict the cultural kaleidoscope of India and assist Indians in Melbourne to showcase Indian art, culture, style, traditions and food via various activities, seminars, festivals, fairs and events. The first Inaugural Diwali Festival-2002”, was held at Sandown Race Course on Sunday 13 October 2002. Since then until October 2008, about 140000 people visited this Australian Indian Cultural Extravaganza filled with culture, fun and cuisine. This 10 Hour Festival is depicting India through 50 Stalls, 10 Food stalls and an 8-hour cultural programme with DJ, Children's rides and spectacular fire works over the last 7 years.
Other place where Diwali is celebrated in Melbourne is Sri Shiva Vishnu Temple, Carrum Downs. Food stalls are present and children fun rides. Later on in the evening a spectacular fireworks show is displayed.
In New Zealand, Diwali is celebrated publicly among many of the South Asian diaspora cultural groups. A large group that celebrates Diwali in New Zealand are members of the Indo-Fijian communities who have migrated and settled there.There are main public festivals in Auckland and Wellington, with other events around the country becoming more popular and visible. An official reception has been held at the New Zealand Parliament since 2003. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus. The festival signifies the triumph of light over darkness, justice over injustice, good over evil and intelligence over ignorance. Lakshmi Mata is worshipped at this festival. Lakshmi Mata is the goddess of light, wealth and beauty. Special Divali foods are barfi and Prasad.