Title : Diwali Festival in India Previous | Next
Diwali the Festival of Lights is celebrated with fervor and gaiety. Diwali is celebrated on a nation-wide scale on Amavasya - the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin, (October/November) every year. It symbolizes that age-old culture of India which teaches to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge.
Five Days of Diwali Celebration :
The first day of Diwali is called Dhanvantari Triodasi or Dhanwantari Triodasi also called Dhan Theras. The second day of Diwali is called Narak Chaturdasi. It is the fourteenth lunar day (thithi) of the dark forthnight of the month of Kartik and the eve of Diwali. On this day Lord Krishna destroyed the demon Narakasur and made the world free from fear. The third day of Diwali is the actual Diwali. This is the day when worship for Mother Lakshmi is performed. On the fourth day of Diwali, Goverdhan Pooja is performed. The fifth day of the diwali is called Bhratri Dooj. It is a day dedicated to sisters.
The festival also marks an important date in the Hindu calendar, as according to legends the kingdom of Ajodhya celebrated the coming of Lord Rama after a long exile of fourteen years. The festival celebrates the coming of Lord Rama. The tradition of lighting diyas and candles dates back to history when the people of Avadha lighted diyas throughout the kingdom to show way to their beloved Prince Ram, wife Sita and brothers. It is celebrated as the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.
Diwali also celebrates the power of the three goddesses, Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati. Dhanteras is dedicated to Lakshmi, whose blessings are essential for a prosperous, fruitful and peaceful life. Kali-Chudash (the day before Diwali) is dedicated to Goddess Kali whose blessing gives us the strength to maintain the wealth we have. Strength, physical, mental and spiritual, is essential for all of us to lead a happy life. Diwali itself is dedicated to goddess Saraswati. Knowledge is the ultimate wealth, for it cannot be stolen from you; it is also the ultimate strength, for it often defeats brute force.
One famous story behind the celebrations of Diwali is about the demon king Narakasur, who was ruler of Pragjyotishpur, a province to the South of Nepal. After acquiring victory over Lord Indra during a war, Narakasur snatched away the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi, who was not only the ruler of Suraloka, but also a relative of Lord Krishna's wife - Satyabhama. Narakasur also imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of Gods and saints in his harem. With the support of Lord Krishna, Satyabhama defeated Narakasur, released all the women from his harem and restored the magnificent earrings of Mother Goddess Aditi.
The great Hindu epic 'Mahabharata' has another interesting story related to the 'Kartik Amavasyaa'. According to the story, 'the Pandavas', the five brothers Yudhishthhira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahdeva, were sentenced to thirteen years exile as a result of their defeat against 'the Kauravas' - Duryodhana and his ninety nine brothers, at the game of dice. Therefore, the Pandavas spent thirteen years in the jungles and returned to their kingdom on the day of 'Kartik Amavasyaa'. On their return, the people of their kingdom welcomed the Pandavas by celebrating the event by lighting the earthen lamps all over in their city.
Historically it is believed that on a Diwali day in 56 BC King Vikramaditya, the legendary Hindu king of India famed for his wisdom, bravery and large-heartedness, was crowned and declared to be a king. This was marked by a grand celebration by the citizens of Vikramaditya's kingdom celebrated the coronation of their king by lighting up small earthen lamps and that custom still prevails. Many people and even some historians say that this event gave rise to the annual observance of Diwali.
In the Sikh community, Diwali celebrations have special importance as for them it, is popular as the day when their sixth Guru, Guru Har Govind ji came back from the captivity of the fort of Gwalior city. The people illuminated lamps in the way to Shri Harmandhir Sahib, which is known by the name of 'the Golden Temple', to honor and welcome their beloved Guru.
For the Jain community, the festival of Diwali has special significance. It is the day when the famous Jain prophet Bhagvaan Mahaveer, the founder of Jainism, attained 'Nirvana'. Therefore, the people of Jain community celebrate the festival of Diwali in remembrance of Lord Mahavira.
For the Bengalis community, it is the time to worship Goddess Kali or Durga. The Goddess Durga continued her "Vilaya Tandava" even after killing demon Mahishasura.
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